Book Hippo

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Historically Voiceless

I love to read a good history book. My favorite characters in history are often ones whose names I can't even remember. Everyone knows that the winners write history so there are many people in history who don't have a voice.

Now if I were to say that white people going to the American southwest were not the first there you would automatically assume that I meant the Apaches were there first. Well, they were but there were others. Namely, black people who had escaped slavery. Many of them found their way into places where there were no white people. Some lived in Apacheria.

So little is known about these people that no one can tell you if they lived in groups or as loners wandering around. They probably lived by hunting, perhaps trading with the Mexicans and Apaches. Whatever happened to them is also not told.

All through American history you will find black individuals who escaped and were accepted by natives. One group of whites went to treat with a Sioux tribe and found themselves face to face with a black man in full Native dress. There was no taking him back to slavery, the whole tribe backed him.

Some blacks even became Chiefs and fought with distinction.

Another group of the voiceless were women. Again, the American west was the place where they stepped out of their roles and became themselves. One women took to dressing in animals skins, showing quite a bit of leg, mind you and rode like a man. Riding her horse by one general, I think Sherman, he remarked, "What was that?" So unlike a woman of the times was she.

Her name I can't remember but I would surely like to know what she thought about and how she came to live the way she did. She fought with men when she felt like it.

Not just white women were voiceless parts of history. An Apache tribe had a woman leader, a very wise woman, by all accounts, who kept them peaceful and non-combatant and counseled them how to get along with the whites and how to  make good. I have never read what became of this tribe. Whether they veered from that path after she died and now live the terrible life of a modern Apache, or whether they became productive people, at home with the system.

The last person I will mention is an Englishman, again in Apacheria. He went to the USA and found native life congenial, so one could find him living with a tribe and wearing native dress, happily hunting and doing whatever his tribe was up to. Six months later, one could find him in Tombstone, Arizona with his best white person clothes on, dining in a saloon and living 'American'. He went back and forth, however his fancy took him.

Someday I'm going to write about one of these people. At least I promise myself I will. They are fascinating, the thing that keeps me going back to history books. Humans are so interesting but for me, these faceless, nameless men and women make history a living thing.

1 comment:

  1. History is fascinating so long as you understand that it couldn't possibly have happened that way.