Prejudice Against Native AmericansAdam J.
E. KoenemanEnglish 190-28Professor EnglesThese people began migrating thirty thousand years before ChristopherColombus “discovered” the Americas. Native Americans migrated from Asia,crossing a land bridge where the Bering Strait off the coast of Alaska is today.Over the centuries these people spread throughout the continents of North andSouth America. Since the arrival of the Europeans in 1492 the American Indianhas been dehumanized, decivilized and redefined into terms that represent adominate European view. The Spanish explorers under Colombus were the first touse the terms “Indian” to mean a Native American.
These explorers were under thefalse impression that the had reached the West Indies. This term is still usedtoday.From the first interaction with the native peoples the Europeans inatiateddominance and superiority. There are three distinctive reasons that theEuropeans were able to dominate and later oppress the Native American culturesuch as; the Native American relgious beleifs and practices, the lack ofinteraction between Native Americans ans Europeans and the lack of orginizationof the Indian tribes. All of these aspects had a strong influence the Europeansto become dominate figures on the Native American land. These factors can stillbe attributed for the way that Native Americans are viewed in society today.
After the Revolutionary War the new United States government sought to gainland through treaties. The payment offered for the land was far from fair,however, and when Native Americans resisted the surrender of their homeland theUS government simply used superior military power to evict them. The Europenasknew nothing of the new civilizations they encountered. Most Native Americantribes viewed the lands they occupied to be no one man’s property. Theybelievied that they were alowed to occupy it by the grace of the “Great Spirit”,in return the tribes took care of the land the used. Usually Native Americansharbored a great respect for the land they were allowed to use .
When theEuropean leaders attempted to purchase this land from the tribes the NativeAmerican leaders often thought they did not have the authority to sell the land.In their view the land wasn’t theirs to sell. Often times, payment offered wasrefused because of this view The Europeans, on the other hand, did notunderstand or care to understandthe Native American way of life, culture orphilosophy. Instead, they saw the land as a great buisness oppurtunity to bebought and sold. Sometimes payment was accepted because the American Indiansdid not fully understand the consequence or implications of the sale. It wasdifficult for the Indians to comprehend the ownership of land because in theirview the land would always be avaliable for everyone to use.
Europeans feared these new people with a seemingly savage way of life. Thedances and othe cultural traditions that Native Americans practiced wereextremely abstract and foreign to the European settlers. These displays ofsavagery by the Native Americans sparkedf fear within many settlers mainly outof ignoranceto their practices and cultural traditions. The NAtive Americanlifestyle was, in fact very organized and very practical.
Most American Indians have little or no interaction with the everdaylifestyles of the average American citizen. They have been residents ofreservations for almost two cennturies. Two hundred years of social oppressionhas to be overcome inorder for the American Indian socities to become moreaccepted into our modern culture. The prejudice that American Indians endurerivals that of the African-Americans.
In order for the Native American tribalnations to become equal in social standings ther has to be reform and awarnessof the prejudice.Lack of orginization is a strong contributing factor to why NativeAmericans are dicriminated against. During the 1960’s the African-Americanpopulation united and fought for reform and equality. This has not yet fullyoccured in the Native American social setting. Many of the tribes still fuedwith each othe instead of trying to create social reform. This is especiallyapparent during the 1800’s when Indian-White relations were especially full oftension.
Crazy horse, the great Oglala Sioux leader, expressed his concern forbetter relations between the American Indian tribes on his death bed (Nabokov178). The European settlerhad a problem understanding the differances betweenthe tribes. Many times they could not comprehend that one tribe of NativeAmericans was seperate and sometimes enemies with another tribe.Another major factor that helped develop the dicriminatory views againstNative Americans was the American Indian religious practices.