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Culture Conflicts: Native Americans Versus The White Man

1132 words - 5 pages

People had already been living in America long before the white man ever “discovered” it. These people were known as the Native Americans. Most of them had lived peacefully on the land, for hundreds of years until the early 1800s when white settlers began their move west. As these white settlers came upon the Native Americans, they brought with them unwavering beliefs that would end up causing great conflicts with the Native people, who had their own set of values. It was clear that the white man and the Native Americans could not live among each other peacefully for their values and culture were much too different.
The Native Americans who occupied America before any white settlers ever reached the shores “covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell paved floor” (Chief Seattle 1). These Native people were one with nature, a greater spirit that was all around them. They were accustomed to their way of life and lived for the most part very peacefully, all they wanted was to live on their land and continue the traditions of their people.
When the white settler came upon their land the values of the Native people were challenged, for the white settlers had nothing in common and believed that it was their duty to assimilate the Native Americans to the white way of life. As the number of white settlers coming to the West increased, more Native people were “driven in all directions” (Mullan 2). If they did not go peacefully to their new lands, the whites would simply take care of them, by “killing everybody that came in their way” (Winnamucca 3). Those who didn’t flee were most likely sent to reforming schools where they learned to be like the white men and women. Here the white people broke many of the Native American traditions such as the cutting of their long hair, something the Native people believed would only happen to an “unskilled warriors who [was] captured...by the enemy” (Zitkala Ša 4). The white men and women could not understand these values, and felt very strongly that what they were doing was right.
However, the Native Americans strongly regarded their way of live. In their culture, the order of nature was vastly important. It was understood that there was an order to which nature worked and that they were tied to the land of their ancestors. They could not comprehend how the whites could “wander far from the graves of [their] ancestors and seemingly without regret” (Chief Joseph 2). The white settlers came to America and immediately started to conquer the land, without feeling any shame. To the Native Americans, that was shocking, for they believed that “even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead...[had] memories of stirring events connected with the lives of [their] people” (Chief Joseph 3). They did not understand how someone could forget their ancestors, and fight nature in such a way that there is room for nobody but themselves.
Although the values of nature and land caused conflict, they...

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