American Treatment Of Native Americans Essay

2049 words - 8 pages

Before, during, and after the Civil War, American settlers irreversibly changed Indian ways of life. These settlers brought different ideologies and convictions, such as property rights, parliamentary style government, and Christianity, to the Indians. Clashes between the settlers and Indians were common over land rights and usage, religious and cultural differences, and broken treaties. Some Indian tribes liked the new ideas and began to incorporate them into their culture by establishing written laws, judicial courts and practicing Christianity, while other tribes rejected them (“Treatment”). Once the United States purchased Louisiana from the French in 1803, Americans began to encroach into the Indian lands of the south and west which led to more battles between the two groups, until Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forcibly removed Indians out of their lands in the southeast and into the western territories. These policies continued until the Civil War. Due to the Civil War, westward expansion slowed down which gave the Indians more autonomy and less interaction with the American settlers. The high cost of the war, high casualties, and fear of a split nation forced President Lincoln and Congress to ignore the Indian problem for some time. The signing of the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 by President Lincoln had severe impacts on the Indians and their new western territories (Black). These two acts brought the Americans further into the western Indian territories, promoted the destruction of natural resources which supported the Indians, and started the eventual creation of Indian reservations as they are today (Black). The early and sustained policies of the United States against the Indians are irreversible and negatively impacted the Indian culture because white settlers forced the change of Indian society by bullying them to accept the American views of civilization, religion, and government.
The Indian culture was negatively changed because the Indians’ religion was based upon believing many gods controlled their way of being, while Christianity was based on one supreme being who controls the universe. Common Indian gods included a god for the Sun, Moon, land or the Earth, the creator, and water (Nature). In the Cherokee tribe, the Creator is named Unetlanvhi (oo-nay-hla-nuh-hee or oo-net-la-nuh-hee) (“Legendary”). Some of the other “Creators” in other tribes include Maheu in the Cheyenne tribe, Gitchie Manitou in the Ojibway tribe, and Ahone in the Powhatan tribe (“Legendary”). With all the different types of gods in Indian cultures, the Indians used many spiritual rituals to worship these gods (Religion). Some of the rituals included feasts, music, dances, and other performances. The relationship of the Indian to nature (spirits, land, weather) was tantamount (Religion).
As many Americans settled in Indian territories and around Indian tribal areas, the settlers brought...

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