Native americans is now the generally accepted and

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Unformatted text preview: by farming settlers in Oregon (beginning 1842). As thousands of wagon trains bearing white settlers moved along the Oregon, Santa Fe, and California trails, Washington policy makers began carving the undefined tracts of Indian territory into smaller and more sharply defined reservations. As white settlers took Indian land and scared away or slaughtered the mountain and prairie game Indians depended upon for subsistence, some Indian tribes resisted by attacking the wagon trains and the settlers’ farms and ranches. Consequently, the U.S. Army was sent to capture Natives and force them onto the reservations. By 1870, officials were looking for a new policy. Natives appeared to be on the brink of extinction and some officials felt that it was ridiculous to treat Indian tribes as independent sovereign nations with which the federal government should make treaties. The Allotment Act (The Dawes Severalty Act): In 1871, Congress decided to stop making treaties and instead deal with Indians as wards of the state, legislating on their behalf. The Allotment Act, implemented in 1887, aimed at assimilating Indians into mainstream society. It did so by attacking tribalism through parceling out communally owned reservation land to individual heads of family. In order to protect Indians from land- grabbing whites, the government made the lands illegible for sale for 25 years (a safeguard that was later rescinded), hoping this would give Indians time to transform into independent farmers. After the individual 160- acre allotments were made, the remaining hundreds of thousands of acres were sold to whites. The program turned out to be a disaster, as Indians lost about 62 percent (86,000,000 acres) of the land they owned prior to the Allotment Act.6 The Plains Wars: Over 1,000 battles occurred between whites and Indians during the last half of the 19th century. Some of the tragic events during this period included the brutal suppression of a Sioux uprising in 1863; the forced, 300- mile walk of 8,000 Navajos to Fort Sumner in 1864; the Sand Creek massacre in 1864; the 1876 massacre of General Custer 6“North American Peoples and Cultures, Radical land allotment legislation” in Encyclopedia Britannica, p. 222. 6 Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 and his U.S. cavalry troops at Little Bighorn, Montana led by Sioux Chief Sitting Bull; the 1,700 mile chase by the Army to corner and capture Nez Perce Chief Joseph 40 miles south of the Canadian border in 1877; the Apache warrior Geronimo’s attacks which led to his capture and imprisonment in 1886; and the final massacre by the U.S. 7th cavalry of more than 200 Sioux men, women, and children shortly after Christmas at Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1890. At the end of the 19th century, Americans had settled the entire continent and the Indians that had survived battles, disease, and relocation were confined to about a dozen large reservations and numerous smaller ones all across the country. The millions of natives that had populated the land prior to European contact had been reduced to about 250,000 by 1900.7 Furthermore, whereas they had begun their relationship with Europeans and the United States government as an independent people in control of a wealth of natural resources, they were now among the nation’s poorest, forcibly confined on the country’s least desirable lands and living as wards of the state. Now that we have a better understanding of the historical and social context, it is time to turn our attention to traditional Native American music and to see how this context affected it. 7Davis, “Population” Davis, Mary. Native Americans in the Twentieth Century: An Encyclopedia, p. 462. 7 Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley)...
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This document was uploaded on 02/16/2014.

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