Novel: Mean Spirit Essay, Research Paper
With oil being discovered on Native American property in Oklahoma during the early 1920 s, it was a chance for whites to get rich and it was the start of the demise of a stable Native American civilization. As a result of the Dawes Act of 1887, reservations were divided into plots given among the Indians. The plots gave each Indian 160 acres of land, which they were supposed to farm for 25 years and then they would become citizens of America. The land that was left over was to be sold to the public. The plots that were giving to the Indians were discovered to be occupied with enormous amounts of oil that was worth a lot of money. Whites had a huge impact on Native American life by taking their, and land trying to make Indians more European like. The Indians were giving the land that was filled with oil, and the oil seekers would do anything to get a hold on the oil lands, which had a devastating affect on the Indians. Between 1887 and the 1930 s, Indian landholdings dwindled from 138 million acres to 52 million. (A People and a Nation pg.323) Law s were passed which allowed mixed-blood people on reservations to be able to sell their land not having to obey the Dawes act twenty five-year periods, the whites that bought the land would pay for the land in useless money. Speculators then dumped many Ojibwas, who white experts had declared mixed-bloods , into signing away their land in return for counterfeit money and worthless merchandise. (A People and a Nation pg.323) Since Indians came from a different culture than the Europeans, they were seen as being barbaric and whites wanted to change those ways so Indians would become more civilized. Not only did the American government want to change where the Indians lived; they wanted to change their culture.
The Indians were forced to move to certain reservations during the mid 1800 s because the whites view was that they were living like scoundrels, and they were not using their land properly. North American natives were not were organized not so much into tribes, as whites believed, but rather into hundreds of bands and confederacies. (A People and a Nation pg.321) They were put on a certain reservation based on their tribes. It was a way to get the Indians off of their native land so they could get away from their old way of living, and start to learn a different type of living. Whites found this the only peace full way of dealing with the Native Americans. White missionaries and teachers would attempt to force on Native American the values of the American work ethic: ambition, thrift, and materialism. (A People and a Nation pg.321)
The whites looked at the Native Americans, as being as being barbarians, they wanted to convert them to be more acceptable, and be able to live life as civilized people. They act like animals going to slaughter (Mean Spirit pg. 132). They knew that the older Native Americans could not be changed, so they looked toward the children who stilled had a chance to change. The government came up with a boarding school program in which Indian children would be forced to be sent away to learn white culture, even if was against their will. The Indian agent signed an order sating that Nola would have to appear on Monday mourning or she would be picked up by the sheriff . (Mean Spirit pg.123) What they believed was that what the kids learned at school would be brought back to their homes and spread throughout their families and communities. Although the government thought that this would be a good idea, it was very harmful to the children. They were drawn to a whole new world, and it tough for them to change their culture since they were brought up from something totally different. The government s policy had other harmful effects on Indian s ways of life. The boarding school program educated thousands of children, but most returned to their families demoralized and confused. (A People and a Nation pg.323)
The novel Mean Spirit by Linda Hogan shows an example of how a Native American community had been devastated by greedy oil seeking men. The money they should be receiving for their royalties was being taking away In the spring you told us our people with white blood only received part of their money since they are part white. And not entitled. Now you are saying that we full blood only receive part of our money since someone we never see believes that we mismanage it? The government is doing this right? The government was trying to get the Indians as low as they can so they have no finance. Their land, which was very sacred to them was being destroyed by fires by which were set by the white men. Innocent men, women, and children were being murdered are the members of the tribe were be arrested for it.