Chapter 57: The Lampwick Letters : Number One
Dear Mr Amplegirth,
Thank you for sending me a copy of your essay about the Native Americans and their interactions with newcomers over the years. I accept your name for the people in question. They have at times been given various other titles but as far as I know, the one you use is now considered politically correct and I have no wish to risk getting my head in my hands by contesting this point.
In your covering letter you ask me let you have my opinion of the work and to confine my observations to its substance and to refrain from commenting on your style. That is just as well, as if you had given me a fuller remit, I would have had the odd bone to pick with you regarding certain aspects of your presentation, particularly the fact that you seem to have declared war on pronouns.
I am flattered that you have requested me to offer a critique, as I am by no means an expert in your subject matter. It is true that I have some modest reputation as an observer of the literary world, but my knowledge of your theme is no greater than that of the average passably well-formed lay person. However, I will try to do justice to the confidence you evidently have in me. You say that you intend to submit your dissertation to the writing forum of which you are a member and that you hope to receive an award for the best historical article offered this year.
Let me start by saying that I am somewhat at sea with your description of the contacts between the early voyagers from England and the folk they met. You refer to what were once called The Five Civilised Tribes. I do not like this term, as civilisation is in my view sometimes a subjective matter. Be that as it may, the point that causes me most concern is the names you give to those groups and others you refer to later in your paper.
Your note states that you employed a reputable man to do virtually all the research involved in the project, that you paid him a substantial fee for this, and that you are indebted to him for the portrayal of the various indigenous peoples identified in the text and for details of most of the incidents described. When you get to the end of this reply, you may wonder how well your money was spent.
You speak of the abovementioned five tribes as Cherripikkas, Chickpees, Sagoes, Tapiocas and Semolinas. Perhaps my education in this area has been neglected, but I have never heard of any such folks. Later in the manuscript you refer to other tribes, the names of which are new to me. It is a pity that you do not always state where they lived. I would love to know the locations of the Comandas, who you say were superb equestrians, and of the Peccadilloes and Companeros. Then you mention the Bluefeet. This is the first time I have seen any reference to them. You say they inhabited the far north and went barefoot, so possibly those two factors account for their name.