I was stuck with the documentary we watched in class. I’m also sure that mine wasn’t a singular reaction. One moment that stood apart from the others was when Mr. Gettridge’s daughter wouldn’t tell him the exact date of his wife’s homecoming. It seemed like a great surprise, then June Cross told us that he’d an agreement with Anderson Cooper of CNN to televise her return. It felt gaudy and awkward. Why would Mr. Gettridge strike this deal when his own daughter recognized it as something her mother would detest?
*I subsequently checked myself*
This semester, I’m taking a class on American Indian law and public policy.* We recently spoke about the policy of Removal, what we associate now with the Trail of Tears. While the Cherokee (click here to have some more background on Indian sovereignty in Georgia) people are the first that come to mind, Dr. Oberg made it clear that there is “no period of time in which Indians aren’t being moved by force.” He continued to talk about why we primarily think of the Cherokee. “They were smart,” he said. “They constructed the narrative.” And to paraphrase Dr. Oberg (because my notes and memory fail me), while that may seem selfish, they were just trying to survive.**
While in no way am I trying to equate one oppressed group’s suffering with another’s, there are some similarities of which we should take note. Both Mr. Gettridge and the Cherokee were forced out of their homes by natural and man-made distasters, respectively. Mr. Gettridge first mucked out his house, and began to rebuild. His craftsmanship helped him, as did the tens of people who contributed their time and labor. This was how he was getting by. Seemingly abandoned by his government, Mr. Gettridge found ways to support himself because he got a story.
Similarly, when the Cherokee were illegally*** forced off their land, they lost their homes and many, their lives. They weren’t able to return to their homes, but the violences committed to them through the Indian Removal Act are still talked about today in our skewed education system.
This leads me to a question Beth has already posed to our class a few times this semester: who gets a story? At this point, I’m not sure. That’ll be something I’ll pay more attention to as class goes on.
*I’m curious to explore the intersecting aspects between this 439, and my American Indian class. Both are about the loss of home and identity. This class in a more, web-like way, and the other concretely based in law.
**This statement does not condone violences done to (marginalized) people by (another) marginalized people, but rather, gives context to their humanity.
***Weeeeeell, contradicting Supreme Court Judge Marshall’s opinion on the court case Worcester v. Georgia, which ruled in favor of the Indians, saying that Georgia had no right to pass laws invalidating Indian law and sovereignty. Unfortunately, Jackson had no legal obligation to enforce that ruling, because Georgia was technically never found in contempt of the ruling. Only then would he have been obligated to the state encroaching its civil and judiciary jurisdiction over Indian lands.