Essay: Indian Problem

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Indian Problem

What was the Indian "problem" [latter half of the 19th C.], and how did the U.S. government go about solving it? Successful? Not successful? Explain

In the second half of the nineteenth century, American Indians were viewed as "savages" and alien to American culture. Americans therefore viewed them as a "problem" that needed to be solved. There were two main ideas on how to deal with this problem. On the one hand, there were hard-liners, especially in the military and among those who lived in the frontier, who believed that the best solution was to exterminate American Indians in totto. On the other hand, there was the second option, propagated by humanitarians and religious groups, which was to thoroughly Americanize the Indians and help them integrate into the mainstream society. After a series of battles called "Indian Wars," which eventually decimated the military power of Native American groups, the relatively humanitarian idea of solving the Indian problem prevailed.

The major policy adopted in the latter half of the nineteenth century was to send American Indians into reservation camps and educate their children in the boarding schools designed to "uplift" and "civilize" them. An Army Officer named Richard H. Pratt opened one of the first of these schools in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1879. The purpose of the school was to teach American Indian children the English language, Christianity, American way of life, and assimilate them through education. The school in the first year accepted 50 Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Pawnee Indian children. On the order of Pratt, the children had their hair trimmed, required to speak English, and avoid "any displays of tribal traditions, such as Indian clothing, dancing, or religious ceremonies. Pratt's motto was 'kill the Indian and save the man'" ("Tragedy of Plains Indians," n.d.). The motto… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Indian Problem."  Essaytown.com.  December 15, 2011.  Accessed July 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/indian-problem/3928665.