Essay about Talking Back to Civilization

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Talking Back to Civilization

Talking Back to Civilization , edited by Frederick E. Hoxie, is a compilation of excerpts from speeches, articles, and texts written by various American Indian authors and scholars from the 1890s to the 1920s. As a whole, the pieces provide a rough testimony of the American Indian during a period when conflict over land and resources, cultural stereotypes, and national policies caused tensions between Native American Indians and Euro-American reformers. This paper will attempt to sum up the plight of the American Indian during this period in American history.

American Indians shaped their critique of modern America through their exposure to and experience with “civilized,”
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An advocate for Indian education, Henry Roe Cloud wrote, “Is the Indian a ward of the government or a citizen? What are his rights and duties? . . . [He] must be trained to grapple with these economic, educational, political, religious and social problems” (59, 60). Cloud challenged the American educational system by rhetorically questioning the meaning of Indian citizenship and campaigning for more Indian societal responsibilities. In the Society of American Indians' (SAI) Quarterly Journal , progressivist Carlos Montezuma wrote, “Reservations are prisons where our people are kept to live and die, where equal possibilities, equal education and equal responsibilities are unknown” (93). In Indian schools, children were not even allowed to speak their native language for fear that they might return to their savage ways. Essentially, American Indians only wanted equal rights and equal citizenship; they wanted Euro-Americans to stop treating them like lower-level beings. But Euro-Americans continued their quest to mother the “savage” race by assimilating and converting Indians.

Understandably, American Indians soon began to distrust and resent their white oppressors. Simon Pokagon put it nicely in his speech The Red Man's Greeting :

We nursed and fed them, fed the ravens that were soon to pluck out our eyes and the eyes of our children; . . . we
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