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Native American Indian Policy: Removal or Genocide? 3/3
by Jack Wellman
2007-10-19 09:58:33
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Kansas Territory was declared Indian Territory in 1825. This small area, purposed for hundreds of tribes from the east, had no forests, few animals and not much water. This was a disaster waiting to happen. Just after it was called Indian Territory, a white-settlers tsunami from the east swept most of the Indians into even less prosperous territory, Oklahoma. In only the few short years since Kansas was declared Indian Territory (1825), nearly all of the eastern Kansas Indians would be removed by 1870.

Western Kansas Indians would survive longer, with the advantage of horses, but their demise was inevitable with the arrival of the rail lines and the mass execution of the Plain’s buffalo. “Shoot from the comfort of your coach…”. Masses of carcasses rotted in the sun, taking with it the means of support for these High Plains Indians. Indians did destroy some track but these attempts were no match for the white tide.

The end came with the bloody Indian warfare in Kansas in 1867 and 1868. Just over 200 whites died, well into the thousands of Indians did. From starvation or mass camp-site invasions. The very last Indian raid in Kansas would not come until 1878. George Armstrong Custer, who would later die at Little Big Horn, helped to break the last of the Indian resistance with the 19th Kansas Volunteer Regiment‘s operations in 1868. The end was near for most.

A final, fatal blow to Kansas Indians’ was the Homestead Act of 1862. From 1879 to 1881, a great influx of black emigrants, known now as the Exodusters, poured into Kansas, although most settled in cities, which gave slightly more protection from persecution and prejudice. The Dawes Act of 1887 was a final vain attempt to try and integrate Indians into White society. The act resulted in the loss of some “two-fifths” of Indian lands, much to underhanded, land-hungry whites.

With the record of dealings with whites steeped in deceit, it is not surprising that most Indian nation loyalties during the Civil War lay with the Confederacy. Congress was of no help. Of the hundreds of Indian treaty’s written by Congress (both the House and Senate), only one single treaty was ever signed and ratified. If fact, the term Congress uses to “shelf” legislation or a bill, comes from the actual shelves that were full of non-ratified Indian treaties.

To be fair to white settlers, Lewis and Clark’s Expedition revealed that large areas of North America, including much of Canada, were unoccupied. There were no tribes, no whites, no trappers…only wild game, and it was everywhere. In all of North America, only Kentucky was considered to be off limits for the Indians themselves to settle in. It was considered, by mutual tribal consent, to be the great Sacred Hunting Grounds.

To a detached, objective outsider, America’s Indian Policy and Removal Acts were nothing short of racial genocide. Broken treaty after broken treaty. One lie after another. It is very difficult to justify a nation’s past sins, especially this one. There were a few brave men who spoke up for these dignified and sovereign peoples. The only defence is that this attitude was a general reflection of the times in which that society lived and it may have been easier for most to understand who lived at that time. But remember that America was a melting-pot of Europeans from the beginning. If the States had not exploited and kept pushing westward, then it might well have been the French, the Spanish, the British, etc. I believe the results would have been the same. If this happened today, it would likely be considered genocide.


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Emanuel Paparella2007-10-19 10:48:44
Indeed Jack, sins, even in a nation are not to be justified and rationalized but acknowledged and repented of or they will fester and come to haunt the nation later. John Wayne who considered himself a patriotic flag-saluting all-American celebrity made quite a few movies wherein the stereotype of the primitive savage native was peddled. When asked in and interview whether or not he was ashamed of having made such movies he replied tongue in cheek that he was just portraying history and that although his grandfather might have killed a few native-Americans on the frontier he never did. What a wonderful cup-out! He was willing to acknowledge and accept and enjoy everything that was good with America, and surely there is mucha of that which many anti-Americans somply ignore in their eagerness to portray everything that is wrong with America, but unfortunately he was not willing to also own the warts and the flaws and the sins of his country and do something about redressing them in the present. Funny kind of patriotism indeed.

Jack2007-10-19 21:10:48
Thank you Emanuel. The facts are (in history lies such great value)hard to swallow. Truth sometimes hurts. You can swallow the truth, but the conscience enjoy's it not.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-19 21:20:44
Which I suppose makes us re-think the whole Roussonian romantic idea that man is born innocent and society corrupts him. The more traditional view may be more on target: man is born with flawed and the institutions of society (at least the more worthy ones) mitigates his propensity toward evil. How did Paul put it: I know the good but I find myself doing evil. That trumps even Socrates dictum that to know the good is to do the good and that evil is mere ignorance. History does not support that assertion as Machiavelli's Prince clearly points out.

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