Sins of Omission

The Indians Who Never Were

Portland and Seattle have developed sizeable communities of disaffected leftists who are antagonistic toward everything that is traditional America.  Hundreds of young folks are ready at a moment’s notice to flood into the streets to protest the offense du jour.  They block traffic, vandalize cars and stores, break windows, start fires, and attack people.  They rant about the evils of capitalism, the despoliation of the environment, and, although most of them are white, the Evil White Man.  At the same time, they speak in reverential tones of the original inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest as if the red man were the ideal human being and the various tribes created ideal societies.

I saw an example of Indian idealization a couple of years ago when I visited Fort Clatsop, built by the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805 near present-day Astoria.  Some of the original fort remains, but most of it is a faithful reconstruction.  Visitors are treated to excellent demonstrations by volunteer re-enactors portraying members of the expedition, and also to a video about the Clatsop Indians.  The video is a fanciful piece that portrays the Clatsop and other Indians of the coasts of Oregon and Washington as peaceful and loving, kind and generous, trustworthy and honest, and, especially, stewards of a pristine environment.  This bucolic idyll ended with the arrival of the white man. ...

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