American Civil Rights: Native Americans

Key people, dates, groups, laws, cases

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The Sand Creek Massacre

  • 1864
  • a troop of cavalry attacked an undefended Cheyenne camp killing and mutilating elderly men, women and children
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The Plain Wars

  • 1862-67
  • these were a series of clashes rater than wars between the Indian tribes and units of the US Army
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Manifest Destiny

  • a belief held by white americans that God had chosen them to populate the lands from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean
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The Battle of the Little Bighorn

  • 1876
  • Custer and his men were sent to round up Sioux and Cheyenne Indians who had left the Great Sioux Reservation lands and were defying the authorities by refusing orders to return
  • his unit of 200 men came under attack and were quickly overwhelmed by superior numbers.
  • all were killed
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Massacre at Wounded Knee

  • 1890
  • Sioux Indians were finally rounded up by the US army
  • this was the result of the growing popularity throughout the reservation lands of a religious ritual called the 'ghost dance' an attempt by desperate people living in misey on the reservations to regain their lost way of life
  • the reservation police believed that Chief Sitting Bull was responsible and shot him as they were in teh process of arresting him on the reservation
  • there they were surrounded by the army who opened fire killing all of the 200 unarmed men, women and children
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Indian Rights Association (IRA)

  • founded in 1882
  • devoted to the cause of assimilating the Native American people
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The General Allotment (Dawes) Act

  • 1887
  • each head of the faily to receive 160 acres of farmland or 320 acres of grazing land for 25 years in trust
  • further subdivision of land to be allotted to single persons or orphaned children
  • after 25 years, native americans to have full ownership of the land
  • all native americans famring allotted land to have full rights of citixenship
  • unallotted land on the reservations to be offered to white americans for settlement
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Israel Zangwill

  • the concept of the USA as a birthplace of a new race, forged in a crucible, owes its origin to his successful Broadway play The Melting Pot
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Lone Wolf v Hitchcock

  • 1903
  • the supreme court supported the power of the US Government to revoke all treaties with Native American tribes
  • 'an ignorant and dependent race'
  • 'wards of the nation'
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The Indian Citizenship Act

  • 1924
  • votes for native americans
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Harrison v Laveen

  • 1948
  • two naive americans in this test case claimed that their rights had been violated when theywere not allowed to register their vote.
  • yet although the court decided in their favour, other states in the west continued to restrict the voting rights of indians
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The Leavitt Bill

  • The 'Dance Order'
  • 1926
  • threatened to remove the right of Peublos to perform some of their traditional dances
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John Collier

  • American Indian Defense Association (AIDA)
    • laws protecting the rights of Indians to their lands
  • successful in blocking the Bursum Bill 1922 and Leavitt Bills
    • authorised that acquisition of Peublo lands
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The Meriam Report

  • 1928
  • condemned the allotment policy instigated by the Dawes Act
  • it claimed tthat the Indians were the most impoverished people in the US
  • Charles Rhoads put together a reform package along the lines of those suggested in the report
  • nothing was done to address the matter of the allotted lands
  • disappointed reformers such as John Collier who believed that Rhoad's reforms had stopped short of making the really essential changes to the allotment system that he advocated
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The Wheeler-Howard Act

  • this is the name given to the Indian Re-organisation Act
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National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)

  • 1944
  • significant because it represented a realisation that to bring about real improvement, Native Americans had to unite in protest
  • set up in response to moves to end the reservations and absorb Native Americans into american society where they would cease to be a drain on taxpayers
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Bureau of Indian Affairs

  • 1947
  • federal government organisation contrlled the money allocated for the development of Native Americans and was responsible for their education as well as for the reservations
  • it was seen as too bureaucratic and slow to take action because it was bound up with complex legal rules and regulations
  • it also had the power to take away land from the reservations giving little compensation in return
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Indian Vocational Training Act

  • 1956
  • established vocational training for American Indians
  • so could obtain a "marketable skill"
  • this was provided with federal funding for all those who applied, provided that they lived near to reservations and were under the jurisdiction of the BIA
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National Indian Youth Council (NIYC)

  • 1961
  • persue civil rights for American Indians
  • it attempted to preserve Indian's fishing rights
  • in 1968 they staged a 'fish in' after the Washington State Supreme Court ruled against protecting the fishing rights of the tribes in that area
  • in the 1970s it filed law suits to protect Indian land from the exploitation of its mineral resources
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Richard Oakes

  • indian rights activist
  • believed and campaigned for the rights of Native American people to control their own destinies, to retain their land, their culture and traditional way of life
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Louis R Bruce Jnr.

  • second native american to be appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1969
  • he was in post during the period of the most violent protests by native americans and was dismissed in 1973 following the 6 day occupaion of the BIA building in Washington DC by 500 protesting Indians
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Oneida v Oneida

  • 1974
  • case for the right to sue for the return of their lands
  • court decided in their favour
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Fisher v Montana

  • 1976
  • secured the right of tribal courts to decide on all cases relating to the adoption of Indian children
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United States v the Sioux Nation

  • 1980
  • the US supreme court ruled that the Sioux Indians were entitled to compensation totalling $17.5 million and an additional 5% interest per year since 1877 for the loss of the Black Hills in contravention of the Fort Laramie Treaty
  • the Sioux refused to accept this money preferring instead the return of their land.
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