Message #43: From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Subject: Intro to Amerind (Part IV) Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 20:01:59 -0700 Encoding: MIME-Version: 1.0 Source However, Washington policymakers and eastern humanitarians could not control the frontier. To many frontier dwellers in Kentucky or Ohio, the indigenous peoples needed to be exterminated. Providence, they believed, had ordained that Anglo-Saxon stock should push west until it could go no farther. It was "progress" to dispossess the Native Americans of their land, which in the eyes of these new settlers had lain idle for millennia. The settlers would break the soil and use it. Native Americans were thus regarded as an anachronism-irreclaimable "children of the forest" by some, particularly those west of the Appalachians, and redeemable "savages" by many eastern philanthropists and humanitarians. It was the latter group, which included President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), that sought to incorporate the indigenous peoples into the mainstream of U.S. society by means of an ambitious, largely church-operated educational program. The goal was to convey the virtues of the independent yeoman farmer to the tribespeople, in the hope that they would emulate them. By the 1820s, however, even the staunchest defenders of this program were admitting defeat. The Removal Act The Indian Removal Act was passed in May 1830; it empowered the president of the United States to move eastern Native Americans west of the Mississippi, to what was then "Indian Territory" (now essentially Oklahoma). Although it was supposed to be voluntary, removal became mandatory whenever the federal government felt it necessary. The memory of these brutal forced marches of Native Americans, sometimes in the dead of winter, remained vivid for years to come in the minds of those who survived. To many in the North, where support for the removal idea was at best tepid, the Indian Removal Act represented another outrage committed by slaveholding southerners. Removal would be another wedge separating the North from the South. By midcentury, as it became clear that U.S. expansion was going to claim the trans-Mississippi West as well, the removal concept was further refined into the concept of "reservations." As wagon trains clattered west along the Oregon, Santa Fe, Mormon, and California trails, entering the American Great Plains, United States government officials concluded that the vast, unspecified tracts of "Indian Territory" would have to be more sharply defined as reservations. And when resident peoples sought to thwart that westward expansion, the same Washington officials decided that these peoples were to be rounded up by the U.S. Army and restricted to these reservations by force. That, in essence, was the point of the Plains Indian Wars, which raged during the last half of the 19th century, ending with the slaughter of Sioux men, women, and children, as well as the soldiers of the U.S. 7th Cavalry, at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890. The Allotment Act By 1890 Americans had migrated all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The frontier era had ended. Well before that date, however, it had become clear to many that a new policy had to be adopted toward Native Americans, whose dwindling numbers seemed to threaten extinction. Congress began moving in this direction in 1871, when it unilaterally decided to abandon the treaty process and legislate on the behalf of Native Americans. Whereas a century before they had functioned as sovereign nations, Native Americans were now wards of the United States government. The new plan to rescue Native Americans from extinction called for an aggressive assault on tribalism by parceling out communally owned reservation land on a severalty (individual) basis. The plan, called the Dawes Act (or General Allotment Act), went into effect in 1887. Hundreds of thousands of acres remaining after the individual 160-acre allotments had been made were then sold at bargain prices to land-hungry or land-speculating whites. This allotment, designed to absorb the Native Americans into the society of the United States, turned out to be a monumental disaster. In addition to losing their "surplus" tribal land, many Native Americans families lost their allotted land as well, despite the government's 25-year period of trusteeship. The poorest of the nation's poor-many of them now landless and the majority still resisting assimilation-Native Americans reached their lowest population numbers shortly after the turn of the 20th century. In June 1924 the U.S. Congress granted these original Americans United States citizenship. Stereotypes of Native Americans Many other cultures, such many people of the United States, have failed to grasp the complexity of Native American culture and society, and as a result Native Americans were often dismissed as juvenile and superstitious-in other words, as "primitive." The "primitive Indian," supposedly equipped with a rudimentary technology and a child's mind, is surely the most fundamental and ancient of stereotypes of Native Americans. Those Native Americans who were perceived to be courageous and wise and selfless were dubbed noble "savages." By the early 19th century, however, these "noble savages" seemed to have disappeared, as James Fenimore Cooper reminded readers in The Last of the Mohicans (1826). All that was left, or so it seemed to many white settlers, was the stereotype of the disheveled, snake-eyed, beggarly survivor who hung around the frontier outpost-the "drunken Indian". By the end of the century even the "drunken Indian" seemed on the verge of extinction. Far from vanishing, however, the "Indian" eventually turned up in movies as a breechclothed Plains warrior. Finally, in the 1960s, as the Hollywood clich faded, the Indian emerged as the model ecologist, hero of the ecology and counterculture movement. Flattering or unflattering, the images are all caricatures which fail to acknowledge the depth and diversity of Native American cultures. Native Americans in Contemporary Society The Native American population in the United States has increased steadily in the 20th century; by 1990 the number of Native Americans, including Aleuts and Inuits, was almost two million, or 0.8 percent of the total U.S. population. Slightly more than one-third of these people live on reservations; about half live in urban areas, often near the reservations. The U.S. government holds about 23 million hectares (56 million acres) in trust for 314 federally recognized tribes and groups in the form of reservations, pueblos, rancherias, and trust lands. There are 278 reservations in 35 states. The largest reservation is the Navajo (mostly in Arizona), with nearly 6.4 million hectares (16 million acres) and over 140,000 people; the smallest is the state reservation of Golden Hill in Connecticut, with 0.1 hectare (0.25 acre) and 6 people. In Alaska there are 48 additional tribal groups and the situation is different. Tribal Sovereignty The basic distinction that sets Native Americans apart from other groups of people in the United States is their historic existence as self-governing peoples, whose nationhood preceded that of the United States. As nations, they signed treaties with colonial authorities and later with the U.S. government, and today, on what remains of their former lands, they continue to function as separate governments within the federal framework. The United States has long acknowledged a special "government-to-government" relationship with the recognized Native American groups and with the Alaskan Native Villages. Also, the United States government is deemed to have a trust relationship with Native American people which means that the United States, in return for vast tracts of Native American lands, assumed contractual and statutory responsibilities to protect remaining Native American lands and to promote the health, welfare, and education of Native Americans. 20th-Century U.S. Policies In practice, the United States government, as trustee, has subjected Native Americans to bewildering policy switches, often without their consent, as new theories have gained the support of the federal government. The Indian Reorganization Act The passage of the Indian Reorganization Act (1934) signaled the end of the "Allotment Era," which started with the Dawes Act of 1887 and during which it had been hoped that Native Americans could be coaxed or coerced to abandon their traditional tribal ways and to assimilate into the society of the United States. Great emphasis was placed on the need to "civilize" and to teach Christianity to Native Americans. To this end, young Native American children were sent to distant government- or church-run boarding schools, often thousands of miles from the "detrimental" influences of their home reservations. With the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, United States policy took a dramatic swing and acknowledged the continuing force and value of Native American tribal existence. The "Indian New Deal," ushered in by the reform-minded Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier, put an end to further allotment of lands. Native American tribes were encouraged to organize governments under the terms of the Indian Reorganization Act and to adopt constitutions and by-laws, subject to the approval of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The act further provided for the reacquisition of tribal lands and established preferential hiring of Native Americans within the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Native American tribes were authorized to set up business corporations for economic development, and a credit program was established to back tribal and individual enterprises. The Termination Period Implementation of the Indian Reorganization Act slowed considerably after the United States entered World War II in 1941, and after the war ended in 1945 a new policy was formulated-that of terminating federal trust responsibility to Native American tribes. Whereas earlier the assimilationists had envisioned a time when tribal entities and reservations would disappear because of assimilation, the proponents of termination decided the time had come to legislate them out of existence. Arguing that Native Americans should be treated exactly as all other citizens, the United States Congress resolved in 1953 to work toward the withdrawal of all federal support and responsibility for Native American affairs. In the next two decades-the termination period-United States federal services were withdrawn from about 11,500 Native Americans, and federal trust protection removed from 600,000 hectares (1.5 million acres). The land was often sold and the proceeds divided among tribal members. A few years after their termination in 1961, the Menominees of Wisconsin, the largest tribe so treated, were almost totally dependent on welfare. In 1970 United States President Richard M. Nixon officially repudiated termination as a policy. The need to reevaluate United States government policy toward Native Americans once again became evident, as Native American activists staged public protests-first with the occupation of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay from 1969 to 1971, then with the occupation in 1972 of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., and subsequently with the 71-day armed siege at Wounded Knee in 1973. Self-determination In the 1970s, Native American demands for greater authority over their own lives and reservations led to a new federal policy encouraging self-determination. Still in effect, this policy in many ways reflects the earlier goals of the Indian Reorganization Act; its most significant feature is the emphasis on tribal administration of federal programs for Native Americans, including health, education, and welfare, law enforcement, and housing. Native American tribes have increasingly resorted to federal court actions to test the extent of their jurisdiction on reservations and to assert long-ignored treaty rights to land, water, and off-reservation hunting and fishing. Congressional efforts have also led to the return of many Native American religious sites to tribal possession, including the sacred Blue Lake of the Taos Pueblo. The Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act of 1971 resolved long unsettled claims of that state's Inuit and Aleut population, with a cash settlement of $962 million and 16 million hectares (40 million acres) of land. The act established 12 Native Regional Corporations and more than 200 Native Village Corporations to manage the land and money. Many observers fear that this act might eventually result in the loss of much land to nonnatives, as did the Allotment Act of 1887. In 1988 the United States Congress passed amendments to correct flaws in the act, thus diminishing the risk that most corporations and their land will be controlled by nonnatives. The amendments do not address native sovereignty or subsistence rights. Sections of the native community continue to be concerned as to whether the amendments adequately protect long-term control of the land. Many tribes in the eastern United States initiated land claims in the 1970s, based on an obscure law from 1790, and in 1980 the United States Congress agreed to a settlement providing three Maine tribes with 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres) and a $27 million trust fund. The U.S. government also established a procedure whereby tribes not recognized as such could petition for review of their nontribal status. Native North Americans Today Statistics of health, education, unemployment rates, and income levels continue to show Native Americans as disadvantaged compared to the general population of North America. In the 1980s U.S. government policies have led to budget cuts for social and welfare services on the reservations. However, according to the United States Census Bureau, the Native American population in the United States rose more than 20 percent between 1980 and 1990. Pride in Native American heritage has survived as well. On many reservations, tribal languages and religious ceremonies are enjoying renewed vigor. Traditional arts and crafts, such as Pueblo pottery and Navajo weaving, continue to be practiced, and some contemporary Native American artists of North America, such as Fritz Scholder and R. C. Gorman, have successfully adapted European styles to their paintings and prints of Native American subjects. The strength of the Native American narrative tradition can be felt in the poetry and novels of the Native American writer N. Scott Momaday, who won a Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his House Made of Dawn (1969). Other prestigious contemporary Native American writers of North America include Vine Deloria, best known for his indictment of U.S. policy toward Native Americans in Custer Died for Your Sins (1969) and Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties (1974); novelists James Welch and Leslie Marmon Silko; and William Least Heat-Moon, author of the widely popular Blue Highways: A Journey into America (1983), an account of his travels in the United States. Native Americans of Latin America The Native American population of Latin America is estimated at 26.3 million, of whom 24 million live in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru. Generally classified as campesinos (peasants) by the governments of the countries in which they live, the vast majority live in extreme poverty in remote rural areas where they eke out a living from the land. Native American campesinos make up 55 percent of the total population of Bolivia and Guatemala. In all of Latin America, only Uruguay has no remaining indigenous population. Only 1.5 percent of the total Native American population of Latin America is designated as tribal, mainly in Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Paraguay, and Venezuela. Many of the tribal groups live in the remote jungle environment of the Amazon Basin, where they subsist by hunting, fishing, and gathering manioc and other roots. Current Brazilian expansion into the Amazon, however, threatens the physical and cultural survival of the Amazon tribes, as diseases brought by outsiders decimate the indigenous populations, and mineral exploration and highway construction destroy tribal hunting grounds. The largest unacculturated Brazilian tribe today is the Yanomamo, numbering more than 16,000 people, for whom the Brazilian government plans to create a special park where they may be protected. Anthropologists estimate, however, that the Yanomamo would need at least 6.4 million hectares (16 million acres) in order to continue their traditional life-style. The total indigenous population of Latin America includes slightly more than 400 different Native American groups, with their own languages or dialects. Like the Native Americans of North America, they live in vast extremes of climate and conditions, ranging from the Amazon jungle to the heights of the Andes, where one group, on Lake Titicaca, subsists on artificial islands of floating reeds.