Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt Jr.
"I wish very much that
the wrong people could be
prevented entirely from breeding; and when
the evil nature of
these people is sufficiently flagrant, this should be done. Criminals
should be sterilized and feebleminded persons forbidden to leave offspring
behind them. The emphasis should be laid on getting desirable people to
breed."- Theodore Roosevelt, "Twisted Eugenics," The Works of
As a former great chief at Washington I was
admitted to the sacred room, or one-roomed house, the kiva, in which the chosen
snake priests had for a fortnight
been getting ready for the sacred
dance. Very few white men
have been thus admitted, and never unless it is known that they will treat with
courtesy and respect what the Indians
Entrance to the house, which was sunk in the rock, was through
a hole in the roof, down a ladder across whose top hung a cord from which
fluttered three eagle plumes and dangled three small animal skins. Below was a
room perhaps fifteen feet by twenty-five.
One end of it, perhaps a
third of its length, was raised a foot above the rest, and the ladder led down
to this raised part. Against the rear wall of this raised part or dais lay
thirty odd rattlesnakes, most of them in a twined heap in one
corner, but a dozen by themselves
scattered along the wall.
There was also a pot containing several
striped ribbon-snakes, too lively to be left at large. Eight or ten priests,
some old, some young, sat on the floor in the lower and larger two-thirds of
the room, and greeted me with grave courtesy; they spread a blanket on the edge
of the dais, and I sat down, with my back to the
snakes and about eight feet from
them; a little behind and to one side of me sat a priest
with a category of fan or brush made of two or three wing-plumes of an eagle,
who kept quiet guard over his serpent wards.
At the farther
end of the room was the altar; the crude
image of a coyote was painted on the floor, and on the four sides of this
coyote picture were paintings of snakes; on three sides it was hemmed
in by lightning sticks, or thunder sticks, standing upright in little clay
cups, and on the fourth side by eagle plumes held similarly erect.
of the priests were smokingfor pleasure, not ceremoniallyand they
were working at parts of the ceremonial dress. One had a cast rattlesnake skin
which he was chewing, to limber it up, just as Sioux squaws used to chew
buckskin. Another was fixing a leather apron with pendent thongs; he stood up
and tried it on. All were scantily clad, in breech-clouts or short kilts or
loin flaps; their naked, copper-red bodies, lithe and sinewy, shone, and each
had been splashed in two or three places with a blotch or streak of white
One spoke English and
translated freely; I
was careful not to betray too much curiosity or
touch on any matter which they might
be reluctant to discuss. The snakes behind me
never rattled or showed any signs of anger;
the translator volunteered the remark that they were peaceable because they had
been given medicinewhatever that might mean, supposing the statement to
be true according to the sense in which the words are accepted by plains men.
But several of them were active in the sluggish rattlesnake fashion.
One glided sinuously toward me; when he was a yard away, I pointed him
out to the watcher with the eagle feathers; the watcher quietly extended the
feathers and stroked and pushed the snake's head back, until it finally
turned and crawled back to the wall. Half a dozen times different
snakes thus crawled out toward me
and were turned back, without their ever displaying a symptom of irritation.
One snake got past the watcher and
moved slowly past me about six inches away, whereupon the priest on my left
leaned across me and checked its advance by throwing pinches of dust in its
face until the watcher turned round with his feather sceptre.
move was made without hurry and with quiet unconcern; neither
snake nor man, at any time, showed
a trace of worry or
anger; all, human beings and reptiles, were
in an atmosphere of quiet peacefulness. When I rose to say good-by, I thanked
my hosts for their courtesy; they were pleased, and two or
three shook hands with me.
On the afternoon of the following day
the antelope prieststhe men of the antelope
snake priests took part. It was
held in the middle of Walpi village,
round a big, rugged column of rock, a dozen feet high, which juts out of the
smooth surface. The antelope-dancers came in first, clad in
kilts, with fox skins behind; otherwise naked, painted with white splashes and
streaks, and their hair washed with the juice of the yucca root. Their leader's
kilt was white; he wore a garland and anklets of cottonwood leaves, and
sprinkled water from a sacred vessel to the four corners of heaven.
Another leader carried the sacred bow and a bull-roarer, and they moved
to its loud moaning sound. The snake priests were similarly clad,
but their kirtles were of leather; eagle plumes were in their long hair, and
under their knees they carried rattles made of tortoise-shell. In two lines
opposite each other, keeping time to
the rhythm of their monotonous chanting.
The idea that our natural
resources were inexhaustible still exists.
Even though there is as yet
no real knowledge of their extent and condition.
The relation of the
conservation of natural resources to the problems of American welfare and
American efficiency had
not yet dawned on the public mind.
The reclamation of arid public
lands in the West was still a matter for private enterprise alone; and our
magnificent river system, with its superb possibilities for public usefulness,
was dealt with by the American government not as a unit, but as
a disconnected series
of pork-barrel problems, whose only real interest was in their effect on
the reelection or defeat of a Congressman here and therea theory which, I
regret to say, still obtains.
The idea that the president is
the steward of the public welfare was first formulated and given practical
effect in the Forest Service by its law officer, George Woodruff.
laws were often insufficient, and it became well-nigh impossible to get them
amended in the public interest when once the
representatives of privilege in
Congress grasped the fact that I would sign no amendment that contained
anything not in the public interest.
It was necessary to use what law
was already in existence, and then further to supplement it by presidential
The practice of examining every claim to
public land before passing it
into private ownership offers a good example of the policy in question.
This practice, which has since become general, was first applied in the
Enormous areas of valuable public timberland were
thereby saved from fraudulent
acquisition; more than
250,000 acres were thus saved in a single case.
Even more important was
the taking of steps to preserve from destruction beautiful and wonderful
wild creatures whose existence
was threatened by greed and wantonness.
During the seven and a half years closing on March 4, 1909, more was
accomplished for the protection of
wild life in America than
during all the previous years, excepting only the creation of the Yellowstone
The record includes the creation of five National
ParksCrater Lake, Oregon; Wind Cave, South Dakota; Platt, Oklahoma; Sully
Hill, North Dakota, and Mesa Verde, Colorado; four big animal refuges in
Oklahoma, Arizona, Montana, and Washington; fifty-one bird reservations; and
the enactment of laws for the protection of
wild life in Alaska, the
District of Columbia, and on National bird reserves.
These measures may
be briefly enumerated as follows:
of the first game laws for the Territory of Alaska in 1902 and 1908, resulting
in the regulation of
the export of heads and trophies of big animals and putting an end to the
slaughter of deer for hides along the southern coast of the Territory.
for the preservation of buffalo
and the establishment in the Yellowstone National Park.
1904 Roosevelt Corollary to the
Monroe Doctrine states that the US will intervene as a last resort to ensure
that other nations in the Western Hemisphere fulfilled their obligations to
international creditors, and did not violate the rights of the US or invite
foreign aggression to the detriment of the entire body of American
1905 Wichita Game Preserves forged, the
first of the National animal preserve.
Roosevelt cuts all relations with
Korea, turns the
American legation in Seoul over to the Japanese military, deletes the word
"Korea" from the State Department Record of Foreign Relations and places it
under the heading of "Japan." During the
forty year occupation Koreans are forbidden to speak their language. This is in
exchange for Japanese acceptance of the continuing US occupation of the
Grand Canyon Game Preserve of
Arizona comprising 1,492,928 acres established.
National Monuments Act
passes to preserve a number of objects of scientific interest, and be wildlife
refuges, for all time include: Muir Woods, Pinnacles National Monument in
California, and the Mount Olympus National Monument, Washington, which also
form important refuges for animals.
1907 12,000 acres of Wichita Game Preserves are enclosed with
a woven wire fence for the reception of
the herd of fifteen buffalo
donated by the New York Zoological Society.
The passage of the Act of May
23, 1908, providing for the establishment of the National Bison Range in
Montana. This range comprises about 18,000 acres of
land formerly in the Flathead Indian
Reservation, on which is now established a herd of eighty buffalo, a nucleus of
which was donated to America by the American Bison
The issue of the
Order protecting birds on the
Niobrara Military Reservation, Nebraska, in 1908, making this entire
reservation in effect a bird reservation.
The establishment by
Executive Order between
March 14, 1903, and March 4, 1909, of fifty-one National Bird Reservations
distributed in seventeen States and Territories from Puerto Rico to Hawaii and
Alaska. The creation of these reservations at once placed American in the front
rank in the world work of bird protection. Among these reservations
are the celebrated Pelican Island rookery in Indian River, Florida; the
Mosquito Inlet Reservation, Florida, the northernmost home of the manatee; the
extensive marshes bordering Klamath and Malhuer Lakes in Oregon, formerly the
scene of slaughter of ducks for market and ruthless destruction of plume birds
for the millinery trade; the Tortugas Key, Florida, where, in connection with
have been made on the homing instinct of birds; and the great bird colonies
on Laysan and sister islets in Hawaii, some of the greatest colonies of sea
birds on Earth.
"To announce that there must be no
criticism of the president, or
that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic
and servile, but is morally
treasonable to the American people.""It is not the
critic who counts, not the man
who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could
have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena;
whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and
valiantly; who errs and comes short
again and again; who desire the great
enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who
at the best, desire in the end the
triumph of high achievement,
and who, at worst, if he fails, at least
fails while daring greatly; so that his
place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory
"The nation behaves well if it treats the natural
resources as assets which it must turn over to the
increased, and not impaired, in value."
Theodore Roosevelt observed that American
democracy is too sturdy to be destroyed by a foreign enemy.
Teddy warned, it could easily be destroyed by
"malefactors of great wealth" who
would subvert American political institutions from within.'
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