Relations and policies against the Indians
Published 12 May 2017
The whites policies and relationship with the native Indians was one of scorn and blatant discrimination. The Indians went through a dehumanizing treatment in the hands of the Europeans.The first encounter of the native Indians with the European was in 1492 when Christopher Columbus is said to have discovered America. It is Columbus’ accounts of what America was like and its rich resources that would open a floodgate of explorers to America. The French, Spaniards and the British all wanted to have their take in the exploration and colonization of America.
The French started to mingle with the Indians on the basis of for trade and through missionaries. Right from the days of Columbus, the Indian culture began facing eminent threat of obliteration of the overly domineering European culture. The Indian had a unique and distinct culture structurally different from that of European nations. This was further exacerbated by the dominance of the European powers who were seeking to colonize the Indians. Right from the start, the encounters between the whites and the Indians would turn violent; there were inherent hostilities harbored against the two races.
The Europeans were putting every possible effort they could muster to annex the Indians valuable possession; land. The Indians on the other hand had a mystic and a cultural attachment to it and were not willing to move. The controversies that would ensue however were to the disfavor of the Indians who, although were enjoying the comfort of the homeland, could not stand against the superior weaponry applied by the whites. Indians were driven further from their original habitats to the territories situated in the North West.
The whites were seeking to subjugate a people they regarded to as filled with uncivilized savagery while the Indians were expressing anger, disappointment and hatred for a people they believed were out to suppress their cultural rights to land as well as enslave them. This is what characterized relationship between the whites and the Indians and any policies that were instituted by the British colonialists were to a greater extent shaped by this notion.
The Indians underwent periods of harsh and discriminatory treatment both official and unofficial. Apart from the annexation of their lands, they were enslaved and were seen as an appropriate cheap source of labor. This slavery of the natives was often met with stiff opposition form some of the whites. The first evidence of anti slavery sentiments being expressed by the whites came from Bartolome de Las Casas who was arguing from a religious point of view, saying it was morally wrong for the native Americans to lead a life of slavery under the whites, this was back in 1515. Although his concerns were not headed, it is important evidence that not all whites were for the mistreatment of the Indians.
The policies set against the Indians by the British were paternalistic in nature; the proclamations and rulings were seeking to ensure that the British extended their influence and land annexation policies. The British conquered the territory formerly regarded as exclusively Indian country .All the political structures governing the Indian community were done away with.
Evidence of more recognition of the native Indian plights came into force after the American Revolution. The British colonial government gave up all the rights it had on the native lands. After the American Revolution the Indian territories were to be under the newly formed American federal government. It had now to establish policies to cater for the Indians needs. Putting up a department mandated specifically to deal with the Indian affairs did this. In doing this several measures had to be taken. In addressing the plight of the Indians, it was important that the rights of the Indians to own land be recognized and appreciated. The colonial whites had failed to acknowledge this fact and annexed all the strategically positioned lands (www.cornerpraise.org).
The Indians had their own political and social setting and first allegiance was to the tribal solidarity groups. These ethnic governments had to be identified as important source of representatives of the Indian native community. The white settlers were greatly contributing to the prevalent hostility between the whites and the Indians; they were continuously expanding their jurisdiction and territory and eating up the land reserved for the Indians. After the American Revolution, it was important that the government recognizes and outlaw any form of entrance by the white settlers in the Indian territories.
This territory had to be divided into two; the north and the south. Government officials were appointed and charged with the responsibility of overseeing the native Indians affairs and ensure no unrestricted whites were to enter into the Indian country. Despite these policies, the relation between the whites and the Indians was still continuously marred with unending confrontations. The two communities still were living in a state of mutual suspicion with the whites being unrelenting and unwilling to succumb to the Indians pressure for more territories. The government ended up signing treaties that were seeking to protect Indian territories exclusively and put them in charge of their own states. Indiana State is one such territory. This is what ensured that peace and tranquility in the end prevailed.
- David G. Vander Steer. Native Americans in Indiana.