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Essay/Term paper: Indian suffrage

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Narrative Essays

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Indian Suffrage

Before the English arrived in the New world and began creating colonies,
the American Indians lived in harmony and peace with natures. The American
Indians were skilled hunters, farmers and used everything in their environment
for survival or for essential necessities. They shared the land together and
moved about freely in search of food. The American Indians never considered
the lands their property because it's belong to God and no one have the right to
buy, sell, nor own it. However, Europeans has an opposite view of Indians
beliefs, cultures, and use of lands. They viewed Indians as children, savage-
uncivilized people in need of their protection and salvation (Carroll and Noble:
30). Therefore, they felt it is their responsibility to civilize the Indian and
put their lands into good uses. Hence, American Indians suffrages and
nightmares began. The impact of American expansion has turned upon the Indians
and confronted them with social and economic crises never before experienced.
As a result, many tribes torn apart, in many cases extinct, and their identity
was lost. Indians also lost their original lands as a result of direct and
indirect contact with the Europeans. The whites wanted more lands for their
developments, and because of this greed, they created direct policies to clear
the Indians off their lands. For example, one form of direct policy that the
whites used to rob Indians of their lands was by signing treaties. Then later
the whites broke these treaties and forced Indian off their lands by the Removal
policy and claimed the lands as their property (Lowy: Lecture 11/96). There
were many indirect methods that white used to rob Indians' lands. They use
bribery, threats, and among countless other things to trick Indians into giving
up their lands. They were often tricked into signing the land cession treaties
that they did not understand the negotiation and the language (Lowy: Lecture
In many ways, the United States policy toward Indian has been
schizophrenic because the laws never completely nor attempted to give Indians an
opportunity to progress and assimilate into American mainstream as an individual.
From time to time, whites creates many policies, such as the reservation,
relocation, and termination in an effort to assimilate the Indians into the
American melting pot, therefore ending the Indian problem. But the only result
of all these policies was to sink the Indian further into poverty, deprive
Indians of their lands, and create a class of people who remained to protect
their racial integrity. For example, most reservations do not have running
water nor sewage systems. The numbers of unemployment, death, and disease rate
were higher than that of the general population (Lowy: Lecture, 11/6). They
were left to linger in poverty in virtual concentration camp condition while
food and supplies promised in treaties were sold else where. Indians in
reservation suffered from hunger, lacked clothing, and lived without proper
shelter. Like removal scheme, reservation appeared to be practical and humane;
Indians civilization is to be achieved through the segregation. But the fact is
that reservation is a way to end bloody clashes between settlers and Indian
warriors. It is also a policy to continue to oppress and terminate the Indian's
race. By putting the Indian away on reservations, whites will have more freedom
to exploit the lands and built a transcontinental railroad through Indian
territory (Lowy: Lecture 11/8).
The Indian problem did not stop here. Then in 1950, to the federal
government ignorance of the Indians situation, they implemented the Relocation
policy to persuaded Indians to move to the urban for technology job training and
better living. Once they arrived, they were dumped into ghetto housing, dead
end job, and often training that failed to lead to professions and occupations.
Also, this policy was originated so that the government no longer have to deal
with the Indians and take the responsibility of past wrong. In 1954, Indian
problems worsen when the government orginated the termination policy or
withdrawing all of federal-Indians funding and supervision. As a result many
Indians fall deeper into poverty, hopelessness, and it brought more confusion
between the Native American and that of Euroamerican to the Indian. Under this
termination policy Indian lost their right to tax exemption that was granted to
them in treaties. The health, education, and untility services that they
previously received at no cost ended. Termination policy has created a pocket
of poverty for the Indian, forced them to sell their lands, and it robs Indians
an opportunity to progress. To me, termination policy is an open door for
whites to undermine and seize every last piece of Indians' lands.
The difference conceptions of land use between white and Indian created so
much misunderstanding of Indians. Indians viewed lands as communally "owned and
used." Their relationship to the land was balance and harmonious; it is use for
subsistence, not for profit, buy, or sell (Lowy: Lecture 11/6). However,
because of these beliefs European viewed Indians as stupid and that they do not
know how to put their lands in good use. Therefore, they felt justified in
taking control of the land to "put it in good use"—buying , selling, settling,
and owned as private property (Valerie: Handout). They exploited the land in
any way they could to profit from it.
In 1887, the Dawes Allotment Act was passed to enable Indians to become
self-supporting farmer, to assimilate, and to teach Indians the white man's ways,
by owning, exploiting, and profiting from the lands. However, the Act had
worked badly for the Indian. Large number of Indians lost their allotment to
outsider thought easy patenting, foreclosure, deceitful sales or leases, and by
marriage (Lowy: Lecture 11/8). Allotment Act was to bring a rapid conclusion to
the Indian problem, but it did not. Instead the way was open for exploitation
of individual owners as each acquired a negotiable title and it the way to save
government further expense in its relations with the Indians.
According to Lemkin, "Genocide was the coordinated and planned
annihilation of a national, religious, or racial group by a variety of actions.
These actions included prosecution, destruction, and attacks on political,
culture, {and so on} to undermine the foundation essential to the survival of
the group as a group." Indeed European used all these forms and more to
exterminate the Indians. One of the worse forms of genocide Indians confronted
is diseases. Europeans brought with them many unknown and incurable diseases
that killed and destroyed vast numbers of Indian population. These diseases
spread so fast that many Indians did not realize what was happening to their
people. Beside diseases, European used military technology such as cannons,
swords, and guns to scare and control the Indian. They brutally attacked and
executed Indians to keep the tribes quiet and not to obstruct white's expansion.
The third form, legal and illegal methods of land seize. Whites use any kinds
of methods to forced, trick, and rob Indians' lands. Indians were forced to
move to new and harsh environment where they greatly suffered and slowly
vanished. The fourth form, religion genocide, where church and school were set
up to teach and convert Indians to Christianity and missionary comes to Indians
with superior attitude and in the name of God to force Indians to practice
Christianity. Also, Indians prisoner cannot keep their hair long because of
their religion belief (Lowy: 11/8). A fifth form, educational genocide, where
Indian children were forced to go to boarding schools to learn whites' morals
and values. The children were severely punished if they did not speak English
or follow the strict rules. A sixth form, economic genocide, Indians were
deprived from using their own lands, while the whites over exploited the lands
for profits. Whites also passed laws restricting Indians trading opportunities.
Also, Indians lives were greatly affected by the extermination of buffalo. Yet,
while Indians dependent greatly on buffalo for their main source of food,
clothing, and many inedible by-products, the white destroyed them in massive
number as hunting sport. A final form, cultural genocide, it explains how
Indians' languages, religions, values, and cultures was lost or drastically
Thanks to the Red Power Movement and many other Indians movements, their
efforts have strengthened the prospects for Indian self-determination in the
political, economic, education and religious realm. They have helped to make
Indian people more visible to the whites and whites began to realize that Indian
was our first and natural citizen. However, the government in particular, owns
it to the Indians to give them an opportunity to be a full participant in
economic, political, and education. They need to put into practice and to bring
to fruition some of the reforms and treaties with the American Indians that are
long overdue.


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