Native America Federal Policies from the 1800s to 2000

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Adriana Calderon
April 28, 2011
Ethnic Study 1

Native America Federal Policies from the 1800s to 2000
The new US Government was careful not to antagonize the Indians and sought to treat them with mutual respect. This is evidenced in early treaties where the term “Red Brothers” was used to convey this sentiment of equality. By 1800 interaction between the Indian and white settlers had become quite common through trade. Many Indians traded for household goods, traps and tools. The US became concerned about the cultural differences and sought to improve the Indian station in life by providing education. The United States no longer feared the Indian but rather took a paternal position toward the Indians and the treaty language reflected this when the Indian was referred to as “Our Red Children.” The US Constitution via Article I section gives the Federal Government dominant power over states in policy making; the congress shall have the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes. The Constitution further enumerates these powers denied to the states in Article I section x. The state of Georgia challenged the federal government’s power over states rights, a precursor to the Civil War, when it challenged the trust relationship and the autonomy of the Cherokee. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall in three decisions (Marshall Trilogy) upheld the United States’ federal power, defined the responsibility of the doctrine of federal trust, and clarified the sovereignty of Indian nations: Johnson v McIntosh 1823, Cherokee v Georgia 1831, Worcester v Georgia 1832. The new government wanted to keep peace with the Indians and used trade as its device. It was hoped that the interaction between the white settlers and Indians would create a dependence of the Indian for white goods and soothe the tensions of the white settlers through familiarity via social interaction. President George Washington proposed government regulated and operated trading houses. The Government Trading Act of April 18, 1796 was established for carrying on a liberal trade with the several Indian nations, within the limits of the United States. This act restricted trade exclusively through government agents; anyone else was subject to fines. It was hoped independent and illegal trade with the Indians would be unprofitable and a deterrent to independent and foreign white traders as the Government Trading Houses were very competitive. The new government placed Indian affairs under the jurisdiction of the War Department. In this way the government could police, protect, and regulate trade and commerce with the Indian tribes. The treaties, doctrines, and Congressional acts affected the lives of Indian tribes within the limits of the United States. Many of the Cherokee in Georgia assimilated to the white man’s way of life. Chief William McIntosh, an extreme example, was a slave holding plantation owner who lived in a two story Federalist style mansion. The trading houses allowed many Indians such as the Cherokee and Seminole Creek to acquire such things as colorful cloth that was permanently incorporated into their dress. Household cooking utensils, hunting rifles, along with the technology for logging and agriculture was attractive to many Indians and they soon settled into log cabins and communities that mirrored many white settlements. Other Indians preferred to remain hunters and gathers and fur trade became their means of barter. The new country was difficult to police and fraud prospered. Both government and non-government trading houses started the illegal trade in liquor. The interaction between the white man and Indian introduced new words and technologies into each other’s culture. The white man absorbed the snowshoe, canoe, tobacco, and corn whereas the Indian absorbed the rifle, the kettle, and many household items into their culture. Some Indians adopted...
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