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The plight of the Native American Indian has been a difficult one
From the 16th through the 19th centuries, the population of Native Americans declined in the following ways: epidemic diseases from Europe, violence and warfare at the hands of European explorers and colonists, between Native American tribes, displacement from their lands, internal warfare, enslavement
From the 16th through the 19th centuries, the population of Native Americans declined in the following ways: epidemic diseases from Europe, violence, and warfare at the hands of European explorers and colonists, between Native American tribes, displacement from their lands, internal warfare, enslavement, and intermarriage.
Epidemic disease was one of the overwhelming causes of the population decline due to their lack of immunity to new diseases brought from Europe. Chickenpox, smallpox and measles endemics proved to be deadly to the Native American population. Historians estimate that at least 30% to 70% of some Native populations died after the first contact due to Eurasian smallpox. One element of the Columbian exchange suggests explorers from a Columbus expedition contracted syphilis from indigenous peoples and carried it back to Europe, where it spread widely.
While it is difficult to determine exactly how many Natives lived in North America before Columbus, estimates range from 2.1 million to 7 million 15 million. By 1800, the Native population of the present-day United States had declined to approximately 600,000, and only 250,000 Native Americans remained in the 1890s.
Historians believe many Mohawk became infected after contact with children of Dutch traders in Albany in 1634. The disease swept through Mohawk villages, reaching the Onondaga at Lake Ontario by 1636, and the lands of the western Iroquois by 1679, as it was carried by Mohawk and other Native Americans who traveled the trading routes. The high rate of fatalities caused breakdowns in Native American societies and disrupted the generational exchange of culture.
After European explorers reached the West Coast in the 1770s, smallpox rapidly killed at least 30% of Northwest Coast Native Americans. For the next 80 to 100 years, smallpox and other diseases devastated native populations in the Puget Sound area once estimated as high as 37,000 were reduced to 9,000 by the time settlers arrived in the mid-19th century. The Spanish missions in California did not have a large effect on the population of Native Americans because the small number of missions was concentrated in an area along the southern and central coast. The numbers of indigenes decreased more rapidly after California ceased to be a Spanish colony, especially during the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Smallpox epidemics in 1780–1782 and 1837–1838 brought devastation and drastic depopulation among the Plains Indians. By 1832, the federal government established a smallpox vaccination program for Native Americans. It was the first federal program created to address the health problem of Native Americans.
In the 16th century, Spaniards and other Europeans brought horses to Mexico. Some of the horses escaped and began to breed and increase their numbers in the wild. The early American horse had been game for the earliest humans on the continent. It was hunted to extinction just after the end of the last glacial period. Native Americans benefited from the reintroduction of horses, as they adopted the use of the animals, they began to change their cultures in substantial ways, especially by extending their nomadic ranges for hunting.
The reintroduction of the horse to North America had a profound impact on Native American culture of the Great Plains. The tribes trained and used horses to ride and to carry packs or pull travois. The people fully incorporated the use of horses into their societies and expanded their territories. They used horses to carry goods for exchange with neighboring tribes, to hunt game, especially bison, and to conduct wars and horse raids
The 16th century saw the first contacts between Native Americans in what was to become the United States and European explorers and settlers. One of the first major contacts, in what would be called the American Deep South, occurred when the conquistador Juan Ponce de León landed in La Florida in April 1513. De León returned in 1521 in an attempt at colonization, but after fierce resistance from the Calusa people, the attempt was abandoned. He was later followed by other Spanish explorers, such as Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528 and Hernando De Soto in 1539.
Through the mid-17th century, the Beaver Wars were fought over the fur trade between the Iroquois and the Huron’s, the northern Algonquians, and their French allies. During the war, the Iroquois destroyed several large tribal confederacies—including the Huron, Neutral, Erie, Susquehannock and Shawnee, and became dominant in the region and enlarged their territory.
Between 1754 and 1763, many Native American tribes were involved in the French and Indian War. Those involved in the fur trade in the northern areas tended to ally with French forces against British colonial militias. Native Americans fought on both sides of the conflict. A greater number of tribes fought with the French in the hopes of checking British expansion. The British had made fewer allies but was joined by some tribes that wanted to prove assimilation and loyalty in support of treaties to preserve their territories. They were often disappointed when such treaties were later overturned. The tribes had their own purposes, using their alliances with the European powers to battle traditional Native enemies.
During the American Revolution, the newly proclaimed United States competed with the British for the allegiance of Native American nations east of the Mississippi River. Most Native Americans who joined the struggle sided with the British, based both on their trading relationships and hopes that colonial defeat would result in a halt to further colonial expansion onto Native American land. Many native communities were divided over which side to support in the war and others wanted to remain neutral. For the Iroquois Confederacy, based in New York, the American Revolution resulted in civil war. The only Iroquois tribes to ally with the colonials were the Oneida and Tuscarora.
Frontier warfare during the American Revolution was particularly brutal, and numerous atrocities were committed by settlers and native tribes alike. Noncombatants suffered greatly during the war. Military expeditions on each side destroyed villages and food supplies to reduce the ability of people to fight, as infrequent raids by both sides in the Mohawk Valley and western New York. The largest of these expeditions was the Sullivan Expedition of 1779, in which American colonial troops destroyed many Iroquois villages to neutralize Iroquois raids in upstate New York. The expedition failed to have the desired effect: Native American activity became even more determined.
The British made peace with the Americans in the Treaty of Paris through which they ceded vast Native American territories to the United States without informing or consulting with the Native Americans. The Northwest Indian War was led by Native American tribes trying to repulse American settlers. The United States initially treated the Native Americans who had fought as allies with the British as a conquered people who had lost their lands. Although most members of the Iroquois tribes went to Canada with the Loyalists, others tried to stay in New York and western territories to maintain their lands. The state of New York made a separate treaty with Iroquois nations and put up for sale 5,000,000 acres that had previously been their territories. The state established small reservations in western New York for the remnant peoples.
Indian Wars continued into the early 20th century. The Indian wars under the government of the United States were numerous. They cost the lives of about 19,000 white men, women
The age of Manifest Destiny, which came to be associated with extinguishing American Indian territorial claims and removing them to reservations, gained ground as the United States population explored and settled west of the Mississippi River. Although Indian Removal from the Southeast had been proposed by some as a humanitarian measure to ensure their survival away from Americans, conflicts of the 19th century led some European-Americans to regard the natives as savages.
The Gold Rush period was marked by the California Genocide. Under US sovereignty, the indigenous population plunged from approximately 150,000 in 1848 to 30,000 in 1870 and reached an estimated low of 16,000 in 1900. Thousands of California Native Americans, including women and children are rumored to have been killed by non-Native Americans in this period. The dispossession and murder of California Native Americans was aided by institutions of the state of California, which encouraged Native Americans to be killed with impunity.
Civil WarMany Native Americans served in the military during the Civil War, on both sides. By fighting with the whites, Native Americans hoped to gain favor with the prevailing government by supporting the war effort.
President Jackson used the military to gather and transport the Cherokee to the west, whose timing and lack of adequate supplies led to the deaths of thousands of Cherokees on the Trail of Tears. About 17,000 Cherokees, along with about 2,000 enslaved blacks held by Cherokees, were taken by force to Indian Territory.
Tribes were generally located to reservations where they could more easily be separated from traditional life and pushed into European-American society. Some southern states additionally enacted laws in the 19th century forbidding non-Native American settlement on Native American lands, with the intention to prevent sympathetic white missionaries from aiding the scattered Native American resistance.
First Native Americans U.S. citizenship.In 1817, the Cherokee became the first Native Americans recognized as U.S. citizens. Under Article 8 of the 1817 Cherokee treaty. The Cherokees heads of Families in the honest simplicity of their souls, made an election to become American citizens. The next earliest recorded date of Native Americans becoming U.S. citizens was in 1831, when some Mississippi Choctaw became citizens after the United States Congress ratified the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.
After the American Civil War, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 states, that all persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States. This was affirmed by the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. But the concept of Native Americans as U.S. citizens fell out of favor among politicians at the time.
In 1871 Congress added a rider to the Indian Appropriations Act ending United States recognition of additional Native American tribes or independent nations and prohibiting additional treaties. That hereafter no Indian nation or tribe within the territory of the United States shall be acknowledged or recognized as an independent nation, tribe, or power with whom the United States may contract by treaty: Provided, further, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to invalidate or impair the obligation of any treaty heretofore lawfully made and ratified with any such Indian nation or tribe.
American Indians today have all the rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, can vote in elections, and run for political office. There has been controversy over how much the federal government has jurisdiction over tribal affairs, sovereignty, and cultural practices. It was enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that all noncitizen Native Americans born within the territorial limits of the United States be, and they are hereby, declared to be citizens of the United States: Provided, That the granting of such citizenship shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of any Native American to tribal or other property.
Some 44,000 Native Americans served in the United States military during World War II: at the time, one-third of all able-bodied Indian men from 18 to 50 years of age. The entry of young men into the United States military during World War II has been described as the first large-scale exodus of indigenous peoples from the reservations. It involved more people than any migration since the removals from areas east of the Mississippi River of the early 19th century.
The men’s service with the US military in the international conflict was a turning point in Native American history. The overwhelming majority of Native Americans welcomed the opportunity to serve; they had a voluntary enlistment rate that was 40% higher than those who were drafted. War Department officials said that if the entire population had enlisted in the same proportion as the Native Americans, the response would have rendered the draft unnecessary.
Their fellow soldiers often held them in high esteem, in part since the legend of the tough Native American warrior had become a part of the fabric of American historical legend. White servicemen sometimes showed a lighthearted respect toward Native American comrades by calling them “chief”. Native American cultures were profoundly changed after their young men returned home, because of their wide contact with the world outside of the reservation system.
Through the mid-1970s conflicts between governments and Native Americans occasionally erupted into violence. A notable late 20th-century event was the Wounded Knee incident on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Upset with tribal government and the failures of the federal government to enforce treaty rights, about 300 Oglala Lakota and American Indian Movement activists took control of Wounded Knee on February 27, 1973.
In 1968 the government enacted the Indian Civil Rights Act. This gave tribal members most of the protections against abuses by tribal governments that the Bill of Rights accords to all U.S. citizens with respect to the federal government. In 1975 the U.S. government passed the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, marking the culmination of 15 years of policy changes. It resulted from American Indian activism, the Civil Rights Movement, and community development aspects of President Lyndon Johnson’s social programs of the 1960s. The Act recognized the right and need of Native Americans for self-determination. It marked the U.S. government’s turn away from the 1950s policy of termination of the relationship between tribes and the government. The U.S. government encouraged Native Americans’ efforts at self-government and determining their futures. Tribes have developed organizations to administer their own social, welfare and housing programs, for instance. Tribal self-determination has created tension with respect to the federal government’s historic trust obligation to care for Indians, however, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has never lived up to that responsibility.
Native American tribes and individuals began to file suits against the federal government over a range of issues, especially land claims and mismanagement of trust lands and fees. A number of longstanding cases were finally settled by the administration of President Barack Obama.
CREDIT: WIKIPEDIA & ENCYCLOPEDIA