2. Her father sighed. “I never said either side was innocent or guilty, just ignorant. They’ve been a part of it, we’ve been a part of it, everybody’s been a part of it for a long time.”

Meridian’s father makes this comment in the chapter entitled “Indians and Ecstasy.” It comes as part of a quasi-argument he is having with his wife, Gertrude, occasioned by his decision to return the parcel of land containing the serpent mound to the Cherokee Walter Longknife. Gertrude believes that she and her family bear no responsibility to those who owned and tended the land before them, while her husband views returning the acreage as an attempt to set right a history of abuse and exploitation. Meridian’s father gains perspective on the civil rights movement and the treatment of blacks by looking at them in the context of past wrongs and injustices. By referring to the hardship experienced by a different group of people, Native Americans forced to give up their land and relocate to reservations to the west, he attempts to look further than white/black issues and consider broader humanitarian abuses. He argues that it is dangerous to ignore or minimize the plight of others who have been the victims of racial hatred. At the same time, he acknowledges the role black settlers had in wresting control of Native American-held lands in the Southeast.