Helen Hunt Jackson
Picture credit: Wikipedia
Watching the B/W version of the 1936 film Ramona last night, was a double-edged sword, it was such a beautiful story of love and devotion, but it was also extremely sad.
It was wonderful at last, to see the visual of the world-famous classic on the big screen.
The film starred Loretta Young as Ramona, who is completely captivating and steals every scene that she is in.
This book and the movie, spawned an annual event that now brings thousands to the re-creation every year.
They also did so much to express the horrors of the oppressed lives of the California Mission, actually all Indians, in America at the time and the reaction to it was immediate.
Helen Hunt Jackson, a name that she desperately tried to have removed from her writings, as she believed it was ” rude ” to keep a former marriage name, was to become the most famous/infamous American female writer of her time, in spite of the fact that she chose a highly unpopular, even dangerous subject: civility towards American Indians by the US Government.
One of the things that she did, that made her unforgettable and evermore endearing to me, was her brazen delivery to every single member of Congress, a copy of her Cultural/Political blast, A Century of Dishonor.
This single act made her an instant enemy to nearly every politician in America.
Her hope was that this book would expose the wrongs and help to correct them.
When this failed to achieve her goals, she went to California and became entrenched in Native life there long enough to learn all that she needed to write an even more important work that WOULD finally achieve her goal.
She wrote Ramona!
But I digress, here is an earlier Biography that I wrote about her when I was taking books to the masses all over this country, to enlighten the, for the most part, poorly, culturally educated, general public about the truth concerning the History and Culture of Native Americans.
Helen Maria Fiske was born October 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Her father was a strict minister/professor at Amherst College and both of her parents died when she was barely in her teens.
She was educated at the Ipswich Female Seminary and the Abbott Brother’s School in New York City.
Fellow classmate Emily Dickinson became a lifelong friend.
Although Jackson’s personal life was filled with tragedy, her first husband was killed and her two young sons both died, the strength of her legacy remains in her passionate writing about the maltreatment of Native Americans.
An excellent full length biography of her life is here.
The glass ceiling biographies, a wonderful place that has now gone away, wrote this about Helen:
“Helen wrote many books, articles, poems and stories, but her place in history was secured with her 2 most famous books,
Ramona, a romantic tragedy that quickly became a best-selling novel about a young California Indian couple and A Century of Dishonor, a searing exposé on the shameful treatment of Indians by the Government.
After completing it, Jackson delivered a copy to every member of Congress, chastising them with these words, written in red:
“Look upon your hands: They are stained with the blood of your relations.”
The book did not make her a celebrity, on the contrary, it was to be years efore it was appreciated or applauded by most of her contemporaries.
Jackson’ s writing was courageous and many women since have followed her example by also writing about contemptuous Indian issues.”