While the previous explorations of African American and white female experience suggest both the gains and limitations produced in the Revolutionary Era, from the perspective of almost all Native Americans the American Revolution was an unmitigated disaster. At the start of the war Patriots worked hard to try and ensure Indian neutrality, for Indians could provide strategic military assistance that might decide the struggle. Gradually, however, it became clear to most native groups, that an independent America posed a far greater threat to their interests and way of life than a continued British presence that restrained American westward expansion.
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The early 1790s witnessed major crises on a number of different fronts from the perspective of the federal government. It faced domestic unrest from the backcountry. On the international front there was trouble with France and England. And Native Americans in the west regrouped to pose a significant threat to U.S. plans for expansion.
Since 1492, European explorers and settlers have tended to ignore the vast diversity of the people who had previously lived here. It soon became common to lump all such groups under the term "Indian." In the modern American world, we still do. There are certain experiences common to the survivors of these tribes. They all have had their lands compromised in some way and suffered the horrors of reservation life.
In the centuries that led to the year 1000, Europe was emerging from chaos. Tribes roamed the countryside evoking fear from luckless peasants. The grandeur that was Rome had long passed. Across the Atlantic, the North American continent was also inhabited by tribes. The Anasazi managed to build glorious cities in the cliffs of the modern Southwest. Their rise and fall mark one of the greatest stories of pre-Columbian American history.
The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 intensified American migration to the west that was already well underway. Anglo-American settlement in the 18th century had largely been confined to the eastern seaboard. It made its boldest inroads where rivers allowed easy internal transportation. As a result the chief population centers of early North America were clustered on the coast or along its major inland waterways.
In May 1804, a group of 50 Americans led by Meriwether Lewis, Jefferson's personal secretary, and William Clark, an army officer, headed northwest along the Missouri River from St. Louis. Their varied instructions reveal the multiple goals that Jefferson hoped the expedition could accomplish. While trying to find a route across the continent, they were also expected to make detailed observations of the natural resources and geography of the west. Furthermore, they were to establish good relations with native groups in an attempt to disrupt British dominance of the lucrative Indian fur trade of the continental interior.
In the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, the first white settlers in America inhabited the eastern seaboard. There the whites either made treaties with the Native American groups to buy land or they forcibly took Indian land. By the Revolution's end and on into the early 19th century, Native Americans were being displaced across the Appalachians and toward what is today the Midwest. For these exiled groups, there were few places left to go.
The contradictions inherent in the expansion of white male voting rights can also be seen in problems raised by western migration. The new western states were at the forefront of more inclusive voting rights for white men, but their development simultaneously devastated the rights of Native American communities. Native American rights rarely became a controversial public issue. This was not the case for slavery, however, as northern and southern whites differed sharply about its proper role in the west.
This unit on American Indians: By studying the regions of the United States and the cultures that live in each region, students are able to compare/contrast within regions and across regions how tribes used their environments, and their cultural and other contributions to American life.
Note that the emphasis here is on broader groups of tribes for each region with some instruction on specific tribes representing each region. In no way is this case study approach to learning about one tribe meant to be generalized to all tribes of that region. We understand that each tribe was and continues to be unique in its culture, practices, lifeways, and traditions.
It was hard to believe the two regions were part of the same country. The rapidly industrializing East bore no resemblance to most of the American West. Except for few urban centers on the coast, the West knew nothing of cities. Instead, the West was an emerging patchwork of homestead farmers, miners, and cattle ranchers. While Easterners tried to make their way in these and other professions, Native Americans desperately clung to the hopes of maintaining their tribal traditions.
The struggle would be violent. Despite numerous treaties, the demand for native lands simply grew and grew to the point at which rational compromise collapsed. Local volunteer militias formed in the West to ensure its safe settlement and development. The Native Americans were growing increasingly intolerant of being pushed on to less desirable territory.
Americans have often prided themselves on their rich diversity. Nowhere was that diversity more evident in pre-Revolutionary America than in the middle colonies of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.
England was not the first European power to settle the land known now as New York. That distinction belongs to the Dutch.
William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania ("Penn's Woods") and planner of Philadelphia, established a very liberal government by 17th century standards. Religious freedom and good relations with Native Americans were two keystones of Penn's style.
Many in the 1950s strove for the comfort and conformity depicted on such TV shows as Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver. But despite the emerging affluence of the new American middle class, there was a poverty, racism, and alienation in America that was rarely depicted on TV.
In the 1960s, the first baby boomers entered college. These students were the largest class of young Americans ever to enter the halls of ivy. Unlike the "Silent Generation" of 1950s youth, the baby boomers were vocal about reforming democracy in the United States and the American presence abroad.
The 1960s broadened the traditional definition of civil rights, as the politics of identity exploded in the United States. As African Americans and women demanded much needed reforms, other groups who felt on the margins of American society organized as well. The climate was conducive to change, and many felt the need to seize the moment. Latino Americans, Native Americans, and gay Americans demanded fair treatment and inclusion under the banner of civil rights.
This collection uses primary sources to explore The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Digital Public Library of America Primary Source Sets are designed to help students develop their critical thinking skills and draw diverse material from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States. Each set includes an overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide. These sets were created and reviewed by the teachers on the DPLA's Education Advisory Committee.
Students will be expected to begin their basic understanding of the beginnings of the Age of Exploration and the Explorers who took part in it.