The Native American Conflict and a Reflection on the Past 50 Years

Baltimore Sun – 1842

In my experience as a journalist over the past 35 years, I have closely followed the relationship of the native people of America with the white citizens and settlers. I have seen many different opinions of the my fellow Americans on the land, the trading, and the customs of the Indians. The beliefs have changed radically over the past decades. It began in 1806 with Lewis and Clark, where the Indians were an unknown entity in the west and the explorers were exceptionally brave for facing the savages in uncharted territory. Relations were friendly and curious but cautious. In 1830, the Indians began to prove a problem in the land that the white farmers of Georgia and other states in the South wanted to occupy, turning into the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The act pressured treaties with the Indians to move westward. At this point, squatters and farmers were taking over the Indian land and respect for the Native Americans was gone. The relationship between the tribes and the government, which had previously been cordial and willing to listen to and respect the other, had now become forceful and dominant by the Americans and resistant yet weak on the Indian side. The Indians were forcefully moved west by the military and conflict with some tribes, such as the Seminole, is beginning. We can learn respect for other cultures from our history. The natives have been controlled and suppressed by the government and as time passes, I have learned the value of the human spirit and the knowledge the United States could gain from the people who have inhabited this land for many times what we have. The image below shows an example of a treaty being made between the Sioux Indians and the whites. The intention is to approach the compromise with respect for the culture of the natives and reasonable requests. The meeting is taking place in a traditional Sioux teepee, which shows the white’s respect and courtesy surrounding the native culture and the Indian’s acceptance of the white’s intention to deference. The national identity is shaped by the interactions of our different cultural groups because for the white population to live in harmony with the natives will require communication and cooperation. The government is strong enough to extinguish the Indian population but it would be a of waste of time, resources, and human lives to dedicate to conflict. This reflection on Indian-American relations dictates the significance of compromise and understanding within the United States.

 1280px-Photograph_of_General_William_T._Sherman_and_Commissioners_in_Council_with_Indian_Chiefs_at_Fort_Laramie,_Wyoming,_ca._1_-_NARA_-_531079

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