People's History, Founding Myths, and the American Revolution
Ray Raphael - People's Historian


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Little White Father by Ray Raphael

Little White Father: Redick McKee on the California Frontier

Humboldt County Historical Society, 1993

“A finely-crafted, well researched, fascinating story about an important, but little-known man in our North Coast history. … Little White Father is an account of Redick McKee, one of three commissioners appointed to the office of Indian Affairs by President Millard Fillmore in 1850 to negotiate treaties with the indigenous people of the California frontier. [McKee was] unique in his day, well-meaning in his mission, but ignorant and naïve about the people he was supposed to ‘save,’ as well as about his fellow countrymen and the government he represented. Raphael’s work is objective and courageous in presenting a realistic portrait of Redick McKee. The book presents an accurate view of the events of the Western frontier of the United States from 1850 to 1860, and it raises questions for us to ponder today. It is good reading, but it is not comfortable reading.” — Humboldt Historian

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“More than 140 years after McKee’s journey, Southern Humboldt teacher and author Ray Raphael had produced the first reasonably complete and unbiased account of McKee’s efforts and their effect. In Little White Father, Raphael has gone to the original sources to take an objective look at the mission, covering not only what McKee did and said, but placing it into the larger context of the times he operated in, and the personal attributes of the man himself. … One problem in writing anything about the treatment of Indians is it’s hard for the writer or the reader to avoid a moralistic stance. ‘In part, this is correct, because terrible things happened,’ Raphael said [in an interview]. ‘But, in our haste to take the moral high ground, real history gets lost. My personal sense is the facts speak for themselves. I can let the reader be more of a participant.’” — Redwood Record

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