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Helen Hunt Jackson (1830–85) was a popular writer of poetry, stories, travel essays, and novels (most famously the California romance Ramona) and an effective activist on behalf of Native Americans.

Jackson was the daughter of an educated New England family whose lifelong friends included poet Emily Dickinson, abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and other prominent American intellectuals. Her first husband and their two sons died very young; she remarried in 1875 and enjoyed a life of travel and intellectual achievement.

On October 29, 1879, Jackson attended a meeting on behalf of the Ponca Tribe. The Poncas had been forcibly moved from Dakota to Indian Territory; one branch of the tribe—led by Chief Standing Bear—illegally returned north, at great cost in lives. Jackson immediately began a writing campaign on ...

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