The Native American: A History Of Oppression

From Columbus's arrival to America in 1492 up until today, Native American tribes have been oppressed and cast down by white men. In the 1800's, their land was invaded and they were forced onto reservations. In the Indian Wars, many Native Americans were labeled "hostile" and massacred by the Union Army. Even the reservations and "Indian Territory" was taken over and settled by the white men, and today, the major tribes that once flourished over all of North America are all but gone, with only a few small reservations to live on. ( Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia 95)

The Trail of Tears, Indian Wars, and other events occurring in the 1800's show what the Indians were put through, and how the white man killed them without mercy. The Native Americans were pushed onto reservations, and they were forced to make treaties which the U.S. government violated again and again.

The Trail Of Tears

In the 1830's, Native Americans still lived in their native lands for the most part. However, white men considered them a threat to peace. So, in 1838, the Federal government had what they called the "Five Civilized Tribes" removed. These tribes were the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole. They were moved at a forced march up to 800 miles from their homelands to the "Indian Territory", which is modern-day Oklahoma. Under cruel conditions, the army forced the peaceful tribes through the cold, winter weather to their new homes. During this ordeal, known as the "Trail of Tears", over 4,000 Cherokees alone died, out of the 15,000 moved. They died due to disease, exposure, and starvation.

Even when the Indian Territory was reached, the US Government was not satisfied. Slowly, more and more of the land was taken from the Native American tribes. A government who maintained ideas of equality and freedom, were showing that these ideas obviously did not pertain to everyone. In 1902, several hundred thousand acres were cleared out for white settlements. In 1907, the Indian Nations ceased to exist, and when Oklahoma became a state, all Native American territory was assimilated into the Union.

The Indian Wars

This series of bloody battles started several years after the end of the Civil War, due to the demand of Indian territory by the white Americans and ended with the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. Thousands of native Americans were slaughtered by the cruel Union Army, led by generals such as Custer, Gabon, and Sherman. The Native Americans, led by heroes such as Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, and Crazy Horse, fought outnumbered for many years before being defeated one by one at the hands of the Federal Government. They won many battles, such as the Kidder massacre, in which they killed an entire regiment, with only 2 casualties themselves.

For the most part, however, the Union was a ruthless enemy. They attacked many harmless villages, and killed many Native Americans in the massacres of Powder River, Sand Creek, Little Wolf, and Wounded Knee. The Native Americans were outnumbered and outgunned. By the end of the war, they had won many battles against the Union Army, but they also lost so many warriors that they were forced to surrender.

The experiences of the American Indians were a terrible ordeal. As long as the Constitution and its amendments are in control, the US Government must ensure that this type of thing will never happen again.

Native Americans On the WWW:

  • A Complete Listing of Lakota Sioux Links In South Dakota

  • The Native American Virtual museum

  • Hudson Valley Network: History and the Native American

    Shaun R.

    Nick S.

    Lane D.

    Austin S.

    Ambrose, Steven E. Crazy Horse and Custer, Meridian Publishing 1975
    Yenne, Bill,  North American Indian Tribes, Arch Cape Press 1986
    Grolier Mutimedia Encyclopedia, Grolier Electronic Publishing 1995

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