American Indian Essay Questions


AmericanIndian Essay Questions


Question 1:Describe the experience of the Caddo Indians as they dealt withEuropean competitors on the Southern Plains.

The Caddo Indianswere organized into several confederacies in East Texas and along theRed River (de la Teja &amp Frank, 2005). They were recognized ashunters, craftsmen, and sedentary farmers. In addition, the Caddopeople had complex political and social setups along with variousrituals and spiritual ceremonies. During the period of 1691-1816, theIndians were severely decimated by epidemics and inter-tribalconflicts (de la Teja &amp Frank, 2005). Nevertheless, Europeancompetitors from France and Spain interacted with Caddo Indiansbecause the Indians were skilled traders who presented strategicadvantages.

The Caddo Indianshad developed an enviable reputation as accomplished traders andfacilitators (McKinnon, 2013). In particular, the Indians traded initems such as corn, beans, wood, and salt. On the other hand,European competitors offered metal tools, knives, trinkets, needles,and fabrics to appeal to the commercial interests of the Indians (dela Teja &amp Frank, 2005).

Spanish andFrench explorers vied for territory and control in North America (dela Teja &amp Frank, 2005). In the late 17th century, theSpaniards endeavored to shield themselves against the Frenchincursion from Louisiana (McKinnon, 2013). In this regard, theysought partnerships with the Caddo Indians to enhance their strategicpositions.

European presencein the region caused adverse effects such as diseases and drought.Moreover, the Caddo Indians faced persistent attacks from the Osagecommunity (McKinnon, 2013). Consequently, the Indians needed guns toprotect themselves against unprovoked raids. Such dire circumstancesmotivated Caddo leaders to consider forming alliances with Europeannations to strengthen their defenses (de la Teja &amp Frank, 2005).The Indians leveraged their strong trade links to establishbeneficial collaborations.

Indeed, Europeancompetitors from Spain and France interacted with Caddo communitiessince the Indians were skilled traders with strategic advantages. Intheir desire for territory and control, the Europeans sought to formstrong ties with the Indians. The opportunity arose when the Indiansexperienced wars and epidemics that depleted their numbers.

Question 2:Describe the Indian Removal policy of the early 1800s by focusing ona single tribe but do not use the Cherokee as that example.

The IndianRemoval policy was adopted as a law in 1830 upon official signing byPresident Andrew Jackson (Stewart, 2007). The law granted thePresident authority to allot free land located to the west ofMississippi River. In this regard, Indians were required to relocatefrom their territories in existing state boundaries (Stewart, 2007).Some tribes moved willingly while others resisted the legislativedecree. The Seminoles objected to the removal policy since they hadalready given up previous lands and subsequently agreed to settleinto a reservation.

In the years preceding the policy’s enactment, existing authoritieshad laid siege to the Seminole Indians. In particular, the governmentdesired to punish the Seminoles for their entrenched practice ofproviding asylum to fugitive slaves (Dunn, 2006). The attack inFlorida led the Spaniards to cede control over the town. The Indians’sudden exposure caused some Seminoles to move hesitantly into theconservation.

The SeminoleIndians were incensed by further calls to move westward of theMississippi. Consequently, they resolved to fight to protect theirterritory from encroachers. In this regard, the Seminoles ambushedand killed several soldiers in the Dade Massacre (Dunn, 2006).

Government forcesformed elaborate plans to vanquish the resistance offered by theSeminoles. Nevertheless, the battle at Fort Brooke failed to achieveits purpose since the armed forces were encumbered by inclementclimate conditions (Dunn, 2006). Poor planning also empowered theSeminoles to lengthen their resistance. Inevitably, the close of theSecond Seminole War in 1842 saw the forceful eviction of mostSeminoles from the east of the Mississippi (Dunn, 2006).

Indeed, theSeminoles resisted the Removal policy of 1830 as they had given upprevious lands (Stewart, 2007). Therefore, the Indians felt justifiedto fight for their territories. However, the Second Seminole Warended in defeat as the Seminoles were forced to move.

Question 3:Senator Dawes famously said, &quotThere is no selfishness, which isat the bottom of civilization.&quot Dawes was speaking of AmericanIndian civilization. Were American Indians uncivilized because theywere not greedy or is this simply another example of Whites notunderstanding Amerindians? (The Dawes Allotment Act)

The DawesAllotment Act was enacted in 1887 to subdivide Indian tribal land.The President had the sole discretion to determine when subdivisionwould present benefits to the Indians (Stremlau, 2005). Therefore,the Act reveals the propensity of whites to misunderstandAmerindians.

Many whitesdespised the Indian way of life and viewed it as digressive. In fact,they ridiculed the Indian culture for its communal use of land (Case&amp Voluck, 2002). Consequently, whites purposed to apportionchunks of tribal land to families and individual Indians.

Furthermore, thewhites aimed to civilize Amerindians by ridding them of seeminglybackward habits. The Indians were required to settle in one locationin imitation of other populations in the country. Also, tribecohesiveness had to be discarded in favor of an individual way oflife (Case &amp Voluck, 2002). Forcing the Amerindians to adopt theinterests and practices of American settlers showed a lack ofconsideration for Indian beliefs and customs.

Moreover, whitesfelt that the Amerindians owned too much land (Case &amp Voluck,2002). In this regard, American settlers enforced the Act in pursuitof parity. Whites also favored the building of roads and railwaytracks to open up the country for industries and other commercialactivities (Case &amp Voluck, 2002). They disregarded the effortsmade by the Amerindians to enhance agriculture and trade.

Indeed, the DawesAllotment Act reveals the extent to which whites misunderstood theAmerindians. White Americans despised the Indian culture and desiredto eradicate their digressive habits. In addition, they erroneouslyconcluded that Amerindians owned too much land without contributingto the country’s growth and development.

Question 4:Amerindian languages have suffered from assault by U.S. policies thatconcentrated on assimilating Indigenous people. American Indianchildren were forced to attend boarding schools where their Nativetongues were forbidden to them. Explain how the loss of theirlanguages has severe cultural consequences for Native Americans.

The assimilationof indigenous communities has led to the endangerment of NativeAmerican languages. Speakers of indigenous languages are consigned topopulation groups beyond 60 years of age (Braun, 2009). Consequently,the loss of Native American languages has depleted their culture’svalue and richness.

The extinction ofany language customarily leads to a corresponding loss of theparticular community’s science and makeup (Frederick, 2010).Although common languages such as English contribute to interculturalunderstanding, losing Native American languages degrades the capacityof linguistics (Braun, 2009). Therefore, younger Indians would losetheir sense of identity.

Furthermore, thedisappearance of Indian languages causes Native Americans to losetheir contribution to intellectual diversity. Each language can beaptly used as a tool for synthesizing and analyzing the world (Braun,2009). A language also includes the values and knowledge of aparticular community. Therefore, Native Americans stand to lose theirintellectual significance.

Additionally, theloss of Native Americans weakens their claim for social justice andrelevance. Integrating with other systems of language overrides theirindividual tastes and preferences (Frederick, 2010). In this respect,the Indians learn to adapt external attitudes and perspectives.Consequently, they lose their voice and forfeit the particularstipulations of their culture.

Indeed, the lossof Native American languages depletes the value and richness ofIndian culture. Forcing the Amerindians to integrate intocontemporary culture undermines their intellectual and socialsignificance to the community. It also distorts their identity asthey adopt foreign perspectives and attitudes.


Braun, D. M. (2009). Preserving Native America’s vanishinglanguages. National Geographic. Retrieved from

Case, D. S. &amp Voluck, D. A. (2002). Alaska Natives andAmerican Laws (2nd ed.). Fairbanks, AK: University of AlaskaPress.

de la Teja, J. F. &amp Frank, R. (2005). Choice, persuasion, andcoercion: Social control on Spain`s North American frontiers.Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press.

Dunn, J. M. (2006). The relocation of the Native American Indian.Detroit, Mich.: Lucent Books.

Frederick, K. (2010). Losing Power: The Effect of Language Loss inNative American Communities. Language and Societies. Retrievedfrom

McKinnon, D. P. (2013). Battle mound: Exploring space, place, andhistory of a Red River Caddo community in Southwest Arkansas.Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas.

Stewart, M. (2007). The Indian Removal Act: Forced relocation.Minneapolis, Minnesota: Compass Point Books.

Stremlau, R. (2005). To Domesticate and Civilize Wild Indians:Allotment and the Campaign to Reform Indian Families, 1875-1887.Journal of Family History, 30, 265-286.