Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Legacy by Valerie Sherer Mathes

By Valerie Sherer Mathes

Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Legacy is a close account of the final six years of Jackson’s existence (1879–1885), while she struggled to advertise the rights of yank Indians displaced and dispossessed by means of the U.S. executive. Valerie Sherer Mathes locations Jackson’s paintings in the higher nineteenth-century Indian rights circulate and information her campaign of touring, writing, and lobbying executive officers. Jackson’s efforts culminated within the e-book of A Century of Dishonor, an indictment of the government’s Indian coverage, and the radical Ramona, a sympathetic portrayal of the plight of California’s venture Indians. Her impression used to be felt instantly within the activities of next reform staff within the Women’s nationwide Indian organization, the Indian Rights organization, and the Lake Mohonk Conference.

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The reformers who carried on her legacy were imbued with evangelical Protestant Christianity and strongly anti-Catholic. Jackson, on the other hand, was not driven by evangelicalism and did not appear to be anti-Catholic. In a Century Magazine article devoted to Franciscan Father Junípero Serra and in her portrayal of Father Salvierderra in Ramona she presented a sympathetic picture of the role of the Catholic church. Jackson's Indian legacy therefore had an ironic twist. Interested primarily in preserving the land base for future generations of the California Mission Indians, she opened the door to reformers who were much more divisive and destructive of Indian culture.

The appointment of honest church men as agents and commission members did not necessarily prevent hostilities. And, although reservations were under civilian control, it was still necessary for the military to serve as a police force to keep whites out and Indians inside. By the close of Grant's second term, hostilities, including the Red River War of 18741875 on the southern Plains and the 18721873 Modoc War in Northern California, as well as the Battle of the Little Bighorn, marred the record of the peace policy.

75 Jackson's untimely death in 1885 removed her as a direct influence upon the reform movement. But her poignant novel Ramona, numerous articles, and a government report on the condition of the Mission Indians of Southern California prompted members of the Women's National Indian Association, as well as of the Indian Rights Association and the Lake Mohonk Conference, to become concerned about the condition of the California Mission Indian. These groups, in effect, carried on her crusade until it was substantially completed.

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