In the last five centuries, Christopher Columbus claimed that he discovered a ‘New World’ which became the genesis of European invasion. The European invasion led to a stand off between them and the Native Americans in terms of rights and culture. Native Americans are concerned about their right of ownership, right of worship, civil rights, and citizenship among other issues. Court cases have been won by tribes in some states; for instance Washington and Nevada, to give them back their ancestral lands and fishing rights. In addition, anthropological museums have acquired crucial artifacts following successful lawsuits by Native American (Indians) amid protests by local citizens. However, there is serious future uncertainty in America if these lawsuits continue to be won in favor of the Native Americans. With the level of intermarriages witnessed today the lawsuits are likely to lead to an unforeseen situation. There is definitely going to be cultural conflicts between European citizens and Native Americans. Cultural values of the Native Americans have changed to some extend from the ancient times to the 1990s. This essay however looks at the cultural reservations that still stand among the Cherokee tribe in the United States.
A case study on the Cherokees reveals an effort by the Europeans to build Indian civilization based on their rule in Atlanta, Georgia. The Cherokees established there capital in New Echota from as early as 1820s as a result of trading. Trading saw the growth of the nation as a number of economic activities sprouted and social amenities improved. “It was an orderly, neat and well-run place, where the town printing press, the Cherokee Phoenix, printed a weekly newspaper and thousands of Bibles, hymnals, novels and broadsheets,” (Bordewich, 1996). In order to establish their own legislation, the nation tailor made their constitution from the Washington D.C constitution. The content included the economic legislations, the bill of rights, and right to privacy. The aim of constitutional making was to seek justice, preserve cultural values, and economic prosperity. The editor of Cherokee Phoenix, Elias Boudinot is hailed for establishing the rule of law in New Echota. His vision was to develop meaningful legislation that would stand the test of time in regard to serving the interests of both the Cherokees and US at large. However, Georgia did not recognize the laws in 1830 and the Cherokees remain mum till the strife for civil rights in the 1960s spearheaded by Martin Luther King.
Indian culture and rich history in the wake of 1990s has been given a boost following the 1990 Congress declaration. The declaration gave the Indians the right to preserve their treasured artifacts and cultural objects; hence, the museums were forced to make inventory of all the collections they held. The Indians were also guaranteed that crucial items would be taken back to the tribes. “For example, the Omaha Indians of Nebraska, in 1991, reclaimed and reburied ancestral remains on their lands, and received back the Sacred White Buffalo Hide from the Museum of the American Indian. The number of cultural festivals and powwows are on the rise,” (Herndon). Native American culture is still regarded as important and celebrations are now freer and mightier. For instance, peyote drug use among Indians was allowed following successful lobby by Native American Church. In addition, there are increased festivities with cultural ties like the powwow and freedom of worship. Therefore it can be justified that 1990s saw the preservation of cultures among tribes of Native Americans. In fact, today the cultural values in religion, art, tenets and festivities have legal backing which makes them gain popularity.