The American Indian Intellectual Tradition Essay

Portrayal of the Communities

In his anthology “An Address to the Whites”, Elias Boudinot portrays the Indians as being an ignorant, heathen and savage lot. This he does through his explanation of their lack of formal education and the fact that they lacked a structured and recognizable religious system. In page 42 of the book, he admits that his community indeed is ignorant compared to the whites who have advanced in their ways of living. The quotation “Though it be true that he (an Indian) is ignorant, that he is heathen, that he is savage; …” shows us his awareness of his community’s position. Sarah Winnemucca gives a contrasting depiction of how the Indians were relative to her contemporaries in their works. She, through her father’s exploits, illustrates how Indians work to get an honest living with the resources that they have at their disposal. She says that the Indians grow their invstsments through first starting their store then expanding their exploits through buying cattle which will multiply with time. She then gives a different account of how Indians were treated as puppets to further the course of the White people who they interacted with.

Winnemucca shows us how the Whites made useless appointments of the Indians to posts that did not create any value. Her example is that of Captain Dave, also known as Numana, who was appointed as the captain of police. The appointment was, however, meaningless as the captain could not make any arrests to violators on either sides of the divide. Captain Dave was there as a show and reasonably so could pass across as a walking scare-crow.

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Indian-White Relations

Elias Boudinot shows us that the Indians and the whites operated on hostile relations which saw the whites being the agitators and oppressors of the Indians. In the excerpt the author poses a rhetoric question “Is it the purpose of the Almighty that the Indians should be exterminated?” showing his anguish towards the treatment that they receive as a community.

Ssette La Flesche in his piece “The Indian Question” shows how the Whites have objectified the Indians. The community is likened to beasts and in another instance they are likened to children. As a result, the belief was that the Indians needed to be colonized in order to attain the civilization levels of the Whites. The relationship creates a dependency level that is so dire as to pride the Whites that they are responsible for the feeding of the Indian masses. La Flesche quotes “Above all, you (Indians) must do just as we (Whites) say or we won’t feed you.” The author

Sarah Winnemuca portrays the Whites as being exploitative and manipulative in their dealings with the Indians. In her piece, she explains how the Indians were tricked into believing that they would receive compensation, first in the form of twenty-five thousand dollars then later changed to the form of lumber to build their houses with. The payment was for their services in digging the trenches. Winnemucca shows the conflicts that the two groups had over the sharing of resources like fishing in the lakes. She also portrays the whites to be brutal. Her writing includes instances where the soldiers were ordered to kill the Indians and their brutality was extended to old men, women and even children. The oppressors are heartless towards her community in their pursuit to conquer the people and forcefully take their resources.

Solutions to Issues

Susette La Flesche’s solution to the challenges faced by the Indians is the granting of citizenship to the oppressed group. The author thinks that the move will eradicate the artificial barriers that they face including trade and border restrictions. Citizenship would stop the Indian-Whites war which took place for a long time. La Flesche makes mention of failed solution strategies which includes the signing of treaties like the one with the Cherokees in 1869.

Sarah Winnemucca’s resolve to the conflict situation was that the Indians needed to organize themselves and fight back the White oppressors. She was personally involved in sending the warnings of an impending violent conflict with the Whites if they did not retreat from the Indian territories.

Laura Cornelius Kellogg offers two solutions to the problems that the Indians constantly battled with. She believes that it was necessary that the Rochdale system to be applied . The rationale was that one person should only have one chance to vote. Voting should not be based on the number of cattle that one had since it created imbalances and great inequality in the favor of those who were rich and had more resources. Consequently, she proposes that the amount of power that an individual can possess should be limited to less than 51 percent of the total control. No single person should be a majority unto themselves. It is improper that one person should have immense power to the effect of over-ruling the decision made by a group of people, who in most cases have more knowledge about a particular matter.

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