Treatment Of Native Americans By Europeans

3588 words - 14 pages

Native Americans have faced increasing encroachment by European and Euro-American settlers since the discovery of the Americas by Europeans in 1492. Beginning with the Caribs, mistakenly labeled as Indians by Christopher Columbus, continuing with the ‘Indian Wars’ waged by the U.S. government against such tribes as the Lakota and Apache, and lasting until today, native peoples have had to adjust and adapt constantly to survive. Native peoples have had to use and balance their ‘historical agency,’ or the ability of a people to affect the world around them throughout history, against the ‘structural forces’ set up by outsiders and foreign governments, which seek to limit their impact on the world. Both Andrew Fisher and Jeffrey Ostler have written about native groups, the Columbia River Indians and the Lakota, respectively, which have balanced historical agency against external structural forces over time. According to Fisher and Ostler, both the Lakota and the Columbia River Indians have used legal and illegal means to promote their historical agency. Both have a central cultural issue at the heart of their struggle against external structural forces. Ultimately, however, both groups have used the struggle between their historical agency and external structural forces to forge an identity that allowed them to adapt and survive into the twenty-first century.
In Ostler’s The Lakota and the Black Hills, Jeffrey Ostler details the history of the Lakota tribe, beginning with the earliest records we have about them, detailing their origin story of humanity. The Lakota believe that the earliest humans came about within the earth and came to the surface through a narrow cave opening, called the Wind Cave, in the Black Hills, a beautiful hilly area in modern day South Dakota (Ostler, 4). The earliest written evidence of the Lakota themselves comes from the 1600s, when they were discovered by French traders along the Mississippi River, relatively far away from the Black Hills. During the 1700s, the Lakota moved westward, closer to the Black Hills, before settling in villages along the Missouri River and hunting near the Black Hills themselves (Ostler, 7). Due to the movement of the Lakota over time, some Americans believed that the Lakota did not truly own the Black Hills. With this reasoning, the U.S. government began to move into the Black Hills and occupy the land. The Lakota responded by defeating U.S. forces at the Battle of Little Big Horn, but despite the defeat, the government eventually sent the Manypenny commission, which was tasked with getting the Lakota to sell the Black Hills to the U.S. government. Upon coaxing the signatures of 230 various Native Americans in the region, the commission sent word to Congress that the Lakota had agreed to sell the Black Hills. Congress quickly approved, and the Black Hills were taken from the Lakota, only with 10 percent of the signatures needed out of an 1868 treaty mandate of 75 percent (Ostler, 101)....

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