Native American Transition to Freedom
American History Since 1865
America was a very trying country in the mid 1800’s especially regarding the treatment of indigenous people such as the Native Americans. It is a known fact that much of America was inhabited by indigenous people, the Native American Indians, prior to the arrival of the “white man” or European settlers (Bowles, 2011). The native Indians that occupied America had freedom of the land and were isolated prior to the nineteenth century, by the end of the nineteenth century they began to lose land and freedoms because of the belief in manifest destiny, and later in the twentieth century began regaining freedoms once lost. Prior to the arrival or invasion of Europeans Native Americans had their own political, judicial, and economic systems, they had their own beliefs and furthermore free reign of the land. Even though each tribe was different from another and were “sovereign entities and although today we collectively term every one of them Indians or Native Americans, these native peoples had distinct tribes, with each representing its own nation and having its own culture and set of laws” (Ford, 2010, p. 1). The government at the time made little distinction between these differences. It was during this time that our country made dramatic changes and went through a transition that affected the Native Americans. This period was marked by the Civil War which ended in 1865. The country was going through a vast transformation with the influx of immigrants into the country and settlers that wanted to move west. At the same time the Indian wars were still occurring throughout the country and did not end until 1890 (Indian Wars & Treaties, 2010). At the end of the Civil War “many Americans proposed a philosophy known as manifest destiny” (Bowles, 2011, p. 25). To make way for new American settlers to move west Native Americans were forced to relocate from there tribal lands and relocate to Reservations that were determined by the government. In essence the Native Americans were uprooted from their own land and forced to relocate against there will, to accommodate settlers that sought out wealth and a start to a new life in the west. They would often make passage through unknown land and dangerous territory to make a home in an unsettled and often untamed region of the country. Native Americans in the American Civil War were comprised of numerous Native American tribes and nations. The Native Americans fought knowing that there was a chance that they may jeopardize their way of life, freedom, and ancestral lands if they ended up on the losing side of the War. “Approximately 20,000 Native Americans served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War, participating in battles such as Pea Ridge, Second Manassas, Antietam, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and in Federal assaults on Petersburg” (Baird, 2009, p. 1).
It is apparent that the American government at this time in the 19th century did not view the Native American tribes the same as the immigrants relating to freedom and isolation. “Before the late 19th century, religion was only indirectly the concern of American legal discourses relating to Indians despite the ubiquity of colonial takings that were justified with the claim that indigenous communities were heathen and without any form of religion” (Gooding, 1996, p. 160). It was this mentality type of mentality that made it socially acceptable to invade and change many aspects of Native American culture and life. This was one method that was deployed to isolate the Native American people from the European settlers. By the middle of the nineteenth century, much of the Native American population lived west of the Mississippi River. This was due to government relocation to Indian reservations because of the movement west by the settlers. Previously it was mentioned that the Native American people were viewed...
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