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The Wild West Discussions on Cowboys & Indians, Mexican War, etc. Sponsored by Wild West magazine.

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  #1  
Old 14 Aug 08, 17:42
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Could the United States have adopted a better Indian policy?

Hostility between whites and Indians shifted west of the Mississippi River in the 1850s, and the U.S. government hoped to settle the so-called Indian problem with something besides guns. Treaties, reservations and attempts at assimilation became the order of the day, but warfare on the Plains continued through the 1870s, and the last major battle was at Wounded Knee in 1890. Was this cultural clash inevitable or was there a better Indian policy the United States could have adopted?
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  #2  
Old 14 Aug 08, 17:50
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As long as the Anglos persisted in taking Native American land and food supply, no. Ask the Pequot Indians how living in the White Man's world has benefited them! Just go to Foxwood Casino in Connecticut...

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  #3  
Old 14 Aug 08, 22:49
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"Was this cultural clash inevitable or was there a better Indian policy the United States could have adopted?"

Yes...The clash was inevitable...And there almost certainly must have been a better way to have handled it.
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Old 15 Aug 08, 01:04
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blitzpuppy View Post
Hostility between whites and Indians shifted west of the Mississippi River in the 1850s, and the U.S. government hoped to settle the so-called Indian problem with something besides guns. Treaties, reservations and attempts at assimilation became the order of the day, but warfare on the Plains continued through the 1870s, and the last major battle was at Wounded Knee in 1890. Was this cultural clash inevitable or was there a better Indian policy the United States could have adopted?
This has been the subject of numerous Doctoral Thesis.

Stupid me, I’ll give it a try. First, we must divorce this from any moral concept. It is a historical/political question.

We must remove the myth that Natives did not understand the knowledge of “land ownership”. For instance, the Kiowas controlled the Black Hills, until the Cheyenne chased them out, followed by the Lakota chasing the Cheyenne. The locations of the various tribes when the Americans came to the plains was a “snap-shot-in-time”. They were more than willing to fight for land. The type of warfare was unfamiliar to the Natives, aware that most tribes could not afford a large loss of warriors, they were not ready for battle with a force of unlimited personnel.

That said, the plains tribes were nomadic within their areas, and moved within them based upon a nomadic food supply. Neither of these facts would allow them to continue to live that lifestyle with the coming of a sedentary white population. Discounting the Trapper Era, miners, cowmen, farmers, all required a smooth movement through the area. Even if the Tribes allowed that, the buffalo would not. Kill the buffalo to allow for cattle and farms, and you destroy the life style of the Natives. Allow the migratory beasts to roam and you deny an entire population what they feel is their Destiny.

Ergo, what do you do with the indigenous population? In this case they could alter their entire life-style (who could) or wait until the more powerful force do it for them. Broken treaties? In the industrial revolution they were going to change in time. Social interaction? There was an influential movement in Washington prior to the Custer Battle.

I don’t believe that there could be a major alteration in the outcome of the plains tribes destiny. It was not “our” coming into the plains, it was clash of two absolutely different cultures

my 2 cents..
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Old 15 Aug 08, 02:07
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Originally Posted by The Doctor View Post
"Was this cultural clash inevitable or was there a better Indian policy the United States could have adopted?"

Yes...The clash was inevitable...And there almost certainly must have been a better way to have handled it.
Doc nailed it on both accounts.
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Old 15 Aug 08, 07:00
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Doc nailed it on both accounts.
For the life of me...I just can't figure out what better policy would have worked.

But the cultural clash was simply unavoidable...unless the early settlers returned to Europe.
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Old 15 Aug 08, 08:44
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Originally Posted by The Doctor View Post
For the life of me...I just can't figure out what better policy would have worked.

But the cultural clash was simply unavoidable...unless the early settlers returned to Europe.

Stone Age meets Steam Age.

You nailed it Doc, from the time that the European set foot in America the Indian way of life was doomed.

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Old 15 Aug 08, 08:47
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Quote:
That said, the plains tribes were nomadic within their areas, and moved within them based upon a nomadic food supply. Neither of these facts would allow them to continue to live that lifestyle with the coming of a sedentary white population. Discounting the Trapper Era, miners, cowmen, farmers, all required a smooth movement through the area. Even if the Tribes allowed that, the buffalo would not. Kill the buffalo to allow for cattle and farms, and you destroy the life style of the Natives. Allow the migratory beasts to roam and you deny an entire population what they feel is their Destiny.
Just now nomadic before the horse was introduced to the Plains? Upper Plains Tribes didn't get the horse until approx 1740. What type of live style were they living before then?

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Old 15 Aug 08, 09:06
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Mostly a Hunter/Gatherer type. In the Great Plains area most Indian groups were living along the river systems and many were farming. The problem is many "Plains" Indians got there late. The Dakota, Comanche and other major groups were in completely different settings. The Dakota were in the Woods areas around the Great Lakes and the Comanche were in the mountains. The local tribes were the Mandans, Pawnee, Arikara, Omaha and other farming folk.

If anyone was "Lord of the Plains" it was the various Apache groups that were driven away. Some small groups like the Kiowa Apache were able to hold on by becoming vassals of larger groups (Kiowa here).

Most of the River systems were able to be hiked to on foot. If however you are wanting to take the kids and family along, it gets complicated. That is why so many turned to a fairly sedentary lifestyle. The "Cheyenne" were living along the Missouri and farming until they got horses.

Buffalo hunting was a seasonal system when the great migrating herds went by. There are still "Buffalo Jumps" were the critters were tricked into performing suicide. It may not seem sporting now, but Buffalo Hunting is dangerous even with horses and firearms. It was not until the White hunters found there was real money to be made that the Buffalo started going fast. The Native Americans were capable of great slaughter but usually did not have the technology to do an efficient job of it.

In other places the White settlers came in and squatted on Indian resource areas. There are only so many good salmon fishing spots on the Western Rivers and native foods like the Camas Root were appropriated by the Anglo settlers.

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Old 15 Aug 08, 14:29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Half Pint View Post
Just now nomadic before the horse was introduced to the Plains? Upper Plains Tribes didn't get the horse until approx 1740. What type of live style were they living before then?

HP
The Sioux did not even live on the great plains in 1740


Edit Pruitt beat me too it.
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Old 15 Aug 08, 15:43
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The Sioux did not even live on the great plains in 1740


Edit Pruitt beat me too it.
Yep, ya can follow the same thing happening from the East Coast to the Mississippi earlier. The Delware are an excellent example of one tribe pushing others west.
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Old 15 Aug 08, 16:03
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HP,

It was not so much pushing other tribes West as running screaming from the Scots-Irish living on the Frontier! The other guys just kept getting in the way. By the way the Lenni Lenape have a tradition of having originally living on the West side of the Mississippi in "ancient" times.

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Old 15 Aug 08, 16:16
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HP,

It was not so much pushing other tribes West as running screaming from the Scots-Irish living on the Frontier! The other guys just kept getting in the way. By the way the Lenni Lenape have a tradition of having originally living on the West side of the Mississippi in "ancient" times.

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Old 26 Aug 08, 20:42
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Modern Technology has been the driving force of our civilization for the last 600 years. Our ancestors were quick to adapt technological benefits and spread them through a capitalistic economic system. This economic system fit well with a very individualized people and with the creation of our constitutional government a powerful political organization unified all these elements into one.

The Indians were what they were and most would not back down and our great grandparents were what they were and most would not back down. I really don't see how it could have been otherwise.

History is a dynamic thing over time with many turns and who knows the tables can turn on us if we are not careful to defend what is now ours for the present.

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Old 26 Aug 08, 22:23
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Originally Posted by Richard Coyle View Post
Modern Technology has been the driving force of our civilization for the last 600 years. Our ancestors were quick to adapt technological benefits and spread them through a capitalistic economic system. This economic system fit well with a very individualized people and with the creation of our constitutional government a powerful political organization unified all these elements into one.

The Indians were what they were and most would not back down and our great grandparents were what they were and most would not back down. I really don't see how it could have been otherwise.

History is a dynamic thing over time with many turns and who knows the tables can turn on us if we are not careful to defend what is now ours for the present.
Nice post. I think that Dee Brown wrote that : " the American's came with a society that expected change, the Natives had a society that asked Why?

I agree with your insight. This play has been performed so many times over the millennia in so many areas of the world.
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