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for people who care about the West

Kitsching the West

 

Regarding the "Weekend Westerner" article, the hyper-romanticized version of the American West's history by Germans is well known (HCN, 11/24/08). Being Arthur Kruse's age, I well remember my older brother reading Karl May novels, and playing Indians-and-Cowboys in the mid-'40s. We grew up during the war near Darmstadt, Germany, a city 85 percent destroyed during Hitler's insanity.

I've been in the U.S. since 1950, have possessed a U.S. passport since 1965, and am familiar with Native American history, especially the appalling conditions still existing today on many reservations, such as the Rosebud Sioux Reservation and Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. An elder, Sarah Swift Hawk, recently froze to death because her family couldn't afford fuel to heat the house.

Being of German ancestry, and speaking with my grandchildren in German since their birth, I fail to see the relevance of the subject article. In fact, I find it extremely, deeply embarrassing that these groups exist in Germany, and that High Country News wasted precious space on such sickening romanticism, even showing a photo with a teepee and Germans dressed up as Indians.

On my wall here at home hangs a painting done by Leonard Peltier called Big Mountain Lady. It was only this morning that my little almost 5-year-old Noelle asked me, "Oma, why is she crying?" I told her that this Diné grandmother was crying because her land was being taken away from her, her water well destroyed, and her sheep needed for wool were dying for lack of green grass. And that she was not allowed to repair her small home.

That's the truth about the West. That's what we need to read about. Not empty nonsense.

Eva Mesmer
Boulder, Colorado