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Native American Rights Essay

1679 words - 7 pages

For hundreds of years, Native Americans inhabited present day United States of America as the only humans around. Their peaceful days ended during a period of European discovery. The Europeans met the Native Americans one day. From the start they subjected the Natives to discrimination and unfair treatment. For example, Columbus thought of them as an inferior race. Soon, the Natives’ lands were forcibly taken, and some of the Natives were put into slavery. Native Americans were pushed into smaller reservations to let the settlers take their land. The road to equality for Native Americans has been a long struggle, but with help from others and action from themselves, the Native Americans can have the equal rights that other Americans enjoy.
Native Americans had been pushed around by the government for many years, but one of the biggest abuses to the Native people came in the 1830s when the government forced the Natives to leave over one million acres of land they collectively owned and travel to a small area of Mississippi designated as “Indian territory”. The incredibly long and dangerous journey to this area is known today as the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears was one of the first widespread acts against Native Americans, causing Native Americans to cry out for equal rights with the white man.
Approved in 1887, the Dawes Severalty Act separated reservation land to give to individual Native Americans. The creators of this act thought that if Native Americans got their own land, they would farm it and eventually adopt white people behavior since many white people at that time farmed. They also thought that the government would no longer have to provide for the Native Americans since the natives would not be part of a tribe that they have to worry about. The leftover land would then be given out for sale to white people. In fact, 62 percent of their land was given away during this act, greatly reducing the amount of Native held land in the United States at the time. Native American reservations were also opened for white settlers to enter and live in, which forced Native Americans out of their ancestral homes at the destructive and forceful hand of the government. This act tried to force the Natives to adopt their ways of life, such as their clothes, language, and customs. The creators thought it was a good plan for them, but it was not a good plan for the Native Americans. There were complications concerning the type of land given and the inheritance of the land, but those problems were ignored by the government. This act is one of many ways that white people used to try to force Native Americans to give up their culture and adopt white culture.
In 1865, large numbers of settlers were moving over the boundary of the Mississippi River following the discovery of prime agricultural lands in Oregon and gold in California. The path that these settlers took cut right through land inhabited by Native Americans, which began to cause...

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