Instructions: For responses 1 & 2 respond thoughtfully. Just saying “I agree” or “I disagree” does not constitute a thoughtful response. They need to be substantive to promote further discussion, new ideas, or questions and are approximately 150-200 words (1 paragraph) in length. Short comments, such as “Good point,” information not applicable to the historical context of the assigned topic, and non-topic personal interactions do not apply.
Westward migration brought settlers into conflict with Native Americans. What was the U.S. government’s policy toward Indians in the West, and how did it evolve over time?
The United States has a long-standing history of displacing Native Americans, and with western expansion, many were removed by force from their lands and given very little in exchange for moving which ultimately resulted in the destruction of their culture and their people during this period in US History. As the embracing of the Manifest Destiny philosophy began to flourish, more and more people decided it was a good opportunity for them to embark on migrating to the West despite the rumors they had heard about the unsuitable terrain. Indeed, at first the western regions passing the Mississippi river were considered to be unusable land that was essentially “a great American desert” based on findings of previous explorations (Corbett, et.al., 2017, 480), but after the United States government began to give incentives to Americans to expand west, it became more desirable.. While the idea that land was plentiful and unoccupied just waiting to be settled by new settlers, this was far from the truth. In reality, there were hundreds of thousands of Native Americans from many different tribes living on this land, most notably on the Great Plains, which was seen as an issue that the settlers wanted to resolve in order to claim this land. Drawing on the past with the Trail of Tears in 1830 where the Indian Removal Act forced to relocate towards modern day Oklahoma, the US government and eager settlers would first seek to make a deal with the Native Americans to barter for their lands so that it could be bought from them for white settlers. With the First Treaty of Fort Laramie, the chiefs of the Native tribes agreed to accept an annual payment to free up the land for settlers and the promise of being left alone to live on relocated regions. Unfortunately, this deal would not be honored fairly, and over time the length of the annual payments was shortened from initially being 50 years to 10 years, at the same time payments would not always be received and left the tribes at a disadvantage in the new reservation lands. Out of frustration, some settlers would just assemble and attack the native tribes in order to remove them by force. This would lead to rebellion by some tribes most notably the Dakota Sioux Indians. They attacked the white settlers and killed a significant number of them, but they were suppressed by the US army and would arrest. While President Lincoln released most of the Sioux, 38 of them were executed publicly. There would be more incidents of rebellion against white settlers but there would be a deadly response that did not end in victory for the Native tribes. The Sioux relocation to the Black Hills in Oklahoma would not last long and again the Native Americans would be forced to abandon the land and be moved elsewhere. As increasing violent responses took place between the Native American tribes and US troops, one final solution was proposed and carried to bring an end to the violence and attacks on Natives, this would be called Americanization. Americanization was essentially a forced assimilation attempt by the US government disguised as an extension of offering Native Americans to become part of the country as citizens and landowners and provide education for children. This was the “new, and final assault on Indian life and culture.” (Corbett, et.al., 2017, 500).
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