Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bury My Heart at the Corner of Navajo and Mohawk

I've shied away from commenting on the issue of what to call that Richardson neighborhood with all the streets named Seminole, Chickasaw, Apache, etc. Should entry signs announce it as "Estates North" (the original name given by developers in the 1960s) or "The Reservation" (the unofficial name homeowners have been calling it ever since)?

After the jump, why I'm jumping into the fray.

Now that none other than The Dallas Morning News' esteemed metro columnist and Unfair Park punching bag Steve Blow has weighed in on the subject, I feel compelled to offer my two cents' worth as well. If the good folks in Sunnyvale are talking about it, why shouldn't I?

I'm with Steve Blow when he concludes, "A serious affront? Or a silly quibble? The bottom line is that it's not a terribly serious insult, but neither is it silly to question such things."

Blow reports that the Dallas-Fort Worth Native American Chamber of Commerce felt the issue important enough for that body to take a vote. That Chamber of Commerce discourages the name, Reservation.

On the other hand, Darrell Day, president of the Reservation Homeowners Association, believes the concern is silly. Blow quotes him as saying, "At some point this crosses into absurdity. What is an Indian reservation? It's simply land that was reserved for the American Indians."

And that's what brings me into the fray. I can't let ignorance by our civic leaders pass without comment. (OK, I can't let much of anything that goes on in Richardson pass without comment, but that's another matter.) I don't live in that neighborhood. I support the homeowners' right to put "Reservation" on their entry signs, even if they use my tax dollars to pay for them. But anyone who thinks that a reservation is "simply land that was reserved for the American Indians" is showing a naive lack of understanding of American history.

There are many good sources of information on the subject (Wikipedia among them, which Darrell Day told Steve Blow he uses). If you can take the time to read a book, I recommend you start with "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown, a 1970 bestselling "history of Native Americans in the American West in the late nineteenth century, and their displacement and slaughter by the United States federal government" (that description comes from Wikipedia ;-). Read that book, Mr. Day, and see if you still describe the role of "reservations" in American history so blandly. Because, frankly, Mr. Day, your comments about this issue aren't helping your neighborhood's image.

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