The Native Americans
Chapter 7
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Questions We Will Explore
What have been some government actions toward
Native Americans in the United States?
Cite some examples of ethnocentrism and
stereotyping regarding Native Americans.
In what ways has little changed in the exploitation
of the Native Americans?
How do the three major sociological perspectives
explain the experiences of Native Americans?
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Sociohistorical perspective
Stereotype of Native American was negative, when they
obstructed Europeans from occupying their lands.
Of self-justification—denigration of Native Americans as
cruel, treacherous, lying heathens.
Outsiders over generalized the tribes as one people.
Even though they differ by language, social structure,
values and practices.
In 1492 their were 300 different languages spoken only
about half still exist. Now there are 275 reservations &
BIA recognizes 556 different tribal entities in the US
Sociohistorical perspective
Distinguishing physical characteristics: thick, black,
straight hair, very little facial or body hair, tend to be darkeyed with prominent cheekbones.
Beyond these similarities-greatly differ in physical stature
& features.
Ethnophasulism redskin – not accurate; skin coloring
range from yellowish to coppery brown.
Their experiences in American colonies were uniques in
one respect. The whites, Europeans, were the
newcomers and the minority for many years.
Psycohistorical perspective
As the two peoples interacted more fully, each group
grew more antagonistic toward the other.
Native Am could not understand the European settlers’
use of beatings, hangings & imprisonment as means of
social control.
Settlers could not understand the Native Am resistance to
Christianity & to the whites “more civilized” way of life.
Major issue was whose way of life would prevail &
whether the land would be further developed or allowed
to remain in its natural state, abounding with fish &
Sociohistorical perspective
Europeans first manifested a benign ethnocentrism in
their early contacts with Indians, which often degenerated
into enslavement, exploitation, or annihilation.
Differences in economic development and dominant
attitudes in the United States and Latin American resulted
in the Indian’s achievement of different social, economic ,
and political statuses
Initial cooperation between Indians and Whites along the
eastern seaboard of the US gradually lessened as the
settlements became more stabilized.
Increased interaction and cultural diffusion resulted in the
Indians becoming less self-sufficient and economically
dependent on the whites.
Sociohistorical perspective
Fighting between Native Am & settlers continued
sporadically & locally throughout westward movement of
whites until the late 1880.
Mid-19th century, US government adopted a policy of
forced relocation in dealing with Native Am tribes &
encouraging westward expansion. Government used
military force to displace the many tribes & resettle them
on wilderness reservations where they remained unless
new settlements plans or the discovery of oil & valuable
minerals caused further displacement.
Late 19th & early 20th century Congress enacted
legislation designed to help Native Am—however it
further disadvantaged or worsened their status.
Sociohistorical perspective
Civil-rights movement heightened the nation’s social
consciousness & inspired Native American to renew their
campaign for self-determination
They organized and became militant:
– 1969 Alcatraz Island demonstration
– 1972 Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington DC takeover
– 1973 Wounded Knee confrontation (site of an 1890 massacre)
– 1978 March on Washington
New Generation of RED POWER advocates took up the fight for
Native Am
Pan-Indian movement- emphasized individual tribal culture and
Sociohistorical perspective
500-year history of Native Am—white relations,
Native Am have rejected the notion that white’s
religions & lifestyles are superior to theirs.
To understand the nature of the relations
between these two groups. We must
comprehend the roles of ethnocentrism,
stereotyping, cultural differences, and power
differentials in intergroup relations.
Stereotyping perspective
Some common but false stereotypes of Native
Am has been those of bloodthirsty savages,
silent or aloof people, and the simplistic
Hollywood picture of Indians who are either
noble or vicious.
Native Am have a holistic or symbiotic view of
nature, seeing all existence as interrelated.
Sociohistorical perspective
In the United States, 19th-century policy of removal,
relocation, and Native American dependence on federal
government prevented most tribes from becoming full
participants in U.S. society.
MULATTO (of mixed black and white ancertry)
MESTIZO (of mixed Native American and White
Native Am populations in both Northern & Latin American
were decimated by various sicknesses that resulted from
earlier contact with white explorers: Smallpox,
tuberculosis, cholera, measles, mumps, and chicken pox
caused an accidental annihilation
Government Actions toward Native Americans
1778 - Continental Congress: Reaffirms 1763 British
policy (tribes accorded independent nation status; lands
west of the Appalachian mountains are Native American;
royal government must approve all land purchases).
1787 - Northwest Territory Ordinance: Opens the
Midwest for settlement; declares U.S. government
responsible for Native American property rights and
1824 - Bureau of Indian Affairs is created under the
jurisdiction of the secretary of war.
1830 - Indian Removal Bill: Mandates all Indians must
move west of the Mississippi.
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Government Actions (continued)
1830–1880 - As forced segregation becomes the new
Native American reality most reservations are established.
1871 - Appropriations bill rider: Tribes no longer are
independent nations; legislation, not negotiation, is to
determine any new arrangements.
1887 - Dawes Act: Reservations divided in tracts, allotted
to individual tribal members; surplus land sold.
1898 - Curtis Act: Terminates tribal governments that
refuse allotment to individual tribal members; surplus
land sold.
1906 - Burke Act: Eliminates Native Americans’ right to
lease their land, with the intent to force Native Americans
to work the land themselves.
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Government Actions (continued)
1924 - Indian Citizenship Act: Grants US citizenship
1934 - Indian Reorganization Act: Ends allotment,
encourages tribal self-government; restores freedom of
religion; extends financial credit; promotes revival of
Native American culture and crafts.
1952 - Relocation Program: Moves Native Americans at
government expense to urban areas for better jobs.
1953 - Termination Act: Elimination of reservation
systems, ends federal services and tax immunity.
1973 - Menominee Restoration Act: Revokes termination
and restores Menominee’s reservation and tribal status.
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Government Actions (continued)
1974 - Indian Finance Act: Grants and loans for Native
American enterprises and development projects .
1975 - Indian Self-Determination and Education
Assistance Act: Expands tribal control over reservation
programs; provides funding for public schools on/near
1976 - Indian Health Care Improvement Act: Provides
funds to build/renovate hospitals, add personnel, scholarships for Native Americans in Indian Health Service.
1978 - Education Amendments Act: Gives substantial
control over education programs to Native Americans.
1978 - Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance
Act: Provides grants to tribal community colleges.
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Government Actions (continued)
1978 - Indian Child Welfare Act: Restricts placement of
Native American children into non-Native American
1978 - American Indian Religious Freedom Act: Protects
Native American religious rights, including peyote use.
1993 - Religious Freedom Restoration Act: Restores
standards of review for American Indian Religious
Freedom Act that were overturned by a Supreme Court
ruling in 1990.
1993 - Omnibus Indian Advancement Act: Establishes
foundation for gifts to BIA schools; increases economic
development opportunities for tribes; improves tribal
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Examples of Ethnocentrism and
Stereotyping Regarding Native Americans
In the 16th and 17th centuries, ethnocentric Europeans
condemned aspects of Native American culture they did
not understand and related to other aspects only in terms
of their own culture. Some considered the indigenous
people to be savages, even though Native American
societies had a high degree of social organization. Other
Native American stereotypes were: “silent or aloof.”
In colonial and frontier days, the stereotype of the Native
Americans often was negative, especially when they
obstructed Europeans from occupying their land. As a
result of self-justification, some whites viewed Native
Americans as cruel, treacherous, lying, dirty heathens.
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Ethnocentrism and Stereotyping (cont’d)
Contemporary Native Americans often are stereotyped as
backward, unmotivated, continually drunk, or are
regarded as romantic anachronisms.
Many frequently overgeneralize about Native Americans,
seeing the many tribes as one people even though the
tribes have always differed from one another in language,
social structure, values, and practices.
The settlers, in colonial and frontier days, could not
understand the Native Americans’ resistance to
Christianity and to the whites’ “more civilized” way of
life. But the major issue was whose way of life would
prevail and whether the land would be further developed
or allowed to remain in its natural state.
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Native Americans - Still Exploited
Today, many people in the U.S. are oblivious to Native
Americans’ problems and consider them quaint relics of
the past; others find them undesirable and some want
their land and will use almost any means to secure it.
Native Americans still encounter discrimination in stores,
bars, and housing, particularly in cities and near the
reservations. They have been beaten or killed and their
property rights infringed on.
Of all the minorities in the United States, according to
government statistics on income, Native Americans are
the “poorest of the poor.”
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Still Exploited (continued)
Encroachment on Native American land continues.
Water and energy needs have led government and
industry to look covetously at reservation land once
considered worthless.
Poor, but with large tracts of isolated land, Native
Americans in recent years have seen their reservations
recommended as toxic-waste dumping grounds.
Urban sprawl and agribusiness have prompted whites to
sink deep wells around reservations in Arizona,
siphoning off the water reserves of several tribes.
A growing number of sacred Native American sites are
under threat from housing developments and industrial
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The Native Americans - 3 Perspectives
Functionalist - Early contacts tended to be harmonious,
with both sides benefiting . Dysfunctions occurred as Native
Americans slipped into economic subservience, their way of
life further threatened by encroachment on their land by
steadily increasing numbers of white settlers. Whites
forcibly removed Native Americans, seen as a hindrance to
their making the land productive.
Forced segregation on nonproductive reservations
destroyed Native American society as a self-sufficient
entity. The systemic disorganization of the society
restricted life opportunities. Poor education, low income,
bad housing, poor health, alcoholism, and suicides are
serious problems facing Native Americans today.
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Native Americans - 3 Perspectives (continued)
Conflict Theory - White newcomers, superior in
technology compared to the indigenous population,
engaged in early conflict. The native population declined
due to warfare, disease, and disruption of sustenance
activities, and its social institutions were undermined.
Westward expansion occurred by pushing aside the people
who already possessed the land, without regard for their
rights or wishes.
Formal government agreements and treaties became
meaningless to those in power if further land confiscation
or exploitation for natural resources offered profits.
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Native Americans - 3 Perspectives (continued)
Interactionist - Ethnocentric views of Native American
culture prompted a definition of the native population as
inferiors, savages, and even nonhumans. Such social
distance created by dehumanization makes it easy to
justify any action taken.
European Americans viewed even the acculturated
Native Americans working as servants or laborers as
members of an inferior race fit to be subordinated and
relegated to a noninterfering, humble role in society.
High levels of prejudice against Native Americans still
exists in the West. The negative labeling and
dehumanizing processes that led to past acts of violence
against Native Americans remains a problem today.
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For over two hundred years government actions have
been taken toward Native Americans that have changed
and in many cases destroyed their way of life.
Ethnocentrism and stereotyping formed negative views
and misconceptions of Native Americans.
Today, Native Americans are still misunderstood and
The functionalist, conflict, and interactionist theories
provide explanations for the Native American
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The Native Americans