When American Indians Became Un-American

The story of the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois. A story of division, conquest, and expulsion, from the creation to final liberation in Mohawk Freedom Schools.

When I was younger, we played games like King of the Hill, kickball, and Hide and Seek. When it came time to play Cowboys and Indians, no one wanted to be the Indians. Cowboys seemed ‘cooler’ to us. The Indians after all were on the losing side of history.

Our perception of the indigenous peoples in North America was complex. In colonial America, the native populations were beleaguered by European encroachment into their lands. However, the indigenous peoples and colonials often traded together, married each other, and fought together in leagues to protect their trade. (Click HERE for more information).

As the American Revolution approached, most native tribes sided with the British as the British made promises to protect against further European encroachment. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 forbade settlers from squatting on Indian lands west of the Appalachians.

As the Revolution turned against the British/Indigenous side, most native villages were burned, and villagers forcibly moved out to reservations that the British created across the border into Canada.

The perceptions of native tribes increasingly became worse during the 19th century, as the famous Indian Wars occurred across the Western Plains; Americans traveling through the Plains almost exterminated the American Buffalo, the Bison, an animal indigenous tribes were dependent on for food, building material, and clothing. Their very culture was based on the Bison.

With the coming of the railroad that cut across the Plains Indians’ land, the sale of land patents along the railroads that created cities like Dodge City, Kansas, and other white encroachments, the indigenous were looked on like something from the past, the so-called ‘noble savage’.

Today, indigenous peoples of North America are still perceived negatively by others. Indian reservations today are places often ignored by both Canadian and U.S. officials. The United States uses Indian names like Braves, Seminoles, Indians, Chiefs, and Redmen that stigmatize and trivialize indigenous people and their culture.

Stigma starts early in childhood development. If people are to treat others with greater respect, playtime should explore the natives more positively for their rich heritage.

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