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THE NATIVE AMERICANS CHAPTER 6 Early European Contacts • Misunderstood and ill treated by their conquerors for several centuries • Diverse Ethnicity • • • • • Culture Language Kinship system Political – economic In 1500, 700 distinct languages spoken in the area north of Mexico • Columbus’ diary • “It appears to me that the people [of the New World] are ingenious and would be good servants…. These people are very unskilled in arms…. With fifty men they could all be subjected to do all that one wishes” (Akwesasne Notes 1972:22). • Estimated 10 million in 1500 • About 600,000 in 1800 • 1n 1900, less than 250,000 • This loss of human life can only be judged as catastrophic Summary of Contact and Policies • • • • • • 1492 1607 1620 1622 1744 1778 Arrival of Columbus Jamestown was founded Pilgrims landed at Plymouth First major Indian retaliation Treaty of Lancaster First treaty between US and Indians US Louisiana Purchase • 1803 • 1824 • • • • • • • 1830 1854 1862 1868 1887 1924 1944 • 1947 BIA established and placed in the Department of War Indian Removal Act Indian Appropriation Act Railroad Act Fort Laramie Peace Conference General Allotment Act (Dawes) Indian Citizenship Act National Congress of American Indians Indian Claims Commission Act • 1948 • 1953 • 1962 • • • • 1968 1972 1975 1978 • 1978 • 1988 • 1990 Indians allowed to vote in Arizona Termination Act Indians allowed to vote in New Mexico Indian Civil Rights Act Indian Education Act Indian Self-Determination Act American Indian Religious Freedom Act Indian Child Welfare Act Indian Gaming Regulatory Act Indian Art & Craft Act Treaties and Warfare • US formulated a policy during 19th century that followed precedents established during colonial period • Not to antagonize Native Americans unnecessarily • Exploits of the Forty-Niners were glorified • Authorities offered bounties to settlers for the heads of American Indians • State reimbursed about $1 million to reimburse people for bullets used to shoot them • The Case of Sioux • Treatment was especially cruel and remains fresh in the minds of tribal members even today • Fort Laramie Treaty (1868) • Government agreed to keep Whites from hunting or settling on newly established Great Sioux Reservation, which included land that is now South Dakota west of the Missouri River • Whites entered Sioux territory spurred by Col. George Custer’s exaggerated reports of gold in Black Hills • Battle of Little Big Horn (1876) • Last great Sioux victory • Millenarian Movement (Ghost Dance) • Movement founded on the belief that a cataclysmic upheaval would occur in the immediate future, followed by collective salvation • Originated among the Paiutes of Nevada • English learned by Native Americans gave the means to overcome barriers of tribal languages and communicate with one another • Functionalist perspective views millenarian movement as a means of coping with the domination of White intruders • Battle of Wounded Knee (1890) • Anticipating Ghost Dance, cavalry arrived and a random shot led to the death of 300 Sioux and 25 government soldiers • Despite effects of disease and warfare, 250,000 Indians still lived in 1890 • According to the government, Indian problem still remained • Reservation system established forms the basis of the relationship between Native Americans and the government from then until the present Ruling The Native Americans • Internal Colonialism • The treatment of subordinate groups like colonial subjects by those in power • The Allotment Act (1887) • A disastrous policy that bypassed tribal leaders and proposed to make individual landowners of tribal members • The Reorganization Act (1934) • Tribes could adopt a written constitution and elect a tribal council with a head • Imposed foreign values and structures Reservation Life and Federal Policies • Over 1/3rd of Native American live on 557 reservations and trust lands in 33 states • A bit more than 2% of the land throughout the US • Reservation Native American, more than any other segment of the population, except the military, find their life determined by the federal government • Many 20th century policies were designed to “get out of the Indian business” Native American Legal Claims • From 1836 to 1946 Native Americans could not bring a claim against the government without an Act of Congress • Policy prevented most charges of treaty violations • Only 142 claims were heard during this period • Indian Claims Commission (1946) • Established by Congress to hear claims against government • Led to an increase in claims • Commission extended until 1978 • Cases are now heard by the U.S. Court of Claims • Over the course of 50 years, commission and Court, paid claims totaling an average of $1,000 for each American Indian for all treaty violations and related claims • Allotment Act Trust estimated at $3 billion • Annually, government pays beneficiaries about $500 from the fund • Handling of trust called: • “The God standard for mismanagement by the federal government for more that a century.” • BIA shut down website over fear information it gives out could be wrong • Native Americans express a desire to recover their land rather than accept financial settlements • Congress finally agreed to pay $106 million for land illegally seized in aftermath of Little Big Horn • Sioux rejected money and lobbied for return of the land • Despite need for housing, food, health care, and education, Sioux prefer land to original settlement, which now totals more than $330 million The Termination Act of 1953 • Most controversial governmental policy toward reservation Native Americans in the 20th century • Policy proposed, at that time, was an attempt to give Native Americans greater autonomy and at the same time reduce federal expenditures • Services tribes received, such as subsidized medical care and college scholarships, should not have been viewed as special and deserving to be discontinued • Unfortunately, it reduced costs and ignored individual needs • Services were to be withdrawn gradually but were stopped immediately • The effect on Native Americans were disastrous • Unable to establish some of the basic services • In 1975, the government resumed the services • Signaled the end of another misguided policy intended to be good for Native Americans Employment Assistance Program • (1952) BIA began programs to relocate young Native Americans • (1962) Employment Assistance Program (EAP) • Primary provision was for relocation at government expense, had unintended consequences, and was unsuccessful • Provided educational and business assistance • Impact on the economic development of the reservation and the brain drain • By 1965, 1/3rd to 1/4th returned to the reservation Collective Action • Pan-Indianism • Refers to intertribal social movements in which several tribes joined by political goals but not by kinship, unite in a common identity • Most vividly seen in cultural efforts and political protests • National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) • Founded in 1944 in Denver, Colorado • 1st national organization representing Native Americans and has a political role • American Indian Movement (AIM) • Founded in 1968 by Clyde Bellecourt and Dennis Banks in Minneapolis, MN • More radical and created a patrol to monitor police actions and document charges of police brutality • Fish-ins • Began in 1964 to protest interference by Washington State officials with Native Americans who were fishing • 1969 Alcatraz takeover by Francisco Indian Center • Red Power movement • Alaska Native Settlement Act (1971) • Claim of land rights by Inuit Eskimos and other Aleuts • Alaskan Federation of Natives (AFN) • Native Claims Settlement Act (1971) • Battle of Wounded Knee II • Most dramatic confrontation between Native Americans and government recently • PowWows (Pau Wau) • Referred to the medicine man or spiritual leader of the Algonquian tribes but Europeans used word to refer to entire events Sovereignty • While collaborative action gathering cannot be minimized, there continues to be a strong effort to maintain tribal sovereignty or tribal self-rule • Sovereignty remains linked to both the actions of the federal government and the actions of individual American Indians • Government determines which tribes are recognized and self-declaration carries no legal recognition Native Americans Today • Public insult is the continuing use of American Indian names as mascots for athletic teams • Native American population is split between those on and off reservations and those living in small towns and central cities • Economic Development • High rate of unemployment and poverty • Overall unemployment is more than 30% • Among those with jobs, 1/3rd earned less than $10,000 • Tourism and the double edged sword • source of income but also a source of degradation • Indian Arts and Crafts Act • Severely punishes anyone who offers to sell an object as produced by a Native American artisan when it was not • Cottage industries • Income from mineral rights Casino Gambling • Recent source of significant income and some employment • Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (1988) • States must negotiate gambling agreements with reservations and cannot prohibit any gambling already allowed under state law • Gaming money • supports tribal members, is used to buy back tribal lands, and help underwrite cost of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian opened in 2004 • Tribes that have opened up casinos experienced drops in unemployment and increases in household income • Three important factors: • Tribes do pay taxes • Nationwide, economic and social impact of gambling revenue is limited • Tribes that make substantial revenue are a small fraction of all Native American people • Even on the reservations that benefit from gambling enterprises, levels of unemployment are substantially higher and family income significantly lower than for the nation as a whole • Another major source of employment for Native Americans is the government • BIA, federal agencies, military, and state and local governments • Dominant feature of reservation life is unemployment • Also high for urban-based Native Americans • Unemployment statistics range from 23% to 90% Native American Education • Dropout rate is at least 50% higher than that of Blacks or Hispanics and three times that of Whites • Many found their educational experience so hostile that they had no choice but to leave • Kickout/Pushout • More appropriate terms experience of Native Americans with school system • Result of predominance of non-Native American teachers that do not recognize Native American learning styles • Problems in Native American Education include: • Under-enrollment at all levels, from primary grades through college • The need to adjust to a school with values sometimes dramatically different from those of the home • The need to make the curriculum more relevant • The under-financing of tribal community colleges • The unique hardships encountered by reservationborn Native Americans who later live in and attend schools in large cities • The language barrier faced by the many children who have little or no knowledge of English Healthcare • High rate of: • • • • • • 1. Alcoholism and mortality 2. Under nutrition 3. Tuberculosis and death 4. High rate of teenage suicide 5. High rate of reported crime 6. High rate of poverty and few job opportunities • Lack of access to health care resources Religious and Spiritual Expression • American Indian Religious Freedom Act passed by Congress in 1978 • Act contains no penalties and enforcement provisions • Concern with stockpiling Native American relics, including burial remains • Increasingly seeking return of ancestor’s remains and artifacts • Native American Church - ritualistic use of peyote and marijuana Environment • Concerns: • Environmental literature stereotypes of native people as the last defense against encroachment of civilization • Many environmental issues rooted in continuing land disputes arising from treaties and agreements more than a century old • Environmental issues reinforce the tendency to treat the first inhabitants of the Americas as inferior • Environmental concerns by American Indians often are balanced against economic development needs, just as in the larger society • Spiritual needs must be balanced against demands on the environment • CERT was formed in 1976 - Council of Energy Resource Tribes • Consisted of twenty-five of the West’s largest tribes • Other tribes were added later • Purpose to protect and develop tribal natural resources such as natural gas • Environmental justice Questions • How have land rights been a continuing theme in White-Native American contact? • Identify three policies or actions taken by the federal government that have significant impact today in the daily lives of Native Americans? • How much are Native Americans expected to shed their cultural heritage to become part of contemporary society? • Do Casinos and other gaming outlets represent a positive force for Native American tribes today? • What challenges are there to reservation residents receiving effective health care? • Why would it be difficult for a Native American child attending schools focused on the dominant culture write on the significance of Thanksgiving Day or Columbus Day. • Is the government’s refusal to encourage business development among reservations an attempt at forced assimilation? Why or Why not?
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