Colonialism had a tremendous negative effect on the life of the native people. To begin with, colonialism saw the Europeans and the Euro-Americans push the native people out of their homeland because the white settlers desired these lands. With the settlers in need of the land to cultivate and mine among other economic activities, the native people were pushed out and placed in barren reservations. When the settlers came in, they were not coming to occupy empty lands as the native people were already living there. As a result, they pushed them away and put them in prison-like conditions. A lot of the native people died during the forced relocations and their stay in the barren reservations on top of disrupting their way of life.
Secondly, colonialism negatively affected the native people by destroying their culture. For example, some of the treaties to allow the native people to return to their lands included the provision that the children must attend school. While the goal of this provision was the total assimilation of the native people, it came at a cost for the natives. The price that the natives paid for their return to their lands was the stripping away of their culture, language, and tradition (PBS, 2016).
The native's way of life was being killed because, in the federal Indian Boarding School system, the children were to be denied their culture and language. It has to be understood that these schools were started by Christian churches and were based on this faith. As a result, the children were taught that their culture was evil and they would go to hell if they did not drop it. Moreover, with the boarding schools secluded from the rest of the tribes physically, it meant that the children and the parents suffered emotionally. The separation was part of the agenda.
Colonialism also hurt gender roles. In particular, colonialism sought to eliminate the two-spirit tradition that was part and parcel of the native culture. Apart from male or female, the two-spirit tradition was an important gender role of what is today referred to as transgender (Brayboy, 2017). To eradicate this gender, the colonialists went to all lengths of cruelty including indiscriminate killing in what is today known as cleansing. The two-spirit was a gender-fluid role because members of this gender performed all sorts of roles including being warriors, nurses, cooks, and hunters among others. However, the colonialists demanded that all people conform to their prescribed two gender roles. Colonialism would take its toll with most getting killed or going into hiding from the brutal holocaust that followed the spread of Christianity.
In the recent past, however, native people have been the beneficiaries of significant empowerment on top of reclaiming their cultural identity. For example, the Red Power revival of the 1960s was a cultural revival of the pride of the native culture. It was due to this revival that the people started shedding the offensive term "Berdache" that was assigned to transgender people by the Europeans. The native people have also been empowered with the political space to participate in nation-building including serving in the military. For example, in 2016, President Obama decided to allow transgender people to openly serve in all the US military branches (Bennett-Begaye, 2019).
Bennett-Begaye, J. (2019, Jan 28). Military policy ban concerns Two-Spirit veterans in Indian Country. Retrieved from Indian Country Today: https://newsmaven.io/indiancountrytoday/news/military-policy-ban-concerns-two-spirit-veterans-in-indian-country-Qc-GwcOeyEa5HK8YaqPHOw
Brayboy, D. (2017, Sep 8). Two spirits, one heart, five genders. Retrieved from Indian Country Today: https://newsmaven.io/indiancountrytoday/archive/two-spirits-one-heart-five-genders-9UH_xnbfVEWQHWkjNn0rQQ
PBS. (2016, Feb 16). Unspoken: America's Native American Boarding Schools. Retrieved from Public Broadcasting Service: https://www.pbs.org/video/unspoken-americas-native-american-boarding-schools-oobt1r/
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