This booklet tells of what it was like in the early part of the 1900s for a young Quechan Indian boy to grow up on a Native American Indian reservation. The story is about his early years and his experiences with life as he and his family went through the social transition brought about by the first European and then American colonization of their Quechan tribe's historic homelands.
It tells a little bit about his tribe's history, their customs and traditions which had been handed down from one generation to the next. This is his point of view from two points in time, before and after the coming of Europeans to this continent, as the boy grew up into manhood in a world his ancestors had never even dreamed of. The importance of this boy's story is that his was the last generation of Quechans to know how things used to be, before 1941 and the beginning of the Nuclear Age.
Indian reservations are still a mystery to most of modern America. In fact Indians themselves are a part of that mystery which has been created because of a mixture of indifference, ignorance and an unwillingness to learn, on the part of non-Indians. Many non-Indians prefer to know only the fictional romanticized view of Indian life imparted from writings of early western writers and partly from smarmy and not so smarmy films and documentaries. (Dances With Wolves, Broken Arrow, Cheyenne Autumn, et al)
Depending on one's own view gained from history books or early writings, Native Americans were either stoic, heroic, wise capable of delivering extemporaneous profound speeches, and at one with Nature, or, on the other hand he was a fierce Godless savage, warlike, a killer of white men and kidnapper of blonde, blue-eyed white women. Neither view is correct, of course. Above all, they were human, with the same attributes and frailties seen in other races. No more, no less. This book tries to describe in an understandable way, the real truth about "Indians:" How the people of this one tribe lived and what they believed in the days before the European invasion and what happened afterwards to change their lifestyle forever.
The time described by the writer begins in the years just after the arrival of the Europeans, leading into the acrimonious relationship between the Quechan and the newcomers, then the troublesome times of the late 1890s and the early 1900s when the alien United States Government began to seriously impose its laws and culture on the Quechan Nation, some 30 years after the subjugation of Indian Tribes of the mid-West. We hope it will enlighten the reader and create an understanding of present-day social and political problems which continue to hamper the improvement of community life and the standard of living on many Native American reservations.
The purpose of this book is neither to condemn not to glorify the actions of any race or persons, but instead it is to impart to the reader a reliable sense of early life on the Quechan reservation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elmer M. Savilla is a member of the Quechan Nation (pronounced Kwet-SHAN). The Quechan reservation is located on the western banks of the lower Colorado River near the present city of Yuma, Arizona.
He is a veteran of World War II, having served in the U.S. Navy.
Two years after returning to the Quechan reservation in 1970 he was elected to the governing Tribal Council and subsequently was elected as the President of the Quechan Nation. He is credited with bringing the tribe into a time of economic development which improved the life-style of families living on the reservation.
Since 1986, he has been a free-lance investigative journalist and columnist for various tribal and Indian-owned newspapers. Most recently he was employed by Christian Relief Services in Lordon, Virginia as the Editor of America's EAGLE Magazine, which has provided current analysis and updating of information to Indian Tribal Government and grassroots people throughout the country. The primary focus of information dissemination has been about the environment and federal Indian policies.
Return to top