During his seven month-stay in New Mexico, D.H. Lawrence (1885 – 1930), pen-pushing British rhapsodist and highly lauded versifier in the 20th century's republic of letters, was baffled to find that the Natives of America were held in total contempt and largely confined to isolated swaths of land. Arriving in Taos in September of 1922, it didn't take him long to recognize the admirable qualities inherit within their culture and the injustices that had been done to them. His restrained response was expressed in these three brief paragraphs that appeared in THE NEW REPUBLIC toward the middle of December of that year.
Living, as we do, in the age of Indian gaming casinos it seems rather quaint to talk about which tribe was considered the richest of them all back in the Thirties. Nonetheless, this 1936 article tells the tale of the Osage Indians (Missouri) and the great wealth that was thrust upon them when oil was discovered on their tribal lands:
"In 1935, some 3,500 Osage Indians proved their right to the title of "wealthiest Indian tribe in America" by drawing an income of $5,000,000 from their oil and gas leases...The members of Chief Fred Lookout's tribe were not stingy with their new wealth. They bought clothes, big cars lavishly ornate homes..."
"Idolized, publicized, dramatized, picturesque members of a fast diminishing aboriginal race, they were the white man's heroes. But the white man's adulations and his indulgences helped write 'finis' prematurely on the records of some of them even as his vices quickened the racial degeneration of their stock."
"Sockalexis, Thorpe, Bender, Longboat and Meyers! There were scores of other notable Indian athletes from '93 to 1915, but the names of those five were household words in the early days of the new century."
The earliest encounters with the Native American had left the brain trust of Europe entirely baffled. The persistent matter as to "who" these people were remained an unanswered question well into the Nineteenth Century, for in order to qualify as a member of "enlightened" classes, a fellow had to show some sufficiency in at least two fields: classical literature and the Bible. Therefore, it stood to their reasoning that the inhabitants of the Americas had their story told in one of those two fields of study. Some of Europe's elite were convinced that these people were descendants of the survivors of Troy, who, fearing the Greeks, caught a strong wind which allowed them to sail both the Mediterranean as well as the Atlantic and arrive on that far distant shore. Others tended to believe that the Native American could only have descended from the lost tribes of Israel, which is the topic of this one page article.
The Navajo code-talkers in the Second World War are well-known, but not so terribly well known were their brothers the Sioux, and the similar contributions that they had made just twenty years earlier in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.