As the World Turns
Native Americans have been used and abused by U. S. citizens and government throughout the years. Students will determine ways in which respectful treatment could have been given.
Explorations and Discussions: Native Americans
If you were a Native American living today, how would you want to live?
For many years, the Native Americans had few rights and were not even considered citizens of the United States. In 1924, Congress finally granted Indians citizenship. Still they faced discrimination and lived in terrible poverty. Franklin Roosevelt included Indians in part of his New Deal. Instead of trying to break up Indian lands, their lands were protected.
Instead of trying to destroy the Indian religion of worshiping spirits of nature, the FDR administration decided that Indians had the right to live according to their tribal traditions. The government let reservations develop their own governments and organize corporations.
Native Americans were still ashamed of their heritage. There were bad feelings against the government of the United States for the "bum deal" that the Native Americans had been given throughout the years. Then in the 50's, the government again tried to break up tribal governments and encourage Indians to move to the cities. By the late 60's, more than half of all Indians lived off the reservations, mainly in urban areas. City life weakened traditional tribal ties and customs.
But the civil rights movement during the 50's and 60's helped the Native Americans realize that they had rights that were being ignored. They took the government to court over fishing rights and mineral rights that had been taken away from them. The courts usually awarded them the titles of the land or insisted that they be given the money the land was worth.
Like some blacks that had trouble being patient with nonviolent resistance and created riots, a group of Native Americans created their own riot. In 1969 a Native American group took over Alcatraz Island in San Francisco bay that had been a federal prison. The Indians offered to buy Alcatraz for $24 worth of glass beads and red cloth--the price Peter Minuit paid for Manhattan in 1626. This protest called attention to the many treaties that had been broken by the government.
Another Native American protest was held at Wounded Knee in South Dakota. It was at the place where 300 Indians had been massacred by U. S. soldiers in 1890. Indians took over the trading post at Wounded Knee and held loaded guns to prove the point that they were serious. This protest lasted for several weeks.
The Wounded Knee protest and the cases brought to court have helped to win sympathy for Indian causes. Today, Native Americans continue to speak out forcefully to achieve their goals.
Questions for partners or small groups: When the whites invaded North America and moved westward, most Indian land was nabbed, grabbed, and stolen. According to Bible principles, what could the citizens of the United States have done to show more respect for Native Americans throughout the years.
Read Romans 12:14-21. Following these guidelines, list two or three different ways that whites could have treated the Indians more respectfully throughout American History.