Naitve Americans In The Contact Zone

883 words - 4 pages

Long before the Europeans set foot on American soil, the American Indians, or rather the Native Americans had been living on this land. Ever since the first Europeans inhabited America there has been a fascination with its land. It’s beautiful scenery and its rich soil made, for the settlers, an attractive place to settle. In the distance the Native Americans (dubbed Indians by the settlers) watched as more and more Europeans came into their homeland. Unfortunately the American government took advantage of the Indians by tricking them into selling their land and forcing them off if they refused; this started to aggravate the Indians because they were constantly being forced off their own land. This cultural phenomenon is what Mary Louise Pratt has termed the “contact zone” which is to refer to the “social spaces where cultures meet clash and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power such as colonialism, slavery or other aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world.” (Pratt 34) I believe what Pratt is referring to is the situation that is created when two completely distinct cultures, which operate on totally different levels, attempt to interact. Each culture brings with them their own values and traditions that the other culture may not entirely understand. This can often lead to confusion, misunderstandings or sometime worse. The meeting of western and Indian cultures created exactly this “contact zone” situation that Pratt defines. The aftermaths of certain situations have been both positive and negative and also have had simultaneously posed a threat while providing opportunities.
The Europeans brought with them not only a desire and will to conquer the new continent for all its material richness, but also brought with them diseases that hit the Indians hard. One assumption the Indians had was that the Europeans would fight with honor on the battlefield, and that they would use tactics similar to those used by Indian war parties. The Indian tribes were at a great disadvantage because of their modest numbers, nomadic life, lack of advanced weapons, and unwillingness to cooperate, even in their own defense. 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 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...

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