Helen Hunt Jackson
Champion of the American Indian

Helen Hunt Jackson was born on October 18, 1831 as Helen Maria Fiske. She was born and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts. Helen Maria Fiske. Helen grew up in a literary atmosphere and she was herself a poet and writer of children’s stories, novels, and essays. She published her work under the pen name of H.H.H. Her poetry was the outflow of deep sympathetic thought on the problem of life’s trials and temptations. Her verses were strong and noble, never giving attention to mere prettiness of verse. One of her early works, “Bits of Travel”, revealed the humorous side of her nature. With friendly merriment she describes human nature.

Soon, Helen’s interests turned to the plight of the American Indian. As a keen and sympathetic observer, her attention was attracted by the unfair treatment our American Indians received at the hands of government agents. Her interest in the American Indians began in Boston in 1879 at a lecture by Chief Standing Bear, who described the ill-treatment of the Ponca Indians in Nebraska. Helen was furious by what she heard, but being well balanced by nature, she made a painstaking study of the situation. She kept her feelings in check and searched for facts. When she was at last fully equipped for her work, she took up the pen in defense of the wronged Indian.

Because she was in poor health at the time, she wrote with desperate haste. “A Century of Dishonor” appeared calling for change from the base, selfish policy to a treatment characterized by humanity and justice.

Her next step was to cast her material in the form of fiction to reach a wider circle of readers. She wrote “Ramona”, which was her supreme effort. it was in every way a noble book and gave Helen lasting fame. “Ramona” first appeared as a serial in the “Christian Union”, because she was anxious to get the story out.

Helen died in San Francisco on August 12, 1885, while she was examining the condition of the California Indians as a special government commissioner.


This article may be re-published as long as the following resource box is included:  Excerpt from History’s Women – The Unsung Heroines, by Patricia Chadwick, PC Publications, 2002. To purchase this eBook, visit https://historyswomen.com/product/historys-women/For more profiles of great women visit her website at www.HistorysWomen.com.