February 7

Blog #165 – What does America owe the Indigenous peoples?

As we study America’s legacy with regards to the Indigenous nations, one thing to keep in mind is the long-term legacy that white Americans and European settlers have to own with regards to Native Americans.  In the most widely known policy enacted against the Indigenous nations, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren expelled the Indians, the Five “Civilized Tribes” of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminole, Choctaw, and Creek tribes – under the Indian Removal Act.  They were relocated to lands west of the Mississippi River where they would be allowed to roam free, the thinking went.  But that was only one act in this long drama between white Americans (and previously before them, white Europeans) and Indigenous nations.

The Indian Removal Act was passed by Congress in 1830, in order to remove the five tribes from areas of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.  Historian and noted Jackson scholar Robert Remini said that the Indians were removed from the eastern United States because they presented a direct threat to the country, having been used as sabotuers by foreign invaders in the past three wars that America had fought (French and Indian War, the Revolution, and the War of 1812).  Remini saw this act as improving the homeland security of the nation.  Other historians see the act within the context of the grab for new farm land in the cotton-growing frenzy that gripped the nation – the Indians were moved because the land they lived on was coveted by white farmers so that they could add to the cotton kingdom.  This act was unconstitutional because the Indians were seen as “domestic dependent nations” and NOT sovereign independent nations as affirmed by the Supreme Court in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia.  Historian H.W. Brands states that President Jackson felt that this removal policy was “humane” and saved the Indians from annihiation from the crushing forces of white encroachment.

From there, however, Manifest Destiny charged ahead, damn the torpedoes, so to speak, and the Indians were in the way again.  Whether it be farm land, gold and silver mines, railroads, or the destruction of the buffalo, Native Americans became an easy target for white Americans moving westward.  The tribes were pushed aside and put onto reservations, or as the speaker in the TED talk below, Aaron Huey, calls them, “prisoner of war camps”.  Some Indians like Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse, just to name a few, fought back and succeeded at slowing down the demographic flood of white settlers.  A 1911 ad offering "allotted Indian land" for sale

For most American history books, we see that they talk about the Indians almost always when they are being pushed off of their land by Europeans (King Philip’s War, Powhatan War, Seminole War, Indian Removal Act) or when they fight back (Dakota War, Battle of Little Bighorn, Red Cloud’s War) or after being indiscriminately massacred (Sand Creek and Wounded Knee Massacres).  Few cover the decimation of disaeases that faced the Native Americans when the Europeans first arrived.  Even fewer touch on 20th Century issues and laws regarding education, reservation (and sale of Indian land), tribal recognition, citizenship or lack thereof, The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, Termination policy in the 1950s or other Indian policies like the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.  Our textbooks might talk about AIM or the standoff at Wounded Knee in 1973, but just as an inclusion of many minority groups in the chapter on the late 1960s / early 1970s. There might even be something about the seizure of Alcatraz Island by Native Americans. But rarely anything is heard after that.  Just within the past ten years does it seem that historians are acknowledging the tragedies of the Indian boarding schools.


In the following disturbing and moving video, photographer Aaron Huey lists the many things done (in the name of America) to the Lakota Sioux tribe.  He juxtaposes the litany of broken treaties and promises and horrific things with his own photos of the Lakota tribe at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Aaron Huey’s wish is that the American government honor the treaties and give back the Black Hills.  To atone for America’s sins, to use such a phrase, can anything truly be done?  Where, if anywhere, should Americans start to make up for what has been done to the Indigenous nations?   Is it right that we should speak in such manner as atoning for sins or asking for forgiveness?  Or do you feel that you have nothing to ask forgiveness for since these things had been done before you were born?  What responsibility does America have to the Indigenous nations?

One major thing to consider is that though we may not have been personally responsible for oppressing the Native Americans, we benefit from the results of past policies of our government towards Native Americans (and even from past colonial practices).

Should we replace Columbus Day with Indigineous Peoples’ Day?

Should we push Congress to rescind the Medals of Honor distributed to the 7th Cavalry handed out after the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890?

Should reservations be abolished? Or should those that exist still remain yet receive generous help?

Should the remaining pro sports teams like the Kansas City Chiefs or Atlanta Braves be forced to take new mascot names (remember that after refusing to do so for decades and claiming that their names and mascots honored Indigenous peoples, the Washington football team and the Cleveland baseball team changed their names and mascots)?

What can we learn from Canada and the way they have treated and honored their Indigenous peoples?

Should Native Americans be given back their religious ceremonial artifacts, tens of thousands of which sit in museums, some on display, others locked in vaults?

In finishing up the research for this blog (including reading chapters of the book, “All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz) I found that Congress passed, as part of an appropriations bill, a resolution called the Native American Apology Resolution in 2009.  Introduced by Republican senator from Kansas, Sam Brownback, he said the reason he did this was “to officially apologize for the past ill-conceived policies by the US Government toward the Native Peoples of this land and re-affirm our commitment toward healing our nation’s wounds and working toward establishing better relationships rooted in reconciliation.”


The Apology Resolution states that the United States, “apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States.”

The Apology Resolution also “urges the President to acknowledge the wrongs of the United States against Indian tribes in the history of the United States in order to bring healing to this land.”

The Apology Resolution comes with a disclaimer that nothing in the Resolution authorizes or supports any legal claims against the United States and that the Resolution does not settle any claims against the United States.

The Apology Resolution does not include the lengthy Preamble that was part of S.J Res. 14 introduced earlier this year by Senator Brownback.  The Preamble recites the history of U.S. – tribal relations including the assistance provided to the settlers by Native Americans, the killing of Indian women and children, the Trail of Tears, the Long Walk, the Sand Creek Massacre, and Wounded Knee, the theft of tribal lands and resources, the breaking of treaties, and the removal of Indian children to boarding schools.

  1. Describe your reactions to the Ted Talk – positive, negative, somewhere in between – and explain why;
  2. After reading and discussing the 1862 Dakota War, how does knowledge of Lincoln’s actions during this time complicate his legacy?  (Keep in mind, it is his face – along with Washington, Jefferson, and Teddy Roosevelt – on Mt. Rushmore in the holy land for the Lakota Sioux people).
  3. Discuss your thoughts / concerns about how to acknowledge the debt America owes the Indigenous nations and why.

Total 400 words minimum for all 3 answers.  Due Monday, February 12 by class.  

Extended quotes come from the blog: https://nativevotewa.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/president-obama-signs-native-american-apology-resolution/

Posted February 7, 2024 by geoffwickersham in category Blogs

63 thoughts on “Blog #165 – What does America owe the Indigenous peoples?

  1. Ian Whan

    1.Describe your reactions to the Ted Talk – positive, negative, somewhere in between – and explain why;
    I think my overall reaction from the ted talk was enlightening. I think the part about “taking the best part of the meet” reflects what we do and have done with the native population. In general we have always taken the best parts, or the parts that we want, and leave them with the rest. This cruel and insensitive nature is what got the Natives in the situation they are in currently, and have been for a while, I think as a country— as a whole— we ignore it, just another thing to sweep under the rig. And the same thing is going to happen that always does, once the sweeping gets too much and it starts to affect the members of our society that do things, that’s when action will be taken. But will it be too late by then?
    I thought it was a good decision to share the part about the transcontinental railroad because I do think it’s very important to see the upright disregard that they had for land that is theirs and land that was so sacred to them, also the amount of buffalo being killed and in general land that was now government property and that was being granted to the railroad companies. If the tides were turned and if there was even talk about them trying to build something on a white man’s land, there would be another massacre, because god forbid someone disobeys a white person’s wishes.
    Additionally, the passive aggressiveness of the laws being passed. The new laws and acts that were indicted onto the Natives all had a large undertone. For example,the Dawes Act of 1887. This act was supposed to be about how communal ownership of reservation lands ends. Reservations are cut up into 160-acre sections, and distributed to individual Indians with the surplus disposed of. But the long term plan for this act was in fact for the tribes to lose more land, so more american citizens could gain and own more land, to make the american dream available to everyone. They wanted to divide the reservations up until there was nothing left.
    All in all, I think this ted talk was very educational and enlightening, and it was also very provoking.

    2. Knowledge of Abraham Lincoln’s actions during his time in office does indeed complicate his legacy, specifically concerning his policies and actions towards Indigenous people. While Lincoln is widely celebrated for his leadership during the Civil War, and his efforts to preserve the Union and abolish slavery, his record regarding Indigenous peoples raises important questions and challenges the simplistic narrative of his legacy.
    One significant aspect of Lincoln’s presidency that complicates his legacy is his administration’s and cabinet’s role in the execution of the largest mass execution in U.S. history, known as the Dakota War of 1862. During this conflict in Minnesota, Dakota warriors clashed with white settlers over broken treaties, lack of food, and other injustices. Following the war, Lincoln approved the hanging of 38 Dakota men in a rushed and unjust legal process. Many historians could argue that it was riddled with irregularities and lacked due process.This can be taken as a double edged sword, and a very sharp one too. While he executed 38 men, lots of people defended him in the instance that there could have been a lot more if he didn’t order the hanging. This decision demonstrated a willingness to prioritize settler interests over Indigenous rights and contributed to the ongoing feud and violence against Indigenous peoples.
    Furthermore, Lincoln’s administration pursued policies of westward expansion and settler colonialism that resulted in the displacement and violence against Indigenous nations. Despite his personal opposition to the expansion of slavery, Lincoln supported the Homestead Act of 1862, which facilitated the transfer of millions of acres of Indigenous lands to white settlers!?!? Additionally, his administration oversaw the construction of the transcontinental railroad, which further encroached upon Indigenous territories and facilitated the genocide of bison, a vital resource for many Plains Indigenous peoples.
    The addition of Lincoln’s face on Mount Rushmore, a sacred site for the Lakota Sioux people, in my opinion was completely insensitive and added even more complexity to his legacy. While Lincoln is widley celebrated as a symbol of American democracy and freedom, his actions as president contributed to the ongoing oppression and marginalization of Indigenous peoples. For the Lakota Sioux, Mount Rushmore represents a painful reminder of the theft of their ancestral lands and the erasure of their culture and sovereignty.
    In conclusion, knowledge of Lincoln’s actions during his presidency complicates his legacy by highlighting the contradictions between his progressive views on slavery and his policies towards Indigenous peoples. While Lincoln’s leadership during the Civil War and his efforts to abolish slavery are undeniably significant, it is essential to critically examine his record regarding Indigenous rights and acknowledge the harm caused by his administration’s policies. Only by confronting the complexities of Lincoln’s legacy can we move towards a more honest and inclusive understanding of American history.

    3. Acknowledging the debt America owes to Indigenous nations is a complicated issue that requires deep reflection, sincere acknowledgment, meaningful, and hasty action. There are several thoughts and concerns that arise when considering this matter, all of witch are of the same importance, the importance of addressing historical injustices and working towards reconciliation.
    First and foremost, acknowledging this debt is essential for a healing relation and reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and the broader American society. For centuries, Indigenous nations have endured colonization, displacement, genocide, and cultural erasure at the hands of European settlers and the United States government. The trauma inflicted upon Indigenous communities through forced assimilation policies, land dispossession, and systemic discrimination continues to reverberate through generations. Recognizing and validating the experiences of Indigenous peoples is crucial for acknowledging the ongoing impact of historical injustices on contemporary Indigenous communities and promoting healing.
    Furthermore, acknowledging the debt owed to Indigenous nations is a matter of justice and human rights. Indigenous peoples have inherent rights to self-determination, sovereignty, and cultural preservation, which have been systematically violated throughout history, and overall recently too. Addressing these injustices requires acknowledging the role of the United States government and non-Indigenous settlers in perpetuating colonial violence and upholding structures of oppression. This acknowledgment is a necessary step towards rectifying past wrongs and upholding Indigenous rights to land, resources, and autonomy.
    Also, acknowledging the debt owed to Indigenous nations is integral to building a more inclusive and equitable society. Indigenous knowledge, cultures, and languages are invaluable contributions to the fabric of American society and deserve to be respected and celebrated. By acknowledging the debt owed to Indigenous nations, we could confirm the importance of Indigenous perspectives, experiences, and contributions to our collective history. This acknowledgment can help challenge dominant narratives of American history that marginalize or erase Indigenous voices and experiences.
    However, there are also concerns and challenges associated with acknowledging the debt owed to Indigenous nations. One concern is the potential resistance or backlash from those who benefit from the current status quo of settler colonialism and systemic inequality. Addressing historical injustices requires confronting uncomfortable truths about the foundational myths of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny. This can provoke defensiveness or denial among those who are invested in maintaining systems of power and privilege.
    Another concern is the risk of tokenism or superficial gestures of acknowledgment without meaningful action to address the root causes of Indigenous oppression. True reconciliation requires more than symbolic gestures or empty apologies, it it a necessity concrete steps towards dismantling systemic barriers to Indigenous rights and self-determination. This includes returning stolen lands if possible/plausible, upholding treaty rights, investing in Indigenous-led initiatives, and centering Indigenous voices in decision-making processes.
    In conclusion, acknowledging the debt owed to Indigenous nations is a moral imperative that requires sincere reflection, humility, and commitment to justice. By confronting the legacy of colonialism and working towards reconciliation, we can build a more just and equitable society for all.

  2. Hannah Martens

    1. Before this year, I had never really been taught about the life of Native Americans in the present time, or how everything that was done to them has drastically affected them in the long run. The focus has always been on the history and what happened in the past, never what is happening in the present. Reading books and watching videos like this Ted Talk has been extremely eye opening to the true and gruesome story of Native Americans life after their land was bombarded by white colonizers. I think Aaron Huey does a very good job explaining and showing the full truth in its severity, and I can’t name a single thing that he said in the video that I disagree with. What he talks about is terrifying and sad, but it needs to be known, because it needs to be fixed (as much as it can be).
    2. People in history usually become as famous as someone like Abraham Lincoln for doing several important things, but it seems like the most relevant one becomes what they are known for. Because the Civil War was what most white Americans were most affected by during Lincoln’s presidency, his actions dealing with slavery and the confederacy are what are talked about most often in the present day, and probably back then as well. Everyone paid attention when he announced the Emancipation Proclamation, but the majority didn’t even bat an eye when he sentenced thirty nine Native American men to death. His actions have come full circle as more attention is being brought to the dwindling Native American population, and the high poverty rate on reservations. When traced back to the nineteenth century, it’s obvious that the beloved Abraham Lincoln who “freed the slaves”, was condemning other non-whites to become “prisoners of war”, as phrased by Huey, at the same time.
    3. Once again, I agree with Huey in his belief that the debt owed to the Indigenous Nations should be paid back in full, as it is the least that the government could do. In an ideal world, a portion of land at least as large as a US state would be given back to Native Americans, and although I don’t know what that process would look like, I can’t imagine a significant number of government officials would be open to the idea. So while the government can’t give back all of the land that they stole, or the children, or the lives, or the prosperity, the least they can do is return the money, with the hopes that a fraction of what was stolen could be built back.

  3. Hadi Berro

    Describe your reactions to the Ted Talk – positive, negative, or somewhere in between? – and explain why.
    My reactions to the Ted Talk were overwhelmingly positive. I feel like it is calling out the U.S. for its past and current mistakes regarding the Indigenous peoples. Aaron Huey I feel was a very good person to do the Ted Talk because he had an actual emotional and physical connection with the Indigenous tribes. We could see that even during the Ted Talk when he started to get emotional talking about dead indigenous peoples. The TED talk addresses the mistakes America has made and the lies it conjured to pacify the Indigenous peoples. It brings awareness to the indigenous terrible experience with the U.S. and provides specific dates and treaties in chronological order to help us understand specifically what the U.S. did.

    After reading and discussing the 1862 Dakota War, how does knowledge of Lincoln’s actions during this time complicate his legacy? (Keep in mind, it is his face – along with Washington, Jefferson, and Teddy Roosevelt – on Mt. Rushmore in the holy land for the Lakota Sioux people).
    Lincoln’s decision to hang the 38 Dakota Men does affect and complicate his legacy severely. It raises the question of Lincoln’s attitude towards Native American rights, and if they are considered in his eyes Americans who have the right to freedom and equality. Some historians say that the reason Lincoln did what he did was because he was pressured by the Civil War and keep the nation United. Other historians say that it was the Harsh treatment, broken treaties, unfair treatment, and land encroachments that should stain his legacy. I personally feel like Lincoln’s decision to execute those men is always going to be against him, and that his being on Mt. Rushmore is disrespectful towards the Dokato people, the Lakota Sioux people, and all indigenous people. Lincoln being in their holy land is a constant reminder that even though their people were murdered they can never have justice, and the white man always wins.

    Discuss your thoughts/concerns about how to acknowledge the debt America owes the Indigenous nations and why.
    America owes a huge debt to the Indigenous nations, more than anyone else in the world. America came into their home, enslaved them, and killed them, reducing them to mere reminders of their once great numbers. After a while when America started to “feel bad” gave the indigenous people their own land to live on, but instead of them having free will, their children were taken and put into boarding schools to become more “humane”. America broke treaties made with the Indiginous left and right when it benefitted them and did not care for the consequences the Indiginous had to go through. So to sum it up, we came onto their land, massacred them, used them, stole their land, and tried stripping them of their cultures and traditions. We owe the biggest apology to them, we can start by maybe getting the Indigenous currently on a reservation and getting them on their feet with funds, we can stop putting restrictions and limits on what they could do, they should have absolute freedom to do what they please, and it’s not enough just to give them that, but to help them practice freedom, by giving them what they need to live a prosperous life. We should recognize and celebrate the Indigenous because they are true Americans, Colombus Day should be Indigenous Day instead, so we can remember the harm we caused to so many Native Americans.

  4. Rhian Dansby

    I overall got a positive reaction to the Ted Talk because I am glad that the man who was speaking was spreading more awareness about how it has been for the Native Americans. I found it sad that there were so many treaties being broken, and acts being put against them for no reason. Also, it was pretty shocking that people such as Abraham Lincoln have been idolized as great people but he didn’t respect Indigenous people and their lifestyles as shown in the Ted Talk.

    I believe that Lincoln’s actions during this time complicated his legacy because he is supposed to be seen as this great man who has helped so many, especially with the Emancipation Proclamation, which helped free slaves, and also being willing to go to war because of his beliefs of slavery, but his actions with the Native Americans have a negative effect on this to me. The Homestead Act did so much harm to the Native Americans and the fact that the execution was signed by Lincoln is one thing and the fact that he signed this only two days after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation is another. I also feel like his face should not be on Mount. Rushmore after all of the cruelty that he brought among the Native Americans such as the hangings of them. Also, I find it really odd that Mount. Rushmore was built in the holy land for the Lakota Sioux people even after all of the wrong that Lincoln had done to them. I just believe that he should not be honored with a whole wall sculpture after that. Yes, It is a great thing that he was able to free slaves but in my opinion, this doesn’t balance his actions against the Native Americans. I feel like he was picking sides on whether or not he wanted to be an actual good person and this just doesn’t sit right with me.

    I believe that America can never fully repay the debt owed to the Indigenous nations since they have literally been through so much just to simply live. There have been so many wrongdoings done to the Indigenous people such as the assimilations, all of the broken treaties, uncalled-for killings, the Indian Removal Act, and even people just taking and moving into their land without permission for example Columbus’s exchange. These many things have shrunk their populations so much and it’s honestly heartbreaking. I feel like we should honor them more and respect them way more than how it has been. I also feel like there should be no Columbus Day, no Mount Rushmore, and I think that all of the offensive mascot names should be banned (from sports teams) and that would just be the start.

  5. Em Rito

    Describe your reactions to the Ted Talk – positive, negative, somewhere in between – and explain why;
    I don’t believe that my reaction to it could be described as positive or negative, due to the fact that it was information, and all reactions weren’t any form of persuasion by Aaron Huey, but I did have some very visible, very strong reactions to the video. Mainly of horror hearing the misfortunes of the Indigenous people that the United States gave them, knowingly, and even rewarded people for their horrific actions. It was bizarre to learn that the most medals of honor were given to people who did things that should be considered terroristic and criminal by all to the Indigenous people and that there haven’t been more given to people who fought for lives and rights of others (for WWI, WWII, and Civil War). It was heavily upsetting, and I hope that the United States get to the point where they have properly paid back the horrific deeds that they’ve done and give the Indigenous people what they deserve.
    After reading and discussing the 1862 Dakota War, how does knowledge of Lincoln’s actions during this time complicate his legacy? (Keep in mind, it is his face – along with Washington, Jefferson, and Teddy Roosevelt – on Mt. Rushmore in the holy land for the Lakota Sioux people).
    Lincoln’s actions of killing so many Native American people absolutely horrifies me and his actions should make his over glorification be removed. Knowing that he was anti-slavery rather then abolitionist (wanting white only space) already made me want to remove the power and acknowledgment that he gained for his actions in the Civil War, but, on top of that, through his actions, Lincoln didn’t even seem like he wanted to help out the enslaved African Americans, and he only let them free because he needed their help to win the war for the union, and the fact that he committed such atrocities against the Native American people makes me want to remove and form of glorification that he has in the United States, currently. We, as the United States of America, need to stop glorifying people like Lincoln who have done horrendous things and pardoning what they have done because they did one thing right. Two wrongs do not make a right, and they should not be ignored, and Lincoln should not be approached the way that he is in the American mind.
    Discuss your thoughts / concerns about how to acknowledge the debt America owes the Indigenous nations and why.
    I feel like the bare minimum that the U.S. should do for Indigenous people and their ancestors is to restore as much of the land that they took from them through exploitation and force to honor what horrific things we have done to them and stop celebrating people that hurt them (Christopher Columbus Day, especially). By celebrating the people that hurt and destroyed their lives, we are saying that it’s okay that they were hurt the way they were, and we also need to make the reservations that they have the best places for them to be by giving them resources to help with their poverty and alcoholism, in some cases, to help with the issues that we have given them. All of this is the bare minimum, and is only the smallest apology we could offer to them for the atrocities committed by our ancestors to theirs.

  6. Chloe Nemeth

    1. When listening to the TED talk by Aaron Huey my overall reaction was both positive and negative, the topics Aaron was talking about were impactful and deep, but painful at the same time. Aaron Huey talked about the different treaties and agreements with the indigenous tribes that the United States had either broken or found a way out of. I think that was very interesting to see given that I have only heard about a couple of the different events that Aaron Huey talked about. I think that the photographs and the heartbreaking topics Aaron talked about were very eye-opening and they left a deep impression on me. It’s important to know the history of events taking place now so you can maybe help solve problems in the future. I now realize how horribly wrong native Americans were, and still are, treated.
    2. When anyone hears the name Abraham Lincoln they think of a hero who freed the slaves and returned the United States back to one unified country. But Lincoln’s actions during the 1862 Dakota War changed the way some people looked at him. Lincoln enforced the Homestead Act which attracted many white settlers into the lands of the indigenous people. The largest mass execution in United States history was ordered by President Lincoln, 38 Sioux men were hanged following an uprising of the Santee Sioux in Minnesota. Lincoln ordered this execution just 2 days after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he is thought of as a great hero because of the Emancipation Proclamation but his legacy is complicated. Lincoln did some great things for the United States and he will be remembered because of them, but his actions with the indigenous people should not be forgotten as well.
    3. Since Columbus sailed to the Americas in 1492 and came in contact with the indigenous tribes settled in the new world their fate was sealed. Once more and more European settlers traveled across the Atlantic to the new world the indigenous tribes that had already been settled there for centuries were now being forced off their land. American settlers invaded indigenous lands and forced the native Americans to conform to their rules. The indigenous tribes had no say in their fate and it was extremely unfair to all native Americans when they were treated differently just because of their culture. I think giving the indigenous people the black hills back would be a great start in attempting to fix the wrongs that were done many years ago.

  7. Mia R

    Describe reactions to TED TALK, positive, negative, somewhere in between, and why?
    To me, the TED TALK was mostly just surprising and saddening. The amount of destruction that was done to Native Americans and their culture in such a short period of time is unbelievable. Before APUSH I have never really been taught about the extent of the damage done to Native Americans post Civil War, but hearing about all the treaties being made, just to be broken a few short years later is shocking. Another negative reaction I had was all the statistics on Native American populations today, specifically how the life expectancy is over 25 years younger than the current Michigan life expectancy. On a more positive note, it is good that Aaron Huey is educating the audience about what happened to Native Americans and how it is still affecting them today.

    How does Lincoln’s actions complicate his legacy?
    Lincoln’s legacy is so complex due to his title as “the great emancipator.” Lincoln is seen as being a pivotal part in the emancipation of slaves during the Civil War; however, that isn’t necessarily true. The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t do very much in helping to free the enslaved in the South. And then two days after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he signed off on the execution of 38 Dakotan people. How Lincoln can change his philosophy so quickly is astonishing to me. Yes, Lincoln was definitely forward thinking, and he did a lot for America, but he also took many actions against Native Americans. Along with ordering the execution of the Dakotans, he signed legislation that was anti Native American. He also didn’t do anything that was very pro Native American. Overall, Lincoln’s legacy is complicated by the fact that while he did help some, he did some things that were very anti Native American.

    How to acknowledge the debt Americans owe the Indigenous peoples?
    In a perfect world, America would be able to undo the damage done to Indigenous people by giving the land and resources back that we took from them. Realistically, that isn’t possible, so I think a multitude of things need to be done to try to fix the damage done. First, reservations that Native Americans live on need to be fixed. They are currently in horrible conditions, and the very least the government could do is provide better funding to make them suitable to live on. There needs to be better education and food easily available. On the topic of education, Native American history needs to become a more prominent part in the education system. Students need to understand what was done to Native Americans in order to understand the debt that is truly owed to them.

  8. Gabe Macwilliams

    The Lakota, and all Native American tribes, have never been treated remotely fair in the history of foreign involvement in North America. The Ted Talk was nothing short of bewildering, massacre after massacre, as the Sioux’s land shrunk with every passing year. The timeline from colonial times to today helped to convey the everlasting effects of this treatment, and show the injustices that continue to perpetrate the community today. Current images and statistics prove that the Native population continues to be more oppressed than any group in the country by a wide margin, which can be surprising considering the lack of media attention on this issue, compared to oppression of other races (with this sentence I am not in any way invalidating the existence of racism and oppression in other communities). While the downward pipeline to current reservation conditions has been evident since Columbus’s arrival, it really sped up in 1862 with the Dakota War. President Lincoln, generally accepted as a liberator, fighter for freedom and human rights, and even a martyr. Despite these glorious claims, he killed many Sioux, stole massive amounts of land, and signed the Homestead Act which led to numerous massacres of Sioux and various Indian tribes. Personally, I believe that Lincoln was our second best president, but he obviously wasn’t perfect. His, and much of the nations, idea that Native Americans weren’t human is confusing. In the midst of the most polarizingly liberal Congress of the proceeding 50 years, equal protection can be guaranteed to all people except natives? Additionally, the lack of constitutional protection today proves that even 150 years later, much of the government does not care about Native Americans. Native peoples are still condensed in poverty ridden reservations, many with their only hope of success/survival being escape. There is a debate today: should the United States give back the land that was taken from the natives? It is clear that the country owes major debts to every tribe, and as was seen in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, money will not suffice. While morally, on the surface, the answer is yes, that simply isn’t possible. Honoring treaties made with nations 150-200 years ago would mean removing nearly every American from any area west of the Mississippi. This is clearly not viable, so a much less radical, but also providing less justice, solution that the government could implement would be to invest in and improve the reservations. There is clearly no wealth in nearly every reservation aside from casinos, so federal grants could be made for investments in education, infrastructure, a department to assist with finding virtual jobs located in cities, an anti-alcohol culture, and increased financial literacy. Issues regarding inequality and justice for crimes will not be solved, but this plan could be the first of many to give reparations for this horrible, ongoing treatment.

  9. Ashley Glime

    The ted talk sparked a lot of feelings for me. When he showed the images of the state of living of the Natives it brought a lot of really sad feelings. Responding to one of the questions above should reservations go away. I believe that they should not. For them that is home and a place of culture. Although the state of these reservations is poor doesn’t mean that they should go away. If anything I think our country has failed them in that sense. I think there should be more available resources for natives to be able to have access to help centers for alcoholism. Give them better living resources like nicer homes or cleaning up the areas on the reservation that are more trashed. I feel that our country owes it to them due to all of the suffrage that happened. It may not have been the people who are alive now who did these horrible things but I think it is just the right thing to do to honor them. Responding to another question from above about if they should be given back their cultural artifacts in museums. I think that they have a right to have access to it if needed but should be returned. I think it is important for our generation and generations to come to continue to learn about their culture from a different perspective.

    Question 2:
    Lincoln as a president I always before knowing deep history in my mind seemed like a very wise and peaceful man. As I learned about the Dakota war this changed. His execution with Dakota is just terrible . That being named as one of the largest execution acts in history really says that he wasn’t all of the peaceful guy that I thought he was. Him also being in Mount rushmore on Dakota land just makes it even worse.

    Question 3: There is so many ways that this country can pay back the indigenous nations. I think the continuation of putting up statues of natives in former land that they lived on is very nice. As well as giving funding to the reservations to help clean them up. Also providing free support to the indigenous people who struggle with alcoholism. Also making sure that a great education is provided for children who want to seek education. Continuation of acceptance towards Natives should always be around. Teaching the culture and traditions of indigenous is also important so people are knowledgeable about what they really stand for.

  10. Henry Macwilliams

    In the Ted talk, Aaron Huey provides a summary of many of the tragedies the US committed against his nation. I thought it was interesting, and also very sad. In the talk, he discussed the history of white and native interactions, primarily focused on the Sioux tribe, which took up the reservation where he lived. He told the story from an Indian perspective, going more in depth than I had ever heard before. In class, we viewed the homestead act mainly as a great opportunity for all races to attempt to start a new life in the west, without considering how it affected the Native American populations it displaced. When it’s boundaries were first drawn, the Lakota sovereign nation was roughly the size of Texas, covering lots of valuable land. Today, the tribe occupies a small reservation of worthless land. Something I found to be particularly eye-opening was the sheer number of treaties broken by the government. The government blatantly ignored their promises many times over throughout the time the Lakota nation was being dismantled. Another point I found to be interesting was that in multiple cases, the Lakota tribe defeated the US army, or incredibly successfully negotiated peace. In most of the history I’ve been taught, Indians are implied to have weak military forces that crumbled at the hands of the more advanced US military. This notion is completely untrue. All in all, this video provided me with a thought-provoking new perspective on how the Sioux tribe actually lost their nation.

    The knowledge I’ve learned about Lincoln relating to Indian affairs has altered the way I think about him. While the massive good he did for blacks in America is undeniable, he made Indian life much worse at the same time. In the Dakota war, after surrendering and fleeing, 303 Lakota were captured and taken to be executed. While Lincoln pardoned many of these, he still sentenced 39 Lakota to be executed. The executions were completely unjust. Another example of Lincoln’s policy harming Indians can be seen in the homestead act. Offering 160 acres of free land to anybody that wants to settle seems like a great opportunity for all races, but this act severely damaged Indian populations. Along with the construction of railroads, it took lots of Indian land. Lincoln was still one of, if not the greatest presidents in American history, but his Indian policy leaves a large dent in his legacy.

    America will never be able to pay the many native tribes what they deserve. They could be given all the money in the world, as much land as they want, but the generations of trauma will never be undone. As a realistic start, though, there is some things the federal government could do that would benefit Native Americans today. First of all, some of the federal/state land should be turned over to natives. This would provide much more opportunity than the horrible land many reservations sit on. Secondly, the government should invest in alcohol rehabilitation programs on reservations, and limit its sale. Alcoholism is an epidemic that tragically affects Native Americans at a disproportionately high rate. Lastly, and most importantly, Native Americans should be granted much more legal autonomy, to essentially govern themselves as the sovereign nations they once were. A split from the US is impossible, as Americans have eradicated their resources so badly that a separate country would be doomed from the start. Autonomous regions with federal voting power would be the best way for Native Americans to succeed as nations today.

  11. Hadley Kostello

    1.) My reaction is surprise and disbelief. I do not think I can just fit it into positive or negative. I am absolutely disgusted with the ways our country has treated Native Americans. The horrors that cover the Native American history is unbelievable. Huey did an amazing job of covering the topic with vast information. This is so important because there was information only and it brought me to feel so strongly about the topic. The photos also brought a level of emotion to the Ted Talk, showing the damage we have caused. Additionally what I found to be so heart pulling is the fact that this damage did not end once the civil war started. My teachings of history tend to cover Native Americans and the damage caused to them during the 1500-1600 and rarely come to more modern times. The coverage of modern day damage clearly shows how horrible our country has treated the nations indigenous to the land we call home. It is truly disgusting.
    2.)Lincoln is constantly depicted as a saint in American history. This is because of his Emancipation Proclamation and the effect it caused on our society–though it is overly praised. What he did during the 1862 Dakota War contradicts his previous image. What Lincoln did is disgusting. He signed off on the execution of 38 members of the Dakota tribe in Mankato, Minnesota. This followed the 1862 Dakota War between western settlers–homesteaders–and the native population in the area. This contradicts Lincoln so much because he is supposedly “the great emancipator” who brought peace and freedom to the country yet he is brutally executing the Indigenous peoples of the land. It also brings questions to his place on Mt. Rushmore as it is located on the holy land of the indigenous people he killed.

    3.)Truthfully there is no way America will ever be able to pay back the debt to the Indigenous nations of America. This is because pain and suffering has happened for hundreds of years. Since Columbus arrived in the Americas the lives of Indigenous peoples changed forever. The damage started with the introduction of diseases and mass death caused by such diseases. The Spanish caused much of the pain at this time, and unfortunately nothing can be done about it. Americans have terrorized Native Americans for as long as colonial times. They started the long push of Native Americans out of their native lands. Additionally they initiated the first few wars with Native Americans such as Metacom’s War–translates to the multiple wars fought during westward expansion. With the Indian Removal Act they were forcefully removed from their native lands once again.Western expansion led to more damage caused to the Indigenous peoples. Their allotted reservations continued to shrink to be smaller and smaller. Their resources and land got manipulated and destroyed by homesteaders. Additionally the wars added to the impact on the indigenous nations. All this destruction simply cannot be repaid. There is no way for our country to fix its wrong doings. Though, I think measures can be taken to relieve some of the constant pain they have caused. To start, more governmental aid is crucial. Many indigenous peoples live below the poverty line–caused by the discrimination of the country. With more governmental aid, the reservations can improve the standard of living for the indigenous peoples. Additionally, the returning of land is important. Though realistically it is unattainable because of the greedy americans in this country, it is so important to healing. If the government were able to grant nations holy lands back, immense progress can be made.

  12. danedimmer

    Describe your reactions to the Ted Talk – positive, negative, somewhere in between – and explain why;
    My reactions to the ted talk were neutral because he talked about the United states’ wrongdoings towards the Native Americans and it is tragic how they kept finding ways to avoid taking responsibility and to go against treaties that they had made with tribes. He did a good job at phrasing things and was persuasive with his words and it really opened up my eyes to situations I had no idea were still happening even this long after they started and the negative effects it has had on the Lakota population like issues with alcoholism, schooling, and much much more in the so called ‘POW’ camps. My reaction was neutral because he is spreading awareness about tough subjects and history that normally isn’t told in school and it’s really depressing hearing about them.
    After reading and discussing the 1862 Dakota War, how does knowledge of Lincoln’s actions during this time complicate his legacy? (Keep in mind, it is his face – along with Washington, Jefferson, and Teddy Roosevelt – on Mt. Rushmore in the holy land for the Lakota Sioux people).
    I think many people associate Lincoln’s legacy with freeing the slaves even though he was hesitant to do it and didn’t even plan to do it in the first place. His main goal was to preserve the union and getting rid of slavery apparently wasn’t a part of that. During the 1862 Dakota war he was slow to respond because we were in a civil war but eventually after the Dakota war ended he gave some of the Dakota the death penalty and were executed. I think Lincoln’s legacy will forever be remembered for freeing the slaves but people should also acknowledge that he killed some of the Dakota people and his face being on mount rushmore in their holy land must feel like a slap to their face for how disrespectful it is.

    Discuss your thoughts / concerns about how to acknowledge the debt America owes the Indigenous nations and why.
    I think that to acknowledge the debt America owes the Indigenous people we should add more of it to our curriculums at school so the newer generations will never forget what we did to innocent people. I also think we should continue what we’re doing with getting rid of Columbus day and replacing it with Indigenous peoples day as Columbus did more harm than good and didn’t even ‘discover’ America, the indigenous people did. I also think the government should assist in helping the ‘POW’ camps that still exist today, i think people would be mad that they’d send money to them but doing the right thing is more important than money, there are issues that if it was any other American city they probably would’ve been solved by now like crime, alcoholism, and poverty.

  13. Juliette Shebib

    I’m not entirely sure whether or not my reaction would be considered more positive or negative. I didn’t know much about the history of the Lakota in the U.S until this year in APUSH, so a few things that Aaron Huey mentioned I hadn’t heard of. I would say I had more of a surprised reaction as I learned about things in their history in the U.S that I haven’t learned yet because it wasn’t mentioned, or that material has not been covered yet. I would also say my experience watching this ted talk was informative and eye opening, because Huey also mentioned the current state that the indigenous live in today. Its eye opening, because the majority of the problems they face where they live today, can all be traced back to the past with the broken treaties and massacres.
    Knowledge of Lincoln’s actions during this time majorly complicates his legacy. This is because people always look back in history at the good things that Lincoln did, but never on the negative. For example, people look back on how amazing he was when he led the U.S through the civil war, but they know of or bat an eye at the fact that he sentenced 39 Native American men to death. Or they’ll look at how he worked to free the slaves, because as the constitution states “all men are created equal,” but did nothing for the natives. Are they not people? Even knowing that Lincoln was against slavery but had his own slaves is very contradicting.
    When acknowledging and thinking of the debt that America owes the Indigenous nations, there are a lot of things that would need to be considered. However, what I find very interesting is the word Wasichu. One thing I dont think is often considered when people mention land should be given back to the Lakotas, is what land. Where?Aaron mentions that the word Wasichu is used by Native Americans to whites, but also the other meaning behind it. The one who takes the best meat for themselves. Thinking about this, makes me realize that it’s possible that if a large portion of land was given back to the Natives, that they’ll give them poor dry land, that doesn’t have much use. The land taken from them in the Black Hills had lots of resources such as gold, which was stripped away after they kicked out the Lakotas. If the government is to come to an agreement to return land to the Lakotas, they should give back land worth what they stole.

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