“All history goes to prove that when first visited by civilized people, the American Indians have been found friendly and hospitable —- from the days of Christopher Columbus to the Lewis and Clark expedition … And so also have a great many travelers, including myself: Nowhere to my knowledge, have they stolen a six-pence worth of my property. Though in their country there are no laws to punish for theft. I have visited 48 different tribes, and feel authorized to say that the North American Indian in his native state is honest, hospitable, faithful, brave,… and an honorable and religious human being…”
George Catlin had a lot of fine things to say about our people and I suppose it was a sign of the times in saying when first visited by “civilized” people, and yet everything he has said speaks to a higher order of civilization than what was brought to the shores of this hemisphere.
An important excerpt from Catlin’s Creed is the following: “I love the people who have never fought a battle with the white man, except on their own ground.”
We fought against a never ending invading force on OUR land, for OUR people, and OUR way of life, and having done so continue to pay to this very day for what any freedom loving people would have have done.
Catlin visited a total of forty eight of our nations, I doubt a person could visit forty eight “civilized” communities anywhere on this planet and not suffer loss of property, not encounter some form of racial prejudice or religious bias.
Regrettably much has changed since these words were first spoken, and too much in our communities has become reflective of what we have learned from the examples of “civilized people”.
We need to become “honorable and religious” savages again – to be the people Catlin wrote of in his creed.
“I love a people that have always made me welcome to the very best that they had.
I love a people who are honest without laws, who have no jails and no poorhouses.
I love a people who keep the commandments without ever having read or heard them preached from the pulpit.
I love a people who never swear or take the name of God in vain.
I love a people “who love their neighbors as they love themselves.”
I love a people who worship God without a Bible, for I believe that God loves them also.
I love a people whose religion is all the same, and who are free from religious animosities.
I love a people who have never raised a hand against me, or stolen my property, when there was no law to punish either.
I love and don’t fear mankind where God has made and left them, for they are his children.
I love the people who have never fought a battle with the white man, except on their own ground.
I love a people who live and keep what is their own without lock and keys.
I love a people who do the best they can. And oh how I love a people who don’t live for the love of money.” George Catlin