Monday, June 15, 2015

Good Intentions & Bad Results

Quick notes before you read:
*To follow along with this lesson better, a good source we were provided with can be found here. It is a helpful visual provided by ABC-CLIO that basically states everything that happened with the American Indians, Buffalo Soldiers, and Westward-Bound Whites. 

**When I refer to Native Americans as "Indians", please note that I am referring to American Indians, not citizens of India. 
Enjoy this learning experience!!

Continuing to Make Our Final Exam

The end of week two of creating our final exam is coming to an end, and our class focused on Buffalo Soldiers & Native Americans for this next unit. We made another class-wide Google Doc to document our notes. Similar to week one, we watched multiple ABC-CLIO overview videos and took notes on main ideas, key people, events, and terms. The essential question my class decided on was; "During Westward Expansion, did the impact of federal policy towards Buffalo Soldiers and Native Americans match the intent?". 

Buffalo Soldiers & Native Americans

Before moving ahead to answer the essential question, let's discuss what Buffalo Soldiers and Native Americans really are. Buffalo Soldiers were African American soldiers from the Union (North) army that continued on as permanent soldiers in the army. Buffalo Soldiers reminded natives of buffalo spirit,  As you may already know, Native Americans were those who were apart of one of the first groups of people living in U.S. Before Westward Expansion, the Native Americans lived very peaceful and happy lives in western United States. The overview videos we watched help give a good look into the lives of the Natives. Natives relied on buffalo for everything; clothing and food. They lived on the Great Plains in western U.S. states like Colorado and New Mexico, and the major groups were Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota. Natives had rituals such as the Sun Dance and vision quests. Being child was great on the Plains. Games were heavily encouraged and they completed vision quests and puberty ceremonies as they became men. However, all of this would soon take a nasty turn. 

Westward Expansion

Natives being forced to leave during Westward Expansion.
In 1830, President Andrew Jackson officially signed the Indian Removal Act. To learn more about this Act, you can read my blog post I published about my group's presentation on Indian Removal. This act stated that certain tribes must leave lands in the southern U.S. to west of the Mississippi River. Jackson wanted to remove the Indians to the west, so him and the settlers had more land. About 100,000 Eastern Indians were moved off of their homeland to make room for white settlers. Jackson wants Indian Tribes to move out west, he says each tribe will have their own land if they leave, and if they choose to stay they have to abide by the laws set for Americans. Indians wanted to stay because the territory Jackson provided was unknown and there weren't enough resources for them to support themselves. Then in the 1840s, the California Gold Rush brought more people westward, and settlers trespassing on Indian land encounter hostility from the tribes and demand protection from the U.S. army. There were American Indian Wars on the Plains from 1861-1890, and a main battle from this is the Battle of Little Bighorn. Gold was discovered in the Dakota region, immigrants abused Sioux and the Sioux fought back. The Congress approved the creation of 6 regiments of African-American troops, becoming the Buffalo Soldiers, from 1866-1890. They were involved in at least 117 of the 138 campaigns fought against the Indians on the Western Frontier. In 1876, the U.S. government issued orders for all Indians to return to designated reservations or be considered hostile. However, the message did not reach many of the Plains Indians and is straight-up rejected by others. Confrontation comes to a head at the Battle of Little Bighorn, the battle explained before. 

Answering the Essential Question

Senator Henry Dawes
After analyzing that important document mentioned at the beginning of this post, we looked at the other documents provided on Edline. The first document was an excerpt from Helen Hunt Jackson's book A Century of Dishonor (1881), which mobilized public opinion for reform of U.S. Indian policy in the late 19th century, similar to the famous Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which contributed to the antislavery movement. I found the following quote essential; "These Indians found themselves of a sudden surrounded by and caught up in the great influx of gold-seeking settlers, ashelpless creatures on a shore are caught up in a tidal wave. There was not time for the Government to make treaties; not even time for communities to make laws." This captures how the Indians felt due to the actions of the government, forcing Americans into the West. Even if their intent wasn't to impact Natives negatively, that was the impact it had. The other document included excerpts from the Dawes Act (1887). This Act was also known as the General Allotment Act, and is known as the most significant piece of federal legislation related to the land rights of Native Americans. It was named after its main sponsor, Senator Henry Dawes from Massachusetts. The objectives of this were to promote Native conformity to U.S. culture and open Native lands to non-Native settlement. As you can see, not all federal policies had bad intentions. However, in 1890, the War Department ordered army buildup at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Tensions between American Indian ghost dancers and the U.S. army (including Buffalo Soldiers) led to the Wounded Knee Massacre, where more than 150 Sioux were killed. This massacre effectively ended Indian resistance to white culture. To answer the essential question, no. The impact of federal policy on both Natives and Buffalo Soldiers did not match the intent of these policies, that much harm was not intended when implicating the policies.

No comments:

Post a Comment