Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Destruction of Native American Societies

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Destruction of Native American Societies

Beginning when Christopher Columbus landed in Hispaniola (what is modern-day Haiti) and continuing to this day, Native American societies have been systematically destroyed throughout America. This is extremely evident during the American Westward expansion. Why did this happen? What made the government think that this genocide was ok? Let's take a closer look at the government-sanctioned destruction of Native American society.

Destruction of Native American Society Summary

Destruction of Native American Society Indigenous Women StudySmarterNative American Women. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

When the colonizers came to North America, the Native Americans had something that they wanted, land. The colonists made treaties with the Native Americans trading land for peace. In the late 1700s, the land that once belonged to the Native Americans had been stripped from them and reservations began to pop up.

Reservations were created to be territories that "reserve" the Native American nations. The reservation would have been a smaller portion of the tribes' ancestral homeland. While Native Americans were still considered sovereign nations within the reservation, they felt like the reservations were more like prisons.

Sovereign

An independent, self-ruling nation.

Reasons for the Destruction of Native American Society

In the 1810s, Americans began expanding to the West. They believed that America was destined to reach coast to coast. This belief in America's God-given right to expand is called Manifest Destiny. Unfortunately for potential settlers, the land was already owned by Native Americans.

Manifest Destiny

Americans believed that God had given them the right to expand Westward. This sense of entitlement to the lands of the Native Americans led white Americans to believe that whatever they did to get that land was justified in the eyes of God. America was destined to stretch to the West coast, and it would, no matter the cost.

Native Americans were different from white Americans. They spoke different languages, looked different, and had different customs. White Americans could not understand why anyone would want to be different from them. This difference gave white Americans the excuse to view Native Americans as "others" and lesser.

Destruction of Native American Culture History

Government officials had many tactics to get rid of Native American residents. One of the most common was treaties. The treaties were famously unfair to the indigenous nations, Natives called them "bad paper".

Native Americans didn't want to leave their homes so officials would use different tactics to get Natives to sign them. One way was to get the indigenous people drunk. Another was to bribe them. If all else fails, the official would threaten them and then force them to sign it.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830

Destruction of Native American Society Andrew Jackson StudySmarterAndrew Jackson. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

President Andrew Jackson passed an act in 1830 called the Indian Removal Act. It forced indigenous nations to trade their land for land west of the Mississippi. If they did not want to leave, then they would have to assimilate and live with the settlers who took their ancestral land.

Assimilate

To take someone's culture and replace it with your own culture

If people chose to stay, then they would no longer be sovereign. Some chose to assimilate, hide, leave, or resist. It would be a long journey for the people who decided to leave. The most famous of these tracks was the Trail of Tears but it happened to many Native American Nations across America.

Men, women, young, and old were forced to travel by foot to the new reservations, escorted by white American guards. If someone fell behind, crumbled from exhaustion, or even if a child could not keep up then they were shot and killed.

War Against Native Americans

Another way that indigenous culture was destroyed was through war. Wars often forced Native Americans to move to new reservations or die.

The Creek War (1813-1814)

There were two factions of the Creek Nation: the Red Sticks, and the White Sticks. The White Sticks wanted peace with the Americans while the Red Sticks wanted to fight for their land back. This tension was built on decades of unrest. The Creek Nation was devastated by war with the white colonists and diseases that the colonists brought to the Americas.

The settlers took more and more of the Creek's territory, so they attacked them killing men, women, and children. The White Sticks sided with the Americans and Andrew Jackson led the charge against the Red Sticks.

The attacks against the villages were so brutal that women killed their children. They did this because it was a more merciful death than if the Americans did it. Jackson caught one woman preparing to do so; he took the child and presented them to his wife to be raised by the Jacksons.

Destruction of Native American Society Treaty Signing StudySmarterRed Stick Chief Weatherford and Andrew Jackson Peace Treaty. Source: Wikimedia Commons

When the Americans won, Jackson took more than twenty million acres of Creek territory and formed Alabama. This land was taken from all Creeks, even the White Sticks who aided Jackson. The surviving Red Sticks moved to Florida and joined the indigenous tribes there.

Little Crow's War (1862)

The Dakota Nation was a peaceful tribe. They allowed white settlers to build a fort in the Dakota territory, but the settlers began cutting down the forest and scaring off the wild game. The Dakota leader, Little Crow, was forced to sign the Treaty of Mendota in 1851 which traded the majority of their territory for food, money, guns, and supplies.

Destruction of Native American Society Little Crow StudySmarterLittle Crow. Source: Wikimedia Commons

When the American government did not keep its end of the bargain, the Dakota were forced to buy supplies on credit. Then they had to sell even more land to pay their credit. The Dakota was starving, in debt, and unable to hunt because the game was gone.

We made a treaty with the Government . . . and then can't get it (payment from the treaty) till our children was dying with hunger.

-Little Crow

Some Dakota men raided for food. When the Dakota asked for help, they were told to eat grass. Little Crow reluctantly led his warriors to war killing 400 settlers in five weeks. The Dakota lost the war and 400 of the were tried and found guilty. President Abraham Lincoln pardoned all but thirty-eight of the men.

Did You Know. . .

This was the largest mass execution in American history. Settlers had picnics as they watched.

Removal of Native American Children

Another way that Native American society was destroyed was by the removal of Native American children. In 1875, Richard Henry Pratt conducted a social experiment on Native American prisoners of war. He was able to assimilate them and then use them as evidence that indigenous people could be "civilized".

The government provided Pratt with the funds to build Native American boarding schools. Indigenous children were kidnapped from their families and forced to go to these schools. Their names were changed, their hair was cut, their clothing was taken, and they were forbidden from speaking their languages.

Destruction of Native American Society Indigenous Boarding School StudySmarterIndigenous Children at a Boarding School. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Many of these children were physically abused and sexually assaulted. When they left the schools, many white people did not accept them because they were still indigenous. They were also too different from their families and could not fit in at home.

The Indian Adoption Project (1958-1967)

The last of the Native American boarding schools were closed or given to indigenous nations in the 1990s. With the decline of indigenous boarding schools, adoption became more popular. Adopting Native American children into white families was still assimilation and was cheaper than the boarding schools. This government-sanctioned event was called the Indian Adoption Project.

Social workers would take children from families for unfair reasons. A house might be too full if the grandparents live with them. A woman working a job was "neglecting" her children by allowing family members to watch them while she worked. Children were ripped from caring homes and placed with white families to remove their culture.

Many of these children were sexually and physically abused, and some were even suicidal. In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Children Welfare Act which would not allow indigenous children to be placed with white families. The children would either be placed with extended family or with their tribe.

Consequences of Native American Societies Destruction

By removing Native Americans from their ancestral land, the government denied them access to the plants that were used for food and religious purposes. They could not hunt because settlers destroyed the forests that housed their game. Starvation made Native Americans dependent on and compliant with the government.

The rights of tribes as sovereign nations were stripped away. They were forced to comply with the laws of the American government which oftentimes did not protect them.

By kidnapping indigenous children, the government prevented Native Americans from passing down their culture. This resulted in the loss of language, religion, and more. These children lost their cultural inheritance.

Native American society destruction facts

The destruction of Native American society began when Christopher Columbus landed in Haiti and continues to this day. The government committed genocide against the Native American people with events like the Indian Removal Act and the Indian Adoption Plan, Native Americans were stripped of their cultures.

Yet, the Native American population has grown. By 1900 there were only 237,200 Native Americans in America but by 1990 the number had risen to two million. As the American government tried to erase indigenous people, they continued to survive.

Destruction of Native American Societies - Key takeaways

  • The destruction of indigenous society began when Columbus found Haiti
  • Native Americans died because the colonists' brought diseases and battled them
  • Westward expansion and manifest destiny caused many indigenous people to lose their culture as the land is tied to their way of life
  • War over land caused Native American death
  • The removal of indigenous children caused a loss of cultural inheritance

References

  1. Jeffrey s. Passel, The Growing American Indian Population, 1960–1990: Beyond Demography, pg 81.

Frequently Asked Questions about Destruction of Native American Societies

The destruction of Native American societies was caused by westward expansion, manifest destiny, and racism. 

Native American culture was destroyed by removing indigenous people from their ancestral lands, assimilation, and the kidnapping of Native American children. 

Native American society was destroyed by removing indigenous people from their ancestral lands, assimilation, and the kidnapping of Native American children. 

The factors in the destruction of Native American culture were Westward expansion, manifest destiny, and the systematic genocide of the indigenous people of the Americas. 

The most destructive factors were  Westward expansion, manifest destiny, and the systematic genocide of the indigenous people of the Americas. 

Final Destruction of Native American Societies Quiz

Question

What act created the reservation system?

Show answer

Answer

The Indian Removal Act

Show question

Question

When was the reservation system created?

Show answer

Answer

1811

Show question

Question

Which is not true of reservations in the late 1800s?

Show answer

Answer

divided based on the tribe

Show question

Question

What act ended the reservation system?

Show answer

Answer

The Dawes Act

Show question

Question

What is the term for the boarding schools created to assimilate Native American children into white society?

Show answer

Answer

missionary schools

Show question

Question

What report exposed the problems with the reservation system in the 1800s?

Show answer

Answer

The Meriam Report

Show question

Question

When was the Indian Removal Act passed?

Show answer

Answer

1810

Show question

Question

What was the main reason for the implementation of the reservation system?

Show answer

Answer

Westward Expansionism, to make room for white settlers

Show question

Question

What Act reintroduced the reservation system?

Show answer

Answer

The Indian Reorganization Act

Show question

Question

Reservations today do not have any lingering problems from the prior reservation system.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

Which is not a reason for the failure of the Dawes Act?

Show answer

Answer

the creation of missionary schools

Show question

Question

What was the goal of missionary schools?

Show answer

Answer

to assimilate Native American children into white culture

Show question

Question

What was the first off-reservation missionary school?

Show answer

Answer

Carlisle Indian School

Show question

Question

Where were the majority of missionary schools?

Show answer

Answer

the East

Show question

Question

What would the Office of Indian Affairs do if parents refused to send their children to missionary schools?

Show answer

Answer

withhold government rations

Show question

Question

What system led to Native American children doing unpaid labor?

Show answer

Answer

the placing out system

Show question

Question

Which was not a punishment used at missionary schools

Show answer

Answer

loss of privileges

Show question

Question

In what decade did many of the missionary schools close?

Show answer

Answer

1920s

Show question

Question

What act allowed parents to decide whether to send their kids to missionary school or not?

Show answer

Answer

The Indian Child Welfare Act

Show question

Question

When did forcing children to attend missionary schools become illegal?

Show answer

Answer

1958

Show question

Question

Who founded the first off-reservation missionary school?

Show answer

Answer

Colonel Richard Henry Pratt

Show question

Question

What did colonists want from Native Americans when they arrived in the Americas? 

Show answer

Answer

Land

Show question

Question

______ is the concept that Americans were entitled to Westward expansion.

Show answer

Answer

Manifest Destiny

Show question

Question

True/False

Government officials would bribe, trick, or threaten Native Americans into signing treaties.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

When was the Indian Removal Act passed?

Show answer

Answer

1830

Show question

Question

What is the act of removing someone's culture and replacing it with your own?

Show answer

Answer

Assimilation 

Show question

Question

Which of the following fought against the Americans in the Creek War?

Show answer

Answer

Red Sticks

Show question

Question

Who led the American forces in the Creek War?

Show answer

Answer

Andrew Jackson

Show question

Question

Who was the leader of the Dakota Tribe?

Show answer

Answer

Little Crow

Show question

Question

True/False

The Dakota nation went to war because they wanted to sell more land to the United States

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

What was the goal of kidnapping and rehoming indigenous children?

Show answer

Answer

Assimilation 

Show question

Question

Who benefitted most from the Dawes Act?

Show answer

Answer

Land Speculators 

Show question

Question

What was not a name for the Dawes Act?

Show answer

Answer

Dawes Removal Act

Show question

Question

What did "severalty" refer to in the Dawes Act?


Show answer

Answer

Separate owernship of the pieces land by different people 

Show question

Question

What is "checkerboarding"?

Show answer

Answer

A large piece of land with one owner, but within it some smaller lots held by different owners.

Show question

Question

What was the Dawes Commission?

Show answer

Answer

A group who tried to bring the remaining tribes under the Dawes Act

Show question

Question

What was not one of the many reasons that Native Americans did not farm their land recieved under the Dawes Act?

Show answer

Answer

A crop blight was spreading between tribal lands 

Show question

Question

What did the Dawes Act hope to do to Native Americans?


Show answer

Answer

Assimilate them into White American culture 

Show question

Question

The Dawes Act made Native Americans into US citizens 

Show answer

Answer

True 

Show question

Question

The Dawes Act gave Native Americans immediate ownership of their land allotments 


Show answer

Answer

False 

Show question

Question

How did the Dawes Act effect tribal lands?

Show answer

Answer

Much of it was lost 

Show question

More about Destruction of Native American Societies
60%

of the users don't pass the Destruction of Native American Societies quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.