Treatment of Native Americans by Europeans Essay example

Treatment of Native Americans by Europeans Essay example

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Native Americans have faced increasing encroachment by European and Euro-American settlers since the discovery of the Americas by Europeans in 1492. Beginning with the Caribs, mistakenly labeled as Indians by Christopher Columbus, continuing with the ‘Indian Wars’ waged by the U.S. government against such tribes as the Lakota and Apache, and lasting until today, native peoples have had to adjust and adapt constantly to survive. Native peoples have had to use and balance their ‘historical agency,’ or the ability of a people to affect the world around them throughout history, against the ‘structural forces’ set up by outsiders and foreign governments, which seek to limit their impact on the world. Both Andrew Fisher and Jeffrey Ostler have written about native groups, the Columbia River Indians and the Lakota, respectively, which have balanced historical agency against external structural forces over time. According to Fisher and Ostler, both the Lakota and the Columbia River Indians have used legal and illegal means to promote their historical agency. Both have a central cultural issue at the heart of their struggle against external structural forces. Ultimately, however, both groups have used the struggle between their historical agency and external structural forces to forge an identity that allowed them to adapt and survive into the twenty-first century.
In Ostler’s The Lakota and the Black Hills, Jeffrey Ostler details the history of the Lakota tribe, beginning with the earliest records we have about them, detailing their origin story of humanity. The Lakota believe that the earliest humans came about within the earth and came to the surface through a narrow cave opening, called the Wind Cave, in the Black Hills, a beautiful h...

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...roups such as the Lakota and the Columbia River Indians have regained their sense of identity through the conflict between their historical agency and structural forces. This new sense of identity, forged in a struggle to regain what has been lost, has allowed these tribes to survive and find new ways to thrive into the twenty-first century, despite the belief that assimilation would have eliminated Native American tribes by this point in time. The fight for historical agency continues for many Native groups, and it may continue for many more decades unless a respectful result can be achieved in the near future.

Works Cited

Fisher, Andrew H. Shadow Tribe: The Making of the Columbia River Indian Identity. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2010.
Ostler, Jeffrey. The Lakotas and the Black Hills: The Struggle for Sacred Ground. New York: Viking Press, 2010.

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