"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Native Americans: The battle for survival

The Ghost dancer's song

Father, we are poor...
The Buffalo are gone...
Hear us and help us.
Take away the white men,
Send back the buffalo...
Help us to be what we once
were, happy hunters
of buffalo.

When Europeans started to settle on the east coast of America at the beginning of the 17th century, there were already over a million native Americans living on the continent in over 600 tribes.

In Mexico, the peaceful Pueblo tribes lived in villages and were America's first farmers. Their neighbours the Apaches, were nomadic hunters and warriors, and lived in the deserts and mountains of the region which now is called Texas. The Iroquois were a nation that lived in the forests of north-east America. They lived in permanent villages and were skillful hunters and fishermen. Another famous nation, the Sioux, lived on the vast plains of grass between the Mississippi River and the Rocky mountains. They depended on buffalo for food, shelter and clothes and followed them across the plains taking their tepees with them.

Then, what happened to the Native Americans? The "white men" gradually moved west and took possession of their land and forced them to move from their natural environment.

In 1830, the Indian Removal Act made all the tribes living east of the Mississippi move west to an region called "Indian Territory".

The journey the Trail of Tears started and took nearly five months. Cherokees had to leave their homes in Georgia and march hundreds of miles to the west. A quarter of the whole Cherokee nation died!

In 1890 a group of about 200 Indians, men, women and children, were massacred by soldiers at Wounded Knee. it was the end of Indian resistance.

Indians became citizens of the United States in 1924 by the Act of June 2 and they were living on the reservations. The living conditions were very hard.

A Native American said "When the White man first came to this land, we had the land and they had the bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them again, we had the bible and the white man had the land."

It is only since 1975 that Native American schoolchildren have been able to learn about their own history and culture.

Today, Native Americans feel they are caught between two cultures. Their children are Third Culture kids. They no longer live like their ancestors used to, but they don't feel part of "modern America."

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