US Treaty With Navajo Native Americans Thesis

Pages: 4 (1451 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Native Americans

U.S. Treaty with Navajo Native Americans

The Treaty Between the United States and the Navajo Tribe of Indians

Although it is fair to say that most of the treaties created between the United States government and the former rulers of the Americas, the native tribes, were inequitable and favored the interests of the American government rather than the native populace, it would be unfair to say that all of them were equally inequitable. For example, the 1863 Treaty Between the United States and the Navajo Tribe of Indians showed more consideration for the native tribes on reservations, giving them land and the watchful oversight of a commissioner to protect the members of the tribe against injustices. This is in profound contrast to the earlier 1863 United States Treaty with the Western Shoshone, which made the concessions supposedly granted by the American government entirely upon the good will of the President. Specific provisions were not detailed in the language of the treaty and it called the members of the native tribes 'bad' (i.e. savages), rather than equal negotiating parties. Its language was formulaic, rather than took into consideration the unique nature of the tribe and its rights.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Thesis on US Treaty With Navajo Native Americans Assignment

Formulaic treaties were often called 'boilerplate treaties.' In the case of these so-called boilerplate treaties between Native Americans and whites, the treaties were not specifically negotiated, provision by provision. Rather the final language of the treaties reflected, not a mutual agreement between whites and Indian natives, but efforts by whites to make Indians sign a prepared text (Harring 252). When this was done repeatedly in certain instances, such as between the British Crown and Canadian native Americans, the efficient British civil service even developed 'numbers' that referred to the standardized government documents. Not only was the language of such boilerplate treaties inflexible and designed to confuse the native signers, in many instances it was blatantly offensive to native culture, and reflected the views of whites that natives were violent savages.

This can be seen in the language of the infamous boilerplate treaty known as the United States Treaty with the Western Shoshone, signed October 1, 1863. Statute 2 treats that "the several routes of travel through the Shoshonee country, now or hereafter used by white men, shall be forever free, and unobstructed by the said bands, for the use of the government of the United States, and of all emigrants and travelers under its authority and protection, without molestation or injury from them. And if depredations are at any time committed by bad men of their [Indian] nation, the offenders shall be immediately taken and delivered up to the proper officers of the United States, to be punished as their offences shall deserve; and the safety of all travelers passing peaceably over either of said routes is hereby guarantied by said bands." Note how native sovereignty to punish violators is taken away from the tribe, as well as the language of 'badness.'

Also, the Native Americans agreeing to the treaty are referred to as 'bands,' as if they are literally bandits, not members of tribes protecting their territory from invasion, as would be the case if the British similarly imposed themselves upon the American nation and freely trafficked through American sovereign territory. Article 4 even contains the shockingly intrusive provision: "It is further agreed by the parties hereto, that the Shoshonee country may be explored and prospected for gold and silver, or other minerals; and when mines are discovered, they may be worked, and mining and agricultural settlements formed, and ranches established whenever they may be required. Mills may be erected and timber taken for their use, as also for building and other purposes in any part of the country claimed by said bands." In short, the whites may openly exploit the natural resources of native land. The American President is given absolute rights to confine the tribe to reservations in Article 6: "The said bands agree that whenever the President of the United States shall deem it expedient for them to abandon the roaming life, which, they now lead, and become herdsmen or agriculturalists, he is hereby authorized to make such reservations for their use as he may deem necessary within the country above described; and they do also hereby agree to remove their camps to such reservations as he may indicate, and to reside and remain therein."… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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