Historic Photos Show Native Americans on a Dark Threshold

By WISE Web News

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 19, 2009 at 9:21 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--Todd: Native Americans throughout the U.S. have not vanished they haven’t gone anywhere. The persons that have been here for generations are still here are still an active part of our community today.

THERE HAS BEEN TALK OVER THE YEARS OF GHOSTS AT FORT WAYNE’S OLD CITY HALL BUT THESE DAYS THE BUILDING IS TRULY FILLED WITH SPIRITS…IN THE FORM OF PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE MAGNIFICENT WANAMAKER COLLECTION HOUSED AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY. TAKEN BETWEEN 1908 AND 1923 BY PHOTOGRAPHER JOSEPH DIXON, THESE ARE AMONG THE LAST IMAGES OF NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE IN TRANSITION..FROM A WORLD STILL CLEAR IN THE MEMORY OF SOUIX CHIEF GHOST BEAR, TO THE ONE INHERITED BY HIS GRAND AND GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN. JOSEPH DIXON’S MISSION WAS TO CHRONICLE OLD WORLD INDIAN LIFE BEFORE IT DISAPPEARED BUT THAT MISSION CHANGED WHEN HE CAME TO KNOW THE SUBJECTS HE WAS PHOTOGRAPHING.

Todd: His encounters with these people very quickly won him over, they really captured his heart and directed his professional efforts for the rest of his career.

DIXON WOULD SPEND THE REST OF HIS LIFE FIGHTING FOR NATIVE AMERICAN RIGHTS, AN EFFORT BOOSTED BY THE HEROISM OF NATIVE AMERICAN SOLDIERS DURING WORLD WAR ONE, LIKE SHARPSHOOTER EWING PETERS. THESE CHOKTAW CODE TALKERS RELAYED MESSAGES IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE TO HEADQUARTERS FROM COMMANDERS IN THE BATTLEFIELD, CONFOUNDING GERMAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS.

Todd: They were engaged in many hostilities throughout the latter part of WW I and Dixon realized that and used these photos of these Choctaw code talkers as one of his main points for advocacy for US citizenship for Native Americans.

THOSE EFFORTS LED TO THE NATIVE AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP ACT OF 1929..A VICTORY FOR THESE PROUD PEOPLES BUT LITTLE COMPENSATION, PERHAPS, FOR WHAT THEY LOST….A WAY OF LIFE 10-THOUSAND YEARS OLD, IN EXCHANGE FOR EXISTENCE IN A WHITE SOCIETY MANY OF THEM STILL STRUGGLE TO MAKE PEACE WITH. ERIC OLSON REPORTING OUT IN YOUR COUNTRY.


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