The Forced Assimilation of Native Americans

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The Forced Assimilation of Native Americans

One of the more horrible and lesser known aspects of the Europeans colonization of the United States is the destruction of numerous Native American societies and cultures. With whites feeling that Native Americans were on "their" land, the United States tried to force the Native Americans to assimilate to white people in the United States. Native Americans were forced into becoming new citizens in the United States. The repercussions of this massive destruction of the American Indians is still felt today in some ways.

Whites coming to the United States from Europe at first tried to compromise with Indians. This can be seen in such acts as the Fort Laramie treaty which established tribal boundaries and government protection in return for whites being able to cross tribal territory. Soon, with the whites pushing to the West however, promises were broken and the US government tried to justify this empiricism over the Native Americans. As Helen Hunt Jackson writes, "...and the United States Government breaks promises now as deftly as the, and with an added ingenuity from long practice..." Before long, wars broke out, forcing the indigenous Indians and the Europeans settlers into a struggle for North America.

After about ten years of fighting, the US and the Native Americans end the wars with many Native Americans being allotted land by the United States. This is hardly fair to the Indians. As Chief Joseph said in 1879, "You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born free should be contented penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases." Even more appalling was how, during and after armed conflict, whites in the United States tried to integrate the Native Americans into white society; destroying American Indian culture, language, and society so that the Indians could assimilate into society. Government officials were opposed to all manifestations of Indianness and were...