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					                           Høyskolen i Halden

                         American Studies
                   Civilization Research Essay
                                Topic 7 G

  Why has the Cherokee Indian Nation survived in stronger shape than
most other Native American tribes in the United States? Compare it with
another tribe still existent in the USA. What lessons can be learned from
the history of these tribes with regard to indigenous peoples in the world
           today – for example, in Indonesia, Brazil, or Russia?

                             Iren Plastinina
                           Årsstudie I Engelsk
                               Mars 2010

The Cherokee Indian Nation has survived in a stronger shape than most Native American

tribes, as for example the Apache Nation. Why and how did this happen? What lessons can

be learned from the history of these two tribes with regards to indigenous peoples in Russia?

In this paper I will try to answer these questions as thoroughly as possible. First I will give a

short overview of the Cherokee and Apache history. Secondly, compare the two tribes,

finding the similarities and the differences. Thirdly, write a brief history of the indigenous

peoples in Russia. Fourthly, give an explanation to what Genocide, Manifest Destiny, and

Racism are, as these terms are significant for the events which took place. Furthermore,

exemplify, and show how these were used against the indigenous peoples in the countries

mentioned above. Fifthly, outline the parallels and diversities concerning indigenous people

in the U.S. and Russia, and finally, in my conclusion, sum up and give an answer to whether

anything can be learned from these tragic events?
Short History of the Cherokee Native American

A map of a Cherokee Indian reservation (there are more than one)

Before the Europeans invaded the American continent in 1492, the Cherokees were spread

throughout a large number of states in North America. They had a society more democratic

than any of the European countries the invaders originally came from. The Cherokees were

agricultural, but also hunters and gatherers, and mostly living in towns. In the middle of the

1700s, clashes between the Cherokees and the white invaders increased. In 1756, a band of

starving Cherokees was slaughtered by British settlers in Virginia. Retaliating Cherokees,

spurred on by the French, raided white settlements, and in August 1760, the garrison of Fort

Loudoun was overrun by them1. In July, 1763, General Jeffrey Amherst wrote to vice

    Tom Anderson. eds. Chronicle of America. ( Dorling Kindersley, London.
commander, Colonel H. Bouquet, where he recommended that the Colonel should give the

disobedient Indians, led by Chief Pontiac, blankets infected with smallpox2. Another problem

that resulted in violence on both sides was white settlers, trespassing onto Cherokee land in

the Southwest Territory of Carolina. The Treaty of De Witt’s Corner (1777), the Hopewell

(1785) and Holston (1791) Treaties tried to find a resolution, but were not very successful. In

1809, the government signed a treaty with the Osage Indians, who were sworn enemies of the

Cherokees, in which they hoped to “convince” the Cherokees to move from their land in the

Southwest Territory to the west of the Mississippi River3.

Cherokees                               Representatives to their government before
                                         “The Trail of Tears”
The Presidents Washington and Jefferson’s views on and decisions concerning the American

Indians will broaden the understanding of the whites’ definition of the Native American

Indians. In 1779, George Washington instructed Major J. Sullivan to attack the Iroquois

people, in which he stated that their land and homes must be completely destroyed, and that

Sullivan should not listen to the Indians if they pleaded for mercy, until everything was totally

   Limited. 1997). P. 114.
  Ibid. P. 119.
  Ibid. P. 271.
shattered4. In 1783, Washington went further and compared Native American Indians to

wolves, that even if their exterior was different (the wolves and the Indians), they were still

creatures that must be hunted down and killed. His troops skinned the bodies of the Iroquois

from the hip down to make boot tops or leggings5. In 1807, the “humanist” Thomas Jefferson

instructed his War Department, that should any Indians refuse to accept the Americans

stealing their lands, the Indian resistance must be met with “the hatchet”, and if his soldiers

were obstructed from using the “hatchet” against any Indian tribe, the soldiers were ordered to

exterminate them all, or drive the Indians beyond the Mississippi to what later became known

as the Indian Territory. He also added that, in war, the Indians would kill a few whites, but

then his soldiers would eliminate every last one of them6. In 1812, he compared them to

animals and told the white Americans that it was their duty to drive the underdeveloped

Indians, like the animals they were, into the Stony Mountains. A year later he added that the

Americans must terminate the Indians, or force them to flee to places outside the white mans


Before 1800, the Cherokees were already becoming quite successful on their farms and in

their businesses. They also had their own alphabet of 86 syllables, created in the beginning of

the century, by Sequoyah (1765-1843), a Cherokee with a white father (English), who also

recorded their history. That they were doing so well caused envy among the white

population, and was yet another reason for the forced removal that came later on. The white

society could not accept that a race that in their point of view, inferior to themselves, were

more successful then many in the white settlements. Furthermore, in the beginning of the

1800s the whites discovered gold in Dahlonega, Georgia, and many speculators trespassed on

  David E. Stannard. American Holocaust. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992) pp. 118-121.
Cherokee land hoping to find a fortune. Because of the increasing pressure on the

government to remove the Cherokees from their land, the U.S. government, led by President

Andrew Jackson, signed the Indian Removal Act, in 1830. This allowed the government to

move all Indians who lived east of the Mississippi over to the west side of the river, to the

Indian Territory. Over 15.000 thousand Cherokees, but also Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw

were forcibly taken from their homes. Since they started relocating the Indians in the late fall

and winter, the weather was cold and 4.000 Cherokees froze to death or died of hunger or

diseases. Many whites, among them constitutional experts and humanists disagreed in the

forced removal of the Cherokees, and the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John Marshall

ruled against the U.S. government and the President and informed them that according to the

Constitution the Indians had the legal right to remain on their homeland. However, President

Andrew Jackson chose to go ahead with the relocation of the these Indian tribes8.

It did not help the Cherokees, by whites considered to be one of the “Five Civilized Tribes”,

that they within a short period of time adopted the white religion, clothing, educational

system, and way of living. By the time they were moved, they had created their own

government that was more democratic than the whites, with schools, libraries, and also a

newspaper in their own language. However, a few Cherokees managed to avoid “The Trail of

Tears”. One hundred escaped the U.S. soldiers and remained in Georgia and neighbouring

states, living in isolated parts of the land. There were also Cherokees living on individually

owned land, the 200 Oconaluftee Cherokees, who lived on land owned by William Holland

Thomas, a white man adopted by the Cherokees when he was a boy; and finally the 200

Cherokees from Nantahala, North Carolina, who helped the government capture the family of

Tsali, an old Cherokee prophet, who gave up his life so his people might live, and was

    Tom Anderson. op.cit. p. 308.
executed by the U.S. military. These 200 Cherokees were allowed to stay and became The

Western Band of the Cherokee Nation9.

The survivors of “The Trail of Tears” settled on their new land in the Indian Territory, and

began to rebuild their society. In 1861 the Civil War started, and the Cherokees were forced

to take sides, fighting in both armies, along with many other tribes. In the years, following

the end of the war (1865), their land decreased. White settlers began to settle in the Indian

Territory and, in 1907; it became a part of the state of Oklahoma10. Since then, the

Cherokees, like all Native American Indian tribes, have been victims to racial and religious

discrimination, inadequate opportunities to a good education, additional land theft and much

more. Still, the majority of them have a better life than most other tribes, mainly caused by

the fact that they had a writing language which kept their language alive; their history was

kept intact and written down by themselves in their own language, and last but not least their

ability to adapt. Today they are the largest group of indigenous people in the United States.

On their tribal land one can find casinos, recreation facilities for tourists, hotels and many

other activities. This gives them a good income which benefits the Cherokee communities in

many ways.

  Alvin M. Josephy Jr. 500 Nations: An Illustrated History of North American Indians. (Hutchinson/Pimlico.
   London. 1995). Pp. 324-333.
Short history of the Apache Native Americans

Map of Apache reservations

Apache is a name for culturally related Native American bands, where the main groups are

Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Plains Apache. The seventh, is

the Navajo, however, today this group is not a part of the collective term Apache.

Nevertheless, this tribe is closely related by language. The name Apache has also been used

on non related tribes, like the Apache Yavapai and Apache Yuma. The related Apache groups

call themselves N’de, Dînë, Tinde, or Inde, which means “people”. There are many

similarities in their customs and language, but even more unique characteristics.

The language, which linguistically is related to Athabaskan, also called Apachean11, is also

spoken by Native Americans in Alaska and western Canada12. Anthropologists and historians

     Wikipedia. Apache 15.1 (2010), 10 February 2010
believe the Apaches (including the Navajos) originated from this part of the American

continent; that they all were one people originally13. These major groups also have many sub-

groups with their own dialects and culture. From history one knows that these bands often

stood against one another, and could not be considered as one unit. They also lived very

different lives. For example, many Western Apaches were holding cattle and lived on farms.

The Chiricahua, on the other hand, were nomadic hunters and gatherers and extremely skilled

warriors and strategists.

Apache scouts

Other Indian communities often feared and hated the Apache, because they frequently raided

them and took what they wanted, including slaves; for example, the name Apache is a Zuni

word for enemy. Today, one finds the Apache reservations in Arizona, New Mexico,

Oklahoma, and Texas.
   Helge Ingstad. Verker i samling. Apache-indianerne. Vol. 3 (Norway: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag ASA, 1999)
   Pp. 13, 15, 20, 101-104
Geronimo                            Naiche (Nachez)                  Victorio

From the mid 1800s to the end, they also suffered their “trails of tears”. Some bands, like the

Chiricahua, were forced to move several times. Because of criminal activities by the

reservation authorities and broken treaties and promises, there were many Apache outbreaks

from the reservations14. Apache chiefs, like Nana, Mangas Coloradas, Geronimo, Victorio,

Cochise, Chato, Loco, Chihuahua, and Cochise’s son Nachez, played “cat and mouse” with

the Mexican and U.S. Cavalry for several years because of this. The war with the Apaches

ended in 1886, when Geronimo and Nachez surrendered to general Miles in Skeleton

Canyon15. This war would have lasted much longer without the Apache scouts, who helped

the general track Geronimo. The whites showed their Indian helpers how much they

“appreciated” their help when they were sent to prison with Geronimo after the war ended.

The scouts were members of the White Mountain Apache band, which is a sub-group to the

     Alvin M. Josephy Jr. op.cit. Pp. 419-429
     Tom Anderson. op.cit. p. 472.
Western Apache. The White Mountain Apache band was, as one of the few, able to keep a

part of their original land.

After being sent to reservations, many Apaches died from influenza, Small Pox, and

Tuberculosis. They had no protection from these “white diseases”. In 1887, under President

Grover Cleveland (the only President elected twice, the 20th and 22nd), the U.S. Government

approved the General Allotment Act, also called the Dawes Act, where tribal land were

parceled into 160 acres per Indian and the rest sold to white settlers at a very reasonable price.

The plan behind the Allotment Act was to make the Apaches, along with most other Native

American tribes, into an agricultural people and thereby destroy the tribal communities,

religion, language, and culture. Many Apaches turned out to be quite successful farmers so

the Government’s plan worked very well in the beginning. However, when the farms begun

giving a good income, they were moved again16.

During the twentieth century the Apache Native Americans have regained much of their pride

in their origin. Over the years, an increasing number of Apaches have returned to their old

religion and customs, and on the reservations the tribal law is forced. Nevertheless, much of

their history and traditions are lost. Many of the Apache children, and also children from

many other Native American tribes, do not speak their native language. Nor do they know

much of their own history. However, several of the Apache reservations, like the Cherokees,

earn good money from their casinos, which benefit the tribes in many ways, like health

service and schools, where their children learn their language, history, and culture. In

addition, some of the reservations have created museums and recreation facilities. This also

gives work to the population on the reservations. Yet, many people on the reservation have

social and psychological problems, such as alcoholism, hopelessness, apathy, unemployment,
     Helge Ingstad. op.cit. pp. 81-82.
and domestic violence. In addition, the UN rapport The State of Indigenous Peoples in the

World informs that the Native American Indians have the highest percentage of suicide in the

United States17.

Similarities and differences

Cherokee                  Apache                        Stony Mountains with Indian leaders instead
                                                        of American presidents

The Cherokees and the Apaches have much common history, not because the two indigenous

groups had similar lives, but because they both belong to the first nations in the US and

shared many of the same experiences concerning the white immigrants, who settled on their

lands. The struggle both indigenous groups have with the U.S. government concerning the

right to their ancestral lands is also something they have in common18 19. However, while the

Cherokees very fast adopted the white way of living, the Apaches fought long and hard to

avoid this.

I did not find any records of Cherokee children being forcibly removed from their parents to

white boarding schools or to white families, but of course, this may have happened. The

quick adoption of the white’s religion and customs was perhaps what saved them from this

   United Nations. State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. 15 January (2010). Retrieved 10 February 2010. of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
   Tom Anderson. op.cit. p. 475.
   Ibid. p. 485
experience. However, the Apache children and children from many other tribes were shipped

out by the hundreds. At these boarding schools everything familiar to the children, like hair,

clothing, language, religion, and traditions, were banned. Anyone who disobeyed would be

severely punished. For example at Pratt’s Carlisle Indian School, which existed till 1918, the

motto was: “Kill the Indian in him, and save the man”20. They were taught that their families

and tribes, the Indian Nation, were “evil”, “savages”, and “heathenish”21. These children,

after years in boarding schools, found themselves between the white and the Indian world, not

good enough for the white world and, since most of children had forgotten their Indian lives,

unable to understand the Indian. As a result, a whole generation of Native American Indians,

with a few exceptions, was unable to pass their Indian traditions on to their children. The

children, who were sent away, had their lives completely destroyed.

     Alvin M. Josephy. Jr., op.cit. p. 433
Apache family                                       Medicine man

The Apaches were treated more brutal than any other tribe. The Cherokees had their “Trail of

Tears”, but the Apaches had many. They also resisted the white way of living longer than any

other. As most tribes, they tried to hold on to their religion, traditions, and their social

structure on the reservations, but often this was banned22. Their medicine men or shamans,

because of their knowledge of the tribes history, medicine, religion, and traditions, and

therefore were the most important persons in the tribes, were executed, sent to prison, or

forcibly removed to other reservations where they knew no one. On the reservation all Native

American Indians were at the mercy of corrupt authorities, who stole their land, food, and

money. When members of the tribe were ill, in many cases, they did not receive treatment or

     Ibid, pp. 418-431.
medicine. The white invaders almost succeeded in the destruction of what can be called the

Indian way of life23.

In 1924, under President, Calvin Coolidge, every Native American Indian received an

American citizenship, whether they wanted it or not24. In 1934, with President Franklin

Delano Roosevelt, the situation for the American Indians was improving. The President put a

stop to the Allotment Act, supported the reorganization of tribal governments on the

reservations, and that the Indians had and used their own constitution25. Nevertheless, up

through the 1900s, the different Indian bands fought many battles, this time through the legal

system. They won some, but lost most. These cases were mostly concerned with their lands.

In the 1960s, together with people from all races and classes in the US, the Indians too joined

the protest marches in the Civil Rights Movement, which achieved several of its goals, like

the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965; this also benefited the Native

American Indians. Furthermore, in the 1960s, under the Presidents John F. Kennedy and

Lyndon B. Johnson, there was a social change in the United States. Johnson was especially

dedicated and the primary initiator of some of the most progressive social legislation in the

history of the United States, and personally led the fight for the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and

1960, and was also one of the initiators to the social welfare programs from the same time

period. The fact is that Johnson’s primary goal, as a politician and later President of the

United States, was to build a more fair and open America, which he called the Great


   Tom Anderson. op.cit. p. 535.
   John Bowman. The History of the American Presidency. (North Dighton, MA, USA, 2001). Pp. 124-25.
   Ibid. Pp. 128-37.
   Ibid. Pp. 160-65.
A Brief History of Indigenous Peoples in Russia

Map of Russia

In Russia there are 40 indigenous groups of people registered, living in the North, Siberia, and

the Far East. The population was about 180 000 in 2000. Most tribes in Russia were nomadic

hunters and gatherers, many still are because they live in remote areas of Russia. Under the

Russian Emperor (later the Tsar), they were colonized, but he also made clear that he wanted

preservation of the indigenous way of life. The Saami population, nevertheless, was the first

to notice that they were under Russian ruling in the 1200s, when they were forced to pay taxes

to the state of Novgorod. In 1637, Russian authorities formed the Department of Siberia,

which ruled the non-Russians in this area, and all indigenous peoples of the region had to pay

taxes. At times, the indigenous peoples fought the authorities, for the reasons that their taxes

were getting too high, and that they were victims of abusive behaviour from the immigrating

Russians. This was followed up by the Tsar, who stated that “levy collections should be mild

and the economy and living conditions of the indigenous populations should not be

damaged”27. However, if an indigenous nation tried to free itself from Russia, the Russian

military was ordered to exterminate the entire nation28. The Annual clan of Chuvan was

eliminated for this reason. In the 17th century the Samoyeds, Tungus, and other groups also

had to pay fur taxes. From the 1700 till 1750, other indigenous groups, like the Itelmens and

Koryaks, found themselves a part of the rapidly growing Russian Empire. Just after, the Kuril

Islands were annexed to Russia, with a population of Eskimos and Ainus29.

Tsar Nikolai II of Russia                         Vladimir Iljitsj Lenin, who also used a pseudonym. His last
                                                  name was Uljanov.

The revolution of October 1917 changed the attitude regarding the indigenous peoples. Lenin

and his government practiced non-interference in their traditional ways of living. However,

when the Soviet Union entered the Stalin period in the late 1920s, it all changed. Now the

nomadic tribes should be forced to integrate the Soviet society. Villages were relocated, and

their lives were strictly regulated. In the Stalin period, several indigenous peoples in Russia

were damaged so badly that one can say they no longer exist. The crisis in Russia in the

1980s and 1990s left the Russians in severe circumstances and the indigenous peoples in an

   Galina Diatchkova. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies XXI. Indigenous Peoples of Russia and Political
   History. 2(2001). Pp. 217-233.
even worse situation and their population’s growth rate decreased more than 2 times. For

some groups this number was much higher, and 10 nations are near extinction. In the

beginning of 2000, under Putin, the unemployment rate among the aboriginal people was up

to 80% in some areas.

Caused by more awareness to their aboriginal background, several associations of indigenous

peoples were started in the late 1980s, and today many groups have regained much of their

former traditional lives. Regrettably, there is no agency or department in Russian

administration, who deals specifically with the indigenous population. There are over 20

committees, departments, and ministries that deal with these issues. In addition, the

indigenous population is victims to ignorance, corruption, bureaucracy, and increasing racial

discrimination. Their lands have been sold in auctions and in tenders, resulting in evictions

from their lands30.

Known as Josef Stalin, which means iron. Original name   Vladimir V. Putin
was Josef Vissarionovitsj Dsjugasjvili.

     United Nations. Op.cit.
The law concerning Small Indigenous Peoples Traditional Rights to use natural resources in

areas in Siberia, Northern Russia, and the Far East has been valid since 2001, but not a single

territory has been established. The discovery of oil and gas is much to blame for this.

Another problem is the healthcare service, which is getting more urbanized. In Russia where

there might be from 100 to 500 kilometers between villages, this is especially serious for

women and children. Schools in villages are being closed, which means that indigenous

children have to live far away from home when they are attending school 31.

Nenet boy                                Siberian indigenous people gathering mushrooms

Genocide, Manifest Destiny and Racism

As a contrasting point one can look at the dissimilar motives for coming to America. In 1492,

the Spanish “Conquistadores” came because they had heard about the cities of gold and the

wealth of the people living there, and the Genocide of the indigenous population on the

American continent started. Gradually, the Spanish moved north, all the way up to California

and Virginia. Along the way they kept on “pacifying and christening” the Native Americans,

which really meant plundering, killing and enslaving them. The Spanish conquerors were

looking for gold and other treasures, and they used whatever means they found necessary in

the search, disregarding that this meant murdering and torturing whole groups of indigenous

peoples32. When the Spanish started settling, they needed slaves to work on their plantations

and in their mines. The indigenous peoples who ended up working for the Spanish were

treated in the most inhuman and brutal way33.

The white settlers, however, had different motives for coming to North America, to what we

today call the United States. Some were victims of religious, racial, or political prosecutions;

others were victims of overpopulation, famines, and starvation, and many were adventurers.

The reasons for leaving their homes and families were many, but they all wanted a new start

in a country where they could be free from their troubled past, to live the life they wanted. In

the beginning, when the number of immigrants were not so high, the relation between the

Native American Indians and the white settlers was good, but as Europe became more

troubled, more people came to the United States, and consequently, the white society needed

more land. The need for more land was followed by envy and greed, especially when there

was discovered gold on Cherokee land the beginning of the 1800s. This initiated the

Genocide of the indigenous peoples of North America. One realizes that many of the causes

to why the white settlers abandoned their homes in Europe and came to the US also was

present in their treatment of the indigenous people, meaning the victims of the European

countries’ troubles had become the antagonists and the provokers34.

   David Stannard. op.cit. Pp. 67-98
   Ibid. pp. 118-121
Another reason for bringing the term genocide into this essay, is that, although, all Native

American Indians were victims of it, the Cherokees, because of their rapid adoption of the

white customs and religion, survived more as a whole people, with most of their history and

traditions intact, while the Apaches were shattered, almost destroyed. Much was lost of their

history and traditions, caused by the deaths of the old people who knew, and the young being

sent of to boarding schools, later coming home, not knowing anything about their tribal

history, traditions and language, except the negative images the white had taught them.

Our common history tells us that, there has been Genocides at all times or efforts to change

peoples into a more acceptable version of the ruling group in a given country. From the

Assyrian Empire to Genghis Khan, Genocide has been a part of people’s lives and many

ethnic groups have been erased. Even in the Bible, in the Old Testament, one can find

descriptions of Genocide, where the Amalekites and Midianites were eliminated. The last

one’s known to us were the Genocides in Rwanda and old Yugoslavia. The most “famous”

Genocide in history was the extermination of the Jews in World War II, by Nazi-Germany35.

One can clearly see several similarities in the treatment of Native American Indians and Jews.

On one hand there were Jews who in desperation and despair cooperated with the Germans,

hoping to save their families and themselves, and also the ones who went quietly to the

extermination camps. Why did they not fight? Probably because they themselves could not

believe what was happening to them. On the other hand there was the Jews in the Ghetto of

Warsaw, in the spring of 1943, where most of them had previously been transported to, for

example, Majdanek or Auschwitz (concentration camps in Poland), where they were gassed to

     Henning Poulsen, dr. philos. Aschehougs Verdenshistorie: Fra Krig til Krig 1914-1945. Vol. 13 (Aschehoug
       & Co, Oslo, 2001) pp. 214-230
death. The remaining few decided to fight the Germans, with no hope of victory, just a more

dignified death36.

As an illustration of abusive actions against a people in order to change their traditional way

of life would be the Norwegian treatment of the Sámi, Kven (a person of Finnish stock), and

Lappish peoples, where they used forced integration and violence in their effort to make them

more acceptable. In the 1850s, Norway started a more conscious use of culture and school

politics to make these peoples more Norwegian. From the 1880s the teachers were instructed

that all teaching must be in Norwegian. In the 1920s, a strange alliance became visible

between the Church and the Military, which resulted in that the Bishop of Hålogaland and the

Chief of the general staff, in secret, made sure that Sámi, Kven, and Lappish people got free

subscriptions of Norwegian magazines, like Hjemmet, Allers, and Illustrert Familieblad. The

purpose of this was, of course, to make the Norwegian language and culture more familiar to

these peoples. Those who set this up claimed that it worked better than expected37. After

World War II, the three peoples mentioned above, started their fight for their language,

traditions and way of life. Subsequent to the fall of Nazi Germany it also became impossible

for the Norwegian government to uphold the ruthless assimilation politics they had used so

far, because of the similarities to racism38.

All nations and groups of people in the world have always thought of themselves to be the

most significant and others to be inferior, like the Native American tribes, from Apache,

Sioux, and Cherokee to the Cheyenne, Flatheads, and Inuit, where the tribal names, in their

own language mean “the people” or “we the people”.

   Terje Emblem, et. als. Norge 2: Norgeshistorie etter 1850, (J. Cappelens Forlag, Oslo. 1997). pp. 141-143
   Ibid. pp. 261-263
From the time Columbus came to the Americas in 1492 and up to the end of the 19th century,

the Indian population was victims of genocide39. In pre-Columbian time, the indigenous

peoples of America were considered to be about 10 million. In the beginning of the 1900s

there were less than 250.000 left in the Unites States. Early in the 1990s, several historians

meant the pre-Columbian number of Indians throughout the American continent to be much

higher, probably closer to 50 million. David Stannard and others believed it to be a 100

million40. In any case, it is the largest genocide in history.

   Wikipedia. Genocides in history. 14.2 (2010), 19 February 2010
   Wikipedia. Population history of American indigenous peoples 14.2 (2010), 18 February 2010

When USA was expanding its borders, the term Manifest Destiny was used. This expression

was employed by White Americans in 19th century, who believed that God wanted them to

conquer all of North America for the millions of immigrants who had come and was still

coming to the United States. They said it was their “Manifest Destiny” to do so41. Racism

was most definitely a part of this, believing the white race was superior to other races, and

therefore had the right to conquer, murder, enslave, and whatever else they desired to do. The

Manifest Destiny has not only been used by the White Americans. Other peoples in different

parts of the world have used it as well, but with other expressions for it. For example the

German term “lebensraum”. Racial segregation has also been practiced, not in these two

countries alone, but all over the world, where there has been living more than one race.

     Tom Anderson. op.cit.., p. 322.
Parallels and diversities concerning the indigenous population in

USA and Russia

In the United States, many American Indians are still fighting for recognition, like the

indigenous peoples of Russia. Moreover, the Indian tribes in USA and the counterpart in

Russia, together with all aboriginal peoples in the world, have problems with racism, but

while racism in the US against Indian tribes has been reduced in the last decades, it is growing

in Russia. The struggle for their lands is another battle all indigenous groups in the world

have in common. The population growth of indigenous people in the U.S. is growing, from

less than 250 000 till 2 million today. In Russia, several groups are close to extinction, and

they are facing many of the same problems as indigenous groups in the USA, like the social

and psychological troubles. Furthermore, they have the corruption, which is vast in Russia, in

all parts of society. They also must deal with the fact that they do not have a department or

ministry that is working with indigenous affairs. The result being they are sent from one

department to another, and Russian bureaucracy is the most intricate system of the world.

The situation is, however, not all negative. Locally and worldwide they are organizing,

helping, and supporting each other when circumstances have need of it. The United Nations

have special programs to aid them in their struggle for justice, and there are several private

organizations whose only agenda is to help and fight for the indigenous peoples in the


     United Nations. Op.cit.

In Russia, the indigenous peoples have not been victims of Genocide with the exception of the

Annual people mentioned earlier. They fought their battle for the right reason, freedom, but

were overpowered by the occupying Russian Army, and exterminated. Naturally, there were

other incidents of abusive behaviour against indigenous peoples before 1917, but this was

dealt with by the Tsar, since he wanted to preserve their way of life. Lenin had the same view

as the Tsar concerning the indigenous peoples and left them alone. However, when entering

the Stalin period, there was a forced integration, which resulted in indigenous peoples losing

their language, tradition, and history; the consequences was that they were incorporated into

the Russian population. Becoming a Russian is not the end of the world, but they should have

been given the possibility of choice, which was not an option in Stalin’s Soviet Union. The

Russian people did what they were told, if not they would end up dead or in a Gulag

(concentration camp).

As for the Native American Indians, if they had adopted the white way of life, like the

Cherokees, they would most likely have survived in a better shape than they historically did,

perhaps with their language, traditions, and history intact, or would they? They may have, as

many indigenous peoples in Russia, and for that matter, many other places in the world,

incorporated into the American population and still lost their traditional living, together with

language and history. Aboriginal peoples all over the world today are fighting similar fights

for the right to live on their ancestral lands, and in a traditional way. In many cases, the

reasons for not acting on the behalf of the indigenous peoples are that gold, oil, gas, and other

valuable minerals have been found on their lands. Some fights these peoples win, but the

overall picture is that they are losing ground.
I believe the Cherokees as well as the Apaches very early understood what a full war with the

white Americans would result in, a total destruction of their people. The Cherokees wanted to

save their people from this fate and decided to adapt, while the Apaches, like the Annual

people of Russia, decided to fight to the death for the life they knew and loved, rather than

live the rest of their lives on reservations under white ruling. One is tempted to compare the

to tribes to events in World War II, where some people decided to cooperate with Nazi-

Germany, not because they shared their views, but because they wanted to survive, however,

most of them were still sent to concentration camps, after they had done what was expected of

them, while others fought, regardless of the fact that they were outnumbered and most likely

would die on the battlefield.

I am not certain there is much of a lesson to learn from the history of these two tribes, except

maybe the willingness to change and adapt, because this is a matter of choice, where one tribe

preferred adoption to survive, the other preferred war, since they felt not being able to survive

an adoption. One can argue that the Cherokees survived with most of their history, language,

and traditions intact, whereas the Apaches were not willing to change. On the other hand, the

Apaches had good reasons for not doing so, since they knew they would be miserable, locked

up on a reservation, unable to live the free, traditional life they were used to, and therefore

suffered severely because of their choice. In reality, the Apaches fought this war for the same

reasons the Cherokees decided not to fight, namely the survival of their traditional life,

history, language, and people. It is in every person or group’s nature to believe that he/she or

it is special. This is part of the force that keeps him/her the group going. The force is also a

guiding light when he/she/the group makes important choices in life and what is right for one

person or group is not necessarily right for another.
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Hughes, Gwyneth, Simon Welfare. Det Røde Imperiet: Sovjetunionens skjulte historie.
  Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1991

Ingstad, Helge. Verker i samling: Apache-indianerne: Jakten på den tapte stamme. Vol.
   III. Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, 1999

Josephy, Alvin M. Jr. 500 Nations: An Illustrated History of North American Indians.
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Kühlmann, Per. Stalintiden: Sovjetunionens historie 1917-1953. Copenhagen: Nordisk
  Forlag a/s, 1989

Poulsen, Henning. Aschehougs Verdenshistorie 1914-1945. Vol. 13. Oslo: H.
  Aschehoug & Co., 2001

Smith, Andrea. Conquest. Cambridge, MA, USA: South End Press, 2005

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United Nations. Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
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  Summary. 1 August 1998. Retrieved 13 February 2010.

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  Dagestan and elsewhere in the Russian Federation (1997-1999). 1 March 1999.
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Wikipedia. American Indian Movement. 24. February 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2010>

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Description: Why has the Cherokee Indian Nation survived in stronger shape than most other Native American tribes in the United States? Compare it with another tribe still existent in the USA. What lessons can be learned from the history of these tribes with regard to indigenous peoples in the world today – for example, in Indonesia, Brazil, or Russia?