Was a more humane Native American policy possible for the US?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
17,726
SoCal
#1
In real life, the US was often brutal to the various Native Americans that it came across. For instance, think of the expulsion of the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears. In turn, this makes me wonder--could the U.S. have still expanded throughout North America and heavily settled a lot of this territory but treated the Native Americans in a more humane manner?

Also, as a side note, how does the brutality of the US compare with the brutality of Canada, Australia, Russia, and France when they engaged in territorial expansion?
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#2
In real life, the US was often brutal to the various Native Americans that it came across. For instance, think of the expulsion of the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears. In turn, this makes me wonder--could the U.S. have still expanded throughout North America and heavily settled a lot of this territory but treated the Native Americans in a more humane manner?

Also, as a side note, how does the brutality of the US compare with the brutality of Canada, Australia, Russia, and France when they engaged in territorial expansion?
Possibly.

If the will was there, perhaps they could have started by actually honouring at least some of treaties signed with Native Americans: EG the treaty protecting the Black Hills Of Dakota, especially after gold was discovered there. The US government simply acted as do all governments, always ; in its own perceived best interest.

Making comparisons based on moral values is a waste of time. Governments are not people and they are amoral . Although governments (and their opposition, if any) constantly try to claim the moral high ground, they rarely succeed, and then it is more through dumb luck than intent.
 
Likes: Futurist

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,838
US
#3
In hindsight, of course. The expansion of the Euro Americans was going to lead to contact with, which ultimately means some sort of conflict. Early on, the British government and colonists mostly negotiated with the Natives and purchased the land, even if it was at a cut rate. Thinks of the dealings with the Iroquois. An absence of violence would have required more time, more money and resources, and the possibility of being told, "no," which would have impeded the expansion. Given the era, force was the norm for the day, not just in North America but virtually everywhere. I don't know much about other nations dealing with the native populations. I believe Canada was less violent, although the did try to enculturate the Natives, just as the U.S. - at least those who survived.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,809
Dispargum
#4
The Indians were not going to voluntarily give up their lands and just get out of the way. There was going to be some conflict and a lot of population reduction, and I don't mean that as a euphemism for genocide. (There, I said it.) There just wasn't room for both peoples. I see no realistic scenario where the US voluntarily restricts its expansion.

Where there was room for improvement on the humanitarian front was in some of the massacres which are sometimes called attrocities because they were completely unnecessary. For example, The Sand Creek Massacre was perpetrated against peaceful Indians who wanted nothing except to stay out of the white man's way. The whites on the other hand wanted an Indian war and they set on attacking any Indians they found.

Another area of improvement could have been in the area of reservation policy. The practice of trying to civilize Indians by cutting their hair, making them learn English, sending Indian children to far away schools, etc was just wrong headed. So was the expectation that Indian men should become farmers which was completely out of touch with Indian culture.
 
#5
Invasion is never civil but the Native Indians were by the 19th Century firmly aware they were outclassed by Western technology and capability, they had the stuffing knocked out of them when the 13 colonies had established themselves enough to brush them aside by the end of the 18th Century.

I believe they would of been up for being given territory set by the Government if not before any fights then certainly after but the US Gov't decided on a policy to wipe them out, there were already treaties being made by for whatever reason they were constantly being broken by one side or another.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,838
US
#6
Invasion is never civil but the Native Indians were by the 19th Century firmly aware they were outclassed by Western technology and capability, they had the stuffing knocked out of them when the 13 colonies had established themselves enough to brush them aside by the end of the 18th Century.

I believe they would of been up for being given territory set by the Government if not before any fights then certainly after but the US Gov't decided on a policy to wipe them out, there were already treaties being made by for whatever reason they were constantly being broken by one side or another.
From what I have read, for certain tribes, yes. For example, the Iroquois and the Cherokee were relatively peaceful. Probably most would have been amenable to some settlement, if made a good offer. Some, like the Apache and Sioux, I am not so sure of they would have been subdued. From what I know, the Apache had had contact with Europeans since the days of the Spanish explorers. They were aware of the European/European American encroachment and its possible consequences for some time.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#7
Invasion is never civil but the Native Indians were by the 19th Century firmly aware they were outclassed by Western technology and capability, they had the stuffing knocked out of them when the 13 colonies had established themselves enough to brush them aside by the end of the 18th Century.

I believe they would of been up for being given territory set by the Government if not before any fights then certainly after but the US Gov't decided on a policy to wipe them out, there were already treaties being made by for whatever reason they were constantly being broken by one side or another.
'Both sides' makes it sound as if the Indian were in some considerable ways to blame for broken treaties. As far as I'm aware the US government kept a total of 0.00 treaties made with native Americans. Eventually, the government realised the indians were not going to completely cooperate in becoming extinct. So they did and do the same as the Australian government with Indigenous Australians; They went through periods of putting the problem in the 'too hard box ",and throwing money at them. My government is still 'throwing money at them..

I think US tribes may be better off than Aborigines because they discovered they may have casinos on their reservations. Or has that created a new set of problems?

Due to the complexity of treaties among various U.S. tribes, all treaties have been violated in some form. Some treaties get ratified and other treaties don't by the House/Senate which causes more confusion among parities. Choctaw The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was violated as many Choctaw were not registered with U.S. Agent Ward when they wanted to sign-up for 640 acres of land under Article 14. Article 22 did not materialize and violated; Choctaws wanted a U.S. Representative in the House of Representives. This treaty is considered to be a "live" document rather than historical by the Choctaw. The Treaty of Washington City gurannteed an annutiy to be paid for for the sum of $6000 dollars forever. This term has likely been violated. Sioux (Lakota) The 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie guranteed the no mining on Indian land; this was violated when gold was mined in the Black Hills. This treaty is a "living" document. In 1980, the U.S. Supreme court ruled that the Sioux was entitled compensation.

How many treaties did the US break with native Americans
 
Jun 2017
2,773
Connecticut
#8
In real life, the US was often brutal to the various Native Americans that it came across. For instance, think of the expulsion of the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears. In turn, this makes me wonder--could the U.S. have still expanded throughout North America and heavily settled a lot of this territory but treated the Native Americans in a more humane manner?

Also, as a side note, how does the brutality of the US compare with the brutality of Canada, Australia, Russia, and France when they engaged in territorial expansion?
If Andrew Jackson didn't come along the Five Civ Tribes would have survived in the Southeast to the present. Existed well into the US era, they were removed because of Andrew Jackson's desire for land for poor white farmers, which was driven by Andrew Jackson's own racism and history. Even the need for the land would have went away during Mantifest Destiny which happened right after this chapter concluded.

If more Iroquois stayed they probably would have been recognized too in some capacity and were recognized as a regional power by Europe and the US.

The rest not sure, most of that tended to be military conflict with one side seizing the land of an other, those sort of exchanges don't tend to go well.
 
Last edited:
Aug 2018
325
Southern Indiana
#9
The treatment of the Natives varied somewhat with the presidency. Washington was all about grabbing land and getting rid of them, Adams was much more sympathetic, Jefferson's idea was to get them into debt so they had to sell their lands. After Jackson's Indian Removal Act, it was carried out differently with different tribes. Some of the Miami were allowed to stay in Indiana and were given quite a decent reservation, but policy changes and corruption from Indian agents forced them to sell most all of their land,. In the early 1900's the government changed to an allotment policy, partitioning reservations into individual parcels for individuals. This had the effect of fragmenting the tribes and often land would be sold off by individuals who were impoverished or addicted to alcohol. (on a side note, there is a current court case in which a tribe member was convicted of murder on what used to be Cree Reservation and courts declared that even though the land was sold by individuals, it was still within the reservation).

Everyone is familiar with the Trail of Tears, but no one remembers the other trail of tears, which was the removal of the Ohio (and other Mid-west) Indians. The Potawatomi Indians lost about 20% of their population during the forced move out to Oklahoma.

The French were the best in regards to their treatment of the natives and coexisted with them on good terms for much of the 1600's. Canada (under the British) offered refuge to several tribes after the Revolutionary War. Russia was worse than the US. When Russia controlled Alaska, they enslaved the natives making them work on seal boats and holding their families hostage. Eastern Russia had hundreds of native tribes who were exterminated and it is very hard to find any details of them or of the wars on them. Australia was also brutal, they had "legal" massacres even into the the 1900's.
 
Likes: Rodger
Aug 2018
325
Southern Indiana
#10
If Andrew Jackson didn't come along the Five Civ Tribes would have survived in the Southeast to the present. Existed well into the US era, they were removed because of Andrew Jackson's desire for land for poor white farmers, which was driven by Andrew Jackson's own racism and history. Even the need for the land would have went away during Mantifest Destiny which happened right after this chapter concluded.

If more Iroquois stayed they probably would have been recognized too in some capacity and were recognized as a regional power by Europe and the US.

The rest not sure, most of that tended to be military conflict with one side seizing the land of an other, those sort of exchanges don't tend to go well.
The Iroquois might have fared better if they had not sided with the British during the Revolution.