One of the two books I read over the summer was “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown. This book used council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions to illustrate the destruction of the American Indian tribes between the years of 1860 and 1890.
Chapter one, titled “Their Manners Are Decorous and Praiseworthy,” elaborates on the events following the meeting of the white settlers and the American Indians. When Columbus first came across the Indians, he described them as “tractable and peaceable”. The Europeans decided that they were superior to the Indians, and that because the Indians were “inferior” they should adopt the European ways. Whether the Indians wanted to change or not was of little importance to the settlers, as European ways of life were forced on them.
Andrew Jackson, who took office in 1829, recommended that the Indians should be separated from the white settlers as the two could not live in peace together. The Indians would be moved to a “permanent Indian frontier” west of the Mississippi River. This recommendation became law two years later. However, new settlers had already began settling in Wisconsin and Iowa. So the “permanent Indian frontier” had to be moved from the Mississippi to the 95th Meridian.
A Navaho by the name of Manuelito and other leaders of his tribe had made peaceful treaties with the Americans. Then the Americans decided to build a fort on Navaho land. The Indians and whites lived peaceably for some time, until soldiers burned Navaho hogans and killed their livestock because of some reckless Navaho youths. This angered Manuelito, as he had kept every promise on his side that he had made in the many treaties with the settlers. The Navahos had been a wealthy tribe, but constant attacks on their villages made them extremely poor.
The Navahos lost many horses and mules from these raids. Fort Defiance, an American ...