Spotlighting the plight of Native Americans
Manitou Springs is located outside Colorado Springs and near the Garden of the Gods.
Tourists visit these locations and view Pike’s Peak, which is an extinct volcano of over 14,000 feet above sea level.
My maternal grandmother, Mabel Helen Wright, was born in 1886 in a sod house in Alma, Neb. Her family members were homesteaders who came from Springfield and Dayton, Ohio.
By 1891, she was riding side saddle on a small white donkey guiding tourists to Helen (Fiske) Hunt Jackson’s grave in the Garden of the Gods.
In 1832, Helen married Edward Bissell Hunt, an Army captain. He died in 1863. She was born in Amherst, Mass. Like many others in that time period, she had become ill with tuberculosis and sought treatment for it in the high dry climate of Colorado Springs.
She married William Sharpless Jackson while she was in Colorado Springs.
During that time, she read reports about the forced relocation of Native Americans to reservations. In an effort to help them, she wrote to the U.S. House of Representatives, seeking relief for the Mission Indians of California.
Then in 1884, she wrote a fictional story, “Ramona.” It was based on events that began taking place in California in 1846-1848 after the Mexican-American War.
Ramona was the main character of her novel and was the daughter of a Scottish merchant and a Native American woman.
Helen Hunt Jackson traveled to San Francisco, where she died in 1885 at age 50.
Temporarily, she was buried in the Garden of the Gods and then reburied in a cemetery in Colorado Springs.
The purpose of the novel “Ramona” was to draw the attention of the U.S. government to the plight of Native Americans. It was published again in 2015 by Dover Publications and has been made into several movies.
The Trenton, Neb., public library purchased it through Amazon.com for its patrons in March 2017.
Helen Ruth Arnold,