Paper Sample on American Indian Activism

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Sewanee University of the South
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The Native American cultures incorporate a broad range of socially and geographically different groups whose ancestors are believed to have migrated through a long-gone bridge across Bering over 13,000 years ago. The ancestors were displaced and at times prosecuted by the European settlers and explorers. This indicates that the Native American occupants have struggled to maintain their ancestral practice while at the same time increasing their representation in the U.S politics and culture (Champagne, Johnson, & Nagel, 1997). The American Indians, for instance, experienced significant oppression linked to human rights and issues related to cultural differences hence their fight for various declarations such as the "Choctaw Declaration" with the aim of achieving their individual rights as America citizens. The general conclusion has been inevitable since most American citizens have intuitively seen the Indians as people of the past, who have a position out of the main narrative of the American history.

Many years ago, late in the Ice Age, Indian ancestors migrated across Bering land from Asia to Alaska. They explored the North American continent, and by 1000 BC, they had covered almost the entire continent. After the Ice Age had ended, the transformation in climate and the increased population inspired the Indians to participate in various crops. For this reason, some became highly skilled and started cultivating corn and squash. They also raised a variety of animals including turkeys, pigs, and llamas for food and hunted deer. Because of the livestock reared, they often burned off patches of land in order to all pasture to grow for their animals. At the same time, they hunted sea animals for food using various efficient methods.

Later, the Indians developed states and developed extensive trade routes across America and dominated almost each market across the continent. Cargo rafts and boats were used to move goods from a trading point to another with the help of llamas in the southern part of America. During this time, centers of government were marked using mounds on earth most of which were flat at the top for easier demarcation. Some used burial sites of their leaders to mark their smaller boundaries and even trade markets. In essence, the Indian Americans applied a lot of creativity in their architecture and were the most hardworking lot of the Native Americans as compared to other racial groups.

The invasions of the Indians in American started after Columbus discovery about the "new world" in 1492 when the European explorers came with a variety of diseases with them. These unique diseases spread more quickly among the Indians and wiped out a significant number of them even before the European saw them. This gave them a loophole to colonize America in order for them to cultivate the farmlands and create new jobs for the increasing European population. This meant that they had to engage the Native Americans in a fight to take over their lands (Stubben, 2005). Various factors allowed them to win the war and take the Indian's land easily. First, they were immune to some of the diseases they brought. Secondly, they had horses and guns which were more efficient in the battles as compared to the hand weapons and arrows used by the Indians. Third, due to the prevailing diseases, the European population outnumbered the Indians, and this allowed them to develop more settlements. Gradually the Indians were defeated, and survivors gathered then moved to specific regions called reservations. In Central America and northern parts of America, the Indians who earlier had great empires remained as laborers and peasants under the Spanish leadership.

In November 1969, American Indians were fed up by the European oppression and about 89 members set out to occupy Alcatraz Island "by right of discovery." After sailing through San Francisco Bay under cover of darkness, they landed at Alcatraz claiming the land for all the tribes in Northern American. They ignored the earlier warnings and moved to the warden's house and guards and started personalizing the island with their graffiti. Other monuments were tagged with slogans such as "Red Power." Their first proclamation to the public followed thereafter where stated their intentions for the land as an Indian school, a museum of even a cultural center. The American Indians claimed Alcatraz was their property by right of discovery" and at the same time decided to sarcastically buy it for $24 in glass bead plus red cloth. The activists didn't mind the size of the island or its level of development since other lands hand flourished from similar conditions through the Indian efforts.

The Nixon administration was afraid that the European could attempt to remove the Indians and opted to bide time and allow occupiers along so long as they were peaceful. The newly formed government official journeyed to the Alcatraz to initiate negotiation process, but the activist took a strong stand on settling on nothing less than the deed. In the process of negotiation between the government and the American Indian, the Indians continued settling on their new homes. Indian students and other activists soon flocked and joined the protest thereby increasing the population and making it difficult for the government to displace them from Alcatraz. A governing council was initiated, and soon the island had the necessary social amenities for the well-being of the Native Americans who occupied it.

Other activists later joined the occupation by transporting supplies and visitors from mainland to the island. The Indians at the island issued a call for contribution from well-wishers, and by the end of 1969, a variety of canned food, clothes and many dollars in cash flowed in from donors. At the beginning of 1970, there was a significant change in the lives of those who lived on the Island.

The Alcatraz built a national park in 1973, and currently, more than a million visitors can see the graffiti's the Native American wrote on various complex buildings. The national park also has some of the slogans painted at the time when the Indians proclaimed it from the Europeans (Goldstein, 2011). There was nationwide protest that was organized in 1978 and 1994 from the island, and since then, people have met at the island every November to celebrate the Indian culture and activism.

In a nutshell, the Indian occupation of Alcatraz was a facilitator for more movements whereby the Native Americans from across the nation have sought restoration of grievances as they continue their struggle for endurance and control. For this reason, Indian population across American has been on the increase. Their leaders have begun achieving more political success to fight for the right of their people. Moreover, the increased widespread regarding human rights have helped ensure governments and other bodies show respect to the Indian cultures and various traditions when responding to their needs.

 

References

Champagne, D., Johnson, T., & Nagel, J. (1997). American Indian Activism: Alcatraz to the Longest Walk. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

Goldstein, M. J. (2011). You are now on Indian Land: The American Indian Occupation of Alcatraz Island, California, 1969. Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books.

Stubben, J. D. (2005). Native Americans and political participation: A reference handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.

 

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