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A New Era of the Transcontinental Railroad

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As a people, Native Americans have been through a lot in regards to their suffering over time. The discrimination and oppression they were subjected to throughout our history as a Nation is embarrassing. Being white is a huge barrier on a native reservations today because throughout history all white men have done for Natives is take from them. They have shown a tremendous amounts of greed since the beginning of our Nation. Wasi’chu is a Lakota word for non-Indian; the one who takes the best meat for themselves. It means greedy.

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The Bureau of Indian affairs set an early tone of aggression with the Native Americans. Multiple treaties have been made and broken on behalf of the US government. For years the Indians have been just taken from and it has resulted in great suffering for generations to come. Some present day issues include alcoholism, drug abuse, homelessness, poverty, short life expectancy, and all of these represent the domino effect that all started from forced migration and treaty violations.

The history of oppression of Native People is extensive and regretful. It involves greediness, empty promises, and treaty violations. The U.S. government has continued to display this greediness regardless of the repercussions it has on the Native Peoples. In 1851, the first treaty of Fort Laramie was made to mark the boundaries of the Lakota Nation. Ten years after that, the Homestead Act allowed a flood of white settlers onto Native lands. Then, in 1863, a rebellion of the Sioux tribe in Minnesota ended with the hanging of 38 Sioux men. This was the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The execution was ordered by President Lincoln two days after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Finally in 1866, the transcontinental railroad begun stating a new era. Lakota land was being used for trails and trains. Then in 1869, the transcontinental railroad was completed and it began transporting a large number of hunters who began the wholesale killing of buffalo. This eliminated a core source of food, clothing, and shelter for the Native Peoples. After thinking it can’t get much worse than this, it does. In 1871, the Indian Appropriation Act declares all Indians as wards of the federal government; the military issued orders forbidding western Indians from leaving reservations and at this point, all western Indians were now prisoners of war. Tribes no longer existed as sovereign nations. After gold was discovered in Lakota territory, a massive influx of settlers came. 1877 is the year the government found a way to get around the Fort Laramie Treaties through a new agreement, ”sell or starve”. You signed the paper to relinquish land, or no food for your tribe. Even then, only 10 percent of the adult male population signed. The treaty originally had called for at least three-quarters of the tribe to sign away land, which was just another treaty broken. 1887 started the Dawes Act which meant that reservations were cut up into 160-acre sections and distributed to individual Indians with the surplus disposed of. Many tribes lost millions of acres.

Current issues for Native Americans provide many unsettling statistics. Tuberculosis rates amongst Native Americans were 600% higher than the general population. Alcoholism rates were 510% higher, and diabetes 189% higher. The homicide rates were 61% higher among Native Americans, and suicide rate 62% higher. Many Native American households still lack safe indoor plumbing, where as the general population doesn’t have to worry about such issues.

A lot of these statistics lead to unfit parenting situations. Native American children are typically raised by grandparents due to biological parent’s drug or alcohol abuse. This can lead to broken households, feelings of resentment towards parents, or a continuance of the vicious cycle. This domino effect has being going on for many generations.

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