Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sacrifice in Terms of Unintentional VIolence

Our class still continues on drafting our exam as the school year is reaching its end. This weeks topic was focused on the Buffalo soldiers and Native Americans during the 1800s. 

         The good weather has returned and our history class continues our journey of drafting our exam. Our previous topic last week was on the impact of the captains of industry, Carnegie and Rockefeller. This week our class focused on the impact of federal policies of the U.S. Government and Buffalo soldiers on Native Americans. Again we went through the process of learning the needed information by watching videos on the federal policies and Native American on the American History ABC-CLIO databases.  By splitting up the note taking process evenly (main ideas, events, people, and key terms) my class created a shared Google Doc with all the accessible notes.  Our teacher also provided us with primary sources and a visual timeline, to gather more information. After two days of research and analysis, each of us had to decide whether the impact of the federal policies towards the Buffalo soldiers and Native Americans match the intent, during the westward expansion.

         The Buffalo soldiers were African American soldiers from the Union Army (yes everything always connects back to the Civil War) that continued on as permanent soldiers in the army. Their name comes from their appearance, with their hair resembling natives of Buffalo spirit, and their bravery that was similar to a wounded buffalo. They were the legacy of bravery, courage, and hard-work. They built forts, telegraph lines, roads, escorted stage coaches, and guarded the US Mail. They were well known for their association in the Indian Wars, and they fought several Native American tribes. Our class watched the following video for gaining knowledge on the Buffalo soldiers.

          There were several Native American tribes living on the Great Plains at the time. The main tribes consisted of the Apache, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and the Sioux. The Native Americans were proud of their cultural traditions and practiced them with great passion before the Westward Expansion. They carried forward their various rituals such as the Sun Dance (a 12 day festival devoted to the Great Spirit), Vision Quests, and Shaman ceremonies. It was said that a Native American child always had the best childhood, filled with interactive and adventurous games and activities. The tribes valued respect for elders, selflessness, bravery, and courage.

          Then came the Westward Expansion, and the President Andrew Jackson initiated the policy of Indian removal in the 1830s. This act was to clear the Indians off the land and make room for white settlers. Jackson almost bribed them by saying that they would gain their own piece of land if they moved, but if they stayed that had to Tribes such as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Seminole were forced to move from the Great Plains to west of the Mississippi River. Approximately 100,000 Native Americans were forced to leave. The Native Americans did not agree with this plan and wished to stay in their homeland rather than move to unknown territory provided by Jackson.

In the 1840s, the California gold rush attracted several prospectors and settlers down to the south and trespass Native American land, causing hostility from the tribes that demanded protection from the US Army. These conflicts resulted in the start of the American Indian Wars on the Plains that spanned from 1861 to 1890. Several battles were fought, such as the Sand Creek Massacre of Cheyenne village, fight at Bozeman Trail, and, an especially important one, the Battle of Little Bighorn. Several settlers moved into the Dakota region, due to the discovery of gold. The Sioux, a main tribe living in the region, were abused by these immigrants, and they fought back. The Congress approved the creation of six regiments of African-American troops. These regiments came together to form the Buffalo soldiers mentioned above. Out of the 138 campaigns, the Buffalo soldiers participated in 117 of them fighting the Native Americans.
Map showing division of land mentioned
 in Second Treaty of Fort Laramie


In 1868, the Second Treaty of Fort Laramie was signed, promising the Native Americans possession of the Dakota territory west of the Missouri River. Only a few tribes agree to this treaty, however miners persisted on their settlement after gold was discovered in the Dakota region in 1874. The US
government issued orders for all Native Americans to return to their designated reservations against the threat of being considered hostile. Several tribes of the Plain Indians either weren't aware or rejected the treaty, leading to confrontation at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

In 1887, the Dawes Act was carried out and it grants title land and US Citizenship to the head of each household to Native American families of the tribes that agreed to adopt a new lifestyle leaving behind their tradition and culture. An excerpt of the Act is as follows: "...whenever in his opinion any reservation or any part thereof of such Indians is advantageous for agricultural and grazing purposes, to cause said reservation, or any part thereof, to be surveyed, or resurveyed if necessary, and to allot the lands in said reservation in severalty to any Indian located thereon in quantities as follows..." The Act shows us how the government tried to strip away their dedication towards their culture and values by bribing (and almost forcing) them land in order to adopt an alien lifestyle.

          Such violence faced by the Native Americans regarding their own way of life did not match the intent of the federal policies. Thousands of innocent lives were sacrificed for the benefit of the US government, which is not correct. The tension between the Native Americans and US Army, mainly Buffalo soldiers, led to the final Wounded Knee Massacre, in which more than 150 Sioux are killed, and effectively ending Native American resistance to white culture. The American Indian Wars show us the large extent of sacrifices the Native tribes had to face along with the unnecessary violent path of the US government and US Army. From my analysis on this topic, I do not believe the impact of federal policies on both the Native Americans and Buffalo soldiers did not match its intent at all.

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