'The United States was created by God as an asylum in
which liberty, opportunity, and reward for achievement would
prosper.'(2) So goes the 'American Myth' that attracted
immigrants from around the globe to settle in this young
nation, in search of a better life than the one they left
behind. This myth was created by men like Toqueville; who's
interpretation suggests that in America, everyone takes an
active part in the government of society. For certain
groups, this myth became a reality and a lifestyle, but for
others; such as the blacks and the Native Americans, the
myth was a lie.
America has always been a pluralistic society, broken
into small groups with symbolic boundaries separating
different sects. Positively, the pluralistic society allowed
certain immigrant groups to remain affectionate and loyal to
their ancestral religions and cultures, and also to actively
participate in American political life. A civic culture
developed in America, under the guidelines of republicanism:
government through elected officials, the eligibility of all
citizens to participate in public life, and the freedom to
differ in religious and individual life. European
immigrants could become members of the polity on a basis of
equal rights with native born citizens regardless of the
country they came from or the religion they believed in.
While European immigrants were enveloped in the American
myth, and all this vast land had to offer, two other groups:
blacks and Native Americans were not allowed the same
opportunities. The myth did not apply to Native
Americans(Indians). Indians were not encouraged to remain
in touch with their cultural and religious roots the way
other groups were. The American government did not want the
heathens to continue with their uncivilized lifestyle.
Consequently, several programs were developed to help the
Indians assimilate to the American way of life. Once the
Indians were pushed onto the least fertile land in the
country, tribes were divided up and individuals were given
their own plots of land in order to become self-sufficient.
Indian children were taken away from their parents to be
educated about the civilized life and the white mans' laws.
This separation was another attempt, by the white man, to
discourage the continuation of the heathen traditions.
Unlike the European immigrants, the majority of the
Native Americans did not care to assimilate, nor did they
wish to participate in the American government. The Indians
just wanted to...