Treatment Of Native Americans Essay, Research Paper
After the American Revolution the new United States government hoped to maintain peace with the Indians on the frontier. But as settlers continued to migrate westward they made settlements on Indian lands and demanded and received protection by the Army. Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief, organized several tribes to oppose further ceding of Indian lands. But they were defeated in 1811 by Gen. William Henry Harrison at the battle of Tippecanoe.
During the War of 1812 many of the Indians again sided with the British. Afterward, with the victorious United States secure in its borders, federal policy turned to one of removal of the Indians west of the Mississippi River–to the so-called Great American Desert, where, supposedly, no white man would ever want to live. To implement this policy, the Indian Removal Act was signed into law on May 28, 1830. It gave President Andrew Jackson, a dedicated foe of the Indians, the power to exchange land west of the Mississippi for the southeastern territory of the Five Civilized Tribes–the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles.
The removal policy led to a clash between Jackson and the United States Supreme Court, which had ruled in favor of the right of the Cherokees to retain their lands in Georgia. Jackson refused to enforce the Court’s decision, and in 1838 and 1839 the Cherokees, like the other tribes before them, were forced westward to Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). Their bitter trek during the dead of winter has become known as the Trail of Tears.
In 1832, Sauk and Fox Indians under Black Hawk in Wisconsin had been defeated after refusing to abandon their lands east of the Mississippi. In the 1830s and 1840s, Seminoles under Osceola unsuccessfully resisted removal from their homes in Florida. By the end of the 1840s, except for small segments of tribes who had fled to the wilderness, the “Indian problem” had ended in the East.
1835: Seminole Indian War. When white settlers tried to force the Seminole of the Florida Territory to relocate west of the Mississippi River, the tribe’s warriors hid their families in the Everglades and launched a guerrilla war against U.S. forces under Gen. Thomas Jesup. Assisted by runaway slaves who had married into the tribe, the Seminoles fought determinedly until their chief Osceola was captured in 1837, after which their resistance gradually diminished. The war ended in 1842, and the Seminole agreed to move to lands west of the Mississippi soon thereafter. The Seminole War of 1835-42 cost the U.S. government more than 2,000 men and between 40 and 60 million dollars.
TECUMSEH (1768? -1813). The most dramatic of the Indians’ struggles to hold their lands against the white man was the one led by the great Shawnee chief Tecumseh. He was born on Mad River, near the present city of Springfield, Ohio, in about 1768. From his earliest childhood he saw suffering brought to his people by the whites.
In 1808 Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa, a religious leader called the Prophet, established a village in northern Indiana. They persuaded the Indians there to avoid liquor, to cultivate their land, and to return to traditional Indian ways of life. The village came to be known as Prophet’s Town.
Meanwhile Tecumseh was forming a defensive confederacy of Indian tribes, traveling throughout the East and Midwest. “Our fathers,” he said to the Indians, “from their tombs, reproach us as slaves and cowards.” He won the allegiance of many tribes.
At that time William Henry Harrison was governor of the Indiana Territory. He induced a number of individual tribes to give up great areas in the region that is now Indiana and Illinois. At a council in Vincennes in 1810, Tecumseh demanded that land be returned to the Indians. Since it belonged to all of them, he argued, individual chiefs did not have the right to barter it away. His demand was rejected. He then traveled to Canada to consult the British and afterward to the Southwest to enlist support of Indian tribes there.
Governor Harrison undertook an expedition against Prophet’s Town during Tecumseh’s absence, in September 1811. On November 7, after a fierce battle, he destroyed the village. This defeat scattered the Indian warriors. When the War of 1812 broke out, Tecumseh joined the British as a brigadier general. He was killed at the battle of the Thames in Ontario on Oct. 5, 1813. He is buried on Walpole Island, Ont.
On May 28, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which offered Native American tribes land west of the Mississippi in exchange for their holdings in the East. More than 100 treaties were signed granting tribes “guaranteed” titles for unsettled prairie land in the West, though such grants were often ignored as white settlements began to push westward across the Mississippi. Several Indian tribes in the Southeast, including the Seminole and the Cherokee, resisted the new law and had to be forcibly moved to their new lands. An estimated 60,000 Native Americans were transplanted to the frontier in the 1830s.
Indians, American, or Native Americans: Indian Wars of the United States: The East
BLACK HAWK (1767-1838). The American Indian chief of the Sauk tribe, Black Hawk was the leader of the last war against white settlers in the Northwest Territory. He had a band of about 1,000 followers, many of whom were women, old men, and children.
Black Hawk was born in a Sauk village near the mouth of the Rock River in Illinois. In the War of 1812 he was recruited by the British to fight against the United States government. The Indians’ grievances increased after the war as settlers continued to take over their fields and homes.
In 1804 several members of the Sauk and Fox tribes had signed a treaty ceding all their lands east of the Mississippi River to the United States. Under Chief Keokuk, some of the Indians moved across the river to Iowa, but Black Hawk claimed the treaty was not valid. Forced to move in 1831, Black Hawk led his warriors and their families back into Illinois the following spring. American troops, aided by the Illinois militia, set out after them, and fighting soon broke out. Other tribes failed to help Black Hawk’s band, and it was crushed in August.
Black Hawk was imprisoned for a time and then was taken east, where he met President Andrew Jackson. Later he was allowed to return to Iowa. His autobiography, dictated to a government interpreter, is an American classic. He died in Iowa in 1838.
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