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What effects did American territorial expansion between 1785 and 1829 have on the Native Americans?

        Between 1785 and 1829, the cultures of Native Americans were greatly changed by American territorial expansion. In particular, the loss of land, trust, and attempted reforms made by whites to "civilize" the Native Americans greatly affected them. American western expansion was the cause of many of the Native Americans' great sorrows.

        In 1790, most of the land west of the Appalachian Mountains was unsettled (A). After the War of 1812, the population in the West doubled. However, by 1820 an extremely significant increase in population in the same area was observed. This was due to the conquest of Indian land by the U. S. Army. For example, in 1794, the U. S. Army, led by General Anthony Wayne, defeated the Shawnee, Wyandot, and other Native American tribes at the battle of Fallen Timbers in northwestern Ohio. The next year, the chiefs of these defeated tribes agreed to the Treaty of Greenville. This Treaty stated that the Native Americans were to surrender the Ohio Territory to American settlers. The U. S. advocated that "Under my wings everything prospers" (I), which justified their encroachment of Indian soil. This rationalized their intrusion because the U. S. claimed it as trying to civilize the Native Americans with arms. Some whites felt it was their obligation to "introduce to them the arts of civilization, in hope of gradually reclaiming them from a wandering life..." (H) President Andrew Jackson felt justified in enforcing the Indian Removal Act because it was of benefit to the Native Americans according to him.

        Likewise, the Native Americans not only lost their land, but lost their trust of white Americans. The Native Americans were friendly and helpful to the "forefathers" of this country and were in return, deceived by the white man. "Wars took place" (C) after the Native Americans greeted the whites with open arms. Some of the settlers treated the Native Americans with respect and appreciation. The explorers Louis and Clark, were sent by President Jefferson on a mission to chart the newly acquired northwest territories. They were one of the groups of people that were helped to get through the territory using old Indian trails. The Native Americans helped them to get through the wilderness. Without the Native Americans their journey might have ended in utter failure and the loss of lives of the entire expedition. At the time the Native Americans did not know that by helping the Americans, it would only help lead to the end of their lifestyle as they knew it.

        American settlers attempted to Christianize the Native Americans and their reaction was "we only want to enjoy our own" (C) religion. The Native Americans agreed that "any sale not made by all is not valid. " (D) They believed that "the white people have no right to take the land from the Indian, because they had it first; it is theirs." (D) The U. S. portrayed the Native Americans as savages and in a 1785 treaty, white Americans were not allowed to "attempt to settle on any of the lands westward or southward of he said boundary" or those "having already settled and will not remove from the same within six months after the ratification of this treaty, such person shall forfeit the protection of the United States." (B) The United States continuously made treaties with the Indian Nations. They promised them land that no American citizen was permitted to enter. Yet, the United States government treated these contracts as if they were nothing more than a promise made by a parent to get their child to go to bed. They later went and violated these Treaties. The U. S. was aggressive when removing the Native Americans later as in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend with the Cherokees in 1814. The U. S. accused the Native Americans of the crime of not respecting "the power of the United States of America They thought we were an insignificant nation that we would be overpowered by the British." (E) This arrogant attitude justified the aggression and hostility towards the Native Americans. President Andrew Jackson stated, "We bleed our enemies in such cases to give them their senses" (E) Jackson referred to the Native Americans as our enemies.

        The Native Americans resisted the westward movement between 1785 and 1929 threat to their very existence. They were later forcefully removed by the U. S. which justified itself by Manifest Destiny; it was the right and obligation of white Americans to expand the nation. The Native Americans were cheated and robbed of their land, abused, and eventually forced on reservations as a result of America's rush for land.


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