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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?
Årsstudie I Engelsk
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
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.
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
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
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.
http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/State 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
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
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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