Indian Suffrage


∑ Indian Suffrage

Before the English arrived in the New world and began creating colonies, the American Indians lived in harmony and peace with natures. The American Indians were skilled hunters, farmers and used everything in their environment for survival or for essential necessities. They shared the land together and moved about freely in search of food. The American Indians never considered the lands their property because it\'s belong to God and no one have the right to buy, sell, nor own it. However, Europeans has an opposite view of Indians beliefs, cultures, and use of lands. They viewed Indians as children, savage-uncivilized people in need of their protection and salvation (Carroll and Noble: 30). Therefore, they felt it is their responsibility to civilize the Indian and put their lands into good uses. Hence, American Indians suffrages and nightmares began.
The impact of American expansion has turned upon the Indians and confronted them with social and economic crises never before experienced. As a result, many tribes torn apart, in many cases extinct, and their identity was lost. Indians also lost their original lands as a result of direct and indirect contact with the Europeans. The whites wanted more lands for their developments, and because of this greed, they created direct policies to clear the Indians off their lands. For example, one form of direct policy that the whites used to rob Indians of their lands was by signing treaties. Then later the whites broke these treaties and forced Indian off their lands by the Removal policy and claimed the lands as their property (Lowy: Lecture 11/96). There were many indirect methods that white used to rob Indiansí lands. They use bribery, threats, and among countless other things to trick Indians into giving up their lands. They were often tricked into signing the land cession treaties that they did not understand the negotiation and the language (Lowy: Lecture 11/6).
In many ways, the United States policy toward Indian has been schizophrenic because the laws never completely nor attempted to give Indians an opportunity to progress and assimilate into American mainstream as an individual. From time to time, whites creates many policies, such as the reservation, relocation, and termination in an effort to assimilate the Indians into the American melting pot, therefore ending the Indian problem. But the only result of all these policies was to sink the Indian further into poverty, deprive Indians of their lands, and create a class of people who remained to protect their racial integrity. For example, most reservations do not have running water nor sewage systems. The numbers of unemployment, death, and disease rate were higher than that of the general population (Lowy: Lecture, 11/6). They were left to linger in poverty in virtual concentration camp condition while food and supplies promised in treaties were sold else where. Indians in reservation suffered from hunger, lacked clothing, and lived without proper shelter. Like removal scheme, reservation appeared to be practical and humane; Indians civilization is to be achieved through the segregation. But the fact is that reservation is a way to end bloody clashes between settlers and Indian warriors. It is also a policy to continue to oppress and terminate the Indianís race. By putting the Indian away on reservations, whites will have more freedom to exploit the lands and built a transcontinental railroad through Indian territory (Lowy: Lecture 11/8).
The Indian problem did not stop here. Then in 1950, to the federal government ignorance of the Indians situation, they implemented the Relocation policy to persuaded Indians to move to the urban for technology job training and better living. Once they arrived, they were dumped into ghetto housing, dead end job, and often training that failed to lead to professions and occupations. Also, this policy was originated so that the government no longer have to deal with the Indians and take the responsibility of past wrong. In 1954, Indian problems worsen when the government orginated the termination policy or withdrawing all of federal-Indians funding and supervision. As a result many Indians fall deeper into poverty, hopelessness, and it brought more confusion between the Native American and that of Euroamerican to the Indian. Under this termination policy Indian lost their right to tax exemption that