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Native Americans from
Transcript of Native Americans from
Where We Begin:1865
America has just overcome the most deadly war of its time, the Civil War, and is now beginning to look away from sectional division and towards the bright future ahead. Hoping for the best, many Americans took the giant step west at the urging of officials. What they failed to notice was the quarter million Native American already living in the west. However, historian Jack Mack Farragher claims that Native American lives did mirror the lives of settlers in areas such as Kentucky during the middle 1800s. If this was the case, then the beginning of this period should have been peaceful...
(Dec. 1890 )WOUNDED KNEE MASSACRE: The army tried to stop Ghost Dances and killed Sitting Bull. Native Americans fled to join other Ghost Dancers. Lt. Colonel George Custer caught the Native Americans and took them to the army base. 200 died.
Continued Native American Violence
End of Tribal Life
(1872-74) Buffalo Extermination: Extermination began as railroads pushed West and settlers found that hurting the buffalo was equivalent with hurting the Native Americans. They purposefully continued to do so without government reprimand.
(1887) Dawes Severalty Act: Land was divided into small plots to distribute to tribal members. The surplus was sold to white settlers. This encouraged Americans to move into Indian land. In addition, citizenship was granted to Native Americans who accepted this land and therefore were identified with the nation rather than their individual tribes. This somewhat mended the relationship, but Native Americans were cheated of most land by these white settlers.
In order to assist the movement of gold miners, the US government built a transcontinental railroad in the 1860s. However, this new technology brought many white settlers to the region and cut directly through Native American land. The buffalo also interrupted the railroads' paths, so traveling settlers would often shoot them out of the way or just for the pleasure of sport. Often, after the long journey, these white settlers were agitated, as were the Native Americans by their new intruders. This created much new conflict along the frontier and further resentment from the government.
The Violence Begins, so Who is To Blame?
A New Age: 1900-1924
One of the last gold finds was located in Black Hills in 1875, right in Sioux Indian Territory. The gold rush created a conflict of US economic and political interests because it questioned the importance of gold over Native American relations. US sought political peace by sending the army to disprove gold rumors, but Lt. George Custer located gold and soon miners trampled all over Native hunting grounds. In an attempt to get the hostile Indians out of the way, Custer led his men to a "small camp" to kill the Native Americans but stumbled upon the entire army. They were killed and this sent shockwaves of vengeance across the nation.
(1873) Timber Culture Act: Meant to adjust Homestead Act of western conditions. Settlers were required to plant trees on the land.
(1877) Desert Land Act: Allowed settlers to buy land in dry climates provided they would irrigate part of it. Invited fraud.
(1878) Timber Stone Act: Settlers could buy forest land in CA, NV, OR, or WA. Subject to false claims.
As the United States government tried every incentive possible to cultivate the West, Native Americans suffered constant rearrangement and removal from land.
These Native American tribes were pushed into small reservations where alcoholism, poverty, and isolation were completely different from the migration they had adopted for hundreds of years.
In an effort to reclaim their land, tribes such as Kiowa and Comanche began to loot and kill settlers, worsening the relationship. The US government only stopped them through armed power.
The End of Western Expansion
By 1890, Americans had exhausted all western land, including that of the Native Americans. Settlers wanted more land, and once again the US government faced economic power or political peace. The only territory left, Oklahoma, belonged to the Native Americans, but the US government had to begrudgingly open the last territory for settlement. The Natives were disturbed once more, but the US government was spared the anger of many settling citizens.
(1906) Cherokee Nation v. United States: Case in the Supreme Court for payment from land treaties. Cherokee nation won $2 million, mostly comprising of interest because the payment was overdue.
(1919) Native American veterans of WWI were granted citizenship. This improved the relationship by making Native Americans feel more a part of the nation. More than 12,000 Native Americans served in the war.
(1924) Indian Citizenship Act: Granted citizenship to all Indians born within the United States. Before the Civil War, citizenship was only granted to those 1/2 Indian or less. This was a final gesture of peace.
When Murder Strikes...
Both the Wounded Knee Massacre and "Custer's Last Stand"
took a toll on the relationship of the two sides.
Where the Natives went wrong: While the Native Americans were agitated by the white settlers, their violence, excluding self-defense, was unnecessary and only made the situation worse. The nation was more likely to think of them as "savages" and demand they be killed for the safety of settlers, forcing the government to take action.
Where the US went wrong: By allowing settlers free range to roam all over Native American lands and uproot them searching for gold or farming, the US government invited such disasters to occur. Its constant interference in Native American life--stopping Ghost Dances, taking away children to put in government schools, and consistently rearranging the areas of reservations--was more than enough to cause anger and agitation. However, white settlers particularly made the Native Americans hostile enough to kill.
Native American Education
(1879) The US government began taking Indian children from their parents and putting them into American schools as part of their policy to "civilize them". Richard Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian School, told teachers they were to "'kill the Indian and save the man'". In doing so, the US government undoubtedly created much resentment among Native American parents, though the children retained fond memories of the school.
Schools taught Native Americans to fix machines and farm. America further eliminated Indian culture by banning tribal paint and other rituals. Though historians know this practice emerged in the colonial period, James Axtell and other historians corroborate that this policy reached height from 1885 to 1930.
New Farming Technologies
To Native American dismay, between 1870 to 1900 the population of the Plains tripled because of new farming technologies. Dry Farming solved the issue of lack of water by slowing the evaporation of soil and thereby making it easier to farm. Innovations such as barbed wire in 1874, new milling methods, and imported plants to withstand harsh weather made Plain farming much easier and caused farmers to move west. As a result, farmers often encroached in Native hunting lands or killed the buffalo in the area for sport. Native Americans also had to experience further migration to continue making the way for white settlers.
Tom Torlini before and after "Assimilation"
A Look Back: Pre-1865
Before 1865, there had been some tensions with Native Americans, especially during the Jacksonian period. However, historians including Daniel Usner suggest that these tensions once did not exist. Instead, the Native Americans and white settlers met at the frontier and coexisted in a unified and similar society where the racial definition was blurred. This later changed as plantation society grew. If white settlers could coexist peacefully without the thought of race, there was a possibility that they could coexist once more.
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Tom Torlino (Navajo). N.d. Photograph. Indiannation.org. Indian Nation, 2012. Web. 14 Sept. 2013.
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