I dont think anyone has not had sympathies for how the American Indians were treated in the 19th century. Having their land taken, treaties broken, massacres, children taken away, and their very way of life wiped out in a short time.
Some have argued that the NA’s should have been allowed to keep their lands ceded to them by treaty and could have eventually had their own separate nation from the United States. I consider that the very best possible outcome yet also the least likely seeing all the different forces at play of government policy, bigotry, railroads, the sheer number of settlers who wanted their land, and the fact the different tribes were never one cohesive unit to negotiate with.
I’m glad the eradication policy advocated by some was never carried out to its full extent.
Here in the midwest many people are of Native descent and Haskell Indian University is in Lawrence Kansas. Oklahoma has the largest Indian population followed closely by the Dakotas.
They could have been treated better, but it may not have made much difference. Most of them died due to exposure to diseases against which they had no immunity, particularly smallpox.
The massive die offs caused the European settlers to conclude that [list=A][li]North America was very sparsely populated, and that the Native Americans had abandoned their villages and settlements God was angry at the Indians and wanted the Europeans to conquer them the death of most of the Indian populations was inevitable once the white man showed up, no matter what anyone did.[/list]That doesn’t necessarily excuse anything, but it might make it a bit more understandable.[/li]
And it kinda sucks that we killed all the buffalo… we could have let them live, which would have meant the Indians had that food source they were used to, but then having herds the size of Kansas roaming about might have caused a bit of trouble here and there.
An interesting example of someone who did it right – De Anza, who led an exploratory mission from Mexico up through modern-day Arizona to San Francisco.
In meeting the desert tribes in the Gila River area, he would stop, be friendly, actually learn their language, trade with them, and explain the benefits of Spanish rule. He didn’t conquer; he persuaded.
When he kept the various tribes from fighting each other, this was received with joy. He had tribes begging to come under Spanish rule, because the Spanish would keep the peace.
Damn story has a stinky ending, alas. The administrators who followed De Anza were short-sighted, greedy, exploitive shits, who oppressed the Indians until they rose in revolt, which was put down brutally.
But, damn it, someone, for a short time, showed half an ounce of wisdom, and did the job the way it ought to have been done.
In essence, that’s what Lewis and Clark did. They negotiated treaties and treated the Indians with respect. However they were only one group and their was this huge wave of pioneers coming behind them which they really could not stop.
The Indians, of course, could have been treated better, but they weren’t going to be. To treat them better would mean respecting their rights, especially their right to the land they lived on, and that wasn’t feasable for the US, which wanted their land.
As far as the the Plains Indians go… throughout history, nomadic peoples have always come in conflict with nearby settled cultures. Sometimes the nomads win, and then we get the Huns, the Arabs, the Mongols and the Cossacks. Usually, though, the city-dwellers win. The settlement of the West was just another round of a conflict literally as old as civilization.
The Cherokee Republic might have been admitted as a separate State of the Union and that model might have been followed in dealings with other nations. That’s one possibility. Of course, it was politically impossible at the time, the notion would have seemed absurd and unthinkable to whites.
That is why the buffalo were killed off. It was not an instance of careless waste, it was a deliberate program to break the Plains Indian nations as independent military powers by cutting off their main food supply.