History 17A – United States History (Spring 2007)
As Long as the Grass Grows
[Students and professors, please read.]
Reading Assignment: As Long as Grass Grows
2. Describe the history of Indigenous-White relations? Do you agree with Specked Snake’s synopsis?
From the beginning of the semester, we learned that Europeans used the image of the savage to justify enslavement and genocide. The main thing Europeans were driven by was greed for land, gold, industry, free labor, etcetera. Native Americans who did not go along with European interests were severely disciplined, if not executed. Europeans exploited the fact that the native Americans did not have a concept of private property when colonizing America. Europeans exploited the unassuming trust of the native Americans, accepting their gifts and violently taking the rest. Europeans fought dirty and without honor in conflicts with native Americans. They turned natives against eachother by granting privileges to those who joined forces with Europeans. They broke their promises when it was to their advantage, and their warring was unscrupulous and merciless. They would make sure their actions, like the treaty preceding the Trail of Tears, were legally sanctioned, letting the weight of moral considerations rest on the law, rather than on their own consciences. Native American parents were killed so that their children could be legally enslaved under the false pretense that they were orphans. This history of human rights violations against the indigenous peoples of America is continued in chapter 7, “As long as grass grows or water runs” – President Jackson’s false words to the Choctaw and Chickasaw. Chief Black Hawk’s voice is heard on pages 130-131, telling of how the native Americans were becoming like the white men, and how white men poison the heart. The aged Creek man, Speckled Snake, also speaks on page 135 – telling of how the first colonists depended on the native Americans for aid, but brushed them aside once they were no longer dependent upon them. The Cherokee Nation as well is heard on pages 139-140, giving voice to the chilling reality that the history of the U.S.’ treatment of native Americans includes a heart-breaking history of promises broken.
3. Evaluate the “negotiations” between the US and Indigenous Nations. What are the consequences of the treaties ratified by the US and Indigenous Nations?
Basically, the native Americans were told that they could either move voluntarily, with the aid of the government, or they would have to abide by state laws if they chose to stay, which destroyed their tribal and personal rights and made them vulnerable to white settlers. The consequence of their moving voluntarily, is that the U.S.’ promise that they wouldn’t have to move again — could not be trusted (for example, within days of the Treaty of Washington, promises made on behalf of the U.S. were broken, and the native Americans were made to move west)… and many died during the journey, because the aid promised by the government was carried out by private contracts, and was actually just more human rights violations.