, Research Paper
The Europeans that settled in America changed the lives of the Indians, slowly robbing them of their culture. The future of the Indians was changed drastically as their children, their income off the land and their spiritual bonds with the land were interfered by the Europeans. The Europeans, in trying to create a white society out of the Indians, stole from them what made them unique as a civilization.
The Indians children were affected more than any other generation by the coming of the Europeans. Their whole family structure changed in the short period while the Europeans took over, and gradually the children lost all they ever knew.
Indian children were brought up learning the skills they would need as adults. A great importance was placed in training boys to become warriors and teaching them skills such as running, swimming, jumping, building stamina and strength and archery. Girls would stay with their mothers until they were eight and then live with their grandmother, who was considered their most dignified protector. She would take over and teach the girl skills such as weaving, molding clay and domestic skills Indian children were as free as the animals that roamed the forest around them. Young boys were encouraged by elders to engage in sports Girls busied themselves imitating their mothers. Life of a Shawnee, W.C.Mundell
With the arrival of the Europeans, Indian children lost their upbringing, their culture and gradually, their self-esteem. The government attempted to civilise the Indian children and many were sent or forcibly taken to boarding schools, often not situated on the reservations. The children were separated from their families, their mentors. Their clothing was missionary style dresses for the girls, knickers and trousers for the boys. The children weren t allowed to speak their native tongue.
The family structure collapsed as the fathers died and many women were widowed. This left them in a hopeless position as polygamy was outlawed and they had no one to hunt for them. Families were forced to adopt surnames, a practice which confused many. All these structural changes to the family and also the upbringing of the children only increased the sense of separation between them and their culture. Indian children became distanced from their heritage as Europeans tried to install in them the white culture.
As white settlement moved over America, Indians were forced off their land and onto poor quality substitutes, reservations. The Cherokees had two years in which they could move onto a reservation after which they would be forcibly removed.
Land for the Indians wasn t a possession How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? Chief Seattle To the Indians the land held spiritual connections and memories We are the ones that live closest to Mother Earth. We live with it, we experience it, with our hearts and souls and we depend upon it. When this Earth starts to be destroyed we feel it Caleb Pungowiyi. Yupik When the Europeans started to build and expand settlements with railroads across the Plains and large cities, the Indians could feel as well as see the destruction to nature.
The reservations that the Indians moved onto were poor quality. Europeans tried to teach the Indians agriculture but, being nomadic, they resisted. As the buffalo numbers slowly dropped, the Indian economy collapsed. Native crafts declined as European utensils such as metal products and cloth were introduced. The Indians lost their land and sustenance due to the drastic changes imposed by the Europeans.
The principle ceremonies of the Indians had direct relations to the life cycle. The
Indians placed special importance on their rituals, some which could last for weeks. All
of the tribes had Medicine Men or Shamans who had great spiritual responsibilities
within the tribe.
When the Europeans came they formed a committee, The Bureau of Indian Affairs,
which banned most of the ceremonies of the Indians and made them punishable.
Practices like the Sun dances of the Plains tribes, healing rituals of Medicine men,
animal dances that involved lavish costumes and Giveaway ceremonies were all
banned. Europeans intruded on the sacred sites of Indians that greatly offended them
How would you like it if I took my picnic basket, my family and dog into your church?
while you were praying? Bill Tallbull. Elder of Northern Cheyenne Europeans did not
respect the beliefs of the Indians. They tried to convert their pagan beliefs to
Christianity. A new religious movement combining Christian and pagan beliefs called
Peyotism was formed. Europeans had no respect for the Indians and their deep spiritual
wisdom. Their beliefs were not pagan, simply different, but the Europeans could not see
Through the coming of the Europeans the Indians lost not only their land, but their
identity and their culture. The Europeans tried to force the Indians into a white mold and
tried to turn them into a culture that they simply weren t. The Indians tried resistance but
how could they compete with whites and all there guns, machinery, immunity and
technology. The Indians eventually realized it was useless to resist so instead they to
accept their present situation Hear me my chiefs, I am tired; my heart is sick and sad.
From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever We cannot go on living
the life we once knew. We must begin a new life. Chief Joseph nez perce This
acceptance has come at a cost. It has left a lot of Indians without a cultural identity and
many have come to depend upon the government for aid. The Europeans stole more than
there land, they stole the future of civilized culture.