Essay On Native American Reformers

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As citizens of the United States began to settle the lands west of the Mississippi River, they encountered a group with whom they had had much experience when settling the East Coast: the American Indians. Particularly early on, the generalized response by settlers was antagonistic and cruel, and although this did not disappear it gradually was joined by another class of settlers, the reformers. They sought to “civilize” the Native Americans and subjugate them to their power structure. In reality, the actions of the reformers, and of the Federal government which aided them in their efforts, did irreparable harm to the western Native American population and often treated them cruelly as well. This is not to say that many of the reformers did…show more content…
Statements like these clearly indicate that the United States already views the land as its own, and negates all claims that Native tribes might have had to the land. The settler’s law has now become their law, whether they like it or not. Another document, “Land and Law as Agents in Educating Indians” by U.S. Board of Indian Commissioners member Merrill Gates, further reflects not only the aforementioned view of the Indians land but also goes into greater detail about the prevailing attitudes towards Native Americans at the time. A telling passage in from the section “What is an Indian” states: “Daniel Webster applies to the Indians an old legal definition…he calls them ‘perpetual inhabitants with diminutive rights.’ On the whole, the term which has found most favor with those who consider the matter is ‘wards of the
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