Civilization or extinction

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“Civilization or extinction” by Lucy Maddox discusses the forced removal of Indian tribe Cherokee from the state of Georgia in 1831. This question was very urgent at that time and was debated in almost every magazine or newspaper by politicians with different persuasions.  

As I understood, the Supreme Court was completely against Indians and denied their right on occupying that territory even though Americans came there when Natives already settled long ago before that.  

I was impressed when read that even after 43 years after the Trail of Tears (name given to the removal) Helen Hunt Jackson wrote: “In the whole history of our Government’s dealings with the Indian tribes, there is no record so black as the record of its perfidy to the Cherokees”.  That must mean that it was a really big event taken by some people with sympathy to Indians. 

The case of the Cherokees was so big because it was the first time when government was considering giving official sanction to the forced removal of Indian tribe from the land they occupied. In the second place, Cherokees had their own tribal holdings, laws, schools, churches and when Georgians tried to claim tribal holdings as state land or replace tribal law with state law Indians went to federal courts with all those matters.  

They were behaving like model citizens, because they adopted a lot of thing from Americans. Moreover, it was the first time when government refused to protect an Indian tribe. When Americans discovered that there was gold on the territory Indians occupied a lot of laws were established.  

For example, Indians could not mine their own gold, their land was declared as state property, whites who were living among Indians had to swear on oath of allegiance to the state of Georgia. I think that discrimination of Indians just got too big in size.  

Cherokee took their case to the US Supreme Court twice. The first decision of the Court was not consolatory for Indians, however the second seemed to be a victory for them, but Americans just ignored Court’s decision.  

The conflict between Cherokees and Georgians was “resolved” in 1835 with the signing of the Treaty of New Echota. Cherokees agreed to exchange their land for 5 million dollars. But Americans always found a way to cheat Indians: they went to get signatures on the treaty to Cherokees who were in favor of removal and then rushed to the Congress for ratification.  

A lot of Cherokees ignored the treaty and continued the resistance, but in 1838 federal troops forced them to leave the place. The Court was ruling only in favor of Americans.  

There were people who protected this acts of government. For example, Flint wrote in his book that forcing Indians to the west was very good for them, as they could advance there in agriculture, wealth, civilization, they could grow from «red people» into a miniaturized version of the American Nation.  

Also, Farnham, who traveled across the new Indian's territory made a conclusion that the policy of removal showed encouraging signs of success in turning Cherokees into cultivated and happy people. All that had to make American nation look really good.  

However I think that only words could not prove that removal was something good for Indians and all those books and articles could not conceal all the violence against Indians. 

Soon the discussions of «Can the Indians be civilized?» started. Some people even argued that only violence can force Indians to civilize. Another said that common property which existed among Indians doesn't fit a civilized society, just like Christianity and English language were crucial for civilizing.  

Government even made an official policy on establishing schools with the priority of replacing native language with English. Others claimed that Indians can not civilize at all (Hoffman: «You may talk of civilizing them, - but that is impossible»).  

From 1830s till 1860s the question of Indian civilization and removal was very popular, it was discussed in magazines, newspapers and even in schoolbooks.  

There existed a theory that the white race was genetically destined to inherit the earth. It had a strong support because it justified in a way keeping slaves and getting rid of Indians.  

Indians became a popular subject of poems and books. One of the writers whose work exploited the argument for white supremacy was William Gilmore. He even wrote that Indians are not necessary for American Nation’s future that is why he thinks that if they were all killed it would not make any difference. Other writers supported them. Anyway had a place in American literature. 

To sum up, in my opinion, Americans were too violent with Indians, like in that case with Cherokee tribe removal. They always found a way to cheat them and to make them leave their land, even though it was their native land. Also, Americans tried to justify all their deeds in different books, poems and articles by saying that only white people can be civilized and that only they can rule the world.

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“Civilization or extinction” by Lucy Maddox discusses the forced removal of Indian tribe Cherokee from the state of Georgia in 1831. This question was very urgent at that time and was debated in almost every magazine or newspaper by politicians with different persuasions.
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