Red Jacket was a Native American Seneca oratot and the writer of “Indian View” 1805. His diplomatically written reply was to reject missionaries request on establishing a church. The reply was termed as bad-news message represented in an indirect manner. Red Jacket was also known as “Sagoyewatha” – the name was given because of his negotiation skills. At the beginning of his reply, he buffers and gives sound reasons supporting the refusal, but the end of the reply is written in the manner showing his willingness to maintain the goodwill.
As Seneca Tribal Commander in Native American Community, Sagoyewatha supported the British during the Revolutionary War. According to Doris A Isaacson, Red Jacket fought to prevent Iroquois from converting to Christianity. He couldn’t write any word in English but could speak a little. Thus, in negotiations with the United States and the British representatives he used the interpreters to present the position of Seneca and Iroquois. Translated orator’s famous speech was printed in the local Buffalo newspaper and several others.
Seneca and Iroquois increased their contacts with Europeans after the revolution, which resulted in the effort by the missionaries to convert them to Christianity. Some of the Iroquois listened to the missionaries leaving Seneca and Red Jacket to resist the acculturation. They believed that it was an essential requirement to maintain their culture and the native religion. Generally, the “Indian View” was about the history of the Native Americans, their background, religion, and their style of life as a commune before the arrival of the Europeans.
Indian Americans Historical Background
American land was originally inhabited by the Indians commonly known as Native Americans. They owned the American land long before the coming of the Europeans. Indian tribes led peaceful lives in their communities, before the Europeans put their feet into the territory. The basic source of living for the Natives was hunting. These original inhabitants of the America hunted various species of birds and animals like buffalo, fish and deer. Apart from hunting, they also engaged themselves in the growing of vegetables, corn, squash, nuts, berries, fruits, and melons. Men were worriers. They mainly protected the family and also did hunting. Animals’ skins were used in the making of clothes. Women, on the other hand, stayed at home taking care of children. Farming was another important duty performed by women in the community. Summarizing, it can be said that the Natives of the American Land wholly depended on their natural resources for survival.
The Europeans thought that Indians were more intelligent for the fact that they were able to built better houses. The culture of the Natives was quite different from that of the Europeans, who believed it was inferior compared to theirs. Thus, the Europeans believed that it was a big favor to teach the Natives on how to speak English.
Indian Americans lived commune lifestyle long before the Europeans came. At first, small groups of Europeans entered the land aiming to live freely and encourage their religion on the new territory. The Natives had a strong belief in helping others from which they had to suffer later. The owners of the land provided food to the visitors. Europeans also were given plots where they practiced farming and soon wholly adopted the Natives’ way of living which constituted of hunting and farming activities. The Europeans’ concepts and ideologies regarding land and ownership were completely differed from those believed by the Indians.
The knowledge of both the Europeans and the Native Americans was shared as they lived in organized communities. European settlers were welcomed by the Natives in the Massachusetts shores until the third decade of the 17th century. A lot of benefits accrued from the interactions of the Native Americans with the Europeans. The Natives welcomed trade in skins and hides in exchange to bead and shells. The Europeans brought knives, pots, metal, and guns –all of which the Natives didn’t have- in exchange for corn, meat and vegetables.
The Natives generously shared their belongings, food and skills that was vital for survival of the Europeans. In return, the settlers gave them what eventually destroyed them later. Firearms, diseases, brutal religion and whisky were given to the Natives with a sole intention of stealing their freedom. In spreading their religion, the Christian missionaries realized that the American Natives could not resist some diseases. Thus, they gave them bed sheets that were infected. The sheets had previously been used by patients suffering from smallpox. This was a peculiar strategy that the Europeans used to weaken the Indians who easily died of the disease.
The Indians were not aware of the real intentions of the Europeans over the land. The more Europeans entered the land, the more space was demanded. They started imposing their own rules in the territory that belonged to the Indian Americans. The Natives wholly depended on the natural resources that they were richly endowed with in their land. They used their resources in a way to keep a balance with nature. Europeans on the other hand, were mainly after power and money in the foreign land. They too believed that control over the Native Americans would bring them wealth of which the land was endowed with. On their verge to control the new territory, they had to rob the happiness and religious beliefs that co-existed among the owners of the land.
Diverse religious practices of the Natives posed varying responses especially to the Christian religion. Several tribes had initially welcomed the new religion. However, such reaction was not commonly positive The Indians were convinced that European culture possessed some spiritual powers. Such impression was received from the foreign technology of the Europeans. Although some of the natives reacted violently against the new religion, most of them converted to Christianity. The Native Americans found it easy to adopt the new religion without necessarily having to relinquish their beliefs since their main interest was not in the finer details of doctrine.
The natives never realized that the Europeans were deceiving them. Most of them died of diseases like tuberculosis and dehydration. Cultures and lives of the Indian Americans were forever changed by the European colonization.
The whites had all their efforts converged towards ruling over the owners of the land and finally taking over the entire territory. They used unique strategic plans that ensured their target was finally reached. A part of the strategy was encouraging war between the Natives to undermine brotherhood of the tribes. Resulting to the war, many of the Indians died which weakened their power to resist the foreigners. Spread of diseases was another strategy that the Europeans employed to paralyze the resistance of the Indians. The Natives had an immune system that could not fight against the deadly diseases. Thus, most of them died of these diseases.
The Europeans further ensured that the Natives completely adopted their way of living. This was done through forcing the Indian children to attend the government schools. These children were forced to adopt European lifestyle and culture. Despite the Indians having their own idiosyncratic believes, they were forced to follow those of the Europeans. Most importantly, conversion of the Natives to Christianity enabled the Europeans to control and further exploit them.
The Europeans and the Native Americans had both different views over the land ownership. In the Natives’ perspective, the land was just to be used but not owned. However, the Europeans had a sole intention of owning the land. These are the two main ideas that brought a disagreement between the groups. In the 1800s, more European immigrants landed on the shores of North America. This time is characterized by intense pressure of expanding population due to the inflow of the foreigners from Europe. Thus, the government of the United States was forced to enter into negotiations with the Natives. As a consequence, several treaties were signed. According to the treaties, the Europeans gained large land tracks from the American Natives. On the other hand, the Natives were given homes and their children were granted a right to attend schools.
American Natives were forced to be immigrants on the land of their own. In the 19th century, the government of the USA adopted a new disadvantageous law to the Natives. The law was meant to force the Natives that were living in the eastern part of the country to move westwards to the reserved land. One of the most memorable resistances was that from the Cherokees. The matter was taken to court however, resistance towards the hash and ruthless law eventually failed. The Chickasaws and Choctaws of Mississippi, Seminoles and Creeks of Florida and the Cherokees of Georgia were forced to leave their homeland. Thousands of these Natives died on the way during migration. Years after 1800 were bountiful for powerful politicians like Lewis Cass, William Henry Harrison and William Clark. They earned political popularity mainly in the newly joined territories. At that time many treaties between the Europeans and the Indians were crafted that saw the Natives losing more of what initially belonged to them.
According to the Native Americans culture and traditions, children education was home centered. Older relatives participated in teaching the young. Necessary knowledge and skills for the young girls and boys were learned through practice and imitation. Due to strong belief in their culture, the Europeans considered it was their obligation to introduce their way of life to the children of the Native Americans. Thus, the children were forcefully taken to the European boarding schools that were established by the government.
Nowadays, the Native Americans have a dual citizenship of the United States and of their tribe. The US government recognizes 300 tribes of the Native Americans and 200 native villages of Alaska. Native Americans are seeking to exercise the constitutional rights that the government of the US guarantees to them. They hold a perspective that they can contribute to the better America without necessarily having to give more land away. They further demand preservation of rights for self-governing. Moreover, the Natives want their traditions and unique identity as native land owners of America to be preserved.