Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Reviewers' lies about Melville's POEMS stay up on the Internet (see MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY on Brodhead and Delbanco)--but so do letters supporting Elizabeth Warren

Hershel Parker

So Elizabeth Warren has not documented her Cherokee and Delaware
ancestry! And so the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation (pictured on
TV) has been declared by Scott Brown not to look red. Look at him,
Scott Brown said, he's not a person of color! And here Scott Brown has
extended the "Person of Color" category to include us injuns. Well,
that's better than Obama in his inaugural address which mentioned other
colors but not red, to my pained dismay. (I rejoiced that day and wept
because only one person at the ceremonies mentioned Indians.)
let's talk turkey. I always assumed Grandma Parker was half Indian
because she was so very dark and Indian looking. One of her daughters
was always called Blanket because she came out so dark that the family
thought about wrapping her in a blanket and dropping her off at the
reservation. Okie humor. I knew that some of my great aunts as recently
as 1990 were lamenting their failure to be in the Indian rolls, and they
had different explanations which usually came down to people in
Muskogee having to ride a horse or drive a wagon to Waggoner or
Bowlegs--something on the order of what the Republicans are doing in
Pennsylvania this year, where elderly people are being frozen out of the
electorate by arbitrary obstacles which non-mobile people cannot
surmount. I also thought Grandpa Parker was part Indian. He may have
been, but it's not documented at all. Why did his father call his mother
squaw? [I did not learn my highly refined political correctness from
blood relatives.]
Now I know that Grandma Parker had a
white Scots father. One of his daughters told me he was a full blooded
Irishman--presumably a misunderstanding of how so many Scots were in
Ireland before coming to the colonies. I was able (through misspelling
creatively and through an incisive clue in the 1900 census--the name of a
brother) to trace him back to Arkansas and then his parents to
Tennessee. NOT an Irishman who got off the boat in Indian Territory
somehow in the 1880s. NOT. Just another Scots-Irish guy with red hair.
this Scot bowed his head before meals and said the Lord's Prayer in
Choctaw, and one of my aunts irritably said of her clay-pipe-smoking
child-pinching grandmother, "She was a Chockie"--a Choctaw. Well, part
But she was also part Cherokee, who knows how
much? There's on record a story about Uncle Joe Coker being chased in
northern Arkansas by a party of Cherokees because he had taken one too
many Cherokee wives, and some of his brothers must have married
Cherokees. And my Glenns and Tuckers were party to the Jarndyce vs
Jarndyce trial of Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory--a joke to
those who got on the rolls early and often, a joke even in a history
published the year after statehood. The good part, for documentation,
was that cousins of mine testified in the 1880s and afterward before the
Dawes Commission on what they remembered about Indian ancestors in the
1830s and earlier.
I no longer say I am at least an
eighth Indian, but I know that being part Indian was a defining
condition of my early life. Because of Grandma Parker and what I
understood about her I identified with her Choctaw and Cherokee
I'm with Liz.
Scott Brown, I
have blue eyes and look as white as you, but oh my soul, and oh my
body, they are part Choctaw and part Cherokee. Out of the Senate, Scott
Brown! Make way for my Cousin Liz.

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