Document-Based Analysis Essay
Studying the history of the original inhabitants of the New World is crucial in cementing the understanding of American heritage. Studies indicate that the history of Native Americans in the United States is marked by a two-pronged policy of physical and cultural genocide pursued by the US government. This policy aimed to eradicate Native American populations and forcibly assimilate them into mainstream American society. The move was driven by a combination of factors, including a desire for land and resources and the belief in the superiority of Western culture. The desire for land and cultural conformity drove the US government to physical and cultural genocide against the Indians while targeting the assimilation of these tribes who pushed back against these policies through legal action, political activism, and cultural revitalization.
US government pursued a two-pronged policy of physical and cultural genocide toward Native Americans.
Driven by the desire for land and natural resources on the one hand and the belief in the need for cultural conformity on the other, the US government pursued a two-pronged policy of physical and cultural genocide toward Native Americans. As it appertains to physical genocide, the government sought to acquire Native American lands and resources through various means, including military force, broken treaties, and forced removals (Chapter 16). Additionally, the government embraced the cultural ideology that expanding white settlers across the continent was justified and inevitable (Chapter 18). This ideology fueled a belief in the superiority of Western culture and led to the devaluation and erasure of Native American traditions and ways of life. The pursuit of cultural genocide is evident in the Native American boarding school system, as depicted in the PBS documentary “Unspoken: America’s Native American Boarding Schools.” These schools aimed to assimilate Native American children into mainstream American culture by forcibly removing them from their families and communities and suppressing their Native identity. The harsh conditions, strict discipline, and prohibition of Native languages and cultural practices in these schools were all part of a deliberate effort to eradicate Native cultures. It is, therefore, clear that the US government’s policy of physical and cultural genocide toward Native Americans was driven by a desire for land and resources and a belief in the superiority of Western culture. By eradicating Native American populations and suppressing their cultural practices, the government aimed to clear the way for westward expansion and the dominance of American ideals.
assimilating Indians into the American culture
Meanwhile, assimilating Indians into the American culture was particularly important compared to other ethnic minorities, given the government’s belief in the possibility of integration and the perception of Native Americans as obstacles to progress. While other ethnic minorities faced segregation, Native Americans were targeted for assimilation. The 1896 speech titled “Cross of Gold” by William Jennings Bryan highlights the government’s perception of Native Americans as impediments to progress. Bryan argues that Native Americans should be assimilated into American society, stating that they needed to learn the customs and manners of civilization. The government believed assimilation would bring progress and modernization, aligning Native Americans with the dominant white culture (Locke & Wright, Chapter 15). Unlike Native Americans, other ethnic minorities faced segregation due to racial and cultural differences. For example, African Americans endured Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation, while Chinese immigrants faced the Chinese Exclusion Act, which restricted their immigration and denied them citizenship rights. Therefore, it is evident that the government viewed Native Americans as potential candidates for assimilation, as they were seen as obstacles to progress rather than fundamentally different races. Assimilation was considered a way to “uplift” Native Americans and bring them into the fold of American society.
Native Americans pushed back against policies of genocide
Native Americans pushed back against policies of genocide and assimilation through various forms of resistance, including legal action, political activism, and cultural revitalization. Connelley (1928 p 1167) describes how Native tribes like the Osage fought legal battles to protect their lands and sovereignty. Leaders and activists like Chief Joseph and Red Cloud engaged in political activism and diplomacy to defend their rights and challenge oppressive policies (Locke & Wright, Chapter 17). Cultural revitalization movements also played a crucial role in Native American resistance. The American Yawp mentions the rise of the Ghost Dance movement, which sought to restore Native American traditions and bring about spiritual and political renewal (Locke & Wright, Chapter 17). These cultural movements served as acts of resistance against the forced assimilation and cultural suppression imposed by the US government. In analysis, it is evident that Native Americans responded to the policies of genocide and assimilation through legal action, political activism, and cultural revitalization. These acts of resistance aimed to preserve their lands, protect their sovereignty, and reclaim their cultural identities.
The US government pursued a policy of physical and cultural genocide toward Native Americans driven by a desire for land, resources, and a belief in cultural superiority. Assimilation was deemed important concerning Native Americans, contrasting with the segregation faced by other ethnic minorities, due to the government’s belief in the possibility of assimilation and the perception of Native Americans as obstacles to progress. However, Native Americans resisted these policies through legal action, political activism, and cultural revitalization. Understanding the motivations behind these policies and the strategies employed by Native Americans to fight them helps learners gain insight into a complex and often tragic chapter of American history.