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The Indians in American Society

The Indians in American Society: From the Revolutionary War to the Present

Francis Paul Prucha
Series: Quantum Books
Copyright Date: 1985
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  • Book Info
    The Indians in American Society
    Book Description:

    American Indian affairs are much in the public mind today—hotly contested debates over such issues as Indian fishing rights, land claims, and reservation gambling hold our attention. While the unique legal status of American Indians rests on the historical treaty relationship between Indian tribes and the federal government, until now there has been no comprehensive history of these treaties and their role in American life. Francis Paul Prucha, a leading authority on the history of American Indian affairs, argues that the treaties were a political anomaly from the very beginning. The term "treaty" implies a contract between sovereign independent nations, yet Indians were always in a position of inequality and dependence as negotiators, a fact that complicates their current attempts to regain their rights and tribal sovereignty. Prucha's impeccably researched book, based on a close analysis of every treaty, makes possible a thorough understanding of a legal dilemma whose legacy is so palpably felt today.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-90884-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Francis Paul Prucha
  4. 1 Paternalism
    (pp. 1-27)

    One of the enduring issues facing the government and the people of the United States through two centuries of existence is the place of American Indians in American society. Unlike other ethnic minorities that emigrated to the New World in historic times, the native Americans were in a sense indigenous. They laid claim to the land of the entire continent, which they had inhabited since their own migrations from Asia twenty-five to forty thousand years ago. By the time Europeans came to settle permanently in the New World, the Indians had developed a remarkable diversity of languages, political organizations, and...

  5. 2 Dependency
    (pp. 28-54)

    Paternalism toward the Indians was not projected out of some conscious or unconscious needs of the whites, nor was it developed simply as a rationalization for crass materialistic gain. It grew out of a genuine, though often misguided, desire to aid peoples seen as inferior and dependent—to bring to them the “blessings of Christian civilization.”

    We know that historical circumstances and events are complex, the result of the interplay of many forces, and that simple answers tend to be distorted answers. We know, too, that not all Indian groups were the same and that great variations obtained in regard...

  6. 3 Indian Rights
    (pp. 55-79)

    The paternalism that marked American Indian policy was not an end in itself (even though it might be argued that the bureaucracy in which the paternalism was embodied tended to perpetuate itself). The goal of the benevolent humanitarians who had such great influence on Indian policy in the nineteenth century was assimilation of the Indians into the general American citizenry. The solution to dependency/paternalism was seen to be the vanishing of the Indians by absorption into the dominant white Christian society of the nation. When the Indians were thus assimilated, reformers repeated again and again, there would be no “Indian...

  7. 4 Self-Determination
    (pp. 80-104)

    Recent years have in many ways been the most exciting and most fruitful period in the history of Indian relations in the United States. The movement toward self-determination, which began in the 1920s and 1930s with John Collier’s crusade for Indian reform and which advanced so rapidly in the 1960s after the brief hiatus of termination, reached a high point in the 1970s. For some people—a majority perhaps of Americans—Indians are still a romantic topic. Iconographic symbols of Indians that everyone recognizes all come out of the past—bows and arrows, smoke signals, tomahawks, peace pipes, long braids,...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 105-118)
  9. Index
    (pp. 119-127)