The native Americas consisted of the original settlers of Northeast Asia. Other cultures have struggled to observe and recognize their national identity, and this has contributed to a historic twist and the beginning of modern America. Present America has undergone some serious change from the original native American culture. Many years before the American Revolution, natives, unlike most American colonies, lived and operated in natural conditions. The key societies from which they varied include political, economic individualism, and liberal parliamentary democracy.
The purpose of this paper is to show the transformation of the Native Americans.
David Treuer in his book describes the past, present, and the future of the Native Indians having grown up in the reservations. He was an Ojibwe Indian and was well acquainted with the area around Lake Leech which housed one of the pioneer inhabitants of America. Some primary subjects are discussed in this book, and they include the sovereignty of the native tribes, treaties, gaming, public policy and the relations between the people and the state. To begin with, he takes notice of the fact that he could not imagine his current success while growing up especially considering his mixed parentage and origins (Treuer 19).
The government of the United States tried to assimilate the Indians into a European culture to enable the civilization policy. They were not allowed to run their affairs without interruption by European Americans. They were regulated regarding their economic activities such as fishing in the Red Lake, hunting, and gathering. The tribes were also relocated to other regions which were small and isolated and given empty promises such as increased provision only to be left destitute and depressed. In the modern America, some Indians have moved from these reserves, and economic empowerment and capitalism have ensured they migrate and seek employment opportunities and better living standards.
The many treaties signed by Indians in good faith were broken and not honored. They were tricked into giving up their lands and rights through the signing of agreements. After signing the treaty of Paris in 1783, the government took control over the lands belonging to the Indians (Treuer 32).There was also a treaty afterward that the Indian chiefs signed requiring them to trade their properties for money; this was in the broader area of present-day Wisconsin and parts of central Minnesota. Failure to honor these contracts led to endless suffering and even death in cases such as starvation. The government of today has to ensure that citizens cannot be compelled against their will to contracts that are not just. The lands are being owned by the Indians rightfully and wherever they wished.
The emergence of a wave of capitalist expansion and increase in population has made the concept of first encounters or contacts a thing of the past. In the modern America, the native communities are more exposed due to the increased pressure to accept to share the available space and resources in a more aggressive approach than ever before (Pratt 6). The indigenous communities have also been accorded a voice and can proclaim their demands and aspirations as this is provided for in the Declaration de Quito published in 1991. Likewise, countries like Colombia in the early 90’s had a new constitution that recognized the rights of indigenous communities and allowed for their representation in government. Other conventions and congresses regarding the attention of the importance of the indigenous people have taken place and have attracted worldwide interest (Treuer 51).
There has also been an improvement in how public affairs are handled. Natural resources in the modern America have been enhanced compared to the previous years, and this is a significant milestone. Treuer in his books outlines how people overfished in the red lake, but they have improved this by adopting modern methods that conserve and regulate all the entire fishing process (54). The red lake had some sought of sovereignty as they had a band which could dictate the process of fishing without consulting anyone not even the state (Treuer 52).
The emergence of gaming led to a lot of conflicts between tribal law, state law, and the federal law. The profits from the Casinos are now being used in other businesses such as hedge funds, real estate, and technological industries.
Indian families were concentrated in reserves and they entirely aligned to their cultures and beliefs. In the modern America, the attractive economic development in the country has made them relocate to look for better economic opportunities. To be a full member of the tribe one was not only allowed to learn the culture of the tribe but instead, have an Indian identity. Blood quantum was introduced to recognize native a member by their percentage of native blood. Then the federal government offered the Certificate Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) card to members. They used this system to determine the amount of native blood an individual possessed as a result of the number of generations they descended from; then they decide whether you are a Native American.
The identity of Indians could undergo systemic corrosion in future if the trend it is taking continues. Many Indians have moved away from the reserves and abandoned their traditions due to the attractive economic opportunities in America. Most Indians have left the reserves due to intermarriages and have been assimilated into new cultures abandoning theirs. Earlier the tribes were considered to be all-inclusive, and any married couples were required to remain in the tribe. The population has increased rapidly, but the culture and identity cannot be considered to have done the same.
The Native Americans reacted to the dominant cultures by either maintaining in their reservations while others decided to interact. They could not resist the economic empowerment provided by the developing American economy. Those that remained preserved their language and cultures while the rest intermarried with non-Indians and merely got assimilated into their new lifestyles. The Indian culture due to the emergence of gaming and casinos has attracted a significant number back to the reserves. This development is attributed to the benefits such as scholarships and employment opportunities for only members considered to be of Indian identities.
Most of the Indians who left the reservation found it hard to come back especially those that intermarried and had children. The Europeans considered indigenous people as those seeking to remain in their pristine distinctiveness. However, this has never been the case as they only fought for self-determination and to be in control of the circumstance in which they would develop economically and in their relations with the outside world. The indigenous communities are no longer alienated from the world economy. Globalization has intensified, and people are venturing all over due to pressures on resources, space, and ecology (Pratt 2).
The concept of interpretive and meaning-making can be ascribed in the contact zones. These were areas that different cultures interacted and at many instances were a result of violence and invasion. They end up forming a “radical heterogeneity” which is a space where different cultures coexist (Pratt 3). In the contact zones, there has to be one dominant tribe that is the colonizer of the other. The indigenous tribes were, therefore, subjected to serve and submit to their colonizers who were the whites. In modern America, this has been challenged by activists who have pushed for equality of the indigenous people. Communication has also been boosted as new ways of claiming agencies have been devised.
The modern times in America has seen a rise of a culture that appreciates all the diverse societies and a collective identity has been forged from Native Americans. All indigenous tribes have been accorded equal opportunities in the various social structures, and their contributions have been eminent. Historical events have formed the basis of uniting and improving the state functions and better lifestyles for all people in America. However, despite the desire to preserve the American identity, it is diminishing in many frontiers. People have become more advanced and are willing to move from their original homes to other places in search for better opportunities and in the process abandoning their cultures. Fortunately, it is not too late to salvage our identity especially since the society has realized its importance and learned to uphold it with pride.
Pratt, Mary. Apocalypse in the Andes: Contact Zones and the Struggle for Interpretive Power: Washington D.C.: Inter-American Development Bank, IDB Cultural Center, 1996.
Treuer, David. Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey through Reservation Life. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2012.