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 clichŽ 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.