Was America's treatment of Native Americans justified in any way?

Oct 2014
430
Las Vegas NV
I am submitting my notes on the treatment of Native Americans to start a discussion on whether you think our evolving policy in their treatment [encouraging assimilation or relocation to reservations] wads justified.

The first of America’s ’’Indian Wars’’ was King Philip's War [1675], the son of Massasoits, chief of Wampanoah who helped the 102 original pilgrims in 1621, saw 20,000 white settlers taking Indian land and insisting that Indians assimilate to English customs. King Philip attacked and burned half the settlements in New England.

Tecumseh, chief of Shawnee in southeastern Ohio, tried to form an Indian confederation in Northwest Territory, ceded by Britain in 1783. Defeated in 1794 at Fallen Timbers (near Toledo) by Anthony Wayne, he retreated to Indiana. Again defeated in 1811 at Tippicanoe by W. H. Harrison, military territorial governor,, Tecumseh allied with British and captured Fort Detroit in 1812, but killed in 1813 at Battle of Thames when Harrison invaded Canada.

John Ross, chief of Cherokee Nation (in northern Georgia) 1828-1866, encouraged his people to defy removal to Oklahoma under the Indian Removal Act of 1830 (authorizing President to grant land of equal or greater value west of Mississippi for Indian land east of Mississippi). Thomas Jefferson had encouraged Indians to become assimilated into Anglo-American culture and remain east of Mississippi. Andrew Jackson, however, wanted to remove the threat of Indian uprisings, especially in Georgia and North Carolina where gold was found and where white plantation owners wanted to expand, defied a Supreme Court ruling that Indian tribes were sovereign nations not subject to state or federal laws but only treaties. The Seminoles (Florida) and Choctaws (Alabama to Mississippi), as well as Shawnee in Old Northwest Territory, took compensation for improved land and peacefully traded their lands for comparable land in Arkansas and Oklahoma. John Ridge, a wealthy Cherokee plantation owner with a minority faction of Cherokees, signed a new treaty accepting $5 million for tribal lands and new land in Oklahoma. Ross' protest with 16,000 Cherokee signatures to Senate failed, and they were forcibly removed in 1838-39 along the "Trail of Tears." In Oklahoma, Ross rebuilt the tribe with public education and encouraged assimilation.

Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse organized the Sioux, Arapaho, and Cheyenne in the Dakotas and Montana to oppose building of Great Northern Railroad through hunting grounds and encroachment from miners into Black Hills [eg, Deadwood] where gold was found, thus breaking the Treaty of Laramie (1868). When the federal government tried to remove Indians, Custer was defeated in 1876 at Little Big Horn. The last massacre of Indians occurred in 1890 at Wounded Knee, when the army mistook a traditional ghost dance for a war dance. Sitting Bull became star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show; he died in 1890. US policy was to keep Indians on reservations but place children into boarding schools to assimilate them forcefully to Anglo-American culture [1870 - 1970].


After the death of Cochise who appeased whites by allowing safe passage to California through Arizona, Geronimo led the last Indian war against white settlers who wanted gold and silver on Indian lands (now reservations, as US government regarded Indians as wards rather than sovereign nations) [1881 - 1886]. He surrendered in 1886 and was sent to a prison in Florida along with his entire Apache tribe. From 1890-1909 he appeared in wild west shows and was regarded as a heroic fighter. Geronimo led Roosevelt's inauguration parade in 1905, and he became legendary for cowboy-Indian pulp fiction.
 

constantine

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
8,545
At the end of the day, it wasn't realistic to expect two distinct civilizations with very different lifestyles side by side. An agrarian society and a nomadic society living side by side was not a stable solution in the long term, it was either us or them and given that choice, I'll choose us every time.

The one example where I think we could have done better was with respect to the Cherokee. They were assimilating into American society and had adopted an agrarian lifestyle, removing them beyond the Mississippi was unnecessarily cruel and I don't think it really gave the nation any substantial benefit in the long run. It was just the result of populist demagoguery.
 
Dec 2014
1,493
autobahn
At the end of the day, it wasn't realistic to expect two distinct civilizations with very different lifestyles side by side. An agrarian society and a nomadic society living side by side was not a stable solution in the long term, it was either us or them and given that choice, I'll choose us every time.
I guess thats how the Nazi's felt when they were genociding the JEws, it is Us or Them and we will choose the aryan race over others , like you chose the europeans over native americans.
 
Oct 2014
430
Las Vegas NV
I guess thats how the Nazi's felt when they were genociding the JEws, it is Us or Them and we will choose the aryan race over others , like you chose the europeans over native americans.
I am sure that racism was at play. The French made friends with the Indians. The English were not so inclined.
 

constantine

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
8,545
I guess thats how the Nazi's felt when they were genociding the JEws, it is Us or Them and we will choose the aryan race over others , like you chose the europeans over native americans.
I choose my family and my people over someone else's, of course, that should go without saying. The Jews had assimilated quite well into German society, I think targeting them was unnecessary for the same reason I think the removal of the Cherokee was unnecessary.
 

unclefred

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
6,731
Oregon coastal mountains
Oh goody, Hitler is invoked by the third post. Oh, Historum that used to be.

Constantine is essentially correct, it was not likely that the inevitable western expansion could ever have left the native populations intact, given their own inclinations as well. I have though, always thought that the massive land grants to the Railroads could have instead been alloted as territory for the Tribes. After all, a small group of people profited from those grants greatly, but otherwise it was a financial bust. Then again, I have strong doubts that some of the Tribes would have been able to curb their own warlike and nomadic tendencies to allow the railroad and it's goods to roll through the plains to their westward and eastward locations unmolested. I think it probably inevitable that the traditional way of life would have ended shortly, either way. It doesn't seem likely that the Indian culture on the plains (or elsewhere} would have been able to sustain itself while watching the rapid modernization of their neighbors. The culture clash in the Americas was too profound, the tremendous gap in technology was a large factor in why aboriginal groups had little success in the process of assimilation into the modern society in both American continents.

It was the Intercontinental Railroad that sealed the doom of the Bison. The Railroad itself and the various impacts on culture is a large topic. Imagine the vast tracks of land given to the Railroads by the Government, way beyond their needs. Just a portion of those millions of acres could have been allocated to the Indian Nations. Instead that wealth fell into a very small group of hands.

" Journal of Economic History 1975 35(3): 552-566. Issn: 0022-0507 Fulltext in JSTOR. Questions whether promoters of the Central Pacific Railroad were oversubsidized. Confirms the traditional view that subsidies were not an economic necessity because they "influenced neither the decision to invest in the railroad nor the speed of its construction." Notes that estimates of rate of return for the railroad developers using government funds range from 71% to 200%, while estimates of private rates of return range from 15% to 25%."
http://tigger.uic.edu/~rjensen/railroad.htm

The Land Grant Act of 1850 provided for 3.75 million acres of land to the states to support railroad projects; by 1857 21 million acres of public lands were used for railroads in the Mississippi River valley, and the stage was set for more substantial Congressional subsidies to future railroads.[9] Four out of the five transcontinental railroads in the United States were built using land grant incentives
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_grant
 
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Dec 2014
1,493
autobahn
Oh goody, Hitler is invoked by the third post. Oh, Historum that used to be.
Well if u talk about extermination of an entire people hitler would be the best example wouldnt it? maybe not an appropriate one, even with all his hatred he could only kill half the jewish population. Settlers did achieve near 100%
 

constantine

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
8,545
Oh goody, Hitler is invoked by the third post. Oh, Historum that used to be.

Constantine is essentially correct, it was not likely that the inevitable western expansion could ever have left the native populations intact, given their own inclinations as well. I have though, always thought that the massive land grants to the Railroads could have instead been alloted as territory for the Tribes. After all, a small group of people profited from those grants greatly, but otherwise it was a financial bust. Then again, I have strong doubts that some of the Tribes would have been able to curb their own warlike and nomadic tendencies to allow the railroad and it's goods to roll through the plains to their westward and eastward locations unmolested. I think it probably inevitable that the traditional way of life would have ended shortly, either way. It doesn't seem likely that the Indian culture on the plains (or elsewhere} would have been able to sustain itself while watching the rapid modernization of their neighbors. The culture clash in the Americas was too profound, the tremendous gap in technology was a large factor in why aboriginal groups had little success in the process of assimilation into the modern society in both American continents.
I agree some things could have been done better. We could have given the Indians better quality land, for example, there was certainly enough of it to go around at the time. But at the end of the day, they had to adopt an agrarian lifestyle, it was the only viable option. That's also what makes the case of the Cherokee so tragic, they were trying to assimilate and had adopted an agrarian lifestyle, but had the misfortune of not quite having fully assimilated when a populist president was elected. Had we been free of populist demagogues for another generation, the removal of the Cherokee might never have come to pass.
 
May 2013
1,696
Colorado
The Anglo-Powhatan Wars were the first wars between the settlers and the Native Americans in what were the 13 original colonies. The first Anglo-Powhatan War was fought between 1619-1614; the second was from 1622-1632 and the last was 1644-1646. These were not just skirmishes, but involved the wholesale destruction of villages and the colonists killing men, women and children. The survival of the Virginia colony was threatened in the first two wars.

Anglo-Powhatan War, First (1609?1614)
Anglo-Powhatan War, Second (1622?1632)
The Third Anglo-Powhatan War | Native American Netroots


As an aside, when walking in the woods at Mt. Hope, RI, I ran across the marker noting where King Phillip was reportedly killed.
http://drweed.net/kingphilip5.htm
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7834408
 
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