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Freedom Essay

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Freedom is defined as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. In An Indian’s View of Indian Affairs, Chief Joseph petitions for freedom. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is a call for freedom. The texts written by Chief Joseph and King share many similar philosophies because the situations faced by two cultures, which are embodied in the texts, are similar. Chief Joseph represents a group of Native Americans who are restricted to land that they do not covet. Euro-Americans use lies and armed forces to press the Native Americans off desired territories and onto wastelands. King represents African-Americans who were neglected the rights and opportunity white people owned. King’s speech addresses the fact that African-Americans were held down with violence and segregation. Chief Joseph’s narrative focuses on the issue of broken promises by dominant Euro-Americans. In the end of these two proclamations, both the authors ask for the key to freedom, equality. Chief Joseph’s Narrative and Martin Luther King’s Speech share numerous ideals that all relate to the two culture’s struggles for freedom, while the two contrast because these movements are not completely the same.
The Constitution and Declaration of Independence represent a:
promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…[but] instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check (King 917).
King is saying that African-Americans have been let down by the foundations of our nation. Throughout Chief Joseph’s narrative are various accounts of broken promises by Euro-Americans. Chief Joseph concentrates mainly on General Miles’ promise because the freedom to live where one wants is imperative to him. The two readings talk of the ideal that both of the cultures are constrained to their certain lands. This notion of being locked up was literal for Native Americans who were restrained to reservations and not allowed off without permission. Being locked up was a metaphor for African-Americans who were confined to certain areas due to discrimination and segregation. Frustration with the Euro-American’s attempt to satisfy the Native-Americans and African-Americans with simple answers is also apparent in the readings. Chief Joseph says, ...


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...ency of the cries for equality in the readings shows the importance of being free to choose one’s life.
     Discrimination brings the ideals of the readings together because discrimination led to comparable challenges faced by either of the author’s cultures. The epidemic of broken promises by the white men is apparent in both readings. King does not falter by believing these promises, and he uses his increasing power to force the issues at hand. Chief Joseph did not comprehend the discrimination he faced at first, and he did not learn to demand his freedom until he had lost all of his power. The bellow for equality by King’s “Let freedom ring” segment is paralleled in Chief Joseph’s final paragraphs. Chief Joseph writes the answer both cultures are looking for when he states, “Whenever the white man treats the Indian [or African-American] as they treat each other, then we will have no more wars” (Chief Joseph 14).

Works Cited
King, Martin. “I Have a Dream.” New Worlds of Literature. Eds. Jerome Beaty, and J.
Paul Hunter. New York: Norton, 1994. 917-20.
Joseph, Chief. “An Indian’s View of Indian Affairs.” Bel-Jean Packet. Athens: Bel-
Jean, 2005. 7-16.


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