1. Adams vs. Marshall - Contrasting Views
Many in this country believed that "civilizing" the Indians (and administering their lands) would serve a higher human purpose. Echoing this point of view was John Quincy Adams, President of the United States:
What is the right of a huntsman to the forest of a thousand miles over which he has accidentally ranged in quest of prey? ... Shall the lordly savage not only disdain the virtues and enjoyments of civilization himself, but shall he control the civilization of a world?
John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, expressed a different point of view, in a case dealing with the Cherokee Nation and the state of Georgia:
The Cherokee Nation ... is a distinct community, occupying its own territory, with boundaries accurately described... and which the citizens of Georgia have no right to enter, but with the assent of the Cherokees themselves, or in conformity with treaties, and with the acts of Congress.
These represent two opposing views on how to deal with Indian land rights. Please answer the following questions:
How valid is the argument of Adams?
Describe Adams's ideas of "savage" and "civilization".
From what you have studied, what would have happened if Adams's view had not prevailed?
How valid is the argument of Marshall?
If the US had followed Marshall's policy toward the Cherokee and other Indian tribes, how would that have change the way North America was settled?
What have been the various methods in this country of determining rights to the land?
2. Hollywood's Version
Hollywood has been producing westerns for years, and one of the themes in many of these films has been the relationship of white settlers to Native Americans. Make a list of several films you have seen (movies or television) that deal with Native Americans. Write a brief summary of your reaction to each. Then, place titles of the films on the board and discuss reactions to Hollywood's portrayal of the roles of Indians. As a summary, answer the following questions:
Was the encounter between the Indians and the white settlers peaceful or warlike?
How were Indians portrayed, as contrasted with depictions of other Americans?
To what degree was Indian culture emphasized?
How realistic was each depiction of Indian behavior or culture?
Cite some examples of changes, in the past several years, in how the movies and TV have represented Native American issues in history.
3. Comparing Words and Actions
In 1787, the Northwest Ordinances were issued, declaring:
The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their land and property shall never been from them without their consent, and in their property rights and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless and in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded injustice and humanity shall, from time to time, be made, for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.
In two paragraphs, write a brief reaction to the Ordinances. Your first paragraph should discuss the record of our government in observing these ordinances. In the second paragraph, describe ways in which the United States has tried to help Indians.
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