In eighth grade, Cheyenne was given an assignment to rewrite the Gettysburg Address using contemporary language. Here is the original. Then, she asked me to type it, which I did with some more historical details. – THAT version may be read below. It was also an opportunity to discuss the literary device of satire:
EIGHTY-SEVEN YEARS AGO, a mere pittance of time compared to how long Indigenous People have lived on these northern and southern continents of the western hemisphere, OUR white European male ANCESTORS CREATED THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA after accidentally and on purpose killing most of the Indigenous people, destroying their culture, and taking the land like it was a free for all because we could and we thought of them as “ignorant savages” anyway. We did this all while borrowing our Constitution from the Iroquois Confederacy’s “Great Law of Peace," but claiming it was from European sources, and, by the way, we ignored the rights of white European women, too, A NEW COUNTRY, while forgetting that it was an ancient land with civilization and government way beyond what had experienced, FORMED IN FREEDOM WITH THE IDEAL THAT ALL PEOPLE SHOULD BE CREATED EQUAL, at least the white European land-owning men who descended from those original murderers and land destroyers, because we still could not understood that it might be possible to live in harmony instead of hierarchy which some early arriving white Europeans and Blacks found out was really possible when they married Indigenous People. NOW, WE ARE INVOLVED IN a huge CIVIL WAR, but it’s not like we had not had hundred of wars on this same land with the Indigenous People who were trying to protect their land and way of life, FINDING OUT IF THE UNITED STATES, OR ANY COUNTRY SO BASED IN FREEDOM, meaning equal access for those with whiter, lighter skin and its accompanying power, CAN LAST. WE ARE MEETING HERE ON THE FIELD OF THAT CONFLICT, because if we actually did it where the bloodiest war on this continent happened (King Philip’s War) in Massachusetts, then everyone would get upset about its connection to the Thanksgiving holiday or enslavement of Pequot (the first Thanksgiving) or Wampanoag (after the death of Massasoit's son, Metacom, aka King Philip). WE HAVE COME TO SET ASIDE A PART OF THIS FIELD AS A CEMETERY FOR THE MEN WHO HAVE DIED, and all those Indigenous People can rot on the ground where *they* died and later we will have their bones dug up and put in a museum until there is a law (NAGPRA) which forces us return the bones and sacred artifacts to Native Nations, and that is only after they jump through our white dominant mainstream culture hoops to prove the bones are really from their Indigenous American ancestors, SO THAT THE REST OF US white European folks MAY LIVE, PROTECTING THE FREEDOM OF white European dominant mainstream folks to get all the “goodies” in AMERICA. IT MAKES SENSE THAT WE SHOULD DO SOMETHING but I can’t imagine what we could do that would not affect the privilege and advantage that we want to keep to ourselves, so I don’t think we’ll do much at all. BUT IN THE BIGGER PICTURE, WE CANNOT SET ASIDE, WE CANNOT MAKE THIS PLACE SACRED, WE CANNOT BLESS THIS LAND because we have already destroyed it way too much and won’t even keep our hands off the sacred parts we supposedly gave Indigenous People, like the Black Hills where we carved the heads of four Presidents. THE BRAVE white European MEN, and few people of color LIVING AND DEAD, WHO FOUGHT HERE, HAVE ALREADY MADE THIS LAND SPECIAL MUCH MORE THAN WE EVER COULD. THE WORLD WON’T REALLY REMEMBER MUCH OF WHAT I’M SAYING about the destruction of Indigenous culture because we’ll undertake a full scale cover-up and there won’t be enough white allies to tell us we’re “wrong” so we’re all set, BUT THE WORLD WILL REMEMBER WHAT THESE mostly white European SOLDIERS DID HERE and the rest of us white dominant mainstream European folks in this country will continue to have more access (and won’t even know that we did not earn it) than any people of color (who’ll we’ll keep saying need to “work harder”) for ever and ever, THE END.