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Native American Indian Policy: Removal or Genocide? 2/3
by Jack Wellman
2007-10-18 09:57:27
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During the 1700s and 1800s, the vast majority of Americans wanted Indians gone. Out of sight and out of mind. Alive or dead! And the ones with the power and ability to do something about it worked within all of their means to achieve this end. Part of the beginning of the end for the Indians was when the former governor of Michigan Territory became President Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of War in 1831. Jackson was obviously no Indian lover and the new Secretary of War felt Indians should not be dealt with as a sovereign nation, but a hostile nation within a sovereign one.

Shortly after the War of 1812 with Great Britain, a nationalistic fever swept the continent and this nationalism had a dramatic effect on America’s Indian Removal policy. Monroe’s Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun also felt treating Indians as a nation was wrong. General Philip Sheridan looked at any Indian resister as a “savage” and to be killed immediately. William T. Sherman told Secretary of War Stanton that even “fifty Indians” were to many between the Arkansas and Platte rivers for safe stagecoach passage.

Consider the case of the unfortunate Ponca Indians, living on the west bank of the Missouri. They had no warning of their impending removal to Indian Territory in January, 1877. Compounding their problem, bungling government officials placed them into Indian Territory, in the promised Niobrara (Nebraska) which was an existing Sioux reservation. The Sioux obviously were hostile at the Ponca's arrival and many were killed.

These indigenous Indians, like the Wichita, had been living there for multiple generations. The majority would settle in one area, practice farming, game hunting, and were very peaceful. The Wichita and Pottawatomie Indians have hand longstanding traditions dating centuries back. Since the 1500s the Wichita have celebrated the Green Corn Feast of Thanksgiving. This predates even the supposed original Thanksgiving celebration of the Pilgrims.

Kansas was declared Indian Territory, in 1825, thanks in large part to William Clark. In 1831, the Delawares were one of the first Indian nations to arrive. For some Indians, the heartbreak of removal came a second time, like the twice-removed Iroquois from New York. In the early 1840s, the Great Lakes region and Ohio Valley lost the Shawnees, Wyandottes, Kickapoos, Chippewas, Peorias, Sacs, Foxes and multiple others. By the early 1840s over 100,000 Indians were removed and this was not the final figure.

Some tribes lost half their people, partially from corrupt white middlemen who siphoned of money and supplies allocated by the government for the Indians. Upon arrival to their (unbeknownst to them, temporary) new lands, many came physically exhausted and dirt poor. Even a federal agent in escort of a relocating tribe had to borrow money to complete the journey. Sadly, he had to borrow from the Indians, who themselves had little in the way of money. This Indian removal policy of the United States is a sad chapter in American history.



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emily2007-12-19 18:49:33
I hate writing essays...but thanks for giving me what I needed.

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