Stripped of Personal Freedom: Native Americans in the West

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Throughout our country’s history there have been several groups who have fared less that great. Every minority group was treated unfairly, Indians were uprooted and had no control, I can’t imagine for a second being a soldier in combat, women struggled for basic rights, and many people fell victim to the changing ways of our economy, losing their jobs and fighting to survive. It seems wrong to pick one group over another, as if to say some people who were treated horribly or who faced mounting obstacles didn’t actually have it as bad as another group. But throughout all the years we’ve studied, one group that stood out to me who were dealt a horrible fate were Native Americans living in the west during the 19th century. When Americans began to expand westward, Indians unwillingly had their lives flipped upside down and changed drastically. After years of displacement, they were being forced to live in certain areas and follow certain rules, or risk their lives. While the US may have prided themselves in the fact that we didn’t practice imperialism or colonialism, and we weren’t an Empire country, the actions conquering land in our own country may seem to rebuff that claim. In the 19th century, the West was a synonym for the frontier, or edge of current settlement. Early on this was anything west of just about Mississippi, but beyond that is where the Indian tribes had been pushed to live, and promised land in Oklahoma after policies like Indian removal, and events like the Trail of Tears. Indian’s brief feeling of security and this promise were shattered when American’s believed it was their god given right, their Manifest Destiny, to conquer the West; they began to settle the land, and relatively quickly. And with this move, cam... ... middle of paper ... ...ven land, would they have food, would any of the promised be kept? An even more terrifying thought, would they be killed? And would they be forced to adopt American culture and traditions that were much different than their own? I cannot imagine having such little control over your own life, feeling so helpless. I would be filled with anxiety to the brink with all the uncertainty of what the future holds, just being a pawn of the countries authority figures. The life of Indian tribes in the west and 19th century is not a life I would have liked to be a part of. Works Cited Dr. Dicke. History 122. Missouri State University, Springfield, MO. 6 Sept 2013. Lecture. Roark, James L., Michael P. Johnson, Patricia C. Cohen, Sarah Stage, and Susan M. Hartmann. The American Promise: A History of the United States. 5th ed. Vol. 2. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009. Print.

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