Indian Reform Essay

861 Words4 Pages
All across America, changes were happening fast. More and more people were moving out West, in search of gold, land and new opportunities. As economies and civilization were expanding, and technology and transportation were becoming more elaborate, stress between Whites and Indians was increasing. All across America, Indians and their reservation lands were under assault. Something was for certain for reformers-something had to be done to secure the Native Americans’ future. While the actions reformers eventually took may have preserved the Indians as human beings, it came at a price of Indians having to turn away from all of their previous spiritual beliefs and lifestyles. In this way, reformers failed at “saving” the Indian. Merrill Gates was a prominent Indian reformer in the late-nineteenth century. He was also apart of the Board of Indian Commissioners, and in 1885, he presented a paper to the Board of Indian Commissioners that expressed his answers to the Indian problem. He believed the Indian reserves had to be broken up and become land in severalty “on which to make a home for [the Indian’s] family”. As the family, states Gates, is God’s unit of society and that “there is no civilization deserving the name where the family is not the unit of civil government”. Which, to the White Americans, were true statements that applied to them. But the Indians had never accepted these beliefs as their own. Gates also explained that it was a fallacy to view a sentimental outlook of the Indians having a right to bring up their children in the old devotion to the tribe and chief. That it was inaccurate to belief that no one had the right to meddle with their ancestral institutions. He wanted to reform the Indian, yes, but at what cost? It seemed he believed in order to save them, everything about them had to change. In essence, the sanctity of their
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