Free research paper sample on Native Americans:
Chief Crazy Horse said, “We did not ask you white men to come here” (DiBacco 305). They fought hard; however, the Native Americans were not able to stop the white settlers from removing the Indians from their homeland, killing thousands of them, or forcing them to assimilate into the American culture.
First, the U.S. government created policies to remove and concentrate the Native Americans somewhere else. With the transcontinental railroad being finished in 1869, it gave more white settlers the opportunity to get land in the frontier (Dibacco 306). There was a problem because “they asked how two cultures so different from each other could live side by side” (DiBacco 306). The Indians knew that if they did not fight, they would lose their land. One plan was concentration. The attempted to keep the Indians in one specific area in the West. The Native Americans could live as normal, but within those borders. Hopefully this would decrease the fighting between the Native Americans and the whites. After the Civil War, the government policy was modified. They now moved the Indians onto reservations. “Most reservations were too small to support the hunting way of life. Therefore, the Indians were suppose to get food though… farm[ing], although reservations were located on the poorest land” (Todd 491). The Indians were swindled by the whites. The Americans did things like mix flour and sawdust or steal goods and then sell them instead of handing the out to the Indians like they were suppose to do (Jordan, Americans 415). The Indians were just trying to cooperate with the treaties they signed; however, they were being cheated.
Most of the Native Americans “were nomadic and nonagricultural, and all depended for survival on hunting the …buffalo” (Jordan, United 420). Their everyday lives “revolved around the buffalo hunt” (Jordan, United 420). The settlers had realized that the buffalo hide could be made into leather. They also saw buffalo hunting as a fun pastime. The whites killed an estimated three million buffalo each year over a three year period, and it hurt the Indians because they were forced to change much of their daily lives (Jordan, United 425). Additionally, most of the Native Americans either starved while living in the reservations or were killed in fighting. The government’s plan collapsed for two reasons. First, the Indians needed to buffalo to survive, so they had to leave the reservation to get buffalo. Second, because of the gold found in Colorado in 1858, many people traveled Westward and did not care for the Indian’s rights (DiBacco 306). Unhappy with the land they received, the Indians had no choice but to revolt. They would have died from starvation otherwise. The Indians were also agitated by the Americans because the Americans were not holding up their part of the deal. Also, some groups refused to leave their homeland. The government tried to move the Indians out of the way, but it was not effective.
Second, the government then tried just to exterminate the Native Americans. There were many battles between Indians and Americans. The leaders were the Sioux and the Cheyenne (Jordan, Americans 415). At one point, Chief Black Kettle of the Cheyenne had agreed to cease fire. he hung the American flag and the white flag of surrender. However, Colonel Chivington did not know about the armistice and attacked the Cheyenne, killing 450 Native Americans (DiBacco 306). It was called the Sand Creek Massacre. The Sioux Indians also had many battles with white settlers. After invading a white settlement in 1862-1863, the Sioux Indians lost their leader, Little Crow (DiBacco 306). The Sioux War finally came to an end in 1868 (DiBacco 306).
Although the Indians were technologically at a disadvantage, they had “resistance [that] was remarkable” (Todd 493). The Sioux were finally guaranteed land in Black Hills South Dakota. However, in 1876 gold was discovered there, and the Sioux were instructed to be moved again. The removal was under the control of General George Custer, a well-known Indian warrior. In June of 1876, he struck a Sioux and Cheyenne camp. This group of “warriors had two outstanding leaders. One was Sitting Bull, able, honest, and idealistic. The other was Crazy Horse, uncompromising, reckless, a military genius, and the most honored hero of the Sioux” (Todd 493). Custer and all 264 of his troops were killed. This was the last big loss of the Americans, and created quite a discomfort for the United States government (Todd 493). “In 1889 the Sioux made one more attempt to keep their way of life” (Jordan, Americans 418). The troops engaged in one more “battle” even though it was truly a massacre. The Battle of Wounded Knee took place in 1890 (Jordan, United 425). This battle was the final fight of the Indians against the United States military. In the end approximately 200 Native American men, women, and children had been killed (DiBacco 308). This extermination policy set up by the government was successful; however, thousands of Native Americans died.
Last, the government thought that the Indian’s needed to be assimilated with the American culture. The Indian’s way of life was completely destroyed. Most of the Americans did not accept or respect the Indian cultures. Most people believed that if the Indians were to survive any longer in the United States, they would have to have the same habits and traditions of the Americans. The Native Americans had to be absorbed into the white culture. The government funded churches and schools for the Native Americans. They wanted to educate the Indian children how to talk, dress, work, and think like whites. The American government passes the Dawes Act in 1887 (Jordan, United 425). The act basically divided up the reservations and each family was given their own land to cultivate. After 25 years, the family would own the land and have citizenship in the United States. The Dawes Act really did not help out the Indians at all, because the quality of the land was very poor and they were untrained and didn’t have any tools. Disease and malnutrition was very common and many people died. The badly trained and uncharitable teachers taught the Indian children that being an Indian was a bad thing, and that they are worthless. Despite the fact that it sounded like a good deal, assimilation failed.
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