Decline Of Indian Southwest Essay

2618 words - 10 pages

Decline of Indian Southwest

Lord Acton said, “The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by its minorities.” In the late 1800’s the security of the minorities in the southwest was in serious jeopardy. For the Apache’s the security was promised but rarely upheld by the American government. The minimal security the Navajo enjoyed vanished by 1846. Men like Kit Carson desired but often failed to maintain the peace and security for these Indian tribes.

Kit Carson’s actions and the actions of others began the deterioration of the Indian culture in the southwest. The decline of the Indian southwest was caused by the idea of Manifest Destiny, which led to Indian confinement to reservations and the decline of Native American society.

The idea of Manifest Destiny led the Americans to war with Mexico. In 1846, America gained control of what is now the Southwest. With this acquisition, America inherited years of Navajo-Mexican warfare. The Mexicans became American citizens; the Natives, being Indians, did not. Therefore, Indians were punished for attacks on Mexicans but not vice-versa (Brown 14). General Stephen Watts Kearney put it this way, addressing the Mexicans: 'The Apaches and the Navajos come down and carry off your sheep and your women whenever they please. My government will correct all this. They will keep off the Indians, protect you in persons and property " (L.

Bailey 2). American officials, in an attempt to halt conflict between the Indians and the new settlers, prevent expensive wars, and open up lands to white settlers, created reservations for the Indians, crowding the Indians into areas and constricting them from finding or growing food. With the border moving further south than it already was, it added a lot more people to the United States in general and more importantly to the lands of the Indians.

The first people that the opening of the land attracted were miners, followed by entrepreneurs to capitalize on new mining settlements. These miners were violent and lawless and had no feeling for the Indian whose land they were slowly taking over. The tension came to a head in 1860 when an Apache Chief, Mangas Coloradas visited a mining camp alone in good faith. Upon arrival “the miners tied him to a tree and lashed him unmercifully with their bullwhips.” (Debo 61) The treacherous act sent Mangas Coloradas on the warpath with the help of Apache leader Cochise. The Apaches attacked settlements and supply trains, stole horses and looted the cornfields. Although Geronimo himself had not been wronged, his people had been so he fought along side his tribe.

A further disturbance of Indian –White relations came with the disappearance of an eleven-year-old boy in one of the cattle raids. This was the beginning of another bloody chain of events in Apache history. In January of 1861 Lieutenant Bascom was sent with about 50 men to recover the missing boy. Cochise...

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