Monday, July 6, 2015

Discovering racism on the Gold Rush Highway

The history placards inside this historic Idaho building tell of how the land it is sitting on was stolen from the Nez Perce.

Hate saddens me.

I’m enjoying the historic Gold Rush Byway, a winding 49-mile road that takes me up the mountain from Greer, Idaho, into Pierce and Weipee. The scenery excites me with vistas of beautiful stands of pine, clusters of wildflowers and fields of low-growing wheat. Roadside placards quench my thirst for knowledge of how Lewis and Clark survived their arduous journey. I learn they’d died without the generosity and intelligence of native people, of the Nez Perce. 

Then I run smack into the hatefulness of yesterday.

Signs, tiny museums and a diorama along the route document how it took about 70 years for the White man to befriend the Nez Perce, then infiltrate the area, steal from them, chase them away, kill them. 

About 70 years after the Nez Perce nursed the Lewis and Clark expedition back to health, provided shelter, horses and canoes, the now-famous Chief Joseph uttered in defeat “I will fight no more forever.”

I also discover (on the backside of an info board … you’d miss it if you weren’t curious) that the White man here hated the Chinese, too. They even lynched some of them, popularizing a hanging tree as a symbol of their “success."

So this beautiful journey I’m on saddens me. It is steeped in 1) a love of money (blinded by the potential riches from gold); 2) arrogance; 3) thievery; 4) murder; 5) lies, lies, lies.

Yes. Yes. All battles for dominance have a victor and a loser.

I am saddened by the way the West was won. Because hate saddens me.

1 comment:

ralph bradshaw said...

This entry couldn't have come at a better time,July 4 we are strutting, we need to be reminded of some of the bad we have done and maybe we can do better in the future