Monday, March 22, 2010
A Long List of Broken Treaties, Lies, Coersion
A contract, or in this case a treaty, is only as good as the honor of the persons signing it. Go back through both sides of this history and you will see that at the onset the Indian "treaties" were doomed from the start since they were signed by Europeans who did not believe "your word is your bond", who rather would lie, steal, cheat or kill to get what they wanted. It all comes down to greed and riches. Everything that has happened to the native population of the American continents happened because of selfish greed. With a "Christian" religion backing them up and telling them that the only "good" people were Christian people, that apparently equated to it is fine to kill anyone who isn't Christian, forgetting altogether the teachings of Jesus Christ. There was a way to attain some of this land without doing what we did to the native population. There is no excuse, no possible defense for the crimes committed against the original inhabitants of this American Continent.
Apparently, even today, we are still willing to "break our word" by continuing to break promises and treaties made long ago IN EXCHANGE for land we wanted. Now we have the land, we want to renege on the promises and treaties. All in the name of hard times, of economic problems. What about the problems these broken promises cause the American Indian? I suppose politicians today are no different that the greedy Europeans of yesteryear. As long as it keeps them flush, as long as it doesn't ruffle their pocketbooks, as long as THEY GET WHAT THEY WANT, they really don't give a rat's ass what a broken treaty means for the American Indians. Nor do they care that it demonstrates that the word of the white man STILL CANNOT BE TRUSTED. Who cares? It won't get much public attention, it won't hurt our re-election, and like everything else we've demonstrated in the past, we will get what we want. AGAIN, just take it from the lowest, weakest group of people in the country! Why, because we have no damn integrity! Suggestion: If this makes you as mad as it does me, pick up the phone, pick up a pen and write to your congressmen and senators and the president of the United States for that matter. This dishonor MUST STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
CHECK OUT THIS INFORMATION REGARDING ALL THE BROKEN PROMISES AND TREATIES WE'VE MADE WITH THE INDIAN NATIONS OF THIS GREAT LAND, WHICH by the way, USED TO BE THEIRS!
The long series of land usurpation's that would gradually erode Native American territory began with the slash of a quill pen upon parchment; a seemingly innocuous sound, but one masking a hidden motive. Though the United States would employ the resources of its vast military in an effort to enforce its policy of containing the numerous tribes, each land cession was made "legal" by a simple piece of paper--a treaty. This was the weapon employed by a growing nation as it sought the most expedient means of securing its swelling boarders. The American government offered recompense, resettlement, and even trade to the states with which it was dealing in exchange for the lands it intended to occupy. To many Native Americans, however, selling the land was an alien concept. The land was elemental; it was as essential to life as air and could not be owned by anyone. To agree to "give up" all or even a percentage of the land seemed as absurd as selling the air. It was, however, through the treaty that the plight of the Native American began.
In theory, a treaty is a mutual compact between two nations. In practice, there was nothing mutual about the treaties authorizing land cessions--and all too often the re-compensatory provisions of such treaties were mitigated before the ink could dry. The treaty system dates to the colonial period. Native American nations signed compacts with the English, French, and Dutch settlers and eventually with the permanent colonies in the years before the American Revolution. After the French and Indian War, the English government sought to control colonial expansion into territories west of the Appalachian watershed. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was meant to define the boarders of colonial America, but it only alienated the colonists. When the colonies declared independence, they adopted a departmental system to deal with their Indian neighbors--three superintendents that answered to Congress.
To the United States, Native American nations were only de facto states. In the implementation of its diplomatic policy toward the Native American population, the United States assumed the role of an empire over a protectorate. This opened the door for segregation and near decimation of the Native American population. With its first treaty with an Indian state in 1778 (with the Lenni Lenape, or Delaware Indians) through the Treaty of Echota of 1835 (with the Cherokee in Georgia) the only policy has been removal. This is not to say that the treaties were one sided. In fact, the American government did provide re-compensatory provisions in exchange for title to Indian lands. Often a relocation allowance and future payments were given, as in the case of the controversial Treaty of Echota. However, subsequent acts of Congress and shifting political winds demuted many such provisions. Why then were these treaties signed?
Examining the major land cessions from 1784 to 1894, it is clear that nearly all of these treaties were forced on Native American nations. Most were negotiated after wars; as in the case of the Treaty of Greenville (1795), the Treaty of Fort Jackson (1814), and the Treaty of Fort Armstrong (1832). These wars were started by white settlers encroaching on Indian lands. Other treaties were brought about by the demands of the individual states, as with the Treaty of Echota. This treaty removed the Cherokee from their territory and resettled them in a designated Indian Territory in Oklahoma. They were forced out in a march that killed over 4000 Cherokee. Following the Civil War, those nations that had allied with the Confederacy (such as the Cherokee and Creek) were forced to give up more territory.
By 1890, nearly every Native American nation was reduced to a reservation. Those that were not relegated to this state were all but extinct. The consolidation of land was complete. Reservation life did have its degree of success. Many prospered. It was a hard road, but they managed to endure. Many more nations suffered for want of funds, suitable agricultural opportunities, and good leadership. Constant legal battles to retain what little lands that remained occupied the Cherokee, Comanche, and Creek nations. The forces of change were gathering strength, however. The last gasp of those seeking to destroy the Indian way of life was the Dawes General Allotment Act of 1887--which proposed to break up reservations into 160 acre plots. The motivation behind this legislation was the end of the concept of Native American states as nations and their assimilation into American culture. Those tribes that accepted this provision faced their own legal issues when the Curtis Act of 1898 attempted to dissolve their governments. Native sovereignty would have disappeared were it not for the efforts of John Collier, who, as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, brought pressure on Congress to pass legislation that enumerated the rights of Native Americans. The result was the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, the provisions of which restored native lands, provided better medical services to reservations, and encouraged the development of business opportunities. This sins of the past were not wiped clean, but finally the Native American nation was secured under the laws of the United States. With a renewed status, many nations went about the task of rebuilding a proud heritage that is so much a part of this nation...this nation of many nations.