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The Obliteration of the Native American Tribes in the Late 1800s

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In the 1800’s thousands of European settlers moved west battling and conquering Native tribes as they continued emigrating west. The Europeans did try to propose and establish acts such as the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887 and also the establishment of the Dawes commission who which tried to convince the native tribes to agree to cede tribal title of Indian lands, and the Allotment Act of 1887. The Europeans wished for more land as they settled in various parts and instead of relying on violence to get more land they chose to negotiate with major native tribes which would mostly always end in the white’s favor as they would acquire more from the treaties and deals. Although the Europeans made it seem that the acts and negotiations were ‘fair’, the native tribes would actually have to move miles from their settlements and they would be given limited supplies by the Europeans for exchange in their land; if the treaties proposed by the Europeans were to be declined they would have to refer back to violence sometimes eliminating a full tribe.

In the movie ‘Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee’, recounts the story and history of native tribes who were being pushed onto reservations in the Midwest and Black Hills exchanges. The movie reports the obliteration of the Native American tribes in the late 1800s. The movie begins with the Europeans located in the Black Hills of the Dakotas, a land which belonged to the Sioux Native Americans. The Sioux asserted the land and their populace prospered because of the great assets such as natural resources in the territory. The whites wanted to conquer these lands and they did so by forcing the tribes to move to some other territory which they were unfamiliar with. The whites tried to convince the native tribes which they were drawing out that their relocation would help them as a nation which was a lie and only the whites benefited from the negotiations. Congressperson Henry Dawes concocts the arrangement to move the native tribes to a few locations, where they could gain knowledge of the culture of white individuals. Dawes utilizes a naturalized native named Charles, as confirmation of the accomplishment of their method of Americanizing natives. The Sioux, which were the tribe at that time, we’re compelled to acclimatize so as to ensure their lives and those of others.

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Americans at that time believed that God chose them to take over all of North America and as they conquered tribes and expanded across the nation, they would spread this ideology to Natives and would often disrespect and offend their culture and divinities by telling them that no such gods existed or that the Natives weren’t provided the land by gods in which the natives believed them. Their expansion and spread of democracy were fueled by Manifest Destiny which dismissed different cultures and beliefs of those who were the natives. As we see in the movie an example of manifest destiny would be the Assimilation Laws which was a policy that was adopted by congress and it basically trained natives to adapt to white culture like at the part the teacher would keep insisting for Ohiyesa to choose a Christian name and until then he would be treated horribly. We could also look at the scene where Ohiyesa would take on the task where he would assign Christian names for many Native Americans. The whites would either end up attempting to Americanize the many native tribes or eliminating them if they weren’t on the same terms.

Manifest Destiny was a huge factor that played out during the late 19th century and was fueled by their expansion towards the west as they encountered several tribes and applied their laws and acts upon them. The film also demonstrated the results of the laws correlated to the natives which would almost end up as violence or scar the life of many young native children. The native tribes were tricked upon with false and unreasonable promises which lead to many tribe extinctions perpetrated by the whites who were full of greed and seeking to expand their nation as much as possible.

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The Obliteration of the Native American Tribes in the Late 1800s. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
“The Obliteration of the Native American Tribes in the Late 1800s.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
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The Obliteration of the Native American Tribes in the Late 1800s [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Sept 25]. Available from:
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