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Between 1800 and 1860, the relationships between Native Americans, including Indians, and the American government, were not as pleasant as the former went through numerous abuse and sufferings. The era was largely marked by historical incidents such as the displacement and reservation of India, assimilation and allocation, reorganization, termination, and increasingly self-determination struggles that have persisted to the present days. For most natives, life on the reservations and the possibility of expulsion from their ancestral lands was particularly disturbing since they had no other options. Women even had their fair share of this violence and they still carried the brunt of the obstacles placed by the society on their social, economic, and political advancement.
Native American Mistreatment Then
To begin with removal or elimination as a form of mistreatment of the Native Americans, in the early 1830s, Native Americans were forced through federal legislation to abandon their culture and ancestral lands even though treaties had been signed guaranteeing them the sovereignty of their tribal systems of government. Through the Removal Act of 1830, Natives living in Seminole, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Greek, and Cherokee were forcibly replaced by non-Indians with President Jackson’ s message to Congress in 1933 describing the native tribes as lacking in moral habits, industry, and intelligence for being an inferior race (Olson-Raymer Online). The Indian Removal Act passed by the US Congress was one of the legal machinery and mechanisms that were used in ejecting Native Indian Americans from their traditional ancestral lands that they used for farming and hunting. The 1930 Indian Removal Act permitted the then US President to order the removal of the Eastern Indians who remained in the lands west of the Mississippi River (Whitaker 6). Thousands of Native Indians most of whom were bound in chains were removed and subjected to hunger disease, and death on the way, a trip that later came to be known as the “trail of tears.” With the removal, most of the Indians faced starvation and hunger as their fertile land was taken over and given to rail companies. The US Supreme Court also played a role in ensuring that the American federal government continued to exercise power over the Native Indian nation and hence interfering with their tribal sovereignty. For instance, in a series of cases such as Worcester v. Georgia (1832), the applicant was arrested by the state of Georgia as a Vermont missionary working on a native American territory of Cherokee. He then brought a suit against the state arguing that the state of Georgia did not have any authority any Native American outside the federal government’s borders or territories. The court held that the protection o the Indian nations fell under the jurisdiction of the federal government and hence the laws enacted by the US Congress could apply to the Natives. The case served to some extent to undermine the tribal sovereignty of the Native American Nations (Olson-Raymer Online). Moreover, as an act of elimination of the natives, the war was declared on various native tribes by the US Army in the early 1800s through the elimination of registers and subjugation of those who survived the onslaught.
The other form of mistreatment of the Native Americans between these periods entailed the forced confinement in reservations. Here, it was believed that it would be much easier to assimilate and civilize the native tribes so that they could embrace the American way of life (Boxer Online). They were being compelled to stop being natives and become white Americans. The reserves were also, meant to subjugate the Native Americans further, compel them to convert to Christianity, learn the English language, and become farmers. The natives were not permitted to leave the reserves without the permission of the masters, and a violation of this condition would lead to arrest and severe punishment. In the reserves, the Native Americans also lost their culture and traditions and became Americanized.
The Mistreatment of the Native Americans Today
In the contemporary America, the Native Americans such as Indians are still being treated as a less superior minority group with fewer rights than their White counterparts. One of the ways through which this mistreatment continues up to date is through hostility and racial discrimination against the Natives. This mistreatment is coupled by the stereotyping of the Native Americans which attacks and seeks to undermine their cultural identity and ways of life. Furthermore, according to Martin, today, Native Americans are a forgotten lot since there are some Native Americans who are still living in despair and poverty in the modern America (Online). Most of them are not in the inner cities but within the remote reservations, such as the South Dakota Crow Creek Sioux reservation. The author argues that the isolation of Native American tribes still exists today where people from such tribes continue to grapple with suicide, substance abuse, and poverty (Martin Online).
Regan (Online) also argues that Native Americans represent one of the poorest tribes or groups in the US today and the US government is partly responsible for their poverty in various respects. For one, the federal government owns and manages the Indian lands following Chief Justice Marshall’s description of the native nation in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) as being akin to award and his guardian. This statement led to the establishment of the trust doctrine which still makes the US government a trustee of all Indian lands. Moreover, the fact that the federal government has to review and authorize all economic development projects on native lands makes the natives poor. The complex legal framework of the reservations where natives live also impedes economic growth. Furthermore, according to NoiseCat, Native Americans still face mistreatment in the form of skewed policing and mass incarceration, joblessness and impoverishment, and being stripped of their native land (Online). Native Americans’ mistreatment today is also evident in their resources being overexploited, poor education system, violence against native women and children, inadequate healthcare for natives, life in poor quality and overcrowded housing, lack of financial institutions, and limited right to vote (NoiseCat Online).
Unlike in the past, it may be argued that Native Americans are being treated much better today in that unlike a century ago, they now have a right to vote, access to healthcare and education, protection of their civil liberties, and entitlement to federal funds. The natural resources, land, culture and traditions of the native Americans are also facing less threat today than they did some years back, indicating that they are today being treated a little bit better than ever before. Equal opportunity and antidiscrimination laws in contemporary America have also helped ensure fairer treatment of Native Americans than was the case more than a century ago.
Women Treatment Today
Women are being mistreated today in various ways and respects. Firstly, women are being denied equal and equitable political representation or opportunity to view for political seats on the same footing as men. Moreover, women are mistreated by being denied the right to choose their reproductive care options and rights such as safe, legal abortion. In the US today, women are also facing a lot of misogyny and stereotyping by men who view them as unsuitable to lead the society besides being objectified, misperceived and made to look like objects for beauty and sex (Chapman 1; Berberick 1). They are also being subjected to domestic violence (Payne & Wermeling 2). When it comes to the workplace, women are not given equal pay rights with men given the wage gap that exists between the male and female American workers in spite of efforts to reduce the gap. According to Schieder and Gould, societal norms and discrimination are responsible for the wage gap between American men and women workers (Online). In some organizations, women are paid much less compared to their male counterparts.
Women are being treated better today than was the case centuries back due to the years of struggle by the feminist movement that has ensured that women have almost equal rights on the social, economic, and political fronts. According to Gaag, when it comes to women employment, there are a lot of changes as more women are now in paid employment that used to a reserve for men (Online).
As shown, the Native Americans and women have historically undergone mistreatment in the American society due to their minority status. However, these groups have achieved an almost equal status with other majority groups though as Gaag notes, there is still a long way to go.
Berberick, Stephanie Nicholl. “The Objectification of Women in Mass Media: Female Self-image in Misogynist Culture. The New York Sociologist, Vol. 5 (2010), pp. 1-15
Boxer, Andrew. Native Americans and the Federal Government. History Review, no. 64 (2009), www.historytoday.com/andrew-boxer/native-americans-and-federal-government. Accessed 9 January 2017
Chapman, Taylor M. “ Women in American Media: A Culture of Misperception.” Inquiries Journal, vol. 3, no. 7 (2011), pp. 1-18
Gaag, Nikki van der. “Women are Better off Today, but still Far from being Equal with Men.” The Guardian, 26 September 2014, www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/sep/29/women-better-off-far-from-equal-men. Accessed 19, January 2017
Martin, Mark. “Native Americans: A Forgotten People?” CBN News, 7 July. 2008, http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2008/july/native-americans-a-forgotten-people-/?mobile=false. Accessed 19 January 2017
Payne, Darrell and Linda Wermeling. “Domestic Violence and the Female Victim: The Real Reason Women Stay!” Journal of Multicultural, Gender, and Minority Studies, vol. 3, no. 1 (2009), pp. 1-6
NoiseCat, Julian Brave. “13 Issues Facing Native People Beyond Mascots And Casinos.” The Huffington Post, 3 July, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/13-native-american-issues_us_55b7d801e4b0074ba5a6869c. Accessed 19 January 2017
Olson-Raymer, Gayle. “History 101: Whose Manifest Destiny? The Federal Government and the American Indians.” Humboldt State University's Department of History, 31 December 2014, http://users.humboldt.edu/ogayle/hist110/unit3/indians.html. Accessed 19 January 2017.
Regan, Shawn. “5 Ways the Government Keeps Native Americans in Poverty.” Forbes, 13 March 2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/03/13/5-ways-the-government-keeps-native-americans-in-poverty/#4be02b6e6cc6. Accessed 19 January 2017.
Scheider, Jessica, and Elise Gould. ““Women’s work” and the gender pay gap.” Economic Policy Institute, 20 July 2016, http://www.epi.org/publication/womens-work-and-the-gender-pay-gap-how-discrimination-societal-norms-and-other-forces-affect-women's-occupational-choices-and-their-pay/
Whitaker, David J. “United States Government Policies toward Native Americans, 1787-1990: A Guide to Materials in the British Library.” The Eccles Center for American Studies, 1996, pp. 3-68. Print.
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