The history of the United States government and their engagement with Native Americans in the late Victorian era is usually generalized to Plain Indian wars, Geronimo, and the Custer's last stand. Little is highlighted on the American government policies on the Native Indians because it taints the image of the United States, that is of strength and will-power. There are questionable actions whose motive were apparent and an indication of the government negligence and hatred towards the American Natives. It is such hatred that fueled massive land alienation forcing Indians into the reservation, and assimilation all being justified with squelching of Native culture in the name of civilization. The result of such actions is massive problems of poverty, hunger and land alienation as provided by Hellen Hunt Jackson in A Century of Dishonor. According to Jackson, the solutions to the issues faced by Native Indians in the late Victorian era can only be found if the government honors its promise of respecting and protecting Native Indians and grant them complete American citizenship.
In her book, Helen Hunt Jackson, who is on her visit to California observes the problems faced by Native Indians there. She records the inhumane treatment that the Natives goes through in the hands of the American government and white settlers. The natives in California have seen close to ninety percent of their population die from war and diseases. This is after the gold rush which did nothing good but to bring more white settlers in the region and more government presence. With their population reduced to ten percent, the native Indians still face more problems including land alienation which has forced them to reservations and assimilation and seen their culture eroded. There are additional problems because of being confined in the reservation such as poverty and hunger. This is since the government has strategically placed the reservations in places where the land is less productive, and the Natives cannot live off its produce. Despite the sufferings, the government keeps neglecting the native Indians.
While Helen Hunt Jackson experiences a single case in California, she hints on possible similarity in other states. "The story of one tribe is the story of the other" (Jackson 27). She gives evidence on the widespread negligence by the American government on the natives. Out of the entire Native Indian population living in the reservations, a majority are self-supporting receiving no assistance from the government except interest on their money or annuities granted to them in consideration of cession of their lands to the United States. Among those that are partially supported by the government, their interest money and annuities as provided by the government are inadequate to their subsistence to the reservation where they are confined. Also, a significant portion, more than half, of the native Indians do not get any care from the government and subsist through fishing, hunting, begging, and stealing.
The weight of ending the problems faced by native Indians is on the government. According to Jackson, the impatience displayed by the government in finding a solution to the issues faced by natives is wanting. "Presidents have appointed commission after commission to inquire into and report on Indian affairs" (Jackson 27). The results of these commissions have been demoralizing with none of them ever materializing. The reports, which acknowledges the wrong done to Indians have not amounted at least to get compensation on the native Indians. What has ensued are years and years of denial, lies, and propaganda. The history of government connections with Indians is a shameful record of broken treaties and unfulfilled promises. The government has long instilled among the native Americans of their entitlement to respect. The same government that grants this right to the Native Indians are the first to abuse it by becoming the primary aggressor. From the testimony of some military officers, "it the government forces that made the first aggression any encounter with the Native Indians" (Jackson 28). History has also shown the concealment of all white man atrocities towards the Native Indian. As a solution, it would be upright to set all the policy on the future of the Indians right and let the Indians feel safe and happy in a land that was once theirs.
Besides government protection, granting the Native Indian American citizenship could be a way to end their misery Among the reasons for that abuse and negligence of the Native Indians is lack of American citizenship that denies them enjoying the full rights spelled in the constitution. This would be a way of compensating for all the ill committed against Indians and a sovereign act as well. While oppositions to this move reason out that full citizenship to Indians who are still barbarous and not civilized alike whites would be a blunder, Jackson asserts that it is a way of ensuring they enjoy their rights to the property. This is since in the absence of citizenship they have no rights to own property and can be subject to several forms of exploitation.
In summary, the solutions to problems faced by Indian Natives in the Victorian era would be to grant them government protection and full citizenship to enjoy all the rights. However, it is the same government that had promised them protection being against them denying them protection and citizenship. As a result, the natives continued to languish in misery, and this has been their state for the better part of the era.
Jackson, Helen Hunt. A century of dishonor. Books on Demand, 2018.
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