Our Hearts Fell To The Ground Exam

1091 words - 4 pages

Americans have many ideas of freedom, which often were conflicting. The roots of these conflicting ideas were often based on race and stunted our growth as a country. Although much of the focus in U.S history has been placed the conflicting ideas of White American freedom and African-American freedom, another main conflict was between Whites and Native Americans. White Americans believed that freedom was the right to own property, economic autonomy, and the right to participate in democratic elections. The White Americans also believed that these freedoms were guaranteed only to natural-born, White Americans. The Native Americans had a much different view of freedom, which included the choice to remain nomadic, self-governance, and the right to keep their native culture alive. These disagreements led to many extreme conflicts and struggles, which helped shape the future relations of White Americans and Native Americans.
The first point of conflicting ideas of freedom was the Native tribes remaining slightly nomadic when hunting. This conflict was highlighted in the selection “On taking the new road” by Carl Sweeny on page 127. In the selection, Carl speaks of how his tribe’s traditions changed when forced to hunt within the reservation and also maintained lifestyles different to those of whites. The Whites often used these differences to reinforce the idea that the Native Americans were inferior. Carl mentions in the selection that Whites disapproved of the Natives withdrawing their students from school during the winter. It would have been common for the Whites to attribute this to the natives being “lazy” (Sweeny, p.127), instead of recognizing it as a cultural difference. White Americans did not want to accept that the Native Americans were as intelligent as them, if not more so, and decided to spin their cultural differences as signs of inferiority. The somewhat nomadic lifestyle of the plains natives often interfered with White America’s exploration of the great Wild West. To solve this inconvenience, White Americans moved the Natives onto reservations, which were smaller plots of land, sometimes not in the tribe’s home area, and were subject to White American authority. The creation of reservations was just one of many assaults on Native culture and destroyed the Native’s idea that freedom meant the ability to roam.
While White Americans can only trace their arrival in America back to the early 16th century, scientists and historians have placed the Native Americans arrival in North America around 50,000 years ago (Sciencedaily, 2004). In the thousands of years before the arrival of the white man, Natives developed intricate cultures, which included equally developed governments. These governments did not mimic that of the White Americans; nevertheless they were fully functional and succeeded at keeping order throughout each individual tribe. Natives were used to consulting with the chief or religious leader of the tribe for advice...

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