images/BHawks.jpgi mages/BHawks.jpgBlack Hawk & son
Most of these revolts were a combination of spiritual revitalization that were based on prophetic visions that instructed the people to return to traditions, how to bring back the dead, and even brought powers of invincibility in conflict with European Americans. Sometimes this brought disaster, but in many cases it brought hope and supported traditional revitalizations that shunned the worst vices of European American culture.
E. U.S. Federal Treaties and Policies
As the English win the war for the forest against the French the 13 colonies also break away in the American Revolution. As the United States begins it takes over some the same treaty strategies as the English, but also employs other techniques of displacement of Native American people. A conflict between the authority of federal vs. state produces a breach of federal treaty promises that initially results in segregation and ultimately removal and further segregation to what are referred to as reservations. In 1830 the Indian Removal Act begins by the federal government masking the need/greed for land under the guise of protecting the Native American people by removal to the Indian Territory (parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Arkansas) east of the Mississippi River. Native American groups reacted in different ways with some fighting and others leaving on their own, being sick of being harassed by intruding European Americans. Some of the Five Civilized Tribes and others in the Eastern Woodlands hoped for federal protection and justice only to be forcibly removed in the Trail of Tears. The 19th century marks one of the greatest mass migrations in history but at the expense of the displacement of Native peoples.
2. Reservation System
As the Indian Territory filled up with Eastern Woodland people, Prairie/Plains people were also put into reservations in the western part of the territory but the government began to run out of room and so the U.S. government began to create reservations in the desert areas of the Plains and Far West (Basin, Plateau, Northwest Coast, California). Also, in California the state legislature blocked removal of California Indians to Indian Territory so as to retain a cheap labor force in California ranchos.
Native American response to the invasion and relocation at times became increasingly violent as treaties were broken and promises of payment in goods and services for land taken were not fulfilled by the government. Some of the wars were coupled with new religious movements (see Revitalization Movements) , while others were just attempts to stop invasion or retribution for broken promises.
The Plains Wars 1851-1890 and Apache Wars 1851-1886 are the most notorious but are only a small part of the conflicts from the Columbus' landing until the end of the 19th century- 400 years. There is a tendency for most Native American groups to be tolerant and or assimilate to European American culture.
4. Assimilation Policies
Some non-Indian immigrants were clearly in favor of displacing American Indians through various forms of genocide, but the majority of the public were for some form of assimilation. This attitude is based upon a manifest destiny combined with the notion that Western European culture was superior to Native American/American Indian cultures. Thus if you had some compassion you advocated converting or assimilating Native people. This did not necessarily advocate integration. The reservation succeeded in segregating Native Americans, but non Indian America felt obligated to assimilate Native Americans, which also became a means of controlling tribal governments and eventually a new technique of taking more land. The initial Indian Agentson the reservations were lazy, filthy and corrupt, so the government assigned missionaries to Indians already missionized by different denominations. This caused further conflict and was compounded by taking away the children to boarding schools that were not only corrupt and abusive, but taught that Euorpean American culture was superior but only taught domestic tasks to the girls and manual labor to the boys. Farming implements and training were never realized and in many cases would had been very productive. The Allotment Act was another method of assimilation by taking away tribal trusts and introducing privately owned allotments, but in reality the policy was designed to take away Indian owned lands and resources. The Dawes Commission was sent out to reservations to implement and enforce the Allotment Act after 1880 into the 1900s. When resources, like oil, were found non-Indians went into a frenzy of developing ways to dispossess Indians from resources and wealth, from murder to fraud. Some non-Indians felt that Native Americans were not worthy of the wealth as part of their justification for their own jealousy and greed.
The 19th century brought the displacement and assimilation of Native Americans, the closing of the frontier, and the destruction of 90% of America's original forests. The reservation effected the segregation of Native Americans. However, the loses were being felt and will launch anthropologists and conservationists in an attempt to recover cultural and natural resources. This begins in the late 19th century but really picks up before WWII. The cultural resources were of course Native American people and their traditional cultures. Some anthropologists saw this as an opportunity to gain fame and/ or preserve cultures that were quickly disappearing. Some Native Americans agreed and became informants or even anthropologists themselves. Others found anthropologists just as arrogant and greedy as other non-Indians. In some cases elders felt that some traditions included knowledge that embodied power that should not be abused and that the people no longer were capable of safely dealing with such matters, essentially entropy. This produced an even more radical view; with some merit at times, that some anthropologists were in the business of stealing cultures. Preserving traditional culture is a difficult task but it requires the preservation and recovering of traditional language. As we will see first basic citizenship and sovereignty are necessary in the 20th century, but traditional culture has begun to return as an issue today.