What’s wrong with this picture?
This story was told on the front page of the Comanche Nation News, June edition, 2010. The dramatic prayer incident took place this past April 23 and 24. To my knowledge, this event was not advertised among the Comanche people, nor was there any general invitation given. The June edition in the Comanche paper is the first I knew of it. I know I’m not the only Comanche that was unaware of it.
This event is ironic, the history dubious, and, in my opinion, the incident somewhat egregious. With all due respect for my beloved Comanche people and our leaders, I beg to differ with the idea that anyone owes Comanches an apology, or that Comanches need to offer forgiveness to anyone. Indeed, if Comanches accept apologies from anyone, then Comanches need to go and offer their apologies to the Apache, the Spanish, and the Texans. After all, Comanches were the aggressor–first toward other Indians, then toward the Spanish and Mexican population, in Mexico and in Texas. That the white Texans should finally out-gun and out-number the Comanche is no reason for the Texans to apologize. And Comanches certainly owe the Texans no apology. The Comanches were themselves invaders of the territory occupied by others. Then Comanches became victims of invasion.
Of a truth, Comanches should go down to Mexico, arrange a meeting with President Felipe Calderon, and kneel before him, confessing their brutal, savage abuse of Mexican people, and pray to God for forgiveness, from heaven and from the Mexican people.
Señor Felipe Calderon, el Presidente de Mexico.
But, what we have here in Palo Duro is an attempt of Christians to be graphic about their spiritual values. The reality of their faith is something they want emblazoned in the minds of the public. No, I don’t think they’re insincere, but I do think they’re melodramatic. This gesture is a fine piece of public relations, but, it is, in my opinion, historically and ethically mistaken, if theologically reasonable. It is effectually superficial, if based on a sincere attempt to manifest spiritual values in a sociological way. I’m afraid it smacks of liberalism, of reparations, of “historical justice” (if but in gesture), and really has no function beyond the intent of good will. It is not in fact about justice. It is completely off the mark.
As the news story relates, there were other tribes involved in the 1874 Palo Duro battle. This is indeed news to me, and probably to a lot of honest, informed Comanches. Apache, Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Arapaho were included in the apostolic church round up. It was a “First Nations” gathering by white Christian manoeuverers. But the Comanche story of Palo Duro does not involved any other tribes. It was an effort of Col. Ranald McKenzie to coerce the last of the free Comanches to surrender and come to Ft. Sill with the rest of the Comanches. The news story in the Comanche paper does not mention the involvement of any other tribes in that 1874 affair. And southwestern plains Indians don’t use the term “First Nations.” This is a hep, Canadian liberal term for all indigenous people of the Americas. It’s part of that anti-white racist approach to Indians, which deems all indigenous people of the Americas equal to the grandeur of the American Indian, on a par with the honor of the Comanche. Personally, I’ll have none of it. No one belongs with the Comanche. And no other people should ever be associated with the American Indian. This is ethnic robbery. It is the denigration of Indian honor, and something liberals and Democrats continually seek, despite their professions of apology and forgiveness. Liberal “equality” degrades the American Indian, every time, and particularly the Comanche.
The fact is, most Indians, certainly the Indian leaders, among the southern plains tribes, are all Christian. It is a reservation tradition. Christianity is valued among Indians. I know that our Comanche people were at the April impropriety simply because they are Christian, and they would never work against other Christians–especially when those Texas Christians were trying to manifest some sort of Christian faith and principle toward other Christians whom they believe were terribly wronged. (Of course, Comanche certainly weren’t Christian at the time these “wrongs” were committed.) This is all perfectly appropriate, for the sake of Christian love and brotherhood.
But, it is inevitably superficial and meaningless. It is no more than a gesture. There is no righting of wrongs, even if the wrongs are positively identifiable–which, in this case, they are not. A cultural car wreck, such as the encounter of the white man with the Indian, is not something that any post-accident governmental ‘insurance’ policy can remedy. The crooked cannot be made straight. The old Indian way of life is gone forever.
What happened at the April impropriety at Palo Duro was simply a staged expression of the fact that people are ineffably awed by the ironies of history. Christian people feel compelled to address wrong, in a Christian way. It is a peculiar aspect of modern Christianity to venture into historical wrongs, however, and to feel an obligation to make today some marked expression about history. I say, however, that Christianity is best served on a personal basis, in the present, and not a national basis, not regarding irredeemable history. Jesus did say, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). I don’t know that national, political, or racial expression of right and wrong, apology and forgiveness, reparation and justice, are anything effective or useful except as the expression of good will. That can never be a bad thing to do, in and of itself.
I think that the Comanches who were at Palo Duro in April were there because they were invited, because they were acknowledged in an unusual way, and because, above all, they felt obligated to show respect to other Christians. This was for the Texas Christians, not really for the Comanches.
However, I say, again, because this present Comanche administration was willing to accept apology from white Texas Christians on bended knee, before the God of heaven, in the name of Christ, Comanches must now make a call to Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and arrange for a public ceremony in Mexico, in say, Zecatecas, south of Coahuila; Comanches, the very ones present in Palo Duro in April, must publicly bow, on camera, before the Mexican government and the Mexican people, and on bended knee offer apology and beg for forgiveness for every Mexican the Comanches plundered, butchered, and raped.
This is the path created by April impropriety, and it must be followed.
This Palo Duro Christian gesture was on the front page of Comanche Nation News. Though I don’t see that it was advertised, or that all Comanche people were invited, it is presented to us as something our people were presumed to have approved. I for one would not have approved on any wise. As a Comanche, I can think of nothing more denigrated and distorting to the psyche than to sanction the dramtic public gesture of apology from those who do not owe us an apology! I know that our people, our elders, are all Christian. I know that they may see this April impropriety as a wonderful, healing event. As I said, they were there because they are honoring the Christian fellowship. This is of course a righteous thing. (Perhaps they are more righteous than I.)
I’m saying that, if the Comanche people honor this April event, then the Comanche people must apologize to Mexico. That’s the truth. And Comanche people must first apologize to the Apache!
This is the logical extention of the April impropriety at Palo Duro. Will Comanche people do this? Will the elders initiate such a dramatic gesture? They accepted such a gesture. Are they not obligated to make the same?
Personally, I say no one owes an apology to the Comanche. That insults our pride and honor. If we accept any such apology, then we owe apology to those whom we wronged. Then we’re not exactly Comanche anymore.