The native issue: a solution Ryan Northup, Period 2B

I write this to the United States government in hopes of solving the issue of all the mistreatment and dehumanization of us native peoples. I want nothing more than for this issue to be solved, neither I nor my people want to see any more metaphorical or literal bloodshed on either side. Is it not bad enough that you have not only stolen our land and resources when you took our peoples’ hospitality for granted so many years ago, but also methodically murdered us and our cultures? Your government and your people are no better than a plague of locusts, you move from land to land and leave it in ruin, and once there is nothing left you move on as though nothing had ever happened. My bitter resentment aside, I just want this madness to end and as such I have a proposal to help solve the issues of what is and is not native territory and our borders, how to deal with the settlers moving westward onto native lands, and our different perspectives on the land.

Wounded Knee, just another result of our differences

The Problems

Territories and Borders: For seemingly as long as there have been both we natives and you settlers on the same soil, there have been land disputes and issues of borders. Take, for example what happened to the Sioux People. They were moved to the Black Hills, only to be removed shortly after because word of gold being there. The United States government, with their almost natural and innate greed, proceeded to move the Sioux. Not only this, but such others as those in the Oklahoma Territory. Prior to the horrendous “solution” to this issue known only as the Dawes act, natives were allowed to almost all the territory. After that Dawes disaster, my fellow natives owned approximately a third of what they once had.

Settlers moving west and into native land: As settlers move ever westward, tensions between us and them rise more and more. As settlers move into our land, violence and bloodshed increase on both sides, both sides fear one another. Both sides have extremists, however this makes us viewed as “blood thirsty savages”, making all whites and the government, even if they have been in no way effected by we natives, live in fear of us. Thanks to this, we aren’t trusted, we’re seen as less than human, and in some more extreme cases, rounded up and brutally slaughtered.

Different Beliefs about land ownership: Believe it or not, we natives have different beliefs and views on the world, specifically in this instance, on the soil beneath our feet. The whites have the firm belief that land can be owned and by singular person. We, however, view it as much, much more than that. This land is a precious gift to all living things and we must treat is as such, this land simply cannot be owned and it must be shared between us all, man and man, man and beast, as it was intended for us to do.

A few glimpses of reservation life and a map of where they are

Previous "Solutions"

Reservations: It may or may not come as a surprise to you to read this, but the reservations you forced us on to did not work as a viable solution to our conflict. Our ancestors and our people helped your ancestors and your people to survive, giving them some resources and even some land, and this is how we are repaid? Stealing our resources and land, giving us petty fractions of what our people once had? Not only this, but you also move us from place to place if you seemed it fit. The Sioux, just for an example. You forced them into the Black Hills, but shortly after you forced them off. Why? Gold. You moved people, forcibly, possibly going so far as to kill them, just for metal.

Dawes Act: The utter disaster known as the Dawes Act was arguably much worse than just the mere reservations. After you take our land, you offer the individuals small sums of it, but at a price: we are to turn our backs on everything we know and everything we hold true, our beliefs, our tribes, everything, and swear our allegiance to the nation that cut us down so low that even the very dirt below our feet it seen as more valuable than the lives of our men, women, and children. We are seen as objects, to be used and abused and moved whenever it is deemed necessary by the government. Even the tribes that you deemed civilized and held so highly were cut down thanks to the Curtis Act of 1898. There governments were dissolved, there land was stolen, and they were treated no better than the rest of us.

Assimilation: Not only did your people try to rob our land and resources, you tried to rob us of our culture and heritage. You took our children, forced them into your specialized school, and the education they received was to turn them against us, they’re own people, make them see us as bloodthirsty savages, as you whites do. You wanted to completely rid of our ways and everything about us. You wanted to believe that you could tame us, turn us from wild and savage wolves to your loyal and obedient dogs. At least when you people tried to assimilate and decimate our culture, you recognized that we are human and not wild animals that need to be sent to the slaughter.

A Native American, before and after assimilation and in some sense, "Americanized", and an ad for buying Indian land in the Dawes Act

My Proposed solution

The "Thirds Act": To hopefully solve the issue that is held between us Natives and the Whites. On paper, it is a relatively simple concept. In this proposed solution, I’ve decided to call The Thirds Act, for soon to be evident reasons, we are to create two borders and split the United States into three sections. One border will be along the Mississippi River, and a second along the Rocky Mountains. I understand that after reading that the question of who would own what would emerge. In this proposal, the United States alone will own everything east of the Mississippi River border, the Native nation alone will own everything west of the Rocky Mountain border. The middle section will be owned by both nations and will be neutral grounds. There are a few potential issues that this would bring about, so I will address them. The first issue I will discuss is that of the idea of the Native Land. We can have an established form of government. There will also be settlers in our new lands, if we so choose to keep them, they must abide by our laws and rules. If they fail to do so or we choose otherwise, we are to have all right to remove them from our lands. As for the neutral ground, it shall be free for both Natives and Americans. However, should any major event occur such as harvesting resources, establishing settlements, establishing farmland, and so on, both governments must come to a consensus to approve the decision. This rule applies to either side if they want something done in the neutral grounds. If the governments do not come to a complete consensus on the decision, the action cannot be moved forward. Should it be done anyway and unlawfully, the government wronged can punish the other via a fine that they deem fit based on severity, if the fine is not deemed enough by the government, they may take more action, but it must be reasonable and fair. The United States has the right to its own rules in the land it owns, as do the Native People.

The Proposed Mississippi River and Rocky Mountain Borders
Created By
Ryan Northup

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