In 1848, discoveries of gold and silver sparked interest in white settlers. In order to make room for more land, the federal government seized the land of the Sioux tribes. Unfortunately, the Sioux tribes were forced to move to these “reservations.” With so many pioneers moving to the gold sites, the Native Americans’ lands were yet taken again. In turn, the government implemented more restrictions on the tribes. Their boundaries just kept shrinking. All of this tension instigated a battle between the American Indians and the whites known as the Wounded Knee Massacre. However, the major causes of the Wounded Knee Massacre were western expansion, the Ghost Dance, and Sitting Bull’s arrest.
A few years after the Civil War, the federal government opened the West for settlement. There was much at stake. For whites, there were acres of open land suitable for farming, trading, or transportation. For Native Americans, the plains was their home. Travelling from place to place, these tribes followed the herds of buffalo that provided food and clothing. Indian oppositions were met with many conflicts between the tribes and U.S. troops (“Wounded Knee Massacre”). Occasionally, some of the Native Americans’ attempts were successful in ceasing settlers from trespassing their land. With news of gold discoveries, many whites brought complications into the American Indians’ lives. Often, the settlers would take advantage of them. Signed by American agents and representatives of Indian tribes, early treaties primarily assured them of peace and integrity of their land (Martin). As more and more settlers arrived, these treaties were broken. The whites often sought protection from the government, and the government would obviously favor the whites. C...
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Martin, Stacie.”Native Americans.” Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. Ed. Dinah Shelton. Vol. 2. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 740-746. Global Issues In Context. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.
“Massacre At Wounded Knee, 1890,” EyeWitness to History, www.eyewithnesstohistory.com (1998).
“Native American.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1357826/Native-American.
Ostler, Jeffrey. “Wounded Knee.” Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. Ed. Dinah L. Shelton. Vol. 3. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 1166-1168. World History in Context. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
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One can list the boons of western expansion — more opportunities for innovation; trains; more land for the colonists; increased trade opportunities, in both products and transportation, but none of these benefitted natives. In fact, they harmed Amerinds, pushing them to the brink of total extinction, and seemed to soil everything in nature that they had nurtured. "My heart feels like bursting; I feel sorry," Santana, the Chief of the Kiowa, said of the changes wrought by the foreigners (document G). They had every right and more to feel hurt, as Westward Expansion and the outstandingly poor treatment of natives contributed the largest, but most under-discussed, genocides in the Common Era, if not history. At least 100 million North or South American natives were killed by white or European settlers, according to the Smithsonian, whether from battle, pestilence, dislodging, or some other tribulation. There was really no way for the natives to win. This persecution lasted several decades. "In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into effect the Homestead Act, which gave 160 acres west of the Mississippi, to any man who was willing to farm it," Northern Arizona University reported. Even the beloved sixteenth president contributed to the auctioning off of land that was not the US's to give away. Through increments of 160 acres, the natives' possession of land was chipped away,
The Europeans invaded America with every intention of occupying the land, the bountiful natural resources as well as the complete domination of the native people. The Europeans desire for the land created an explosive situation for the native peoples as they witnessed their land and right to freedom being stripped from them. They often found themselves having to choose sides of which to pledge their allegiance to. The Europeans depended upon Indian allies to secure the land and their dominance as well as trade relations with the Indians. The Indians were in competition with one another for European trade causing conflict among the different tribes altering the relationships where friends became enemies and vice versa (Calloway, 2012, p. 163). These relationships often became embittered and broke into bloody brawls where it involved, "Indian warriors fighting on both sides, alongside the European forces as well as against European forces invad...
The massacre at Wounded Knee was the last action in a long and bloody war that pitted Native American Indians against U.S Military forces. For roughly 300 years the two sides had been in constant conflict across America in a battle for land, resources, and ultimately; freedom. This final massacre solidified the American hold on the west and closed the final chapter on a way of life that can never be brought back. Lakota Indians, having learned of the death of Sitting Bull started to move towards Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in hopes of finding protection from Red Cloud. However, the harsh South Dakota winter weather had different plans, causing Chief Big Foot to become extremely ill. The Lakota came across cavalry forces and showed white flags in order to show they were no threat and in need of assistance. The army had orders to move the Indians to a camp on Wounded Knee Creek in order to provide shelter, food, and aid. 1 It is evident that a misunderstanding combined with an already tense situation led to the confrontation and ultimate demise of many elderly men, women, and children at the hands of the United States Calvary. Was this an intentional act or just an unfortunate turn of events for the Lakota and Unites States Army.
After many years of battling with the Native Americans for land, the United States grew tired of the fight and sought "peace". The first Fort Laramie treaty of 1851 acknowledged the Lakota territory, which consisted of North and South Dakota, parts of Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming as belonging to the Sioux Indians. This was a considerably large section of land equating to about five percent of the United States (Calloway, 2012). The U.S. government realized the abundant natural resources of gold that existed in this territory and attempted to enact the Bozeman Trail. This trail ran through Sioux territory into the gold mines of Montana. This attempt at utilizing Indian land to get at the gold brought about Red Cloud's war in which the U.S. army was brought to a complete halt. This was an embarrassment to the U.S. and through this slaughter brought about the second Treaty of Fort Laramie in an effort to bring about "peace". The second treaty enacted in 1868, was full of deception and disharmony. This short analysis of the treaty will examine the snares which were purposely weaved into the wording of this lengthy document, which benefited the United States and chipped away at the Native Americans culture, freedom, and land.
With hope that they could even out an agreement with the Government during the progressive era Indian continued to practice their religious beliefs and peacefully protest while waiting for their propositions to be respected. During Roosevelt’s presidency, a tribe leader who went by as No Shirt traveled to the capital to confront them about the mistreatment government had been doing to his people. Roosevelt refused to see him but instead wrote a letter implying his philosophical theory on the approach the natives should take “if the red people would prosper, they must follow the mode of life which has made the white people so strong, and that is only right that the white people should show the red people what to do and how to live right”.1 Roosevelt continued to dismiss his policies with the Indians and encouraged them to just conform into the white’s life style. The destruction of their acres of land kept being taken over by the whites, which also meant the destruction of their cultural backgrounds. Natives attempted to strain from the white’s ideology of living, they continued to attempt with the idea of making acts with the government to protect their land however they never seemed successfully. As their land later became white’s new territory, Indians were “forced to accept an ‘agreement’” by complying to change their approach on life style.2 Oklahoma was one of last places Natives had still identity of their own, it wasn’t shortly after that they were taken over and “broken by whites”, the union at the time didn’t see the destruction of Indian tribes as a “product of broken promises but as a triumph for American civilization”.3 The anger and disrespect that Native tribes felt has yet been forgotten, white supremacy was growing during the time of their invasion and the governments corruption only aid their ego doing absolutely nothing for the Indians.
To take these lands, American settlers physically invaded the lands to claim as their own, however, they also petitioned the Federal Government to remove the Indians from their native lands. By doing this, they gained the support of the government’s resources and influence, especially President Jackson’s. Using both political and military attacks, the settlers quickly gained the upper hand over the Indians.
Whilst there has been countless attacks on the Native American people the Battle of Wounded Knee, if you can in fact call it a battle, is the event that can be held as the most accountable for the destruction of the native American culture; the obliteration of their hope and dreams. The Battle of Wounded Knee resulted in the death of three hundred Native Americans, half of which were women and children. White Plume, in the article In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, explains that “the whole Sioux Nation was wounded at that last terrible massacre, and we’ve been suffering ever since”. This sentiment is expressed throughout the remaining article as well as in Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues.
Whites found gold in Sioux land and wanted the Sioux to sell their land. The Sioux said no, and so the whites invaded. “Anyway, this was all the excuse needed for government to pour resources into subduing Sioux and negotiating a new treaty (1876) which ceded the Black Hills. And much hunting ground. This: destroyed way of life, disrupted leadership, destroyed economy, destroyed religion, and created conflicts among Indians themselves.” In 1878, the Timber and Stone Act let people buy land that was “unfit for cultivation” for really cheap prices.
The Wounded Knee Massacre was final result of the growing problems between the Lakota Sioux and the American Government. After the Civil War tension began to escalate and ended on December 29, 1890. When the government took over most of the Lakota land and forced them into reservations the Indian way of life was destroyed and the large bison herds were hunted until they were endangered. The life in reservations was also difficult since many of the promises made by the government remained unfulfilled: “Promises to increase rations, made by U.S. officials in 1889 in order to secure signatures to reduce Sioux treaty lands by half, and to create six separate reservations, had proved false. Instead, rations had been cut precipitously, and the people were nearly starving.” (Robertson 1). Treaties which were signed to protect the reservations from outsiders were also ignored by the government. There were also other factors which led to the killing such as the Ghost Dance, Murder of Chief Sitting Bull, and the struggle with evolved into a massacre.
Beginning in the 1860s and lasting until the late 1780s, government policy towards Native Americans was aggressive and expressed zero tolerance for their presence in the West. In the last 1850s, tribal leaders and Americans were briefly able to compromise on living situations and land arrangements. Noncompliance by Americans, however, resumed conflict. The beginning of what would be called the "Indian Wars" started in Minnesota in 1862. Sioux, angered by the loss of much of their land, killed 5 white Americans. What resulted was over 1,000 deaths, of white and Native Americans. From that point on, American policy was to force Indians off of their land. American troops would force Indian tribe leaders to accept treaties taking their land from them. Protests or resistance by the Indians would result in fighting. On occasion, military troops would even lash out against peaceful Indians. Their aggression became out of control.
During the West movement of 1830’s and 1840’s, there were many conflicts that American settlers faced. The first problem settlers had to solve was relations with the Native Americans. As the numbers of American settlers grew, the life of Native Americans was greatly affected. The Native Americans tried to maintain their cultural traditions and the peace with white settlers, but they were often forced to move out of their homeland. Then came the Black Hawk War, which was the Native Americans’ rebellion against the United States in Illinois and Wisconsin Territory. After failure of this rebellion, Native Americans were forced to abandon their lands and move to reservation even with the Fort Laramie Treaty, which promised the pea...
“Pontiac, chief of the Ottawa Indians, is trying to take Detroit, and the neighboring Indian groups join in and help. They have become disenchanted with the French, plus the French aren’t really there anymore. They hate the English. They want their land back. Starting to succeed and the British negotiate and reach a settlement. In order to keep Pontiac happy, no settlement allowed in the Frontier region. An imaginary line is drawn down the Appalachian Mountains, colonist cannot cross it. This doesn’t last long, in 1768 & 1770, Colonists work with the Iroquois and Cherokee and succeed in pushing back the line and send in surveyors. Colonists begin to settle. So, despite this line, colonists push west anyway” (Griffin, PP4, 9/16/15). During the Revolutionary War, “Native Americans fought for both sides, but mostly for the British, thought they stood to be treated more fairly by British than colonists. Those that fought against the colonists were specifically targeted to be destroyed during battles. There were no Native American representatives at the treaty meetings at the end of the war” (Griffin, PP8, 9/21/15). Even the Native American’s thought of their women, because they believed “an American victory would have tragic consequences: their social roles would be dramatically changed and their power within their communities diminished” (Berkin,
The movement westward during the late 1800’s created new tensions among already strained relations with current Native American inhabitants. Their lands, which were guaranteed to them via treaty with the United States, were now beginning to be intruded upon by the massive influx of people migrating from the east. This intrusion was not taken too kindly, as Native American lands had already been significantly reduced due to previous westward conquest. Growing resentment for the federal government’s Reservation movement could be felt among the native population. One Kiowa chief’s thoughts on this matter summarize the general feeling of the native populace. “All the land south of the Arkansas belongs to the Kiowas and Comanches, and I don’t want to give away any of it” (Edwards, 203). His words, “I don’t want to give away any of it”, seemed to a mantra among the Native Americans, and this thought would resound among them as the mounting tensions reached breaking point.
One of the critical tasks that faced the new nation of the United States was establishing a healthy relationship with the Native Americans (Indians). “The most serious obstacle to peaceful relations between the United States and the Indians was the steady encroachment of white settlers on the Indian lands. The Continental Congress, following [George] Washington’s suggestion, issued a proclamation prohibiting unauthorized settlement or purchase of Indian land.” (Prucha, 3) Many of the Indian tribes had entered into treaties with the French and British and still posed a military threat to the new nation.