Hello to all on this beautiful day.
Somewhere along the way, autumn slipped in and with that comes my third and final book in the Willamette Brides series from Bethany House Publishers.
Forever by Your Side tells a story of conflict with the native people of Oregon and some fictional folks who were striving against them.
One of the characters I mentioned in this series is a woman who was quite real—a heroine for that time period (1880’s). Her name was Helen Hunt Jackson.
Mrs. Jackson was the daughter of an Amherst College professor and was encouraged to learn mathematics, science and philosophy. She was longtime friends with Emily Dickenson and throughout her life enjoyed the company of poets, novelists, and historians. She married an army man and had two sons, but within a few years lost all three. In her sorrow she sought solace in writing.
Later, she remarried and during this time her writing began to take off. She enjoyed traveling for research, as well as going to see her publishers. While back east on just such a trip, she attended a lecture by Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca, who described what the government had done to his people in forcing them onto reservations in Oklahoma. This started Mrs. Jackson’s passion for the cause of Indian rights. She even wrote a book titled, A Century of Dishonor and gave a copy to each and every congressman and senator in 1881. This book led to the creation of the Indian Rights Association. She became a great advocate for the Native American people, lecturing and writing until her death in 1885.
During this same time, the Bureau of Ethnology (later changed to the Bureau of American Ethnology) was formed by the government to catalogue and record the culture, speech, songs, and beliefs of all Indian tribes in America. Thankfully, this bureau was able to retain many priceless bits of information that might have been lost—especially from tribes who are no longer with us.
Although the Fifteenth Amendment, passed in 1870, and granted all U.S. citizens the right to vote regardless of race, many states refused that privilege to Native Americans. The Snyder Act (passed in 1924) admitted Native Americans born in the U.S. to full U.S. citizenship. However, the Constitution left it up to individual states as to who had the right to vote. It took over forty years for all fifty states to allow Native Americans the right to vote. Utah was the last state to legalize voting for the Native American in 1962.
We see all the problems and pain that racism has caused in the past, as well as what is being experienced even now. It seems somewhere along the way many have forgotten God called us to love one another—to treat others as better than ourselves. As I researched this book and saw some of the horrific things that were done to the native people it saddened me to think that the larger part of the population back then considered this just and right. I’d like to think we are smarter now—that we’ve learned from past mistakes. I hope we have.
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Often called the “Queen of Historical Christian fiction”, Tracie Peterson is an ECPA, CBA and USA Today best-selling author of over 120 books, most of those historical. Her work in historical fiction earned her the Best Western Romance Author of 2013 by True West Magazine and USA “Best Books 2011” Award for best Religious Fiction for Embers of Love. She was given the Life Time Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers in 2011 and the Career Achievement Award in 2007 from Romantic Times, as well as multiple best book awards. She won the Centennial Award from RWA in 2018 for having written over 100 novels. Tracie, a Kansas native, now makes her home in the mountains of Montana with her husband of 40 plus years.