The Plight Of The North American Indians

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The Plight Of The North American Indians

The history and culture of the American Indian is sadly misrepresented because of culture biases and inaccurate reports. In order to give a more accurate report of the American Indian one must look at period before the Europeans, the invasion of the      Before we can set out on the road to success, we have to know   where we are going, and before we can know that we must  determine where we are have been in the past. It seems a basic requirement to study the history of our Indian people. America has much to learn about the heritage of our American Indians. Only through this study can we as a nation do what must be done if out treatment of the American Indian is not to be marked down for all time as a national disgrace. (Pres. John F. Kennedy)

When the Europeans first arrived on the shores of America they found hundreds of different tribes of people that they named “Indians”. The Europeans immediately recognized the immense wealth of natural resources that this vast and diverse land had.Unfortunately they failed to recognize a non-materialistic wealth i.e. spiritual, cultural and intellectual the Indians had achieved over centuries.  Archeological evidence indicates early Indian cultures existed 10,000 BC. But the questions that still remains, how did early Indians arrive on the North America continent. One theory is during the Pleistocene ice age during “a two million year period, the floor of the Bering Strait stood high and dry, linking Siberia and Alaska.” (National Geographic Society 1974) As the Ice Age ended and extreme changes in the climate occurred causing change in animal and plant life so did the lifestyle of the Paleo-Indian. During the Archaic Period, lifestyles of the Paleo-Indians became more stable and they began settling in the Northeast region. By 4000 BC these nomadic foragers were domesticating livestock and “growing a crude form of corn and later a variety of As a result of farming, the reliance on wild foods dwindled. Between the periods 1000 BC and 1000 AD the American Indian reached the peak of their civilization. And as a direct result from the demands of domestication of plants and animals their daily lives became structured. They developed “a village life, complete with political organizations and complex religious concepts.” (Yenne 1984) These American Indians adapted to the changes that occurred in the climate as well as with the evolution of animal life. The tribes of North America can be divided into nine distinct regions: the Arctic, Subarctic, Northwest Coast, California, Great Basin, Southwest, Plains and Prairies, Northeast and Southeast. Although these nine distinct cultures shared certain cultural factors they all had distinct features that set them apart from each other.

In 1492 when Christopher Columbus arrived on the continent there was an “estimated two and one half million Indians, organized into 600 tribes.” (Yenne 1984)These Indians have been described over many, many years as savages whom rape, murder and mutilate the white man. But the question that needs to be brought up: is this lame excuse for the genocide of the American Indians. The impact of the Europeans on the American Indians is beyond description.                                 The Plight of The North American Indians. The history and culture of the American Indian is sadly misrepresented because of culture biases and inaccurate reports. In order to give a more accurate report of the American Indian one must look at period before the Europeans, the invasion of the

Before we can set out on the road to success, we have to know  where we are going, and before we can know that we must  determine where we are have been in the past. It seems a basic requirement to study the history of our Indian people. America has much to learn about the heritage of our American Indians. Only through this study can we as a nation do what must be done if out treatment of the American Indian is not to be marked down for all time as a national disgrace. (Pres. John F. Kennedy)

When the Europeans first arrived on the shores of America they found hundreds of different tribes of people that they named “Indians”. The Europeans immediately recognized the immense wealth of natural resources that this vast and diverse land had.Unfortunately they failed to recognize a non-materialistic wealth i.e. spiritual, cultural and intellectual the Indians had achieved over centuries. Archeological evidence indicates early Indian cultures existed 10,000 BC. But the questions that still remains, how did early Indians arrive on the North America continent. One theory is during the Pleistocene ice age during “a two million year period, the floor of the Bering Strait stood high and dry, linking Siberia and Alaska.” (National Geographic Society 1974) As the Ice Age ended and extreme changes in the climate occurred causing change in animal and plant life so did the lifestyle of the Paleo-Indian. During the Archaic Period, lifestyles of the Paleo-Indians became more stable and they began settling in the Northeast region. By 4000 BC these nomadic foragers were domesticating livestock and “growing a crude form of corn and later a variety of As a result of farming, the reliance on wild foods dwindled. Between the periods 1000 BC and 1000 AD the American Indian reached the peak of their civilization. And as a direct result from the demands of domestication of plants and animals their daily lives became structured. They developed “a village life, complete with political organizations and complex religious concepts.” (Yenne 1984) These American Indians adapted to the changes that occurred in the climate as well as with the evolution of animal life. The tribes of North America can be divided into nine distinct regions: the Arctic, Subarctic, Northwest Coast, California, Great Basin, Southwest, Plains and Prairies, Northeast and Southeast. Although these nine distinct cultures shared certain cultural factors they all had distinct features that set them apart from each other.

In 1492 when Christopher Columbus arrived on the continent there was an “estimated two and one half million Indians, organized into 600 tribes.” (Yenne 1984)These Indians have been described over many, many years as savages whom rape, murder and mutilate the white man. But the question that needs to be brought up: is this lame excuse for the genocide of the American Indians.    The impact of the Europeans on the American Indians is beyond description. However, the most devastating of them all was the disease that they brought with them. The Europeans and their African slaves brought many viruses that were not common in the Americas prior to 1492. For example smallpox, plague, measles, tuberculosis, pneumonia and many more. These diseases “spread like wildfire among Indian

These new diseases constituted to one of the biggest biological calamitiesin history. It has been believed that whole tribes died and many tribes lost anywhere from 50 to90 percent of their population. Disease has been the number one killer of the NorthAmerican Indians from the fifteenth through the twentieth century. These diseases also had grave impact on the North American Indian society: the elders, storytellers and medicine man were the one most susceptible to the diseases. A Wampanoag Indian  “ A long time ago they had wise, men which in a grave manner taught the         people knowledge, but they are dead, and their wisdom is buried with           them, and now men live a giddy life, in ignorance, till they are white headed,  and though ripe in years they go without wisdom to their graves.” (Calloway 1994)

The main reason for the expeditious spread of the diseases was most Indians trading with each other and they were enthusiastic to trade with the Europeans.    Conventionally Indians traded only as exchange but they soon followed the Europeans and traded only for profits causing many disputes. They traded a variety of items such as the following: guns, alcohol, furs, deerskins and metal products. As a result of trade the North American Indians again were the losers. For example Indian hunters hunted animals based on demand and not on need as they once did depleting the animal populations and causing competition for hunting grounds and creating inter-tribal wars.

Unfortunately for the North American Indians they became dependent on the “white man” goods and services and regularly purchased goods on credit eventually falling into The Europeans turned the North American Indian world upside down changing both their physical and their spiritual world. The Europeans began destroying vegetation and building roads, bridges, dams and mills. Changing the appearance of the “landscape and rendering impossible the kind of life Indian people had once lived.” (Calloway 1994)The Missionaries fought hard to convert the Indians to Christianity. Convincing the Indians that their ways were wrong but not all Indians converted quietly. Some converted but did not give up all their beliefs some refused blatantly and others became

Europeans meddled in all of the North American Indian society even in their politics. They often replaced leaders with Indians who would obey their commands. They were bought over by the Europeans and were given gifts, which in turn they gave their people for example they were given muskets and blankets. But they were only pawns in a big chess game. As result of these pawn chiefs the tribes fought wars for the European monarch. First with Britain then France then with the Britain and the United States. They even fought against.............


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