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Friday, February 22, 2019

John Wayne on the Indians (Part VI of the Famous, 1971, Playboy Interview)

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

PLAYBOY: That’s hardly the point [No, it is the point!], but let’s change the subject. For years American Indians have played an important—if subordinate—role in your Westerns. Do you feel any empathy with them?

WAYNE: I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from
them, if that's what you're asking. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.

PLAYBOY: Weren't the Indians—by virtue of prior possession—the rightful
owners of the land?

WAYNE: Look, I’m sure there have been inequalities. If those inequalities
are presently affecting any of the Indians now alive, they have a right to a court hearing. But what happened 100 years ago in our country can’t be blamed on us today.

PLAYBOY: Indians today are still being dehumanized on reservations.

WAYNE: I’m quite sure that the concept of a government-run reservation would have an ill effect on anyone. But that seems to be what the socialists are working for now—to have everyone cared for from cradle to grave.

PLAYBOY: Indians on reservations are more neglected than cared for. Even if you accept the principle of expropriation, don’t you think a more humane solution to the Indian problem could have been devised?

WAYNE: This may come as a surprise to you, but I wasn’t alive when reservations were created—even if I do look that old. I have no idea what the best method of dealing with the Indians in the 1800s would have been. Our forefathers evidently thought they were doing the right thing.

PLAYBOY: Do you think the Indians encamped on Alcatraz have a right to that land?

WAYNE: Well, I don’t know of anybody else who wants it. The fellas who were taken off it sure don’t want to go back there, including the guards. So as far as I’m concerned, I think we ought to make a deal with the Indians. They should pay as much for Alcatraz as we paid them for Manhattan. I hope they haven't been careless with their wampum.

PLAYBOY: How do you feel about the government grant for a university and cultural center that these Indians have demanded as “reparations”?

WAYNE: What happened between their forefathers and our forefathers is so far back—right, wrong, or indifferent—that I don’t see why we owe them anything. I don't know why the government should give them something that it wouldn't give me.

PLAYBOY: Do you think they’ve had the same advantages and opportunities that you've had?

WAYNE: I’m not gonna give you one of those I-was-a-poor-boy-and-I-pulled-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps stories, but I’ve gone without a meal or two in my life, and I still don't expect the government to turn over any of its territory to me. Hard times aren’t something I can blame my fellow citizens for. Years ago, I didn’t have all the opportunities, either. But you can’t whine and bellyache ‘cause somebody else got a good break and you didn’t, like these Indians are. We’ll all be on a reservation soon if the socialists keep subsidizing groups like them with our tax money.


 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No America before the coming of the white man. American Indians did not own land. They merely used the resources thereof. Ownership as a concept alien to them.

Land obtained by negotiated treaty or outright purchase with cash is not stealing.