First Indian Reservation

The Constitution for Kids (K-3)
The Constitution for Kids (K-3)

The story of Native Indians in America is one of the most shameful in the history of the country and continues through to today. When the explorers and settlers first landed in the New World, they were faced with tribes of Native Indians that had respect for nature and didn’t believe that anyone should own the land that they lived on.

This philosophy was the exact opposite of the Europeans, who were greedy for land, gold, and valuable minerals that they could claim for themselves. Treaties were written and agreed upon and then successively broken by the white people until Native Indians were pushed off of the lands that they had lived on for thousands of years and eventually moved to reservations.

  • A reservation is a land that is set aside for specific Native American tribes. It is managed by the tribe with limitations only by federal, state, or local laws. The volume of treaties that were signed between the colonial powers and the Native Indians between the 17thand 18th centuries is almost too many to list. When they were broken by the government, Native Indians have moved away from their ancestral homes to specific areas that had limited independence.
  • On May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act. Although it gave the President the ability to create treaties with tribes east of the Mississippi, it ended up making the tribes give up their land in exchange for areas in the West that were more habitable.
  • Jackson was prejudiced against Native Indians and believed that they had “neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire for 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.”
  • The relocation of tens of thousands of Native Indians happened in the 1830s where they were moved to a place in present-day Oklahoma. While some of the tribes left voluntarily, others had to be moved by force.
  • The northern tribes included: Shawnee, Huron, Ottawa, Miami, and Delaware. The southern tribes included: Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole. The Cherokee Nation had to be moved forcibly from their ancestral lands that included parts of Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
  • The movement was called the Trail of Tears, and the Native Indians had to walk or slowly ride on horseback. Many died on the inhumane journey.
  • The land that they were moved to was promised to offer the ability to hunt, fish, and gather food, but they faced many restrictions. The continued attitude of white supremacy over the Native Indians in their new land caused friction. The government wanted to impose on the tribes the demands that they give up their culture, way of life, traditions, and even their languages. The U.S. government force their children to attend schools that weren’t close, to adopt hairstyles and clothing that belonged to the white people, and for them to give up their individual religious beliefs and embrace Christianity.
  • The 1851 Indian Appropriations Act divided the Native Indian lands into smaller parcels. The 1887 Dawes Act (also known as the General Allotment Act) pushed Native Indians further into American culture so that they couldn’t sell the land that they owned but had to go through the government if they wanted to sell or give their land even to family members. The law also got rid of tribal affiliations that had previously helped to protect them, making each Native Indian an individual that was subject to the laws of the federal government.

Q&A:

What was the name of the American President that created the Indian Removal Act?
Andrew Jackson

What was the mass relocation of many Native Indian tribes called?
Trail of Tears

What restriction did the Dawes Act impose on Native Indians?
couldn’t sell or give their land away without processing through the government

When moved to the reservations, what did the government require of Native Indians?
send children to school, adopt clothes & hairstyles that were from the white people, adopt the Christian religion, stop speaking in their native languages

What did the Indian Appropriation Act do?
divided Native Indian lands into smaller parcels

What did the Dawes act change for the status of the individual Native Indian?
removed tribal affiliations and made them individuals subject to federal government laws