U.S. Exploitation of Native Americans

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What if a group of strangers walked into your house one day and said they were allowed to share it with you? Then they proceeded to slowly take away all your rights to the house? This is what happened to the Native Americans. It started when Europeans first came to the Americas; the Native Americans did not have advanced immune systems so disease killed 90% of them (PBS). More recently, both the citizens of the United States and its government have forced Indians off of their land, murdered them, and prevented their population from growing. The United States purposefully disrupted the Native Americans’ way of life for their own gain, which created many issues that still affect Native Americans today. This is a failure in U.S. domestic relations.

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The Indian Removal Act of 1830 authorized the president to grant native tribes unsettled land west of the Mississippi River in exchange for tribal territory within state borders. Andrew Jackson used this new policy to acquire native land rapidly. Northern tribes peacefully relocated, but some southeastern tribes, known as the five civilized tribes (Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, Cherokee, and Creek), refused. These tribes were respected traders, had permanent homes, had their children in missionary schools, and had their own governments. Over 100,000 Indians were forced by the U.S. military to move west. One fourth of these Indians died on this journe, which gave it the name “The Trail of Tears.”

“My original convictions upon this subject have been confirmed by the course of events for several years, and experience is every day adding to their strength. That those tribes can not exist surrounded by our settlements and in continual contact with our citizens is certain. They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear.” — Andrew Jackson (Fifth).

Andrew Jackson calls natives an inferior race that shouldn’t come in contact with Americans when they resist leaving their native lands. Andrew Jackson sent the native tribes west of the Mississippi because the U.S. wanted the land and did not care for their “inferior” race. Although this wasn’t the first incident, this was one of the most blatant example of the U.S. government disregarding native life for their own gain.

In 1897, oil was discovered under the Osage tribe’s land in Oklahoma. This caused the tribe to quickly become very rich, and in 1923 alone they made the equivalent of $400 million in today’s economy (Grann). This money attracted a lot of attention because it made Osage the richest racial group, man for man, on earth. “The U.S. government — supposedly to protect the Osage from mismanaging their new-found wealth — assigned white guardians to oversee the oil revenues” (Grann). Soon, the Osage people began uncovering strange and unsolved murders of their people. Everything from guns to bombs were used in this “reign of terror” that left more than 60 wealthy, full blooded Osage Indians dead (Grann). The victim’s land was inherited by their legal guardians, who were white lawyers and businessmen. The federal government thought that Indians weren’t smart enough to handle their own money, leading to these guardianships. Corruption abounded, and even led to murder. The Osage tribe hired the Bureau of Investigation, which later turned into the FBI, and four undercover agents discovered, after two years, that a gang of criminals led by William Hale was behind the murders of the Osage Indians. Although it is unclear if the government intended for this to be a side effect of the guardian system, citizens took full advantage of it and proved that not just the government, but the United States as a whole, persecuted the Indians for personal gain.

Another way the Indians were exploited happened during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Indian women were sterilized without their consent or knowledge by the Indian Health Service, which is a government funded branch of the Department of Health and Human Services. An independent study by Dr. Connie Pinkerton-Uri found that one in four Indian women had been sterilized without their agreement. In 1976, two years after the study, the U.S. government admitted forced sterilization of Indian women. A study by the U.S. General Accounting Office found that 4 of the 12 Indian Health Service regions sterilized 3,406 American Indian women without their permission between 1973 and 1976. The Government Accountability Office found that 36 women under age 21 had been forcibly sterilized during this period despite a court-ordered moratorium on sterilizations of women younger than 21 (Government). In just three years the government sterilized over three thousand Indian women. Even though there is no documentation on sterilization before 1973, it was practiced (Government). The government did this to the Native Americans in order to slow the growth of the population so they didn’t have to spend more money on supporting Indians. It is quite shocking that the U.S. government would do such a thing. This sterilization in the 1970’s it is a more recent example of American persecution of Indians.

If you consider that the U.S. government has removed Native Americans from their land, attempted to stop their population growth, exploited and murdered them for economic gain, you will find that the relationship between the U.S. government and Native Americans is one of the worst domestic relationships in any first world country. The United States has never had perfect international relationships, but shouldn’t they have good domestic affairs?

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U.S. Exploitation of Native Americans. (2019, Dec 23). Retrieved November 30, 2022 , from

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