On U.S. Indian Policy Essay

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On U.S. Indian Policy

"The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards Indians, their lands and property shall not be taken from them without their consent, and in their property rights and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed." Thus Thomas Jefferson describes U.S. policy towards Native peoples concisely, and with the proper grace of a Virginian gentleman. No ambiguity or contradiction seems to exist in Jefferson's words, and nothing but good will towards Native-Americans seems to be instilled in Jefferson's rhetoric. But in observing Jefferson's curt follow-up to the statement above, "unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress," a turnabout appears, leaving one at a loss as to a tangible United States
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The dawn of the new American republic saw also the birth of U.S. Indian policy. In observing the bureaucracy of the United States government, one could clearly note the American view of proper dealings with Native peoples. It was the official U.S. policy to deal with the Indian tribes as separate foreign entities, grouping Choctaws, Shawnee, Cherokee and Creek peoples with the Spaniards, English and French. Curiously enough, the Secretary of War, not the Secretary of State, became responsible for Indian affairs. Clearly, the United States saw the Indians as a threat, either real or potential. In addition, the United States saw the Indians as a barrier to new and prosperous lands in the Western territories. An unofficial policy of provocation emerged. Using a multi-pronged assault, Americans would often enter Indian land and commit a crime worthy of retaliation by native peoples. Such an event precipitated Lord Dunmore's War; John Logan, a prominent Indian favored by many white men, was horrified to find his family murdered by white intruders. Vowing revenge, Logan led an attack on white settlements and the event quickly escalated to a full-blown war between the Shawnee and the whites, culminating in an Indian defeat and a subsequent land session. Such
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