What Legislation Did The Federal Government Use To Assimilate Native Americans Into White Culture

Federal Acts & Assimilation Policies

‘It brings me great pleasure to inform the Congress that the humane policy of the United States Government, which has been persistently followed for almost thirty years in connection to the evacuation of Native Americans from areas outside of white settlements, is nearing a successful conclusion.’ Andrew Jackson’s presentation to the 21st Congress, 2nd Session, 1830-31 is a classic example of political rhetoric.

When it came to acculturating and integrating Indians into European-American culture in the early 1800s, the United States government took a number of measures.

In the opinion of many historians, the United States government was under the impression that if American Indians did not acquire European-American civilization, they would go extinct as a race.

The following is a summary of the interactions: The Federal position of the Superintendent of Indian Trade was established in 1806 with the express purpose of monitoring and controlling commercial transactions between Indian tribes and the United States government.

Calhoun formally transferred responsibility for dealing with Indian communities to the United States War Department, replacing the Indian Trade Office that had been in operation since 1818.

It also had the authority to provide monies from Congress to support attempts by Indian agents to acculturate American Indians into European-American culture.

Native Americans who lived east of the Mississippi River were transported west of the river to what is now Oklahoma, where they remain today.

As the white population of the United States increased and people moved further west towards the Mississippi River in the late 1800s, there was increasing pressure on the recently relocated groups to give up some of their new land, and on Western nations, such as the Dakota, to enter into treaties with the newly arrived groups.

During the time of the United States Constitution’s ratification, many people believed that tribes were independent, sovereign countries, thus the name “reserve.” Early treaties for land included the designation of areas that the tribes, as sovereign nations, “reserved” for themselves, and these parcels became known as reserves as a result of their designation.

  • After hearing complaints about the terrible quality of life on reservations at the end of the nineteenth century, the federal government changed its approach and began forcing people to assimilate instead of concentrating them in isolated communities on reserve lands.
  • The idea was to coerce Indians into becoming farmers or ranchers, so aiding in their assimilation into mainstream society.
  • The individual allocation program was in place until 1934, when it became obvious that the strategy of disbanding reservations had failed to achieve its objectives.
  • As a result of this legislation, the assignment of tribe lands to individual members was halted, and the assignment of “excess” holdings to non-members was decreased.
  • Reservations would cease to exist as separate political entities if this were to happen.
  • Only a few tribes were exterminated before this method of extermination was discarded.
  • The laws that apply on tribal grounds differ from those that apply in the surrounding communities.

The systems of government on separate reserves are distinct from one another.

Additional Resources for Further Investigation: Websites The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (also known as the Genocide Convention).

American Indian Law is a body of rules governing Native Americans.

The Indian Affairs Division of the United States Department of the Interior The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was the first of its kind.

In A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S.

The Library of Congress is located in Washington, D.C.

Tribal Peoples and Tribal Nations The History of Federal Indian Law was published in 2007.

The Government Printing Office published this book in 1904.


The North American Indian Atlas is a collection of maps and information on Native Americans in North America. This is the third edition. Checkmark Infobase published in New York in 2009. The Washington State Historical Society was founded in 1890. The Indian Policy of the United States

HUSL Library: A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States: The Allotment and Assimilation Era (1887 – 1934)

As a follow-up to the aims of the Reservation Era, the Allotment and Assimilation Era attempted to regulate and influence Native American customs and practices in an effort to assimilate them into mainstream society. The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) Indian agents played important roles in the “re-socialization” of Native Americans into Anglo-American society. In addition to supplying food rations to tribe people who refused to quit communal living for independent farming, BIA agents also participated in the abduction of Indian children from their families and their enrollment in military and religious boarding schools.

  • Trauma endured in the boarding schools has caused an impact on tribes and has resulted in massive loss of Native languages, culture, and customs.
  • The Dawes Act, approved by Congress in 1887, offered allotments of land to Native American households as a kind of reparation.
  • In addition to Native Americans losing the most precious and resource rich land on their reservations, the federal government limited allotments to individuals who were enrolled in a tribe and featured on a tribe’srolls.
  • In spite of their apparent tribal identity, those who were disruptive or failed to satisfy conditions were barred from participating.
  • This act allowed tribal individuals dual citizenship in their enrolled tribe and with the United States.

Notable Court Cases:

  • Clapox v. United States, 35 F. 575 (1888)- This decision affirmed the establishment of the Courts of Indian Offenses in 1883 and the use of these courts as a tool for assimilation of Native Americans into mainstream society. Following the rescue of a buddy from jail by a fellow tribe member, both the rescuer and the escapee were prosecuted under federal law. The Clapoxdecision recognized that the Courts of Indian Offenses were “educational and disciplinary instrumentalities” to be used by the United States to control and shape the culture of tribes under the United States’ guardianship
  • However, the Courts of Indian Offenses were not recognized as such in the Clapoxdecision.

Selected Library Resources:

  • Blood Will Tell: Native Americans and Assimilation Policy (2017), eBook
  • Katherine Ellinghaus, Blood Will Tell: Native Americans and Assimilation Policy (2017), eBook
  • Laurence M. Hauptman, Blood Will Tell: Native Americans and Assimilation Policy (2017), eBook
  • L. Gordon McLester, The Oneida Indians in the Age of Allotment, 1860-1920(2006),E99.O45 H38 2006
  • Carolyn Johnston, Cherokee Women in Crisis: Trail of Tears, Civil War, and Allotment 1838-1907(2010),eBook
  • L.

Indian Reservations

During the period when European settlers began to take over Native American lands, the Indian reserve system established parcels of land known as reservations for Native Americans to live on. In order to put Native Americans under the jurisdiction of the United States government, to decrease violence between Indians and settlers, and to encourage Native Americans to adopt the habits of the white man, Indian reserves were established in the United States.

However, many Native Americans were compelled to live on reserves, which had disastrous consequences and had severe, long-lasting consequences.

Treaty of Hopewell

It was in Georgia, then the largest state in the union, that the Treaty of Hopewell was made in 1785, bringing the native Cherokees under the protection of the fledgling United States and establishing borders for their lands. However, it wasn’t long before European immigrants began to encroach on Cherokee territory. The Cherokees reacted angrily and rose up in rebellion against the white settlers. As part of an effort to restore peace between the Cherokees and the settlers, the Treaty of Holston was made in 1791, in which the Cherokees promised to relinquish all territory outside of their designated boundaries.

During the early nineteenth century, a large number of settlers arrived into southern Cherokee territory and demanded that their government officials claim the property for them.

Georgia consented to give her western lands to the government in exchange for an Indian land title, which she received in return.

Andrew Jackson

Following the Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson planned to relocate eastern Indian tribes beyond theMississippiRiver, but the majority of Indians were opposed to his plan. It was at this time that the battle-weary Creeks who had taken refuge in eastAlabama fought for their freedom against the militia of Andrew Jackson, which included so-called “friendly Indians,” in order to distribute captured Indian territory in Georgia. The Creeks surrendered more than 20 million acres of territory to the federal government after suffering a crushing loss at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, which became known as the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

The confiscation of all remaining Cherokee lands in Georgia was ordered in December 1828, and the Cherokees were forced to flee.

Indian Removal Act

The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830. The Act authorized the federal government to split territory west of the Mississippi River with the purpose of transferring it to Indian tribes in compensation for land they had lost. The federal government would cover the costs of transferring the Indians and assisting them in their new homes. The Indian Removal Act was contentious, but Jackson maintained that it was the best alternative since settlers had rendered Indian territories untenable with the continuation of their way of life, and hence the greatest option.

Trail of Tears

As a result, the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek people were forced to go westward on foot, frequently in shackles, and with little or no food and supplies over the course of many years. It was even necessary to remove certain Native Americans in the North. In 1838, President Martin Van Buren ordered federal forces to march the last southern Cherokee holdouts 1,200 miles to Indian country on the Plains, where they would be killed. Because of the widespread disease and malnutrition on the trail, thousands of people perished along its length, earning the trail the nickname “Trail of Tears.” A group of Seminoles, on the other hand, refuses to leave and has taken up residence in Florida.

They fought federal soldiers for over a decade before their commander was assassinated and they were forced to give up their arms.

The Indian Appropriations Act

Native Americans’ area dwindled as white settlers moved westward in search of more land, but there was no more land available for the government to relocate them to. After the Indian Appropriations Act of 1851 was approved by Congress, it established the Indian reservation system and gave monies to relocate Indian tribes to farming reserves, with the goal of keeping them under control. Indians were not permitted to leave their reserves unless they had permission to do so.

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Life on Indian Reservations

It was difficult to get by on the reserves on a daily basis. Besides having lost their ancestral grounds, tribes were finding it more difficult to retain their culture and customs in such a small geographic region. Feuding tribes were frequently forced together, and Indians who had been hunters found it difficult to transition to farming. Hunger was widespread, and living in such close quarters accelerated the spread of illnesses introduced by European settlers. It was encouraged or imposed upon Indians to dress in non-indigenous clothing, learn to read and write English, sew and keep animals, among other things.

The Dawes Act

As part of the Dawes Act, which was signed by President Grover Cleveland in 1887, the federal government was given the authority to split reservations into tiny parcels of land for individual Indians. The federal government thought that the act would make it simpler and faster for Indians to adapt into white society while also improving their overall quality of life. The Dawes Act, on the other hand, had a terrible effect on Native American communities. During this time period, European settlers and railways were able to expand their reach and take over even more territory from Native Americans.

Pre-Indian reservation system, women Indians worked and cared for the land while males hunted and assisted in the protection and preservation of their tribe.

The Indian Reorganization Act

The Meriam Survey, a comprehensive examination of living on Indian reservations, revealed that the Dawes Act had been extremely harmful to Native Americans’ well-being. When the Indian Reorganization Act was passed in 1934, the statute was repealed and replaced with the Indian Reorganization Act, which had the aim of reviving Indian culture and returning excess land to tribal governments. There was also financial assistance for reserve infrastructure, as well as encouragement for tribes to self-govern and establish their own constitutions.

Modern Indian Reservations

Despite the fact that modern Indian reservations still exist throughout the United States, they are administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). On each reservation, the tribes have their own sovereign government and are not subject to the majority of federal laws. They are responsible for the majority of reservation-related tasks, but they rely on the federal government for financial assistance. Tourism and gaming are the primary sources of revenue on many Native American reservations.

  1. In addition to enhancing their quality of life, the BIA is responsible for providing them with economic possibilities and improving their assets, which the BIA keeps in trust for them.
  2. Housing on the reservations is overcrowded and sometimes substandard, and many people on the reservations are trapped in a cycle of destitution.
  3. Many Native Americans die as a result of ailments that are linked to their way of life, such as heart disease and diabetes.
  4. A large number of individuals leave the reserves for metropolitan areas in quest of better career opportunities and better living circumstances.

Native Americans have maintained their cultural identity and continued to prosper as a group, despite the difficulties they have faced in the past and now.


1851: The United States Congress establishes reservations to govern Native Americans. Native Voices is a project of the National Library of Medicine in the United States. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is a federal agency that administers Indian affairs. USA.gov. The mission statement of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The Bureau of Indian Affairs is part of the United States Department of the Interior. Removal of the Cherokees. A new Georgia encyclopedia has been published. Timetable for Indian Removal.

The Treaties with the Indians and the Removal Act of 1830 The Historian’s Office is part of the Bureau of Public Affairs.

Aid to Native Americans.

The National Park Service is a federal agency.

Voting Rights for Native Americans

It’s commonly forgotten that Native Americans had been practicing self-governance in America for thousands of years before the United States government was established in 1776. Despite this, Native Americans had to fight for decades before they were granted full citizenship in the United States and legal protection for their voting rights. Many government authorities believed that Native Americans should be integrated into mainstream American culture before they could be granted full citizenship rights.

As a result, Native American tribes as legal entities were dissolved, and tribal lands were distributed among individual members (with a cap of 160 acres per head of family and 80 acres per adult single person), with the remaining lands declared “surplus” and made available to non-Indian homesteaders.

  1. When it came to many tribes, the Dawes Act was devastating, shattering traditional culture and civilization as well as resulting in the loss of up to 2/3rds of tribal lands.
  2. policy toward Native Americans was precipitated by the collapse of the Dawes Act.
  3. “Move on!” says the speaker.
  4. / / Condé Nast Publications, Inc.
  5. citizenship to Native Americans who were born in the United States.
  6. Even after the passage of this citizenship measure, Native Americans were still denied the right to vote since the Constitution delegated authority to the states over who has the right to vote to the federal government.
  7. For example, Maine was one of the last states to comply with the Indian Citizenship Act, despite the fact that the state’s original 1819 state constitution had guaranteed Native Americans who paid taxes the right to vote in the election.

He Indians aren’t permitted to have a say in state matters since they aren’t eligible to vote.

One of the Indians went to Old Town once to speak with a representative from the municipal hall about the voting process.

Calvin Coolidge was the president of the United States from 1921 to 1923.

In 1948, the Arizona Supreme Court overturned a clause of the state constitution that barred Native Americans from voting in the state.

Even though Native Americans had the legal right to vote in every state, they were subjected to the same processes and techniques, such as poll taxes, literacy tests, fraud, and intimidation, that were used to prevent African Americans from exercising their civic rights.

Many other voting rights were renewed and enhanced after the adoption of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, and following laws in 1970, 1975, and 1982 reinforced and expanded those provisions.

The United States Government’s Relationship with Native Americans

It’s commonly forgotten that Native Americans had been practicing self-government in America for thousands of years before the United States was established. Despite this, Native Americans had to fight for decades before they were granted full citizenship in the United States and legal protection for their voting rights in that country. Native Americans should be absorbed into mainstream American culture, according to many government authorities, before they can be granted voting rights. It was passed in 1887 to aid in the integration of African-Americans into the United States.

  • This included, among other things, the establishment of Indian schools where Native American students were taught not just reading and writing skills, but also the social and home norms of white Americans.
  • A shift in U.S.
  • The push to integrate was replaced with a more hands-off approach that allowed Native Americans the option of enfranchisement or self-government.
  • Thomas Nast & Company, Inc.
  • The Snyder Act, which was established in 1890, ensured that Native Americans may exercise their right to vote, despite the fact that the Fifteenth Amendment, which was passed in 1870, guaranteed that all citizens of the United States had the right to vote irrespective of race.
  • Native Americans were not allowed to vote in all fifty states until far after the passing of the Citizenship Act of 1924, which took nearly four decades.
  • Native Americans were denied the right to vote in Maine in the late 1930s, according to Henry Mitchell, a native of the state.

I’m perplexed as to why Native Americans should be denied the right to vote.

I’m not sure what role the guy held over there, but he told the Indian, ‘We don’t want you folks over here,’ and that was that.


the President’s residence in 1925; four Osage Indians During the 1948 election, the Arizona Supreme Court overturned a clause of the state constitution that barred Native Americans from exercising their right to vote.

In spite of having the legal right to vote in every state, Native Americans faced the same obstacles and techniques that African Americans faced in exercising their right to vote.

These included poll taxes, literacy tests, voter fraud, and intimidation. Many more voting rights were renewed and enhanced with the adoption of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, and later laws in 1970, 1975, and 1982.

Essay 1, Unit I

It’s frequently forgotten that Native Americans were practicing self-governance in America long before the establishment of the United States government. Despite this, Native Americans had to fight for decades before they were granted full citizenship in the United States and legal protection of their voting rights. Many government authorities believed that Native Americans should be integrated into mainstream American culture before they were granted citizenship. The Dawes Act of 1887 was enacted in order to encourage assimilation.

  • It built Indian schools where Native American students were taught not only reading and writing skills, but also about white American social and home practices.
  • The failure of the Dawes Act resulted in a shift in the United States’ stance toward Native Americans.
  • “Move on!” says the author.
  • Th.
  • The Snyder Act of 1924 granted full citizenship to Native Americans who were born in the United States.
  • Even after the passage of this citizenship statute, Native Americans were still denied the right to vote since the Constitution delegated authority to the states over who has the right to vote to them.
  • For example, Maine was one of the last states to comply with the Indian Citizenship Act, despite the fact that the state’s original 1819 state constitution had guaranteed Native Americans who paid taxes the right to vote.
  • He Indians aren’t permitted to have a say in state matters since they aren’t allowed to vote.
  • One of the Indians went to Old Town once to speak with a representative from the municipal hall about voting.
  • Calvin Coolidge was the president of the United States during the twentieth century.
  • Other states later followed in the footsteps of California.

Many other voting rights were renewed and enhanced in 1965 with the passing of the Voting Rights Act and later laws in 1970, 1975, and 1982.

Indian removal

Early in the 19th century, while the rapidly-growing United States expanded into the lower South, white settlers faced what they considered an obstacle. This area was home to the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chicasaw and Seminole nations. These Indian nations, in the view of the settlers and many other white Americans, were standing in the way of progress. Eager for land to raise cotton, the settlers pressured the federal government to acquire Indian territory. Andrew Jackson, from Tennessee, was a forceful proponent of Indian removal.In 1814 he commanded the U.S. military forces that defeated a faction of the Creek nation. In their defeat, the Creeks lost 22 million acres of land in southern Georgia and central Alabama. The U.S. acquired more land in 1818 when, spurred in part by the motivation to punish the Seminoles for their practice of harboring fugitive slaves, Jackson’s troops invaded Spanish Florida.From 1814 to 1824, Jackson was instrumental in negotiating nine out of eleven treaties which divested the southern tribes of their eastern lands in exchange for lands in the west.The tribes agreed to the treaties for strategic reasons.They wanted to appease the government in the hopes of retaining some of their land, and they wanted to protect themselves from white harassment.As a result of the treaties, the United States gained control over three-quarters of Alabama and Florida, as well as parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky and North Carolina.This was a period of voluntary Indian migration, however, and only a small number of Creeks, Cherokee and Choctaws actually moved to the new lands.In 1823 the Supreme Court handed down a decision which stated that Indians could occupy lands within the United States, but could not hold title to those lands.This was because their “right of occupancy” was subordinate to the United States’ “right of discovery.”In response to the great threat this posed, the Creeks, Cherokee, and Chicasaw instituted policies of restricting land sales to the government.They wanted to protect what remained of their land before it was too late.Although the five Indian nations had made earlier attempts at resistance, many of their strategies were non-violent.One method was to adopt Anglo-American practices such as large-scale farming, Western education, and slave-holding.This earned the nations the designation of the “Five Civilized Tribes.”They adopted this policy of assimilation in an attempt to coexist with settlers and ward off hostility.But it only made whites jealous and resentful.Other attempts involved ceding portions of their land to the United States with a view to retaining control over at least part of their territory, or of the new territory they received in exchange.Some Indian nations simply refused to leave their land – the Creeks and the Seminoles even waged war to protect their territory.The First Seminole War lasted from 1817 to 1818.The Seminoles were aided by fugitive slaves who had found protection among them and had been living with them for years.The presence of the fugitives enraged white planters and fueled their desire to defeat the Seminoles.The Cherokee used legal means in their attempt to safeguard their rights.They sought protection from land-hungry white settlers, who continually harassed them by stealing their livestock, burning their towns, and sqatting on their land. In 1827 the Cherokee adopted a written constitution declaring themselves to be a sovereign nation.They based this on United States policy; in former treaties, Indian nations had been declared sovereign so they would be legally capable of ceding their lands.Now the Cherokee hoped to use this status to their advantage.The state of Georgia, however, did not recognize theirsovereign status, but saw them as tenants living on state land.The Cherokee took their case to the Supreme Court, which ruled against them.The Cherokee went to the Supreme Court again in 1831.This time they based their appeal on an 1830 Georgia law which prohibited whites from living on Indian territory after March 31, 1831, without a license from the state.The state legislature had written this law to justify removing white missionaries who were helping the Indians resist removal.The court this time decided in favor of the Cherokee.It stated that the Cherokee had the right to self-government, and declared Georgia’s extension of state law over them to be unconstitutional.The state of Georgia refused to abide by the Court decision, however, and President Jackson refused to enforce the law.In 1830, just a year after taking office, Jackson pushed a new piece of legislation called the “Indian Removal Act” through both houses of Congress.It gave the president power to negotiate removal treaties with Indian tribes living east of the Mississippi.Under these treaties, the Indians were to give up their lands east of the Mississippi in exchange for lands to the west.Those wishing to remain in the east would become citizens of their home state.This act affected not only the southeastern nations, but many others further north.The removal was supposed to be voluntary and peaceful, and it was that way for the tribes that agreed to the conditions.But the southeastern nations resisted, and Jackson forced them to leave.Jackson’s attitude toward Native Americans was paternalistic and patronizing – he described them as children in need of guidance. and believed the removal policy was beneficial to the Indians.Most white Americans thought that the United States would never extend beyond the Mississippi.Removal would save Indian people from the depredations of whites, and would resettle them in an area where they could govern themselves in peace. But some Americans saw this as an excuse for a brutal and inhumane course of action, and protested loudly against removal.Their protests did not save the southeastern nations from removal, however.The Choctaws were the first to sign a removal treaty, which they did in September of 1830. Some chose to stay in Mississippi under the terms of the Removal Act.But though the War Department made some attempts to protect those who stayed, it was no match for the land-hungry whites who squatted on Choctaw territory or cheated them out of their holdings.Soon most of the remaining Choctaws, weary of mistreatment, sold their land and moved west.For the next 28 years, the United States government struggled to force relocation of the southeastern nations.A small group of Seminoles was coerced into signing a removal treaty in 1833, but the majority of the tribe declared the treaty illegitimate and refused to leave.The resulting struggle was the Second Seminole War, which lasted from 1835 to 1842.As in the first war, fugitive slaves fought beside the Seminoles who had taken them in.Thousands of lives were lost in the war, which cost the Jackson administration approximately 40 to 60 million dollars -ten times the amount it had allotted for Indian removal. In the end, most of the Seminoles moved to the new territory.The few who remained had to defend themselves in the Third Seminole War (1855-58), when the U.S. military attempted to drive them out.Finally, the United States paid the remaining Seminoles to move west.The Creeks also refused to emigrate.They signed a treaty in March, 1832, which opened a large portion of their Alabama land to white settlement, but guaranteed them protected ownership of the remaining portion, which was divided among the leading families.The government did not protect them from speculators, however, who quickly cheated them out of their lands.By 1835 the destitute Creeks began stealing livestock and crops from white settlers. Some eventually committed arson and murder in retaliation for their brutal treatment.In 1836 the Secretary of War ordered the removal of the Creeks as a military necessity.By 1837, approximately 15,000 Creeks had migrated west.They had never signed a removal treaty.The Chickasaws had seen removal as inevitable, and had not resisted.They signed a treaty in 1832 which stated that the federal government would provide them with suitable western land and would protect them until they moved.But once again, the onslaught of white settlers proved too much for the War Department, and it backed down on its promise.The Chickasaws were forced to pay the Choctaws for the right to live on part of their western allotment.They migrated there in the winter of 1837-38.The Cherokee, on the other hand, were tricked with an illegitimate treaty.In 1833, a small faction agreed to sign a removal agreement: the Treaty of New Echota.The leaders of this group were not the recognized leaders of the Cherokee nation, and over 15,000 Cherokees – led by Chief John Ross – signed a petition in protest.The Supreme Court ignored their demands and ratified the treaty in 1836. The Cherokee were given two years to migrate voluntarily, at the end of which time they would be forcibly removed.By 1838 only 2,000 had migrated; 16,000 remained on their land. The U.S. government sent in 7,000 troops, who forced the Cherokees into stockades at bayonet point.They were not allowed time to gather their belongings, and as they left, whites looted their homes.Then began the march known as the Trail of Tears, in which 4,000 Cherokee people died of cold, hunger, and disease on their way to the western lands.By 1837, the Jackson administration had removed 46,000 Native American people from their land east of the Mississippi, and had secured treaties which led to the removal of a slightly larger number.Most members of the five southeastern nations had been relocated west, opening 25 million acres of land to white settlement and to slavery.
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Native American – Assimilation versus sovereignty: the late 19th to the late 20th century

Indigenous peoples that survived military conquest in many regions of the world, including Northern America, were afterwards subjected to political conquest, a condition that has been referred to popularly as “death by red tape.” The practices of political conquest, which were formulated through governmental and quasi-governmental policies and enacted by nonnative bureaucrats, law enforcement officers, clergy, and others, were typically associated with the perpetuation of structural inequalities that disenfranchised indigenous peoples while strengthening the power of colonizing peoples.

  • However, while the evacuation of eastern tribes in the 1830s marked the beginning of this phase of conquest, the era from around 1885 to 1970 was also characterized by strong governmental management of Native American life.
  • For obvious reasons, self-governance, also known as sovereignty, was chosen by the vast majority of Indians.
  • Many people identified with progressivism, a loosely connected set of principles and ideas that acknowledged and attempted to alleviate the rising structural disparities that they witnessed in Northern America at the time.
  • Most progressives favored small business owners and farmers over industrial capitalists.
  • Assimilationist law was introduced in Canada as early as 1839, with the Crown Lands Protection Act (1839) and the several measures resulting from Canada’s Bagot Commission, such as the Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes of the Canadas (1839).
  • The Indian Civilization Act of 1890 was perhaps the most well-known example of such legislation in the United States (1819).
  • The reservation system had been developed on the basis of cultural evolution theories (now disproved), which asserted that indigenous cultures were fundamentally inferior to cultures that originated in European countries.
  • Social and economic ideas that had grown to dominate the national cultures of Canada and the United States served as the framework for programs encouraging assimilation.
  • When it came to economics, they stressed capitalist ideals, notably the ownership of private property (primarily land, cattle, and machinery); self-directed activities such as shopkeeping, farming, or ranching; and the self-sufficiency of the nuclear family.
  • It should come as no surprise that they preferred to maintain their independence in these fields as well as in the political realm.
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In terms of social structure, most indigenous political systems stressed the importance of extended families and corporate kin groups, matrilineal or bilateral kinship, little or no consideration of legitimacy or illegitimacy, households led by women or by women and men together, a concept of labor that recognized all work as work, highly expressive religious traditions, and cajoling and other nonviolent forms of discipline for both children and adults.

In terms of economics, native ideals emphasized communal principles, particularly the sharing of use rights to land (e.g., by definition, land was community rather than private property) and the self-sufficiency of the community or kin group, with wealthier households ensuring that poorer neighbours or kin were supplied with the bare necessities.

The title of this periodical, which was founded by Native American physician and activist Carlos Montezuma, underscored the periodical’s vigorous pursuit of independence for Native Americans through the abolition of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs (now known as the Bureau of Indian Education and Research).

Ayer (A Britannica Publishing Partner) Assimilationists launched four movements to assure their win in this combat of ideologies and lifeways: allotment, the boarding school system, reorganization, and termination.

Native peoples battled against these migrations day in and day out. When indigenous cultures are able to survive in the face of such heavily assimilationist programming, it is considered a sign of their success.


Following the establishment of the western reserves, both Canada and the United States began to backtrack on their claims that reservation territory would be protected in perpetuity. It was not until 1879 that specific plots of land inside reserves were assigned, or allotted, to individuals; by 1895, the right of allocation had been legally transferred from the tribes to the Superintendent General. The Dawes General Allotment Act, which was passed in the United States, implemented a program identical to this one (1887).

  • The Library of Congress is located in Washington, D.C.
  • Throughout the colonial period, settlers and speculators, with the assistance of government agencies like as the military, had driven tribes as far away from civilization as they possibly could.
  • As a result, confinement within a reserve, even a big one, often made it difficult for nomadic tribes to gather enough wild food; agricultural communities, who had long relied primarily on wild food to supplement their crops, fared only marginally better under the circumstances.
  • Because of previous annuity promises made by the governments of the United States and Canada, the governments were required to honor them; nevertheless, many of the officials in charge of the distribution of these materials were corrupt.
  • Many Euro-Americans in the United States and Canada acquired the misconception that reserve life, particularly its communal foundations, bred indolence because they were unaware of the legal and bureaucratic roots of reservation poverty.
  • The power to assign reserves in Canada was retained by the government, which at the time stipulated that individual title and full citizenship could only be obtained by people who sacrificed their aboriginal identity in exchange for full citizenship.
  • The land would be kept in trust for a period of 25 years, after which the individual would be granted full ownership.
  • Following the allocation of allotments to qualifying tribal members, any land left on the reservation became “surplus,” and it was possible for the government to sell it to non-Indians on the tribe’s behalf.

The nations living on these reservations lost 86 million acres (34.8 million hectares), or 62 percent, of the 138 million acres (55.8 million hectares) that had been designated by treaty as Native American common property as a result of the alienation of surplus lands and the patenting of individual holdings.

  1. Their efforts took on a variety of forms, and they were supported by the gradual implementation of allotments, which persisted until the early twentieth century.
  2. As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Lone Wolf v.
  3. The ruling in the case of St.
  4. Canada was a landmark one.
  5. Some tribes in the United States owned property through forms of title that made their assets less subject to theDawes Act than their counterparts.

Their initial purchase of 80 acres (32 hectares) of land was held in free title and was therefore inalienable except through condemnation; the Meskwaki Settlement, as it came to be known, had grown to more than 7,000 acres (2,800 hectares) by 2000, and was the largest Native American reservation in the United States.

In spite of the allotment movement’s extensive reach, not every reserve had been subjected to partition by the time the campaign came to a conclusion.

Many Arctic nations resisted not just allocation but also its antecedent, split into reserves, for the same reasons as the United States.

Because of the scattering of people, families, and corporate kin groupings throughout the terrain, native social networks and cultural cohesiveness have been destroyed in several areas of the world.

Many indigenous institutions and cultural traditions were undermined, and little or nothing in the way of replacement was made available.

Boarding schools

The most heinous violations of the assimilationist drive took place at government-sponsored boarding, or residential, schools, according to historians. It was legal for aboriginal families in Canada and the United States, from the mid-nineteenth century until as late as the 1960s, to send their children to these institutions, which were often located far away from the family home. Students were expected to learn basic literacy and mathematics skills and to receive vocational training in a variety of menial jobs, which were the same goals pursued by public education throughoutNorthern America during that time period, at least up until World War II, according to the schools’ educational programming.

  • 1909 photograph of children outside the Indian boarding school in Cantonment, Oklahoma.
  • (Neg.
  • LC-USZ62-126134) The so-called Indian schools, on the other hand, were sometimes directed by persons with assimilationist ideas that were so strong that they bordered on racism.
  • In order to achieve their objectives, administrators at residential schools employed a range of material and psychological measures to deprive indigenous students of their traditions.
  • As a result, many children suffered from hunger and exposure, which exacerbated TB and other illnesses that were prevalent at the time.
  • The brutal punishment for displaying indigenous culture, whether it was through indigenous language or music or dance or storytelling or religion or sports or food, included beatings, electrical shocks, withholding of food or drink, and lengthy periods of forced labor or kneeling.
  • During especially severe years, it was accepted that abuse and neglect were responsible for the deaths of more than half of the pupils at specific institutions.
  • Many parents trained their children to run and hide when they saw government personnel approaching, who were in charge of assembling the children and delivering them to the various schools.
  • Some communities made collective choices to keep their children concealed; possibly the most well-known example of this happened in 1894–95, when 19Hopimen fromOraibipueblo were imprisoned for refusing to give the location of their children to the authorities.

It was, however, a long and drawn-out process: the Rough Rock Demonstration School in Arizona was the first school in the United States to be placed under continuous tribal administration in 1966, and the Blue Quills First Nations College in Alberta was the first in Canada to do so in 1971, both of which were located in the United States.

In their report, they point out that the issues endemic to many reservations—including high rates of suicide, substance misuse, marital violence, child abuse, and sexual assault—are a direct result of childhood maltreatment.

The commission’s 1996 report confirmed indigenous allegations of abuse, and in 2006, the Canadian government granted more than $2 billion (Canadian) in class-action restitution and mental health support to former pupils.

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