“The More Things Stay the Same” was particularly interesting to me because it was one of the first articles we have read that discussed the relationship of Indians and tribes with the United States’ public, instead of just with the government. As in many of the other readings, in this article the author mentions the racist language and attitudes of the courts and judges making decisions regarding cases like Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock. However unlike in other readings, she draws out this language and discusses both what caused it to be acceptable and widely expected, and what implications this had on not just legislation, but on widespread attitudes in the United States which in turn led to more problematic decisions by the government. Leeds quotes Justice Reed’s rationale for his decision in Tee-Hit-Ton, which stated “Every American schoolboy knows that the savage tribes of this continent were deprived of their ancestral ranges by force…” (Leeds, 80). Although his purpose in this was to defend his use of the discovery and conquest principle, in this section Reed is showing the effects of propaganda in education. Instead of being taught an accurate history of the United States and its relationship with Indian tribes, students have learned that “savage” native people were conquered by European settlers, and thus should be treated as such. The teaching of this inaccurate information leads to a very particular type of attitude; one that supports the decisions in cases like Lone Wolf, Tee-hit-ton and Oliphant. These racist attitudes that so many of us are still taught have far-reaching effects. One of these, as we have been reading about for many weeks, is the rationale behind court decisions which are so often based on ideas of racial inferiority of Indians. However, Leeds discusses another consequence of this prevalent attitude, which is the lack of knowledge and concern regarding Indians and tribes of the American public. She writes, “the perfection of subtle racism has created an American Public that suffers from lack of outrage when it comes to American Indian issues” (Leeds 84). Our lack of understanding of the history of the relationships between Indian tribes and the US government leads to not only an ignorance of the current situation, but also an indifference to it and thus a lack of anger towards harmful government policies and decisions. However, this lack of understanding is largely ignored because of the separation many non-Indians have from Indians and tribes. As Leeds mentions, most of the knowledge many have today of Indian people comes from stories like Pocahontas or from symbols, like many sports team mascots. This ignorance is problematic, as it leads to a continuation of racist ideas in decisions made by the federal government, and can be solved only through improved education on the subject.
Importance of Education
by Elizabeth Whipple -Number of replies: 0