The Soul of the Indian


(My note: This passage of the book is translated by me from the original Czech version, so there might be some mistakes. The page may not match the original either).

The advent of white ways, page 69

“Long before I heard about Christ or saw a white man … I knew God. I sensed what grace was. I saw and loved what is truly beautiful. Civilization has not taught me anything better!”

– Ohiyesa 

The influence of white religion

“Our transition from natural life to the artificial life of civilization has caused enormous spiritual and moral loss. A European who came among us said: “You are children. You can’t do anything, you can’t invent anything. We have one god and he has given us the right to teach and guide all people on Earth. As proof of this, we have his book, an extraordinary counselor, whose every word is true and binding. We are a chosen nation – a superior race. We have heaven with golden gates that will not let any pagans and unbelievers in, and hell, where souls of just such people are tortured forever. We are respectable, truthful, educated, pious, peaceful, we hate cruelty and injustice. Our task is to educate, convert to Christianity and protect the rights and property of the weak and uncivilized.

Those of us who listened to the sermons of the missionaries began to believe that only a white man had a true god, and that things that the Indian had previously considered sacred were the invention of the devil. This undermined the very foundations of our philosophy. This often happened without being replaced by Christian philosophy, not because the very qualities of Christian philosophy were worthless, but because the conflicting behavior of their followers made it difficult for us to accept or understand.

Some of us have accepted the god of the white man in good faith. The preacher himself looked like an Indian. He did not avoid hardship, and as he followed and shared the fate of the tribes in the wilderness, the members of the tribe learned to trust him and love him. Then other missionaries came who had houses where they slept and planted gardens and who were embarrassed to sleep in an Indian wigwam or eat their wild food, but for the most part held back and forced the converts into their own clothes and manners. These also had their followers at the right time. But basically, it’s true that although the Indians eagerly sought out rifles and gunpowder, knives and whiskey, some pieces of clothing, and later horses, did not by themselves desire the white man’s food, his houses, his books, his government, or his religion. The two great “civilizers” were, after all, whiskey and gunpowder. And the moment we accepted them, we actually sold our ancestors and all of us unknowingly allowed our own demise. As soon as we left the broad democracy and pure idealism of our beginnings and dared to enter the world game of competition, our helm came loose, we lost our compasses and storms of materialism and conquest swept here and there like leaves in the wind.”