C- Political Globalization-b) The First Nations of North America and Afro-Americans, under American Imperialism!!!
1)The First Nations of North America- the Indian tribes
We shall now examine in a general context, how the indigenous Indians and the African American slaves, who much later became ‘’ second class’’ American citizens, were treated by American authorities, whether they represented the Federal Government or State Governments. We shall demonstrate that through official American policy, these two racial groups were treated as ‘’savages’’ and as ‘’subhuman’’ social entities, since they were not white, of European ancestry and Christian. For almost all American settlers , ‘’divine destiny’’ dictated that these ‘’peoples’’ were assigned to service in a servile and subservient way , the long term expectations of the American governments to create a ‘’benevolent empire’’, popularized by Benjamin Franklin(1706-1790) and Thomas Paine(1737-1809), major architects of America’s political culture , or an ‘’empire of liberty’’ as President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) espoused as political axiom. Therefore we see, that the United States was founded on a political environment of ‘’virtual reality’’, both politically and ideologically!!!(www.americanforeignrelations.com)
By observing the socio-economic circumstances under which these two distinct but major social communities of the United States evolved during the last 250 years approximately, we will be able to once again substantiate our position in classifying this Nation as authoritarian, racist and imperialistic, demonstrating very few ideological commonalities with the political concepts of liberalism and republicanism, as well as with the socio-cultural tenets of Jesus Christ as described in the Christian Gospel!!!
We shall begin by analysing the historical evolution of the native American Indians, before and after American Independence.
Before we go into detail concerning the plight of the Indian Nations of North America under the ‘’colonialist governance’’ of the white European settlers, before and after American Independence in 1776, I would like to present a statement from the introduction of a study, undertaken by the University of Vienna in 2006, addressing the ‘’genocide’’ of the Cherokee Indian Nation(whose territory covered most of the south-eastern United States) under official government policy at all levels(federal, state, local), utilizing American military forces and the American Judicial System to weaken, to dismantle and to eventually displace its peoples from their ancestral land.
The introduction of the article, entitled ‘’The Trail of Tears across the Mississippi Valley’’, emphasizes the fact that, ‘’…There were ten million Native Americans on the American continent when the first non-Indians arrived. Over the next 300 years, 90% of all Native American original population was either wiped out by disease, famine, or warfare, imported by the whites…’’.(http://www.univie.ac.at/Anglistik/)
The Thirteen American Colonies under British Rule and the American Central Government afterwards, considered the indigenous Indians as a physical and a cultural obstacle to their expansionist policies throughout the North American Continent. They used ‘’every trick in the book’’, not only to remove the Indians from their ‘’homelands’’ as Independent Nations, not as ‘’tribes’’ as many refer to them even today, but through time, to eliminate them physically so that they would not be able to participate in the nation building of the United States, socially, economically, politically and culturally. For those American white settlers, before and after American Independence in 1776, the indigenous Indians were considered as ‘’savages’’ and ‘’social non-entities’’, who could not function as constructive social participants in the creation of the American Empire!!!
From the text of the American Declaration of Independence of 1776, one in the list of grievances of the American settlers against England’s king George III was that ‘’… he has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions…’’.(http://progressive.org)
Similarly, in 1830, just a year after Andrew Jackson became President of the United States(1829-1837),he adopted an aggressive policy to eliminate Indian land tithes and relocate the Indian populations in the wide expanses West of the Mississippi River, far from American settlements. Under President Jackson, the American Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which stated that ‘’…no state could achieve proper culture, civilization, and progress, as long as Indians remained within its boundaries…’’.(http://www.univie.ac.at/Anglistik/). Nevertheless, the American Central Government , America’s Congress and the American Judiciary, representing America’s Constitutional Republic, knew very well that under American Constitutional Law, the Indian Nations maintained legally their inherent and legitimate rights to their own territories and their own socio-political institutions, as the First Nations of the Continent historically.(www.americanforeignrelations.com)
Therefore, if we were to qualify American Governance over the Indian Nations residing in the North American Continent, we would have to address ourselves to three socio-political terms which are, Imperialism, Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide.
Their definitions are the following:
Imperialism-state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political or economic control over other areas.(https://www.britannica.com)
Ethnic Cleansing-the systematic elimination of an ethnic group or groups, from a region or society, as by deportation, forced emigration or genocide.(https://www.thefreedictionary)
Genocide-the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group.(https://en.oxforddictionaries.com)
Since the founding of the United States of America in 1776, the white American settlers and their political representatives, recognized the indigenous Indians not as members of tribes, but as ‘’sovereign independent nations’’ , and as such they were treated in the beginning of American history, politically and constitutionally!!! This took place, not because the white American settlers considered the Indians as equal political entities to be respected as equal political allies or neighbours, but because at that historical time, it was the most practical and pragmatic policy to adopt; this in order to stabilize and reinforce politically and territorially their newly founded nation or Empire!!!
First of all, during America’s War of Independence(1775-1781), the American settlers wanted the Indian Nations as allies against the British forces they were trying to defeat and expel. Second, the white American inhabitants at first , did not possess the military capacities in weaponry and in manpower to fight the British forces and at the same time initiate an expansionist strategy to conquer territories held by various Indian Nations for hundreds ,or even for thousands of years.
Finally, the treaties that the American government signed with the Indian Nations early on, represented a legal and binding agreement protected under international law and the American Constitution, since they were between two sovereign states.’’…Indian tribes are also referred to , but are not expressly designated in Article VI of the Constitution, where it is made clear that all treaties entered by the United States, ‘shall be the supreme Law of the Land’. In 1789, the United States had only entered a few treaties with European countries , while it had already entered nine treaties with different Indian tribes. Consequently, this treaty provision of the U.S. Constitution states that the federal government’s treaties with Indian tribes are the supreme law of the United States…’’.(http://www.flashpointmag.com)
The treaties between the Indian Nations and the American government concerning commercial transactions for the ownership of Indian territory had a precedence during British colonial rule of North America with the Doctrine of Discovery from 1492 onward. European colonial powers and the United States, legitimized their agreements with the indigenous Indian Nations of North and South America using this ‘’imperialistic doctrine’’. Under this ‘’artificial’’ legal code , the first European country that first discovered a new territory where Christian Europeans had not yet arrived, could claim this area for their own country!!!
What this whole ‘’ colonialist legal trickery’’ involved was , that under the Doctrine of Discovery, the indigenous people did not lose in ‘’principle’’ or ‘’theoretically’’ their right to live, to farm and to hunt on this land, but they could only sell their land(mostly under duress and force) to that European country that had ‘’discovered’’ this territory, and that they could deal politically and commercially only with this particular European Power. In a sense, the European Colonial Powers usurped or annexed these indigenous territories in North and South America ‘’through the back door’’, which they all agreed upon during the height of European colonial expansion in the 16th , the 17th and 18th centuries.(http://www.flashpointmag.com)
The United States as a ‘’newly founded’’ and ‘’innovative’’ colonial power, took the Doctrine of Discovery to a higher level with the acquisition of territories owned and governed by the Indian Nations of North America, giving the United States government the sole and absolute right to buy lands from the various governments of the Indian Nations. More importantly, no Indian Nation could sell land to any other buyer representing private financial interests or the financial and political interests of a country. Therefore, in 1823, the United States Supreme Court, by enforcing the Doctrine of Discovery, the American government’’…acquired the sole right to buy lands from tribal governments…thus, sales of land that Indians had made to persons other than the United States government were invalid. Tribes continued to have the right to use and occupy their lands but their governmental sovereign powers were restricted in that they could only sell lands to the United States…’’.(http://www.flashpointmag.com)
Similarly, as related to land transactions between the white American settlers and the Indian Nations of North America, there was another very effective ‘’dirty trick’’ or ‘’dirty formula’’ which was initiated at the expense of Indian territorial and political sovereignty, by taking advantage of the distinctive socio-economic traditions or institutions of the indigenous Indians.
A very important socio-economic institution prevalent in the everyday life of the European settlers and which was completely foreign to the indigenous Indians, was the concept of ‘’private land property’’ . The Indian Nations in their political culture had never developed a system of ‘’private land ownership’’ as had the Europeans during the various stages of European Capitalism in past centuries. The socio-economic institutions of the native Indians in North America prescribed that no one member of a tribe could be the owner of land, and as a consequence, sell it for a profit to another party. The land belonged to the whole community, tribe or Nation, whose members could reside, farm or hunt there freely. Nevertheless, there were boundaries which determined the territory belonging to the individual community, tribe or Nation.(https://www.warpaths2peacepipes.com)
Therefore in the ‘’economic mind set’’ of an indigenous Indian or an Indian tribal government, the selling of land for goods or money, meant that the person buying the land could benefit by residing on it , by exploiting it through husbandry, farming or hunting, but the land belonged exclusively to the Indian Nation or the tribal community, and could not be sold as ‘’private land property’’. In essence, the indigenous Indians were not selling their land but renting it or leasing it , similar to what had been practiced in Western European Feudalism!!!
The white Christian European settlers took advantage of these traditional socio-economic values of the indigenous Indians, to acquire large expanses of land everywhere in North America, by trading goods and commodities which in relation to their ‘’real estate values’’ were insignificant!!!
To make this point more clear and objective, we shall refer to two historical cases of land purchases of Indian land by white Christian European settlers, transactions which were repeated in one form or another, hundreds of times in the early stages of American nation building!!!
One of the most famous examples of land transactions between indigenous Indians and European settlers was the sale of Manhattan Island in 1626 to the Dutch, by a tribe of indigenous Indians residing there. Manhattan Island is today a borough of the metropolis of New York, while its land surface is approximately 60 square kilometres. There are primary documents in the Dutch National Archives to substantiate this particular land transaction and some details concerning the financial exchanges. The Dutch then, purchased the land from local Indian tribes by trading ‘’beads’’ and ‘’trinkets’’ worth 60 Dutch guilders or 24 American dollars!!!(http://mentalfloss.com)
The second known land transaction where there are documents to indicate its execution is once again with Dutch private interests, a few years after the sale of Manhattan Island by Indian tribes residing on the same territory, which today represents the greater city of New York.
This time , the Dutch bought Staten Island from the local Indian tribes living on this great land expanse for household utensils, farming tools, clothing and weaponry.’’…The purchase of Staten Island a few decades later (after the sale of Manhattan Island in 1626) has more surviving documentation including the deed which says that the Dutch traded ‘ 10 boxes of shirts, 10 ells of red cloth, 30 pounds of powder, 30 pairs of socks, 2 pieces of duffel, some awls, 10 muskets, 30 kettles, 25 adzes, 10 bars of lead, 50 axes and some knives’…’’.(http://mentalfloss.com)
Today, Staten Island is a borough of New York city and its land surface is 151 square kilometres . By just interpreting and quantifying the previous data related to these early land transactions between the white Christian European settlers and the Indian Nations inhabiting North America, we can easily and objectively conclude that these white European Christian settlers behaved towards the indigenous Indians like ‘’savage predators’’ and ‘’human scavengers’’ , similar to their white Christian European ancestors during their historical evolution of 2,000 years!!!
The official American policy towards the Indian Nations of North America has always been to enforce in a systematic and organized way their ‘’extermination’’, by utilizing various strategies and policies to gradually lead them to the ‘’slaughter house’’, metaphorically speaking!!! This ‘’inhumane’’ and ‘’immoral’’ government policy to a very large degree succeeded in the end!!!
The evidence for this ‘’simplistic conclusion’’ , as many American ‘’knowledgeable’’ historians would declare, is ‘’first and foremost’’ the proven fact that the Indian population of North America when the first European settlers arrived during the end of the 15th century, was on the whole about 18 million people, while the indigenous population of the present territory of the United States was approximately 10 million.(http://historynewsnetwork.org)
Today, it has been estimated that the American Indian and Alaska Native people today represent roughly 1.5 % of the total U.S. population.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/) This percentage of the total population of the United States translates into approximately 4.5 to 5 million people.
The above data clearly confirm that for the last 250 years, the American government and its citizens, have executed an effective program of ‘’ethnic cleansing’’ and ‘’genocide’’ against North America’s indigenous nations, as well as acting as an ‘’imperialist power’’ , since through its wars of attrition and colonialist policy of ‘’political domination’’, it has annexed or usurped almost all of the territory that had rightfully and legally belonged to the sovereign Indian Nations and Indian tribes of this continent!!!
At the present time, there are about 310 Indian reservations, representing the territory that ‘’theoretically’’ not ‘’practically’’ or ‘’legally’’ is controlled by the indigenous Indians of the United States, since pragmatically they are not independent or sovereign. The Indian reservations are ‘’semi-autonomous’’ geo-political entities within the United States of America.’’… They are ultimately subject to supervisory oversight by the United States Congress and executive regulation through the Bureau of Indian Affairs . The nature and legitimacy of those relationships continue to be a matter of dispute…’’.(http://en.wikipedia.org) The totality of the geographical area of all the Indian reservations is 55.7 million acres ,or about 2.3 % of the land surface of the United States of America.(http://usdakotawar.org)
We have already emphasized the fact that American government policy since the beginning of American Independence in 1776, institutionalized a ‘’step by step’’ strategy of almost eliminating or dismantling the ‘’physical’’ and ‘’ socio-cultural’’ presence of the indigenous Indian population of North America. Nevertheless, this ‘’nihilistic’’ government policy was intensified after the War of 1812 with the British, which lasted for almost 3 years, from 1812 to 1814. With the British being defeated, it allowed the American military forces more leeway to confront effectively the various Indian Nations and tribes , which many of them had allied themselves with the British, during the American Revolutionary War(1775-1781) or the War of Independence!!!
Most of the indigenous Indian tribes, had sided to a large extent with the British, becoming their political and military allies, hoping to halt the American colonial expansion onto their own territories. The Revolutionary War is considered the most extensive and destructive Indian war in United States history , while after the War of 1812, the British abandoned their Indian allies to the Americans.’’…This proved to be a major turning point in the Indian Wars, marking the last time that Native Americans would turn to a foreign power for assistance against the United States…’’.(http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org)
We shall now examine some parameters defining the history of the Indian Nations in North America, under colonial rule, especially under the ‘’colonial rule’’ of the United States of America, which has produced the ‘’precarious’’ and ‘’ambivalent’’ social, economic and political status of these indigenous Indians till the present day.
The historical parameters we shall examine, have been largely ignored by studies undertaken by American historians, by professors in American universities teaching American history, by school texts studied in American schools, and finally, by the American information and entertainment mass media, such as television, the newspapers, radio, the internet and the cinema.
This type of ‘’filtering’’ and ‘’self-censorship’’ by American academia and by the information and the entertainment establishments of the United States, have always been ‘’prevalent’’ and ‘’overpowering’’ , because this American Establishment has never wanted or wished to tarnish the ‘’virtual historical image’’ of the United States as a democratic, liberal and pluralistic nation!!!
The first historical parameter we shall examine deals with the wars that were waged by the government of the United States as a ‘’colonial power’’ against the Indian Nations of North America, in order to conquer territories that belonged to these ‘’sovereign’’ geo-political entities, thus expanding the American Empire!!!
I personally believe that few educated people around the world, especially Americans, know that it took almost 150 years for the Americans to conquer and defeat the Indian Nations of North America, which means that the indigenous Indians were able to resist militarily and of course politically ( non – assimilation) to American Imperialism on their sovereign territories!!!
Most of the American military campaigns against the indigenous Indians were of a small scale and localized, since they were dealing with ‘’individual tribal resistance’’, but some were of a much larger scale as we will observe later on in our historical descriptions. What we know from historical data is, that because of these military conflicts which have been called ‘’The Indian Wars’’ in American historiography, there were a large number of casualties , especially between 1850 and 1890. ‘’…The most reliable figures are derived from collated records of strictly military engagements such as by Gregory Michno , which reveal 21,586 dead, wounded, and captured civilians and soldiers for the period of 1850-1890 alone. Other figures are derived from extrapolations of rather cursory and unrelated government accounts such as that by Russell Thornton, who calculated that some 45,000 Indians and 19,000 whites were killed…’’.(http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org)
Another very important historical indicator of the extent of military and political resistance by the Indian Nations of North America is the constancy and the frequency of those military clashes with American colonial forces , especially during the last half of the 19th century.’’…Yet the Indian Wars were constant. From 1768 through 1889, according to R. Ernest and Trevor N. Dupuy’s The Encyclopedia of Military History, the army fought ‘ 943 actions in twelve separate campaigns and numerous local incidents’. And as Fairfax Downy notes in his Indian Fighting Army, from 1866 to 1892, there was not a year, and hardly a three months, in which there was not some expedition against the Indians in the vast regions west of the Mississippi, and between the Canadian and Mexican borders’…’’.(http:////www.hoover.org/)
The second parameter we shall now examine concerning the historical evolution of the Indian Nations in North America under the ‘’political hegemony’’ of the American government deals with the Treaties which were signed between the indigenous Indians and the American central government related to their territorial rights as sovereign political entities.
Since American independence in 1776, there have been 375 treaties signed with Native Americans, and none of these treaties ended well for the Indian tribes. Very often the ‘’unchecked’’ and ‘’authoritarian’’ executive powers of the American President, often annulled their constitutional legitimacy in order to promote his own political agenda of ‘’imperialist conquest’’ and also to satisfy the constant demands of American citizens, who wanted to covet Indian lands ‘’illegally’’, so as to exploit them economically, whether it was through farming, mining, logging or hunting.(http://www.hoover.org/)
After the War of 1812 and the military defeat of the British by the Americans, the federal and state governments were now able to concentrate their military and political resources on dismantling and removing the Indian tribes from their own territories which were considered vital, economically and strategically, for the establishment and development of American settlements and towns.
We therefore observe, that during the 1820s and 1830s, under the political leadership of General Andrew Jackson, who later became President of the United States(1829-1837), attacking the Seminole Indians in Florida and the Cherokees , and other Indian tribes in the southeast of the United States with ‘’particular ferocity’’. At that time, large reserves of gold had been discovered in the State of Georgia, so in 1831, the state government and its citizens, falling back on an ‘’unconstitutional’’ Supreme Court decision, proclaiming that Indians were neither U.S. citizens nor a foreign nation, and with the support of then President Andrew Jackson, expelled the Cherokee Indians from their indigenous lands, despite their ‘’treaty right’’ to it.(www.americanforeignrelations.com)
Here we have to mention, that the Cherokee Indians as a well organized Indian Nation, economically, politically and socially, attempted to fight their ‘’removal’’ legally, by going to the Supreme Court in 1831. This time, the court ruled in favour of the Cherokee Indians, deciding that the Cherokee Nation was sovereign, making the removal laws unconstitutional. The State Government of Georgia refused to respect the decision made by the Supreme Court of the United States, while President Andrew Jackson refused to enforce the law.(http://www.univie.ac.at/Anglistik/)
In the above historical case, as with hundreds other such cases later on, involving the territorial and political integrity and rights of the North American Indians, the average American citizen of the State of Georgia did not respect the legality of the decision taken by America’s Supreme Court, but also the President of the United States himself, representing the American government’s Executive Branch, disregarded the constitutional role of the Supreme Court and the country’s Judicial System; he ignored the American Constitution as a whole!!!
All of the above historical facts, indicate that practically and pragmatically, the United States is not a Constitutional Democracy, since its Executive, its political representatives in federal and state government, or its citizens , demonstrated any respect or obedience to the tenets as prescribed in the American Constitution, putting greater priority on their own private interests and ambitions!!!
This type of ‘’legalistic anomaly’’ and ‘’ideological inconsistency’’ related to the ‘’institutional construct’’ of a Constitutional Republic, has been prevalent and constant in the history of the United States, not only with respect to the civil rights of the indigenous Indians and Afro -Americans , but also in relation to the ‘’political accountability’’ of the American Central Government towards its own ‘’white citizens’’. There was no ‘’political’’ or ‘’congressional’’ accountability when the American President and his cabinet initiated military campaigns in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos(1955-1975), in Yugoslavia(1991-2001), or in the second invasion of Iraq(2003-2011).
To emphasize the institutional ‘’disrespect’’ and ‘’disloyalty’’ shown by America’s Executive Branch and its presidential powers, sworn to protect and abide by the Constitution of the United States concerning the sovereign territorial rights of the Indian Nations of North America, the historian William Weeks points out the instance of the ‘’foreign invasion’’ of Florida by the American Armed Forces in 1816,defeating the Seminole Indian Nation, whose sovereign territory had been guaranteed by the treaties signed with the American Government. He comments that ‘’…President Madison and Secretary Adams violated the Constitution when they bypassed Congressional input into the Executive decision to go to war. The Constitution grants war powers to the Congress alone…’’. (www.counterpunch.org)
William Weeks continues by accusing President James Madison(1809-1817) and his Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams(1817-1825)[becoming later President of the United States(1825-1829)] of disinformation to U.S. Congress and to the American peoples, in order to defend America’s invasion of Florida, a ‘’foreign country’’ , a ‘’sovereign country’’, belonging and governed by the Seminole Indian Nation.
William Weeks notes that ,’’…Adams proclaimed that those Americans who opposed the war were not only wrong but were giving aid and comfort to the nation’s foreign enemies, and covered up atrocities committed under General Jackson’s command…’’. (www.counterpunch.org)
That is exactly the ‘’ unconstitutional political setting’’ which occurred almost 200 years later, during the second invasion of Iraq by the American Military Forces in 2003, under President George W. Bush(2001-2009) with his Secretary of State, General Colin Powel(2001-2005).
There were three Seminole Wars.
The First Seminole War(1817-1818) began for the purpose of recapturing ‘’runaway black slaves’’, who were living among the Seminole tribes in Florida. General Andrew Jackson , a future American President(1829-1837), who was an important slave and land owner, as were President James Madison and Secretary of State Quincy Adams, used American military forces to service their own financial interests by invading this territory, dismantling the Seminole Indian tribes and burning their villages. As a result, in 1819, Spain was forced to cede its colonial Florida territory to the United States.(www.britannica.com)
The Second Seminole War(1835-1842) was the longest and the costliest for the American government. After the 1830 Indian Removal Act, both houses of Congress agreed that the President could negotiate ‘’removal treaties’’ with the Indian Nations and the Indian tribes, where these Native Americans would give up their ‘’sovereign territories’’ east of the Mississippi River in exchange for ‘’virgin’’ and ‘’unexplored’’ land west of the Mississippi River.
The Seminole Indians with their allies of ‘’runaway black slaves’’ , did not accept the official American terms and fought back using all their resources. In this prolonged Indian War, the American Military Forces had a large number of casualties. There were more than 2,000 U.S. soldiers dead and thousands of soldiers wounded. Naturally, the Seminole losses and those of their black slave allies were much higher, particularly the civilian casualties!!!
The Second Seminole War cost the American government between 40 and 60 million dollars then, which if we use the ‘’historical currency conversion method ‘’ from https://futureboy.us, this monetary sum represents today, approximately between 600 and 900 million U.S. dollars; an astronomical amount of money!!!
The Third Seminole War(1855-1858) came about when the American government tried to track down small pockets of Seminole Indians who had chosen not to leave their ‘’tribal lands’’ in Florida. These remaining Seminole Indians were pursued and taken hostage, but there was very little bloodshed. They were forced to leave Florida and their own territories by the American military forces , while the most resistant Seminole bands were paid off by the government to migrate to their ‘’government assigned’’ Indian territories west of the Mississippi River.
In order to really comprehend the true impact of ‘’constitutional disregard’ by the American government, and especially by its Executive, concerning the Indian Treaties and of course the ‘’sovereign territorial rights’’ of the Indian Nations of North America, we shall quote a commentary made by Bill Cody(1846-1917), better known as ‘’Buffalo Bill’’.
Bill Cody or Buffalo Bill was a very popular personality in American society then, and had worked for many years as a ‘’frontier scout’’ for the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars. He helped the Army to locate the positions of the Indian tribes , which were always on the move and a military threat. Bill Cody or Buffalo Bill had received the American Medal of Honour in 1872.(http://en.wikipedia.org)
Bill Cody being a realist and a pragmatist, as well as ‘’a man of all trades’’ , having lived almost all of his life among the Indians as well as among the American settlers ,he once said that, ‘’…Every Indian outbreak that I have ever known, has resulted from broken promises and broken treaties by the government…’’!!!(http://www.hoover.org/)
The third historical parameter which affected critically the existential evolution of modern North American Indians, dismantling them physically, economically, socio-culturally and politically, was the ideology of the American government and the American settlers to ‘’displace’’ and to ‘’relocate’’ the Indian Nations and the Indian tribes from their ‘’ancestral lands’’ where they had been living for hundreds, if not for thousands of years. Their ‘’ancestral territories’’ covered all of North America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, and from the Mexican to the Canadian borders!!!
Before the United States was founded in 1776, there were concrete initiatives being taken by the English and the European settlers, to take over or annex the lands controlled by the indigenous Indians, either through their purchase by exchanging ‘’cheap commodities’’ as we have already witnessed with the buying of the islands of Manhattan and Staten, or by pure military force.
Nevertheless, the British government which ruled over the 13 American colonies, exercised to a large degree a policy of ‘’neutrality’’ and ‘’diplomacy’’, respecting the territorial rights of the Indian Nations. The British government controlling politically and militarily the American colonies, was not interested in disturbing the equilibriums which were maintained between their colonial government, the European settlers and the indigenous peoples. For the British government, North America represented a very important ‘’colonial territory’’ which provided the natural resources and the manpower to support its economic and geostrategic interests. The British government, considered the European and English settlers, as well as the native Indians as their own colonial labour and military force. As a consequence, the British government had an interest in keeping the colonists and the Indians at peace, servicing its imperial interests and expectations!!!
The European settlers on the other hand, especially the English settlers who belonged to the 13 American colonies, were there as immigrants , expecting to eventually establish their own nation-state, even their own Empire as their British masters. In their political schemes , there was no place for any external political and military interference , as well as any internal obstruction to their nation-building by the indigenous peoples. In the case of the Indian Nations there was also the critical factor of the ‘’sovereignty’’ of Indian territory, starting with the eastern coast of North America, where most of the European colonial settlements were located. For the European, and especially for the English settlers, responding to their own colonial European traditions of 300 years, they had no other choice but to gradually ‘’remove’’ and eventually ‘’obliterate’’ the North American Indians, as a peoples, as a culture and as a race!!!
From the standpoint of the European settlers, especially the English settlers, and contrary to British colonial policy, it was imperative not only to undertake the conquest and the annexation of territories belonging to the Indian Nations throughout North America, but to also initiate a process of removal of these Nations from their ‘’ancestral lands’’ through a ‘’gradual’’ but ‘’constant’’ forced migration , which would eventually lead to their ‘’physical disintegration’’ as a peoples and as a race.’’…Although the earliest English settlers in what would become the United States often enjoyed peaceful relations with nearby tribes, as early as the Pequot War of 1637, the colonists were taking sides in military rivalries between Indian nations in order to assure colonial security and open further land for settlement. The wars(Indian Wars), which ranged from the seventeenth-century to the Wounded Knee massacre and ‘’closing’’ of the American frontier in 1890, generally resulted in the opening of Native American lands to further colonization, the conquest of American Indians and their assimilation, or forced relocation to Indian reservations…’’.(http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org)
The long and arduous ‘’forced migration’’ of the indigenous Indians to distant locations, in unchartered territory, under extreme conditions of physical hardship and a lack of adequate subsistence, would eventually lead to their ‘’existential dismantling’’. The end product of this ‘’inhumane’’ political strategy would be the ‘’ethnic cleansing’’ or the ‘’genocide’’ of the Indian Nations, or in one simple phrase ,the ‘’disintegration’’ of the indigenous races of North America. This American colonial strategy responds absolutely to the definitions we have already presented related to these terms, which are:
Ethnic cleansing- the systematic elimination of an ethnic group or groups from a region or a society, as by deportation, forced emigration or genocide.(https://www.thefreedictionary)
Genocide- the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group.(https://en.oxforddictionaries.com)
From the American government and the American citizens as a whole, there was a ‘’long term’’ and ‘’premeditated’’ program for the annihilation of the Indian Nations and the Indian tribes of North America, utilizing ‘’constant forced emigration’’ to the central, and later on, to the western regions of the United States. This American government strategy of ‘’forced mass relocation’’ of a large societal group in order to ‘’dismember’’ it socially, politically, economically and culturally, has taken place many times in modern Western history.
Historically, there were the expulsions of Jewish communities from many European countries, from the 13th to the 16th centuries. We also witness the confiscation of land and expulsion of native Irish people from their homeland, seized by the English Crown and colonized with English settlers between 1556 and 1620. During the 20th and 21st century we see ‘’genocide’’ and ‘’ethnic cleansing’’ being activated through official government policy in the cases of the indigenous populations of the Amazon region and central America, the Aborigines of Australia and the Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka during the 1980s and the 1990s , in Asia. Finally we have the ‘’genocide’’ and ‘’ethnic cleansing’’ of the Palestinians living on their ‘’ancestral lands’’ in the Middle East, throughout the 20th century , and until today, in the 21st century.(http://en.wikipedia.org/)
Andrew Jackson(1767-1845) as commander in chief of the American military forces(1802-1818) and later on as President of the United States(1829-1837), was a strong proponent of moving the native Indians from their ‘’ancestral territories’’ which were legally theirs as ‘’autonomous geopolitical entities’’ and in accordance with the American Constitution, which proclaimed the Indian Nations as ‘’sovereign states’’!!!
Andrew Jackson as a military commander initiated brutal military campaigns against the Indian Nation of the Creeks in Georgia and Alabama, and against the Seminole Indians in Florida, during the 1820s and 1830s. As a consequence, the Creek Indians lost 22 million acres of land in southern Georgia and central Alabama. From 1814 to 1824, Andrew Jackson was the politician responsible for the signing of nine out of eleven treaties with the Indian Nations, annexing the eastern lands of the southern tribes, in exchange for lands in the west. The Indian Nations agreed to the treaties because they wanted to be on good terms with the American government, expecting to keep some of their land, while also ensuring government protection from the vandalism and the physical harassment caused by the white settlers. Through these treaties, the United States’’…gained control of over three quarters of Alabama and Florida, as well as parts of Georgia, Tennessee , Mississippi, Kentucky and North Carolina…’’.(http://www.pbs.org/)
As President of the United States, in 1830, Andrew Jackson introduced and signed the ‘’Indian Removal Act’’, which gave the federal government, especially its Executive branch, represented by the President and his Cabinet, the powers to exchange ‘’ancestral territories’’ controlled by the Indian Nations east of the Mississippi River, which had a rich agricultural cotton economy, to land west of the Mississippi River, legally identified as the ‘’Indian colonization zone’’ or as ‘’Indian territory’’, that the United States had acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
At that time, the American government had assigned as ‘’Indian territory’’ the land encompassed by the present-day state of Oklahoma. This government arrangement would soon be revoked as more American settlers gradually moved westwards, taking over or settling on land which had been officially classified as ‘’Indian colonization zones’’. The Indian Nations and the Indian tribes which had been relocated there by the ‘’Indian Removal Act’’ of 1830, had to once again migrate further west, always on the move, under very harsh and inhuman conditions, complying ‘’under duress’’ to the hegemonic whims of the American government and the American settlers.(http://www.history.com)
The Louisiana Purchase was a land acquisition made by the United States government in 1803 from France, whose land surface encompassed 2,140,000 square kilometres , while the price paid by the American government was approximately 15 million American dollars. This American land acquisition was undertaken by President Thomas Jefferson(1801-1809) himself, which ‘’doubled’’ the surface area of the United States, providing Thomas Jefferson with the political opportunity to allow slavery in the acquired territory as he was an important slave owner and land holder, as were most of his cabinet ministers!!! This land purchase by the government of the United States also provided a vast territory where the Indian Nations could migrate or escape to, confronting the violent incursions made on their ‘’ancestral lands’’ in the south-eastern United States by government military forces and by vigilante armed bands of white settlers, thus avoiding direct violent confrontations!!!(http://www.americanforeighrelations.com)
The Louisiana American Purchase of 1803, had doubled the size of the territory of the United States, because it added to it most of the north-central, central and south-central sections of present-day America. At this point we have to mention , that all of the Indian Nations and the Indian tribes living on this vast territory for many generations, were not consulted or accounted for by the American government, since they were considered as ‘’irrelevant’’ socio-political actors!!!’’… The land purchased contained all of present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska; most of North Dakota; nearly all of South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, northern Texas; the portions of Montana, Wyoming and Colorado east of the Continental Divide; and Louisiana west of the Mississippi River, including the city of New Orleans…’’.(http://www.americanforeignrelations.com)
The ‘’ Indian Removal Act’’ of 1830, which the American Congress had passed under the political pressures coming from President Andrew Jackson and his Cabinet ministers, proved to be very ‘’effective’’ and ‘’efficient’’, not only in removing the Indian Nations from their rich agricultural lands in southeastern United States, but also in forcing them to travel long distances to their assigned ‘’Indian Territory’’, under detrimental conditions to their physical and mental health.
Under American Law, it was required for the American government to negotiate ‘’removal treaties’’ in a voluntary, fair and peaceful manner, while at the same time, it did not permit the president or any other government official to force the Indian Nations to give up their ‘’sovereign lands’’.(http://www.history.com) One could say that ‘’in principle’’ or ‘’theoretically’’, American Law protected the ‘’virtual reality’’ of its Constitutional Republic. Nevertheless, in practice, the autocratic governance of the President and his Cabinet, who essentially protected the interests of the economic establishment of the country, ignored to a large degree ‘’the rule of law’’ , forcing the indigenous Indians to vacate the land they had lived on for many generations.
The American government applied this oligarchic imperialist policy many times in relation to Indian territorial rights, as well as in relation to the ‘’civil rights’’ of the indigenous Indians as America’s First Nations!!!
For example, in the winter of 1831, under military threat , the Choctaw Indians of the southeastern regions of the United States, became the first Indian Nation to be expelled from its ‘’ancestral lands’’ altogether.’’…They(the Choctaw Indians) made the journey to Indian territory on foot, some ‘bound in chains and marched double file’ one historian writes, and without any food, supplies , or other help from the government. Thousands of people died along the way…’’.(http://www.history.com)
By 1838, only about 2,000 Cherokee Indians had left their homelands in Georgia, to migrate to ‘’Indian Territory’’ in Oklahoma. Now, the American government under President Van Buren(1837-1841), whose political mentor was Andrew Jackson, sent an American military force of 7,000 soldiers, under the command of General Scott, to implement the final removal of the Cherokee Indians from their ‘’ancestral lands’’ in Georgia and escort them by force to their ‘’government assigned’’ land in Oklahoma.’’…Scott and his troops forced the Cherokees into stockades at bayonet point, while whites looted their homes and belongings. Then, they marched the Indians more than 1,200 miles to Indian territory. Whooping cough, typhus, dysentery, cholera and starvation were epidemic along the way, and historians estimate that more than 5,000 (of approximately 16,000) Cherokees died as a result of the journey…’’.(http://www.history.com)
Through the general indifference of the army commanders who were responsible for escorting the Cherokee Indians to their final destination in Oklahoma, and being conducive to the ‘’racist’’ political policy of the American Central Government against the indigenous Indians, as well as the American African slaves, human losses for the Cherokee Indians were very high, especially among the children. More than 30 percent did not survive the long and strenuous voyage to Oklahoma, and half of those were children.’’…Some of the Cherokees left almost naked and without shoes or only in moccasins, and refused government clothing because they felt it would be taken as an acceptance of being removed from their homes. Some refused government food; others were given food that they were not normally part of their diet, such as wheat flour, which they did not know how to use…’’.(http://www.univic.ac.at/Anglistik/)
At the beginning of the 1830s, there were approximately 125,000 indigenous Indians living on the vast land-areas of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Florida. These were lands that the Indian Nations had occupied and cultivated for hundreds of years. By the end of the 1830s , there were very few indigenous Indians living anywhere in the southeastern United States.(http://www.history.com)
What we have just described as the dire consequences of the ‘’Indian Removal Act’’ of 1830, for the Nations of the Choctaw and Cherokee Indians, was repeated many times with other Indian Nations throughout the United States, during the 19th century. This government policy of dislocating Indian communities, eventually isolating them within Indian Reservations, was further reinforced during the second half of the 19th century, when American settlers began to migrate westwards , in order to settle on the lands west of the Mississippi River and exploit ‘’Indian Territories’’ through agriculture, husbandry, mining, logging and hunting.
We witness Indian removal taking place in the northern American states of Illinois and Wisconsin, where from 1832 to 1837, 7,000 U.S. military troops and state militias were recruited to defeat and remove the Sauk, Fox and Kickapoo Indian tribes from their ‘’ancestral territories’’, in the northern regions of the United States. That Indian War was called the Black Hawk War, because Black Hawk was the Sauk Indian Chief who had organised the military resistance of the Indian tribes living on these lands. By 1837, all surrounding tribes fled to the West, leaving millions of acres of land to white settlement.
Before the American government started this war against these northern Indian Nations, because they had not accepted to migrate to the west after signing the ‘’removal treaties’’, ceding their ‘’sovereign territories’’ within the regions of Illinois and Wisconsin, the new governor of the state of Illinois, John Reynolds, declared on July 1831, that,’’…If I am again compelled to call on the Militia of the State, I will place in the field such a force as will exterminate all Indians, who will not let us alone…’’.(https://www.britannica)
The Blackfoot Indian Nation which controlled a vast American territory, from the Rocky Mountains in the west to what is now the Montana-Dakota border in the east, during the mid to late 19th century , were forced to abandon their ‘’ancestral lands’’ since white settlers with the official permission of the American government, had eliminated through ‘’intensive hunting’’, the large herds of bison or buffalo on their territories .The buffalos represented for the Blackfoot Indians their ‘’primary source’’ of food, imposing on them everyday conditions of starvation and deprivation!!!
The Blackfoot Indians were considered among the most powerful and aristocratic tribes who lived in the United States, who other Indian tribes feared due to their military skills. The Blackfoot Indians had become respected and feared as an aggressive and effective military force, by destroying several trading posts within their domain. The American white settlers moving west, terrified of Blackfoot military resistance and wanting to acquire Blackfoot ‘’sovereign land’’ , demanded government protection and direct government action.
Through the overpowering military campaigns of the American Army against the Blackfoot Indians, with the destruction by the white settlers of the buffalo herds, the Blackfoot’s main food source, as well as by the terrible effects of a smallpox epidemic imported by the white settlers and the American soldiers, devastating the Blackfoot Indian population in the 1870s,this proud Indian Nation was forced to sign a number of ‘’removal treaties’’ , ceding much of their ‘’sovereign lands’’!!!
These aristocratic and powerful warrior Indian tribes, were assigned to Indian Reservations in exchange for annuities of food and medical aid, as well as government aid in learning to farm. The Indian Reservations of the Blackfoot tribes were located within the territory which today comprises the state of Montana.(http://www.columbia.edu/)
In 1875, the United States Army imposed the ‘’removal’’ of the Apache Indians from the Rio Verde Reservation in southwest Arizona which had been established by the American government in 1872, removing the Apache Indians from their ‘’sovereign territories’’ in Arizona and in New Mexico. The American government closed the Camp Verde Reservation and marched its Indian residents, 180 miles to the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in southeastern Arizona. The American government took this drastic action because the Apache Indians living in the Rio Verde Reservation had revolted against the deplorable living conditions which existed there under U.S. government administration, which were killing them!!!
The Apache Indians from the Rio Verde Indian Reservation were marched to the San Carlos Indian Reservation, 180 miles away, during wintertime, resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives. The Apache Indians were held there in internment for 25 years, while ‘’white settlers’’ took over their land. Only a few hundred of these Apache Indians returned to their land in the Rio Verde Reservation!!!(http://en.wikipedia.org)
We shall now analyse three very critical everyday factors introduced directly or indirectly by the American administration and by the ‘’white settlers’’ as a whole, making the process of the ‘’genocide’’ or the ‘’ethnic cleansing’’ of the Indian Nations of the United States, that much more effective and complete. All three factors are related directly to the everyday lifestyle and the particular genetic makeup of the North American indigenous Indians. One could say that the ‘’extermination’’ of the indigenous Indians took on a more scientific and empirical form, similar to what occurred with the European Jewish communities under the well organised official policy of Nazi Germany, during the 1930s and early 1940s in Europe, resulting in the Jewish Holocaust!!!
The first everyday factor involves the dissemination of highly contagious diseases which were introduced by the white European settlers for which the genetic makeup of the indigenous Indians had absolutely no immunity. Some of the then killer contagious diseases introduced by the incoming European settlers to North America were the measles, the influenza, whooping cough, diphtheria, typhus, the bubonic plague, cholera and scarlet fever; yet the most deadly of these contagious diseases was smallpox.’’…The most lethal of the pathogens introduced by the Europeans was small pox, which sometimes incapacitated so many adults at once, that deaths from hunger and starvation ran as high as deaths from disease; in several cases, entire tribes were rendered extinct…’’.(http://historynewsnetwork.org)
The physiological resistance to these contagious diseases by the indigenous Indians was even made worse when we take into account the physical hardships they had to endure due to the ‘’expansionist colonialist program’’ of the Central and State governments of the United States.
First of all, the Indian Nations of the United States had to cope with the armed attacks against them coming from the American armies, the state militias and from the armed vigilante groups of ‘’white settlers’’, who wanted to confiscate forcefully their land and material possessions.
Second, through the American ‘’Indian Removal Act’’ of 1830, almost all Indian tribes, wherever they were located, were forced to migrate from place to place, always further and further away from their ‘’ancestral territories’’ , from their ‘’natural habitat’’, and naturally from their food sources. Therefore, due to their continuous relocations, travelling very long distances with very little adequate nutrition, their physical and mental stamina were decimated , making the indigenous Indians more vulnerable to these contagious diseases. At this point we have to add, that the indigenous Indians received very little medical care from the government’s health authorities , compared to what the ‘’white settlers’’ were getting in the various towns, villages or settlements.
Not only did the American government and its administrators directly undermine the physiological resistance of the indigenous Indians to contagious diseases due to their physical and mental exhaustion through forced emigration and a lack of medical assistance from government medical personnel , but they went as far as to transfer directly these contagious diseases to the indigenous Indians using ‘’official subversive means’’, similar to what American Multinational Biochemical Companies like DuPont and Monsanto are involved with today, when they produce , promote and sell ‘’genetically modified agricultural products’’(GMOs) to Third World Countries, affecting negatively the long term general health of the indigenous populations.
One historical example of transferring a contagious disease through official administrative practice is the one which occurred in June 20, 1837, when the U.S. Army distributed infected blankets to the Mandan Indians at Fort Clark, on the Missouri River, in the present day state of North Dakota.
These infected blankets had been taken from a military infirmary in the city of Saint Louis which had been quarantined for a smallpox epidemic. When the first Mandan Indians showed symptoms of this disease on July 14, 1837, the medical administrator of the Fort, advised all the ‘’white settlers’’ who had been stationed there , to leave and to seek immediately ‘’refuge’’ and ‘’treatment’’ in the villages of healthy relatives, while leaving the Mandan Indians to their fate.’’…In this way, the disease was spread, the Mandan Indians were ‘’virtually exterminated’’ , and other tribes suffered similar devastating losses. Citing a figure of ‘’100,000 or more fatalities’’ caused by the U.S. Army in the 1836-1840 smallpox pandemic, Churchill refers the reader to Thornton’s ‘American Indian Holocaust and Survival’…’’.(https://historynewsnetwork.org)
The second everyday factor which also ensured the ‘’genocide’’ and the ‘’ethnic cleansing’’ of the Indian Nations of the United States, introduced by the ‘’white settlers’’ from Europe and encouraged and supported both by the British Colonial Government and later on , by the American Government, was the extensive selling of ‘’alcoholic beverages’’ to all indigenous Indians.
Alcoholic beverages were used as a trade commodity with the indigenous Indians because it was very profitable, while alcohol was also used by the American administration as a ‘’strategic tool’’ of diplomacy in official dealings with the Indian Nations. These were government initiatives which dealt with the buying of Indian ‘’sovereign territories’’ or in signing ‘’Indian Removal Treaties’’ , whereby Indian tribes were provided with ‘’Indian Territory’’ west of the Mississippi River for their own ‘’ancestral lands’’ east of the Mississippi River.
Alcohol as an important trade commodity of the ‘’white settlers’’ with the indigenous Indians was a way ‘’to kill two birds with one stone’’!!! The European settlers were able to acquire from the Indians ‘’very good quality’’ furs and animal hides ‘’cheaply’’ , while also gradually installing an Indian ‘’chemical dependency’’ on alcohol, since alcohol is an addictive chemical substance which modern medicine classifies it as ‘’alcoholism’’. ‘’…To put it bluntly, the British and American fur traders lured the Indians into the cash trade by offering them whiskey, the one thing that was not available on the open range. They used whiskey in the same way that the British used opium in China. It was a way of breaking down the doors of a local economy that had little use for the lure of imported goods. One of the most notable things about opium and alcohol is that they are addictive…’’.(http://www.columbia.edu/)
Socio-culturally, the indigenous Indians in their everyday lives, tried to imitate the drinking habits of the ‘’white settlers’’ , especially those of the White frontiersmen, who were heavy drinkers due to their harsh living conditions and also as a social demonstration of their ‘’toughness’’ and ‘’manliness’’!!! Yet, there was a very critical difference between the heavy alcohol consumption of the ‘’white settlers’’ and that of the indigenous Indians. Unlike the ‘’white settlers’’ , whose European ancestors had consumed ‘’alcoholic beverages’’ for thousands of years, developing a physical tolerance to it , the indigenous Indians did not have a similar evolutionary experience , since alcohol was never an ingredient in their diet!!!
Therefore, if we add the lack of a genetic disposition to alcohol due to their ‘’particular metabolism’’, as well as all of the physical, mental and spiritual distress suffered by the Indians under European colonialist hegemony, it is obvious that all of these ‘’detrimental existential inputs’’ would result in the ‘’physiological dismantling’’ of the indigenous Indians.’’…The majority of the United States will never understand how damaging alcohol has been for Native Americans, perhaps more devastating than any disease , gun, massacre, or policy. The perfect colonizer , alcohol has no conscience. It feels no remorse or regret for the modern holocaust it has caused…’’.(http://blog.nativepartnership.org)
Today, within the indigenous American Indians and the Alaska Native populations of the United States, deaths from alcoholism is 7 times more than the U.S. all-races rate!!!(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/)
The third everyday factor which decimated the Indian Nations of the United States was the lack of food during their constant forced displacements, from location to location, west of the Mississippi River, always moving further and further away from their natural habitat and of course their everyday food sources, like their farms, their hunting grounds and their fisheries .
The direct involvement of the American government and the ‘’white settlers’’ in limiting or even in eliminating the food supply channels of the American Indian Nations becomes more evident and concrete when we observe the defeat of the Indian tribes of the Great Plains ,located in the central regions of the United States; Indian tribes like the Blackfoot, the Apache and the Comanche Indians. These Indian tribes or Indian Nations were not only dismantled through the Indian Wars they waged against the American Military Forces during the 1860s and the 1870s, it also came about essentially because of the elimination of their main food supply, which were the vast numbers of herds of buffaloes of the Great Plains!!!
This destructive feat of the ‘’buffalo extinction’’ in the Great American Plains, was accomplished through a well-planned but indiscriminate procedure by the ‘’white settler’’ hunters, under the ‘’direct auspices’’ of the American Central Government, since for the European settlers, the buffalo did not represent a valuable economic commodity. Buffalo meat was not part of their food diet , while the animal’s hide had very little value for them, since it could not be treated into ‘’fine pelts’’ due to its coarseness. The ‘’white settlers’’ then, killed millions of buffaloes, so that the Indian tribes of the Great Plains would not be able to survive physiologically and socio-economically!!!
We have already described the destructive effects on the Blackfoot Indians due to the ‘’drastic elimination’’ of the buffalo herds of the Great Plains. The Blackfoot Indians from being one of the most powerful and aristocratic Indian Nations in the United States, dominating the American Great Plains, ended up at becoming a ‘’hostage’’ Indian Nation, surviving within Indian Reservations ,spread out throughout the vast territory of today’s state of Montana!!!(http://en.wikipedia.org)
The political support for the destruction of the buffalo herds by the ‘’white settler’’ hunters, sometimes came directly from the American President himself, even contrary to the efforts made by the American Congress to provide legal provisions for the protection of the American bison or the buffalo of the Great Plains. This had occurred under the political initiatives of President Ulysses S. Grant(1869-1877) in 1874,when he vetoed a bill protecting the American bison.’’…Grant pocket-vetoed a bill in 1874, protecting the bison and supporting Interior Secretary Columbus Delano, who believed correctly the killing of bison would force Plains Indians to abandon their nomadic lifestyle…’’.(http://en.wikipedia.org)
How significant a strategic tool was the decimation of the American bison or buffalo herds , not only in defeating the Indian tribes of the Great Plains militarily, but also in degrading their long -term physical and mental health is best explained by General Philip Sheridan when he testified to the Texas legislature in 1873, saying that,’’…These men have done more in the last two years, and will do more in the next year, to settle the vexed Indian question, than the entire regular Army has done in the last 40 years. They are destroying the Indians’ commissary. And it is a well-known fact that an army losing its base of supplies is placed at a great disadvantage. Send them powder and lead, if you will; but for a lasting peace, let them kill, skin and sell until the buffaloes are exterminated…’’.(http://www.hoover.org/)
Finally, we shall examine and analyse the socio-political status of the Indian Nations of the United States during their historical evolution , under the political hegemony of the American government and within the institutional context of a Constitutional Republic, which the United States claims to represent.
We shall begin with the Meriam Report of 1928, which made observations in a methodical and empirical way relative to the socio-political status of the Native Indians at that time, authorized by the Secretary of the Interior of the American government.
Mr. Lewis Meriam was the person responsible for this study, undertaken under the auspices of the Institute for Government Research, a privately endowed foundation, while Meriam’s research team was composed of social scientists, including some Native Americans.’’…The report revealed to the government that its policies had oppressed Native Americans and destroyed their culture and society…’’.(http://www.americaslibrary.gov)
By then, the great majority of the indigenous Indian population of the United States was living in government administered Indian Reservations, a policy which was initiated after the 1850s, to accommodate the indigenous Indian tribes that had been forced to abandon their ‘’ancestral territories’’ under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. By the 1920s, it was apparent to the American government, even to the average American citizen, that there existed serious economic, social and health problems on the Indian Reservations which endangered the survival of the indigenous Indians as a peoples and as a society.
One of the major weaknesses of American government policy towards the indigenous Indians had been their one-dimensional colonialist ideology which had as its ‘’first priority’’ the socio-cultural and the socio-economic assimilation of its native Indians to the American way of life. This American way of life was based on the theology of Christianity, but more importantly it was derived from the socio-economic concepts of ‘’private property’’ and ‘’wealth accumulation’’, which the modern Christian dogmas defended, especially the Protestant Christian dogmas , like those of the Lutherans, the Anglicans and the Calvinists.
The social ideals of the average American citizen were ‘’individualism’’, ’’private property’’ , the ‘’ law of Accumulation of Wealth’’, and the ’’law of Competition’’ as Andrew Carnegie, the most powerful American Industrialist then, had emphasized in his article entitled ‘Wealth’. This famous article by Andrew Carnegie had been published in ‘the North American Review’ in June of 1889. For Andrew Carnegie all of human civilization was based on the socio-economic institution of property.’’… One who studies this subject will soon be brought face to face with the conclusion, that upon the sacredness of property, civilization itself depends-the right of the laborer to his hundred dollars in the savings bank, and equally the legal right of the millionaire to his millions…’’.(https://www.swarthmore.edu)
These were the dominant societal institutional criteria that formulated American government policy in general as a ‘’capitalist nation’’ and as a ‘’colonialist political power’’, ideological criteria which were also directed towards its indigenous Indian inhabitants, whose culture had very little in common with the ‘’dominant’’ European culture, in almost every respect.
Therefore, American policy makers were not interested in comprehending the various institutional components of Native American Society , when prescribing a policy or a law directed to the socio-political status of their Native Population. The goal of the American administrators and politicians was to assimilate the indigenous Indians to their own Western political culture, by imposing those societal circumstances and those laws which would eventually disrupt and weaken their unity, their integrity and their vitality to such an extent, that they would have no other choice than to either assimilate or disintegrate!!!
We shall now examine the critical points and conclusions presented by the Meriam Report of 1928,concerning the socio-political status and the living conditions of the Native Americans living in Indian Reservations during the period when the study had been undertaken. We shall also identify the laws and the policies which were implemented after the 1850s , producing these disastrous consequences for the indigenous Indians related to every aspect of their everyday existence.
The Meriam Report was entitled ‘The Problem of Indian Administration’, which from the start indicates the main culprit or the main cause for the ‘’unstable’’ living conditions of the indigenous Indians, residing within the government administered Indian Reservations. Essentially, the Meriam Report put most of the blame for these dire living conditions in the reservations on a ‘’dis functional’’ and ‘’inefficient’’ government administration but also government policies whose main goals were not to ‘’alleviate’’ and ‘’improve’’ the everyday life of the Native Americans, but to ‘’disrupt’’ and ‘’destabilize’’ it , for the sake of the ‘’colonialist program’’ of the Central government and the ‘’expansionist ambitions’’ of the white settlers.
The Meriam Report examined the socio-economic and the socio-political conditions of the Native Americans residing in Indian reservations since the early 1870s, first of all because by that time , the great majority of the indigenous Indians were living in government reservations, but more importantly, it was the period when the American government had decided to implement a universal policy of ‘’Indian assimilation’’, in a methodical and forceful way!!!
This government policy of Indian assimilation would be based to a large degree on the introduction in ‘’native political culture’’ the all-pervasive socio-economic institution of ‘’private property’’!!! Private property was ‘’in theory’’ the foundation of all of human civilization as Andrew Carnegie had defended, as the most powerful American entrepreneur at that time, which meant that the native Indians had to abandon their traditional socio-economic institutions of ‘’collective property’’ and the ‘’collective economy’’ of their own society!!!
This societal transition from the ‘’collective’’ to the ‘’private’’, for the American government and its administration translated into a procedure whereby their native inhabitants would have to accommodate themselves with small privately owned family farms, whose produce would be privately consumed or sold in the market place, thus adopting a ‘’market capitalist economy’’ in their everyday existence and economic evolution!!!
The government scheme of Indian assimilation to the American way of life, was enforced in various ways ,always benefitting economically and politically the American Central Government and especially the ‘’hungry for land’’ white settlers , all at the expense of the general welfare and the socio-political integrity of the Indian tribes, the First Nations of North America, as a distinct culture and race!!!
This government policy of ‘’universal Indian assimilation’’ was enacted by the Dawes Severalty Act passed on February 8, 1887, and was advertised at that time by the American government as a ‘’humanitarian reform’’, with the intent to help Native Americans to achieve U.S. citizenship and become active members of White American Society.
’’…The Dawes Act of 1887, sometimes referred to as the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 or the General Allotment Act, was signed into law on January 8, 1887, by U.S. President Grover Cleveland. The act authorized the president to confiscate and redistribute tribal lands in the American West. It explicitly sought to destroy the social cohesion of Indian tribes and to thereby eliminate the remaining vestiges of Indian culture and society. Only by disavowing their own traditions, it was believed, could the Indians ever become truly American…’’.(https://www.khanacademy.org)
In 1887, the American government had instituted the Dawes Act to accelerate Indian assimilation by essentially dissolving the Indian reservation system and by distributing land to individual Indians. This government Act entailed many benefits for the central government and the white settlers, while at the same time, destroying the ‘’traditional societal fabric’’ of the Indian Nations!!!
First of all , by discarding the Indian reservations, the American government did not have to spend money for their administration and upkeep. Secondly, by allotting small parcels of land to individual Indians, it allowed for the confiscation of land belonging to the Indian reservations and the Indian tribes, as set out in government treaties or executive orders, but which had not been allocated to individual Indian families.’’…The Act divided tribal property into 160-acre(65-hectare) and 180-acre(73-hectare) land grants that were distributed to members of the tribe. After twenty-five years of cultivating the land as responsible farmers and a certification of competence, the Native Americans would receive full ownership of the land…’’.(https://www.encyclopedia.com)
With respect to the land that was distributed by the government to individual Indian families, there are three very important facts that have to be taken into consideration.
First of all, all the land under the legal control of the Indian reservations belonged ‘’constitutionally’’ to the Native American tribes, through ‘’governmental negotiated treaties’’ as sovereign political entities.
Second, through these ‘’forged’’ and ‘’illegal’’ land allotments, most of the land belonging to the Indian tribes or the Indian nations was confiscated ‘’unconstitutionally’’ and sold to the white settlers.’’…In 1887, tribes owned 138 million acres (56 million hectares) of land. By 1900, that amount had been reduced to 78 million acres (31.5 million hectares). Lands not allotted to tribe members were sold to homesteaders and other western expansionists…’’.(https://www.encyclopedia.com)
The third very important fact related to the land allotted to individual Indians which legally belonged to them, was that this land was of a ‘’very poor quality’’ ,which made their economic sustainability even more problematic, since farming was not traditionally an important economic occupation for the indigenous Indians, especially those living in the Great Plains , who were mostly hunters.
The Meriam Report of 1928, almost 40 years after the Dawes Act of 1887, described the quality of the land that had been allocated to the Indians then, and were still farming it, as being ‘’highly inadequate’’ for farming. The Report states that,’’…In justice to the Indians, it should be said that many of them are living on land from which a trained and experienced white man could scarcely wrest a reasonable living. In some instances the land originally set apart for the Indians was of little value for agricultural operations other than grazing…’’.(https://nativeamericannetroots.net)
With the Dawes Act of 1887, to complete the government’s program of Indian assimilation and of course the dissolution of the ‘’collective’’ socio-economic structure of traditional Indian society, the official administrators initiated and enforced other government policies affecting the everyday life of Indians. Many Indian children were removed forcefully from their own reservations and families, and were sent to Indian boarding schools, far away, to learn there the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, and adapt themselves to Western social values and attitudes!!!(www.americanforeignrelations.com)
Yet, in these ‘’civilizing’’ government boarding schools, there was child kidnapping, child labour, emotional and physical abuse, and a lack of proper child hygiene and medical care. Similarly , other goals of Indian child education were to convert them to the Christian religion, to give them Christian names, and to train them to become daily laborers and household workers.(https://nativeamericannetroots.net) ‘’…Native Americans were taught English and discouraged from speaking their tribal language. They were expected to cut their hair and also adopt Christianity…’’.(https://www.encyclopedia.com)
The Meriam Report of 1928, recognized the damaging societal effects that had been caused by the government policies of Indian assimilation during the last 40 years, beginning with the Dawes Act of 1887. The Report concluded that if these same policies continued to be applied, then the Indian tribes would not be able to survive as distinct and independent socio-political entities, especially economically.’’…Several past policies adopted by the government in dealing with the Indians, have been of a type which, if long continued , would tend to pauperize any race…’’.(https://nativeamericannetroots.net)
The Meriam Report was also very critical of the means chosen by the American government to impose its policies of Indian assimilation , especially within the context of the type of education provided to Indian children in Indian boarding schools. The Report maintained that this school education ought to infuse the Indian children with the proper knowledge and skills to prepare them for higher academic studies in colleges and universities. In these state educational centers , the young Indians could acquire the required knowhow for professional , scientific and technical careers.(https://nativeamericannetroots.net)
Similarly, the Report expressed many reservations concerning the authoritarian attitudes and procedures of government administrators and missionaries alike , in trying to pressure the indigenous Indians to adapt Western social and religious institutions to their own traditional political culture of hundreds of years.’’…The missionaries need to have a better understanding of the Indian point of view of the Indian’s religion and ethics, in order to start from what is good in them as a foundation. Too frequently , they have made the mistake of attempting to destroy the existing structure and to substitute something else without apparently realizing that much in the old has its place in the new…’’.(https://nativeamericannetroots.net)
Finally, the Meriam Report of 1928 put great emphasis on the general health situation of the indigenous Indians and the medical care they were receiving from the various governmental medical services and institutions. The Report took notice and fully recognized that the physiological condition of the Native Indians was in a bad state compared to that of the rest of the American population, while government administered health and medical centers did not provide proper care for their Indian patients.’’…The hospitals, sanatoria, and sanatorium schools maintained by the Service, despite a few exceptions , must generally be characterized as lacking in personnel, equipment, management, and design…’’.(https://nativeamericannetroots.net)
Under the social and political pressures from the findings of the Meriam Report of 1928, the American government of Franklin D. Roosevelt(1933-1945), the most ‘’progressive’’ and ‘’enlightened’’ American president in the history of the United States, signed the Indian Reorganization Act on June 18,1934, which legally superseded the Dawes Act of 1887. This Law was specifically and officially designed ,’’…To conserve and develop Indian lands and resources; to extend to Indians the right to form businesses and other organizations; to establish a credit system for Indians; to grant certain rights of home rule to Indians; to provide for vocational education for Indians; and other purposes…’’.(https://livingnewdeal.org)
The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, was a substantial political effort by the government of Franklin D. Roosevelt to reverse the devastating social, economic and cultural effects the Dawes Act of 1887 had inflicted on the Indian tribes of the United States. By substituting the Dawes Act with the Indian Reorganization Act, the American government of Franklin D. Roosevelt essentially changed its policy towards its indigenous population, providing it with the means and the opportunities to ensure their ‘’existential survival’’ as independent socio-political entities.
The main architect in the creation and in the implementation of the Indian Reorganization Act was John Collier(1884-1968), an ideological and political ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt(1933-1945), and head of the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1934 until 1945. John Collier representing the American Central Government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, improved concretely the political, economic and social conditions of the indigenous Indian tribes of his country by implementing effectively and pragmatically various ‘’progressive’’ and ‘’democratic’’ government policies.
John Collier terminated the privatization of land belonging to Indian reservations and returned some of the land that was taken ‘’unconstitutionally’’ from the reservations after the Dawes Act of 1887 and had been sold to white homesteaders. He prohibited land being annexed from Indian tribes or Indian reservations without their permission, a legal prerogative that did not exist in the Dawes Act. He also extended the trust period for existing allotments to individual Indians. New land could be purchased by Indian tribes through federal funds, while the federal government provided very low interest loans to the tribes to buy livestock animals and farm equipment.(https://livingnewdeal.org)
The American government recognized Indian tribal governments and encouraged the Indian tribes to draw up and adopt constitutions using as model the American Constitution. The Indian tribes were allowed to incorporate businesses and organizations, giving them the powers to manage their assets, which at that time consisted mainly of land property. Finally, the government invested considerable amounts of money on the education and the employment opportunities of the indigenous Indians. John Collier founded himself the Emergency Conservation Work federal agency which by the time it was dissolved in 1943, had trained and employed 85,000 Native Americans, in order to utilize their land and resources, working in their tribal homelands.(http://blog.nativepartnership.org)
Responding to the ‘’socialist’’ and ‘’democratic’’ political ideals of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his New Economic Deal , which tried to cope with the Economic Depression affecting the ‘’standard of life’’ of most Americans in the 1920s and 1930s, John Collier in his administrative capacities came to champion the social, economic and political cause of the Native Americans as a distinct peoples and race.’’…He saw that no effort was being made to give Native Americans a chance to improve their own situation. And he believed that giving them the power to govern themselves locally and to manage their resources and assets would further the self-sufficiency (and all people) needed to maintain economic, physical and spiritual well-being…’’.(http://blog.nativepartnership.org)
The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, greatly improved the living conditions of the indigenous Indians of the United States, especially the ones who belonged to tribes that had voted to endorse the Act, since these were the tribes which were eligible to receive federal financial and other benefits as stipulated in the clauses of the Act.’’…Crucially, Indians were allowed to vote on whether the law would apply to their tribe. After the voting period was over , 266 tribes had accepted the Indian Reorganization Act and 77 had rejected it. For some tribes there were negative consequences for rejecting it. For example, the Colville Tribe of Washington State voted against the Act(under suspicious circumstances), losing valuable land to non-Indians and putting its sovereignty in jeopardy with the state…’’.(https://livingnewdeal.org)
From the information just quoted , we can immediately identify two negative factors which can be assigned to the Indian Reorganization Act as it relates to its enforcement and application pragmatically.
The first negative component is that the American government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, pressured or even ‘’blackmailed’’ the Indian tribes to endorse the Act by utilizing the threat of exclusion to federal benefits and even non-recognition of their constitutional status as ‘’semi-independent political entities’’ and of course legal protection by the American government!!!
The second institutional handicap concerning the legal and constitutional status of the Indian Reorganization Act was the fact that it was not endorsed by a substantial number of Indian tribes , which meant not a universal Indian acceptance of the Act.
This non-consensual stance by the Indian tribes concerning the legal validity of the Act, created a political divergence or a political dichotomy with respect to the constitutional socio-political status of the Indian tribes within the Constitutional Republic of the United States. This anomaly produced political uncertainties and ‘’grey areas’’ in the official relations between the American federal government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the many Indian tribes throughout the United States!!! ‘’Grey areas’’ which still persist today!!!
An essential weakness in the formulation of the Indian Reorganization Act is the fact that many congresses were arranged throughout the country, meetings between the federal administrators and the various Indian tribes, to consult them about the critical clauses of the Act , so as to make it more effective in accordance with their particular societal priorities and traditional institutions. In those government congresses , the federal representatives finally never discussed with the Indian chiefs about the main articles of the Act , nor consulted them about their substance, they only provided explanations to the ‘’legal’’ and ‘’constitutional’’ parameters of the Act!!!(https://www.huffingtonpost.com)
A similar ‘’authoritarian’’ and ‘’paternalistic’’ attitude was demonstrated by the American federal administrators when they prescribed to the Indian tribes the basic legal framework that had to incorporated when they were drawing up their own tribal constitutions, this in order to become political partners with the American federal government. Although there were variations between the individual Indian constitutions, their basic legal tenets corresponded to the Anglo-American system of organizing a human community.
Most Indian tribes strongly objected to this type of legalistic societal organization, accusing the American federal government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs of ‘’deepening’’ Indian socio-political assimilation to a white American political culture. Nevertheless, some Indian tribes were able to protect some of their traditional political institutions by insisting that their tribal governments should also include their more ancient forms of governance !!! (https://www.nlm.nih.gov)
As we have already mentioned, the Indian tribes had no real input in the format of their own constitution and for that matter in the tenets of the Indian Reorganization Act(IRA) of 1934, these were the creations to a large degree of the legal advisors of the American federal government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This exclusion of any concrete participation by the indigenous Indians in the formulation of these ‘’vital legal constructs’’ involving their own socio-political status , had very negative consequences which have affected their progressive and stable historical evolution until the present day!!!
A major destabilizing political element on the indigenous Indians of the United States is the fact that they considered the policies as exercised by the federal government and as related to their own political status as ‘’paternalistic’’, ‘’authoritarian’’ and ‘’ethnocentric’’, not really flexible and accommodating towards their proper traditional societal institutions.’’…It (IRA) was put into effect too rapidly. Neither the Congress nor the Indians were adequately informed concerning it nor prepared for it. Bureau(Bureau of Indian Affairs) personnel needed better training for application of provisions contained in IRA, some of which were quite foreign to their past experience and to their personal philosophy concerning the Indians. The philosophy of the IRA itself was violated in that the Indians did not play a truly significant part in preparing tribal constitutions. As a result, some also felt that many good tribal governments were replaced with less capable ones…’’.(http://www.huffingtonpost.com)
Another very effective government strategy or policy for Indian assimilation was that with the passage and the adoption of the Indian Reorganization Act by the Indian tribes, there were efforts made to redefine the socio-political identity of the indigenous Indians within the tribe and also within the state apparatus of the United States. Gradually , Indian ‘’kinship’’ which had prevailed long before the Indian Treaties, the Dawes Act of 1887, and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, and which had defined the socio-economic and the socio-cultural identity of every Indian tribe, was displaced by ‘’membership’’ in a tribe, replacing the traditional ‘’kinship’’ social structure of the tribe.
This ‘’membership’’ societal concept did not correspond to the traditional understanding of membership as kinship, but now that almost all the tribes had adopted a constitution modeled after the American Constitution with its federalist state organization, membership now meant ‘’federal membership’’, subordinate to the American Central Government, while the tribes had to use blood degree as a measure for belonging to an Indian tribe. Today, nearly two-thirds of the 567 federally recognized tribes, use Indian blood degree or DNA degree as a legal metric reference for belonging to an Indian tribe.(https://newsmaven.io)
Finally, the term ‘’member’’ has been used in defining the socio-political status of a Native Indian within the tribe instead of ‘’citizen’’ , because legally and constitutionally the American Federal Government and the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs has never treated or considered the Indian Constitutions as legal charters for ‘’independent sovereign governments’’, but legal charters for ‘’state agencies’’ of the federal government.’’…Goldberg further maintains that the Bureau of Indian Affairs has taken a dim view of the Indian Reorganization Act constitutions ‘as some variation on private associations or student councils, designed to instruct people in self-government rather than to facilitate genuine self-determination’…’’.(https://newsmaven.io)
When the European settlers came to North America in the 16th century , the European governments wanted to legitimize their commercial transactions with the Indian tribes, especially in their acquisitions of tribal land. In order to make these transactions official and legal, they formulated government treaties so that other European powers would not contest their commercial initiatives. The United States adopted this European legal tradition of dealing with Indian tribes as ‘’sovereign governments’’.
The Indian tribes of North America were powerful militarily in the 1700s and the early 1800s, therefore the government of the United States made great political and diplomatic efforts to negotiate and deal with tribal governments on a variety of issues that directly affected everyone. The United States government on the whole, negotiated signed and ratified almost 390 treaties with the American Indian tribes, and most of these treaties are still valid today!!!
These Indian treaties were mostly formal government to government negotiations related to sales of land and property rights, which the Indian tribes owned and the United States wanted to buy. The United States Supreme Court has defined these Indian treaties as contracts between ‘’two sovereign nations’’. Therefore, during the first 150 years of American history, the indigenous Indians were treated as citizens of Indian Nations, not as citizens of the United States!!!(http://www.flashpointmag.com)
The ‘Fourteenth Amendment’ to the American Constitution , which was adopted by the American Congress in 1868, states that ,’’…all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof , are citizens of the United States, and of the state wherein they reside…’’.(https://nativeamericannetroots.net)
The ‘Fourteenth Amendment’ did not grant American citizenship to indigenous Indians, because under the American Constitution and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution, Indian tribes are classified as ‘domestic dependent nations’ , and as a consequence , Indians are tribal citizenships, not American citizens.”…In 1870, the Senate Judicial Committee inquired into the effect of the Fourteenth Amendment on Indian tribes. The Committee declared that the Amendment was intended to eliminate the phrase ‘three-fifths of all other persons’ which had described slaves in the Constitution and therefore did not change the status of Indians…’’.(https://nativeamericannetroots.net)
Until 1924, Native Americans were not considered legally or constitutionally to be citizens of the United States, therefore they could not vote. There were some Native Americans who were granted American citizenship under very exceptional circumstances, such as marrying a U.S. citizen , serving in the military, or through treaties.(https://civilrights.findlaw.com)
On June 2, 1924, American President Calvin Coolidge(1923-1929), signed into law the Indian Citizenship Act, declaring that ‘’…all non-citizen Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States be, and they are hereby , declared to be citizens of the United States: Providing that the granting of such citizenship shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of any Indian to tribal or other property…’’.(https://legallegacy.wordpress.com) The indigenous Indians who were not included in citizenship members had already become citizens by other means such as entering the armed forces, abandoning tribal affiliations, and assimilating into American society.
The Indian Citizenship Act granted citizenship to about 125,000 of the 300,000 indigenous Indians in the United States, but even those who were granted citizenship rights under the 1924 Act, did not necessarily achieve full citizenship and suffrage rights. There were American states which refused to let Indians go to the polls and vote. There were three main arguments for not permitting Indians to vote. There was the Indian exemption from real estate taxes, continuing to maintain tribal affiliation, and the view that Indians were under government guardianship , therefore politically subservient , and that they lived on lands which were controlled by federal trusteeship or the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.(https://legallegacy.wordpress.com)
In 1940, the Arizona Supreme Court annulled a provision of its state constitution which did not allow Native American Citizens to vote, while gradually more state governments were obliged to obey the federal directives coming from the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, the last one being the State of New Mexico in 1962!!!
The Voting Right Act of 1965, prohibited discrimination on the basis of race and colour, and the extension of this Act in 1975, provided additional defenses and assistance to language minorities of the United States. This last legislation was critical politically , because many American states were using literacy tests and poll taxes as obstacles for Native Indians to vote, despite their eligibility under the Indian Citizenship Act!!!(https://civilrights.findlaw.com)
The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, was an effort made by the American government to ‘democratize’ its political culture and legitimize its Constitutional Republic, but there was also the question of reinforcing Indian assimilation to its own White American Political Culture, as the Nebraska Studies Organization emphasized when it reported that, ‘’…No doubt, Indian participation in World War I accelerated granting citizenship to all Indians, but it seems more likely to have been the logical extension and culmination of the assimilation policy…’’.(https://legallegacy.wordpress.com)
Finally there is the Indian Civil Rights Act(ICRA) of 1968 or the Indian Bill of Rights, where Native Americans were guaranteed many civil rights that they had been fighting for , many of which are included in the Bill of Rights in the American Constitution. These include the right to free speech, press and assembly, the protection from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to hire an attorney in a criminal case and the right to jury trial for offences punishable by imprisonment . Some of the unresolved issues which still continue today related to the civil rights of the Native Americans are the question of sovereignty, hunting and fishing rights, and lastly, voting rights for all indigenous Americans.(https://en.wikipedia.org)
We shall now refer to a study undertaken by Michelle Sarche and Paul Spicer on behalf of the University of Colorado Denver, through its American Indian and Alaska Native Programs. This study was published and made available on the Internet, on June 2009. The title of the report is ‘’Poverty and Health Disparities for American Indian and Alaska Native Children: Current Knowledge and Future Prospects.’’
The study ‘’…explores the current state of knowledge regarding inequalities and their effect on American Indian and Alaska Native children….This overview documents demographic, social, health and health care disparities as they affect American Indian and Alaska Native children…’’.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/)
This report is based on several recent studies, using data from both national and tribally specific samples , on the statistics provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as from the Indian Health Service(IHS), the federal agency responsible for the medical care of approximately 1.6 million American Indian and Alaska Native Peoples.
First of all, from this study we learn that American Indian and Alaska Native peoples represent about 1.5% of the total population of the United States, while one third of this population is younger than 18 years old. One quarter of the American Indian and Alaska Native population is living in poverty, a rate which is more than double of the general population of the United States.
In these two indigenous American groups, there are fewer individuals with a high school diploma , 71% compared to the national average of 80%,while those with a university bachelor’s degree represent 11.5% of the population compared to 24.4% for the national average. These disparities in education are as a consequence of the high degree of poverty and unemployment compared to the general American population , which in turn are by products of geographic isolation and the availability of largely low-wage jobs.
Children from these American indigenous communities , grow up in an unstable social environment where there are unexpected and traumatic deaths due to injuries, accidents, suicide, and firearms, all of which exceed the U.S. all-races rate by at least two times. This unhealthy and unstable social environment of these young persons can be partly explained when one considers that alcoholism is 7 times more than the all-races rate, while they are also exposed to high domestic violence due to the social disparities and the living circumstances which we have already mentioned.
According to the Indian Health Service, the age-adjusted death rate for adults is higher than that of the general population of the country by almost 40%, ‘’…with death due to diabetes ,chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, and accidents occurring at least three times the national rate, and deaths due to tuberculosis, pneumonia, and influenza, suicide, homicide, and heart disease also exceeding those of the general population…’’.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.hih.gov/)
From the data provided by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Indian Health Service, we observe a high infant mortality among American Indian and Alaska Native infants which are 2 to 3 three times higher than those of white infants in the United States, while children’s deaths between the ages of 1 and 4 years occur at nearly 3 times the rate of children in the general population of the United States.
Death due to suicide among American Indian and Alaska Natives is 72% higher than the general population, while death due to chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and other alcohol-related causes like accidents is 7 times the national average. The suicide rates for the younger people in these indigenous American communities is even worse , where according to multiple sources, the suicide rate is 3 to 6 times higher than among their non-native American peers.
The physical and mental health disparities faced by the American Indian and Alaska Native populations can be accounted partly by the lack of funding for health care within the Indian Health Service system and by the numbers of American Indian and Alaska Native people who are not being served by the I H S and are without any other form of health insurance.
There is an official estimate that the American Federal Government through the I H S , spends $1,914 per native patient per year compared to $3,803 it spends on a federal prisoner.
The disparities in health care become even more acute, when we examine the amount of federal money being spent on mental health and drug abuse. Only 7% of an already limited I H S budget is spent on these very critical health services for the general welfare of these indigenous Americans. It is estimated that there are only 2 psychiatrists and 4 psychologists for every 100,000 people served by the I H S- 1/7 the number of psychiatrists and 1/6 the number of psychologists available to the general American population.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/)
This report analysing the poverty and health disparities related to the American Indians and Alaska Natives finally comes to a very critical and objective conclusion concerning the Indian policies of the government of the United States historically, accusing it of a long term active complicity to undermine and dismember Native Americans , who ‘’theoretically’’ are living on the fruits of an ‘’egalitarian’’, ‘’liberal’’ and ‘’democratic’’ Constitutional Republic. ‘’…American Indian and Alaska Native communities today live with a legacy of cultural trauma as a result of centuries of dispossession at the hands of the U.S. government and its policies and practices intentionally designed to break apart culture, communities , family, and identity…’’.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/)
*** The articles on Globalization will continue in 2019!!!
‘’The Indian Wars against the United States of America’’(1768-1892)