America In The 19Th Century (Ib Hoa) Essay

709 WordsMar 12, 20123 Pages
IB HOA – 19th Century America To thrive successfully in a set of cultural norms, most individuals must assimilate. Some people may not, however, society often sees that these people become isolated as ‘outcasts’. Today, the concept of assimilation has more to do with things like fashion and cuisine. In the setting of 19th century America out on the western planes, assimilation for the Indians enveloped much more than what they wore and what they ate. For the Plains Indians to assimilate into American culture, they had to completely change their way of thinking and living. If the Indians did not assimilate, they generally did not survive the Americans’ colonization of the west and their culture died out. It is my belief that Johnson’s statement that assimilation was the best way of continuing survival is taking too much of a material approach to the change we forced upon the indigenous people of the western plains. An orthodox attitude towards history would lead one to say that, when ‘confronted with the fact of white dominance’, it is much better to assimilate into white culture. One could argue that, despite the fact that the culture of the indigenous people was being destroyed, at least the Indians could continue living and procreating to continue their lineage instead of essentially dying out as a race. Someone like Johnson, who largely takes an orthodox approach in his novel, would say that we as Americans gave the indigenous people the option to assimilate with opportunities like the Dawes Act and Indian Schools. Therefore, it was not our fault that the Indians ended up dying to fight against us when we gave them ample opportunity to cohabitate with us. It could even be said that the Indians were more violent towards the white man and often initiated the conflict, like in the battle of Little Big Horn, where the white man were killed ruthlessly without the

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