Settlers Effects On American Indians Essay Research

Settlers Effects On American Indians Essay, Research Paper Ever since the first Europeans inhabited America there has been a fascination with its land. Its beautiful scenery and its rich soil made, for the settlers, an attractive place to

Settlers Effects On American Indians Essay, Research Paper

Ever since the first Europeans inhabited America there has been a fascination with

its land. Its beautiful scenery and its rich soil made, for the settlers, an attractive place to

settle . Shortly after the colonies formed, the people started to accept farming as a way of

life. Gradually the colonists became self-sufficient and eventually broke all political ties

with their mother country, England. In the distance the native Americans (dubbed

Indians by the settlers) watched as more and more Europeans came into their homeland.

American government took advantage of the Indians by tricking them into selling there

lands, not aware of what they were doing, and forcing them off if they resisted. The

Indians became upset as they were constantly being shouldered off of their land. In order

to respect each others space, treaties were made between the government and the various

tribes of Indians. The discovery of gold, however, changed all of this. Instantaneously

the treaties were out of the question and white settlers streamed into tribal lands. As

society kept surging west and more treaties were broken, Indian tribes either resisted or

were taken advantage of in the formation of other treaties. The beginning of capitalism

only enhanced the whites progress west. After the civil war ended people flowed into the

west in search of new land. Soon, railroads were plowing through Indian lands, then

telegraph wires, then stagecoach lines. The end result was the Indians lost their homeland

and their way of life. Because the Indians did not understand-until it was too late-the true

essence of white culture, their existence as a people was essentially doomed.

Part of the cause of the Indian?s downfall was related to certain assumptions that

they made regarding the white culture. One assumption was that the whites would fight

with honor on the battlefield, and that they would use tactics similar to those used by

Indian war parties. The honorable way of fighting to an Indian was one on one, or one

warrior?s tactics and skills against anothers. When they fought the whites, however, they

found themselves up against not individual men, but a group of soldiers fighting in a line

together. This put the Indians at a serious disadvantage, and brought them to defeat very

quickly. Also, they had never heard of the tactic of pursuit before. In the winter months,

when normally they would have time to rest and no tribes would declare war, they found

themselves under attack from pursuing American soldiers. The one assumption that led

to the Indians losing almost all of their land was that they thought they could hold whites

to their word. Time after time, whites made treaties with tribes, declaring a mutual

respect for each others land. While the Indians thought they were holding up their end of

the treaty, the whites would invade or push the tribes off their precious land to go live – at

gunpoint – on an Indian reservation. The Black Hills in South Dakota were the most

sacred of all places for the Sioux Indians. Under the Treaty of 1868, no white person or

persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the territory, or without

the consent of the Indians to pass through the same. By 1875 the sacred grounds were

ridden with greedy prospectors, pouring in from all over the country. This was just one

example of many instances where Indians lost their land. Treaty-maker, James Steele

talking to Cheyenne and Arapahos, ?We all fully realize it is hard for people to leave their

homes and graves of their ancestors, but, unfortunately for you, gold has been discovered

in your country…? (Brown 100)

Another thing the Indians did not understand about the whites was the extent of

their ?land greed?. Part of the ?American Dream? was to own land, so, white settlers

sought it out where it was plentiful – in the West. The only problem was that it was

inhabited by Indians. To justify the invading of Indian territories, the Americans came up

with Manifest Destiny. This said that, ?The Europeans and their descendants were

ordained by destiny to rule all of America.? (Brown 8) Also, it said that because the

whites were the dominant race, they are responsible for all Indians and all that they own.

Now that it was morally o.k., whites moved onto tribal lands, broke sacred treaties with

the Indians, and even fought with the Indians to get land of their own. Eventually, all of

the Indians would lose their lands to white settlers.

The one thing that doomed the Indians the most was the whites determination to

achieve progress. After the civil war America was left with a highly productive economy.

Capitalism emerged as a new force in society, speeding up the individual?s pace of life.

Industry was booming, entrepreneurs established businesses everywhere throughout the

country as the Industrial Revolution brought technology across the country like a mighty

iron horse. Railroads smashed paths through Indian lands, forts sprang up around the

railroads, then more forts. Communication increased with the invention of the telegraph.

Soon, telegraph wires streamed from the west coast to the east coast. This, to the white

society, was progress and the Indians were in the way. The government sent soldiers to

enforce the dehabitation of Indian lands. When a tribe resisted they kidnapped their

chiefs, shot all of their horses, and killed off the buffalo-their main food supply. From

1872 to 1874 3,700,000 buffalo were killed, only 150,000 of them were killed by Indians.

(Brown 265) The white soldiers were too many for the brave Indian warriors to fight off,

and eventually, they lost their struggle for freedom.

The Indian way of life was fundamentally different from that of white culture.

While the Indian was at peace with nature, the white man was destroying it, cutting down

its forests and exploiting its natural resources. The Indian had no concept of time other

than that of the sun and of the seasons, while the whites had business deadlines and busy

schedules. Because of this vast difference in values, peaceful coexistence was not easy to

achieve. The Indians assumed that they could trust the whites – they were wrong. They

thought they could stop prospectors from invading their territories – they were wrong.

The white society would not stop as long as there was land to be had and money to be

made. ?They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but

one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.? (Brown 449)