Diversity Of The American West. Immigration

1757 words - 7 pages

The American West is an extremely ethnically diverse region. Large populations of immigrants and natives to it have established an Anglo, western population that continues to feel confined culturally and, more importantly, racially. Racial diversity may exist in the West, but inclusion is not intrinsic of diversity. Anglo westerners have worked to forge an identity void of other races existing in the West for centuries. Exclusion of Indians, Mexicans, blacks, and Asians took place in the West's short history as an effort by whites to preserve their Anglo-western identity.By the 1860's it was clear that Anglo westerners had solidified their intentions to separate their white society from that of the Indians. The so-called "Western Civil War of Incorporation" illustrates perfectly the attempt by whites to establish their own identity by repressing others. This "War" consisted of rebellious Indians who were tired of the "political pressure and military force that concentrated them in reservations." (Milner, 396) Reservation sovereignty had been threatened from the beginning. Treaties with Indians to allow temporary, safe passage of western migrants during the Gold Rush of the 1850's and 60's were continually violated. Migrants routinely remained in regions that they at first intended to cross, ultimately intruding on rightfully Indian land. In 1874, gold was found in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The fact that the discovering miners were on the Lakota Indian reservation, established by the Treaty of 1868, provides a clear picture of the loosely enforced and loosely followed reservation laws. But the real affront came with a government-sanctioned commission that forced the Lakota to give temporary mining rights to whites in the region. Temporary soon became permanent, and the Lakota were systematically pushed out of a region that was legally their own. The mindset of the commission toward the Lakota was evident: "They must adapt to and become self-supporting in the white man's economy. They must accede to white demands - or the must starve." (Worster 123)This type of Anglo dominance was promoted in the name of "progress" and "expansion". By the late 1860's slaughters of Indians by whites had become prevalent throughout the West. The Wounded Knee massacre, which took place in 1890 and seemed to mark the closing of violent white-Indian conflict, was the result of anglo-westerners' reluctance to accept Indian cultural dances. (Milner 417) These dances posed no threat to whites. They were merely a calling for the reemergence of the buffalo, an animal essential to the herd following culture of the Sioux that had been uselessly hunted to near-extinction by whites. Because of their reluctance, 200 Sioux including women and children were slaughtered by federal troops. This particular incident reveals the intensity behind land-grabbing whites, who wanted to preserve their own culture and erase that of the Indian. By the end of the 19th century, Indians had...

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