Length: 1645 words (4.7 double-spaced pages)
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The Native Americans or American Indians, once occupied all of the entire region of the United States. They were composed of many different groups, who speaked hundreds of languages and dialects. The Indians from the Southwest used to live in large built terraced communities and their way of sustain was from the agriculture where they planted squash, pumpkins, beans and corn crops. Trades between neighboring tribes were common, this brought in additional goods and also some raw materials such as gems, cooper. seashells and soapstone.To this day, movies and television continue the stereotype of Indians wearing feathered headdresses killing innocent white settlers. As they encountered the Europeans, automatically their material world was changed. The American Indians were amazed by the physical looks of the white settlers, their way of dressing and also by their language. The first Indian-White encounter was very peaceful and trade was their principal interaction. Tension and disputes were sometimes resolved by force but more often by negotiation or treaties. On the other hand, the Natives were described as strong and very innocent creatures awaiting for the first opportunity to be christianized. The Indians were called the “Noble Savages” by the settlers because they were cooperative people but sometimes, after having a few conflicts with them, they seem to behaved like animals. We should apprehend that the encounter with the settlers really amazed the natives, they were only used to interact with people from their own race and surroundings and all of this was like a new discovery for them as well as for the white immigrants. The relations between the English and the Virginian Indians was somewhat strong in a few ways. They were having marriages among them. For example, when Pocahontas married John Rolfe, many said it has a political implication to unite more settlers with the Indians to have a better relation between both groups. As for the Indians, their attitude was always friendly and full of curiosity when they saw the strange and light-skinned creatures from beyond the ocean. The colonists only survived with the help of the Indians when they first settler in Jamestown and Plymouth. In this areas, the Indians showed the colonists how to cultivate crops and gather seafood.The Indians changed their attitude from welcome to hostility when the strangers increased and encroached more and more on hunting and planting in the Natives’ grounds.
For several years the Indians gave the Virginia colonists little trouble because the came to the area of settlement not often. An imaginary line was the result from an agreement that meant that whites were prohibited from setting to the West of the “Fall Line.” This attempt failed as the white population from Virginia grew. The Indian lands were taken up and in the 1670s the Natives were furious and killed several hundred whites. By 1669, most of the Virginia Indians had been decimated and driven off from their lands. The colonists did not remembered by the first time that the Indians provided food supplies that sustained some of the first settlements through their “Starving Times.” Even though, the Native Americans were doomed in their struggles against the white settlers. In the end, the superiority of the U.S. government, the large number of settlers, and the destruction of the natural environment upon which the Natives depended for their survival overwhelmed the American Indians.In 1830, the Congress ordered the total removal of all American Indians to West of the Mississippi river. The American government systematically followed a policy that pushed American Indians from their traditional lands and onto government reservations in the West. The government reserved land for a tribe and signed a treaty with them. The tribes were not supposed to go beyond the borders of its lands and whoever did, was captured and brought back. However, on each occasion when new settlers moved into the territory, the government broke its promise and the tribes were moved further Westward again. This process encouraged the “Trails of Tears” where one-quater of the Cherokees perished on the journey Westward. The Indians were forced to emigrate because the colonists were in need of more land for their farming purposes and for more space for the new settlers. Many Indian tribes, approximately 15,000 people, were forced to walk hundreds of miles, barefoot in the middle of the winter, without proper clothing, and not enough horses and food. They traveled to unrecognized territories in what are now Oklahoma and Kansas. Because of this, many of them suffered physical as well as psychological problems, in result of the struggles faced for years that took the government to carry out the Indian removal policy. Some Indians refused to leave their ancestral lands and fought to prevent their expulsion but were banned any ways. They were furious by the disappointment that the U.S. government gave them the lands that contain poor soil, was isolated and suffered from extreme climates, these lands were called Reservations. This lead to several wars that steamed from the refusal of some Native Americans to accept their resettlement and the effort of the Sauk and the Fox to return to their homeland in the early 1832, the result of this was the Black Hawk War in Illinois and Wisconsin, where most of the remaining Native Americans were killed as they tried to cross the Mississippi River into Iowa. Sometimes, we think that the American Indians were fond of the new settlements on their lands but as we can see, they got tired of always being used by the whites for their own benefits and that they were exploiting the Indians as much as possible. The Natives got tired of always being treated like animals, and soon became enemies of the new settlers.The newspaper article “Seeking Land for Tribe of Girl Who Helped Lewis and Clark” written by Timothy Egan and published on October 26 of 1999 by the New York Times, really caught my attention because after the Shoshone Sacagawea lead Lewis and Clark to one of the most encounters in the discovery of new trails over the continental division, the U.S. government took away the place that they have called home for hundreds of years. Stan Davis, the Mayor of a Rocky Mountain Valley called Salmon in Idaho, stated that “ We all believe that Sacagawea is not the most famous Indian, but also the most famous woman in America.”In 1875, president Ulysses S. Grant gave a small reservation to the Shoshone tribe because he was impressed by the Lemhi’s unique role that they have in Western history and record of cooperation with the American settlers when in the summer of the same year, the Americans were running low on food, without fresh horses and had little idea about how to find the waters that drained to the Pacific. These people have been banned from their land and they are now consider orphans in an arid land because they don’t have an specific place to point out where they originally come from. The Lemhi Shoshone, have asked president Bill Clinton to please carve out a small piece of Federal land in a section of the Salmon River county on the Idaho-Montana border so it can become a place where the Shoshone tribe can tell its story to the hordes of Lewis and Clark history buffs, honor their dead and try to stitch some of their past history to the present. If Sacagawea wouldn’t been there to help them, the whites would have died. I think that the United States should pay better respect to the generosity and friendship of not only Sacagawea, but also to her people. The government should give the Shoshone tribe a good portion of land to thank them for all they did to help Lewis and Clark in their journey.On December 3 of 1999, I visited the National Museum of the American Indian. This Museum presents a new perspective of the Native American people and cultures through innovate exhibitions that emphasized the great importance of Native voices in the interpretation of Native history and their cultural achievements. Through the Museum, we can learn what Native Americans have to teach us about such things as the delicate balance between our people and nature, about their profound respect for family and their ethic of sharing and about their deep and spiritual magnificent art. This Museum changes forever the perspective of the way the American Indians lived in this Hemisphere, to correct the many misconceptions, to end the prejudice, to stop the injustice and to demonstrate how the Indian culture has enriched the world. One of the exhibits that I really liked was called “Creation’s Journey: Master Works of The American Identity And Belief.” This reflects the diversity, aesthetic quality, and cultural significance of the vast collections of the National Museum of the American Indian. These objects have the expressions of their everyday life and their spiritually is reflected in these works of fine art. The exhibition illustrates the creative responses of the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere to the complex and changes around them. The section, “Refining the Art of Being an Indian” describes how rites of passage and mastery of skills help young adults to become contributing to their society. “Art that Transcends Time” explores the transformation of stone and clay, bone, wood, feathers and wool into images of great spiritual power. Once thought to be vanishing, the Native people are still here. The Native voices grow strong and this Museum serves as a stage to present the diversity and vitality of those voices. By visiting the National Museum of the American Indian, my knowledge have increased enormously about this topic. I found out things about the Indians that I didn’t even know and everything thanks to the U.S. government efforts of keeping the American Indian culture among our history for all these years.