Native Americans Essay

From the 15th to 19th century the European colonization affected the Native American culture in many ways, such as diseases, war, and enslavement. Many diseases such as smallpox and measles were the main cause of the decline in the Native American population more so than war. Although they seemed to destroy Native American culture, they also improved it by trade. The Native American way of life changed after trading with the Europeans. At first Native Americans wanted metal products, which they couldn’t make themselves, such as axe-heads and knives.

Later they realized the value of guns. Having guns and horses completely changed the way Native Americans hunted for food. Also in the 15th century Spaniards and other Europeans brought horses to the Americas. Some of these animals escaped and began to breed and increase their numbers in the wild. The introduction of the horse had a profound impact on Native American culture in the Great Plains of North America. This new mode of travel made it possible for some tribes to greatly expand their territories, exchange goods with neighboring tribes, and more easily capture game.

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In the 19th century, the Westward expansion of the United States incrementally expelled large numbers of Native Americans from vast areas of their territory, either by forcing them into marginal lands farther and farther west, or by outright massacres. Under President Andrew Jackson, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forced the Five Civilized Tribes from the east onto western reservations, primarily to take their land for settlement. The forced migration was marked by great hardship and many deaths.

Its route is known as the Trail of Tears. Conflicts broke out between U. S. forces and many different tribes. Authorities entered numerous treaties during this period, but later abrogated many for various reasons. Well-known military engagements include the atypical Native American victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, and the massacre of Native Americans at Wounded Knee in 1890. On January 31, 1876 the United States government ordered all remaining Native Americans to move into reservations or reserves.

This, together with the near-extinction of the American Bison, which many tribes had lived on, set about the downturn of Prairie Culture that had developed around the use of the horse for hunting, travel and trading. Students at the Bismark Indian School in the early 20th century American policy toward Native Americans have been an evolving process. In the late nineteenth century reformers in efforts to civilize Indians adapted the practice of educating native children in Indian Boarding Schools.

These schools, which were primarily run by Christians, proved traumatic to Indian children, who were forbidden to speak their native languages, taught Christianity instead of their native religions and in numerous other ways forced to abandon their Indian identity and adopt European-American culture, despite many of the practices being in violation of clauses of the U. S. Constitution separating church and state. There are also many documented cases of sexual, physical and mental abuses occurring at these schools.

Many other attempts were made to deprive the American Indians of their culture, language, and religious beliefs, some of which are reported to continue into current times. Therefore the European colonists destroyed the Native American culture, from their first encounter in the 15th century all the way through the early 20th century. From diseases and warfare to eventually moving Native Americans from their natural territories, the Europeans started a extermination of the Americans that were Native to this supposed new world.


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