I believe being aggressive would have allowed the Native Americans to keep their culture, land, and freedom longer. Native Americans were forced into treaties and agreements that went against their beliefs. Americans then unfairly broke the agreements that were made and didn’t follow through on the promises made to the Native Americans. The Native Americans were too soft, and it didn’t end well for them. It resulted in them losing a lot of land and even worse, a lot of men. If they had been aggressive the Americans would have feared them or at least it would have slowed them down. They could’ve given threats that maybe would have held the Americans off longer or all together. For these reasons, the Native Americans should have been more aggressive in protecting their rights.
The Americans consistently broke treaties, promises, and amendments with the goal of moving the Native Americans off their land at any expense. The treaties were forced on them and the Native Americans cowardly agreed to them. For example, Native Americans accepted living in a smaller portion or area of the land that they owned or they risked being killed. They should have put up a fight. I do not think it was fair that the Americans were stealing the land from the Native Americans. The Indians were there first and rightfully should have been able to protect their homes. The Native Americans had every right to fight them. However, once the treaties were made, the Native Americans were given less food than promised and also all the animals such as deer and bison in the surrounding areas were killed, leaving them without enough food to hunt. The Americans wanted them gone and were not afraid to starve or kill them for the land. Secondly, Americans took away their basic rights such as freedom of religion. An example is when a Native American named Sitting Bull wanted to participate and lead his tribe in a Ghost Dance. This is a type of dance which they believed is a spiritual movement that allows them to interact with the spirits. Sitting Bull was a great leader and said to his tribe “If we must die, we die defending our rights.” (Appleby 545). The Americans feared this dance and didn’t understand it because it was so different from their Christian beliefs. In order to put an end to the “crazy” dancing and talking to spirits, The Americans shot Sitting Bull. The Americans continued with their belief that the Indians were crazy and it resulted in a massacre of Native Americans. It was considered a massacre because, without guns or weapon which were taken from them, the Native Americans didn’t have a fighting chance. (Dee 37). If the Indians had guns, knives or arrows and had been more aggressive, they maybe could have had a way to defend themselves (Battistoni, Alyssa). Third, the Native Americans continued to preach that, they didn’t want to live like the White Man. They wanted to hunt and eat and live off the land. The land was their home and they respected and enjoyed it. If it were me, I wouldn’t want to be forced to accept a different way of life than my religious beliefs. It would have been worth it to be aggressive and stand up for their rights. I believe they should have fought harder and more aggressive and if so, they may not have lost their land. In summary, being forced into treaties and to live on smaller land and to give up religious beliefs in trade for promises and treaties that were not kept was not good for the Native Americans.
The Native Americans and Americans had many encounters with each other and fought many times. Here are some examples. One example was a battle with Sitting Bull. He was shot and killed for wanting to lead the Ghost Dance (Battistoni, Alyssa). This was unfair because all Sitting Bull was doing what he believed in. I do not think this was fair to him or his tribe. Another encounter with the Americans was when the Americans were trying to confiscate all their guns, Black Coyote was deaf and did not know what he had to do. When they tried to take it from him, he claimed that he had paid a lot of money for it and it was his. Suddenly, a shot went off from Black Coyote’s gun ( Native Americans). This started a battle that can only be defined as a massacre because at this point the Americans had already taken most of the weapons from the Indians (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee). This was also unfair, this should have never happened and the Americans should’ve been more understanding of the fact that he was deaf. Another battle that happened was when Big Foot was leading his tribe south to the Pine Ridge Reservation and ended up seeing Col. James W. Forsyth and his troops. When they saw each other guns immediatly began to fire. The Native Americans couldn’t do anything about it considering they were caught off guard (History and Culture). I think that this should not have happened and that the Americans knew that they were heading to a reservation and the Indians were not willing to fight them. I think that this could have been avoided by asking the Native Americans questions instead of firing as soon as they saw each other. These are how some of the battles began between the Native Americans and the Americans.
Life on today’s reservations is not good. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of money as unemployment is more than 80%. People are very poor and as a result, healthy food is difficult to come by and a lot of people have diabetes (Sartore, Melissa). I feel very bad for these people even though they refuse to move out of their homes and into other places in America. Most people have unhealthy habits of smoking and drinking alcohol, many also attempt suicide (American Reservation Really Looks Like). This is not good because it gives people bad diseases and can shorten life span by a lot it also makes the population a lot less when people commit suicide. Most people do not have access to clean water or electricity. Clean water is considered a luxury there (Sartore, Melissa). I can’t imagine living without clean water or electricity. I don’t think about how lucky I am to have running water and electricity because its something I use every day without effort. Even though they live in America and have the option to move off their reservations, most feel most comfortable on the reservation and choose to stay (American Reservation Really Looks Like). This is what life is like on today’s reservations.
I thought that the Indians were treated very badly and did not deserve to be treated like this. I thought the Indians didn’t do anything wrong except want to continue to live as they did and on their own land. They were just trying to live their life the way they wanted, yet received horrible treatment from Americans, especially when they stole their land. Stealing someone’s land is wrong. I also thought the Americans were not helpful to the problems that they caused. The Americans stole their freedom, culture, and land. They made promises they didn’t keep. I also believe it was not right for them to kill Sitting Bull for doing his form of religion, the Ghost Dance. They should’ve just respected each other’s way of life. This wasn’t smart for the Americans to do as it led to resistance from the Indians. With better communication, kindness and respect they could have both lived peacefully and maybe even better with the adoption of the best of both cultures. For all of these reasons, the Native Americans should have stood their ground and been more aggressive in protecting their land and rights.
- American Reservation Really Looks Like. “Huck Magazine,” 12 Sept. 2016, Appleby, Joyce, Alan Brinkley, and James M. McPherson. The American Journey. Chicago: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2006.
- Battistoni, Alyssa, et al. “Remember the Massacre at Wounded Knee.” Jacobin, Brown, Dee Alexander, and Judee Shipman. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West.
- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Screenplay by Daniel Giat.
- Dir.Yves Simoneau. Perf. Aidan Quinn, Adam Beach, August Schellenberg, and Anna Paquin. Home Box Office, Inc., 2007.
- History and Culture: Wounded Knee – 1890 – American Indian Relief Council Is Now Northern Plains Reservation Aid, “Native Americans.” Ducksters Educational Site, Sartore, Melissa. “What Life On A Native American Reservation Is Really Like.”