L & C '03 Home
|On Wednesday, June 15, while riding the motorcoach in
Arizona, students were asked to write an essay addressing one of the
research objectives for the Native Peoples curriculum. The
|Understand how Native American and broader American cultures have
interacted with and impacted each other;|
|Assess the direction in which the relationship between Native
American tribes and non-Americans is heading;|
|Identify significant challenges the Navajo and Poarch Creek tribes
|Investigate what Native American culture has to teach us about
sustainability; and, |
|Compare the governmental structures of the Navajo Nation, Poarch
Creek and the United States and understand how they work together.|
What follows is a selection of six student essays:
FOR THE NAVAJO AND POARCH CREEK INDIANS
United States of America
has many different Indian tribes. In
the last hundred years many of these tribes have had some difficulties
making a living. These
challenges can cause tension in various relationships.
Some even make it hard to run a tribe. Problems
donít just fade away; in fact many tribes continue to have the
problems that they have had for years.
Two examples of these Indian tribes are the well-known Navajo
Indians, who are found in the
Southwest United States
, and the lesser known Poarch Creek Indians. The Navajo have become
their own nation and are fixing their problems by using their leader as
a key component. The Poarch
Creek Indians were recognized as a sovereign nation in 1984, and live on
a reservation. Both of these
nations have a hard time trying to find solutions to their problems.
The Navajo people are working on many different challenges
currently. The President
Youth Assistant, Alray Nelson, told us about some the projects that the
President of the Navajo Nation is working on right now.
A main focus for the Navajo is how to keep their nation together
and how to preserve their culture and history.
President Shirley focuses on the youth by working with the Boys
and Girls club of the Navajo Nation.
Nelson also talked about how President Shirley has been working
on relations with foreign countries.
By doing this the President is solving future problems that may
occur, and also making friends/allies for the Navajo Nation.
One other thing that Nelson mentioned was that the President
wanted to have casinos for the Navajo Nation because it would truly help
the economy. However, the
Navajo people see gambling as a sin.
For most Indian tribes there is the challenge of creating unity
with the difference in religion. Mr.
Morgan explained to us that Christianity and a type of spiritualism are
found in their nation.
The Poarch Creek Indian reservation covers 6500 acres and they
have their own business enterprises and law.
They also have a judicial system, fire department, health
clinics, social services, schools, recreation complex, hotel,
restaurant, metal works, manufacturing firm, and cattle/cat fish farms.
Like the Navajo Indians they do work as their own nation.
For the Poarch Creek Indians money has been a challenge that they
are trying to work on. However,
unlike the Navajo they do have a casino, which has helped their economy
somewhat. Another problem
that the Creek Indians face is unity.
There is also the division between Christians, those who follow
the old traditions, and those that donít believe at all.
Indians in the
still have the same challenges they used to because most of these
problems are hard to solve. There
is strength in unity and Indian tribes are trying to get over their
disagreements to work towards that goal.
Both of these tribes have different options of finding ways to
survive, hopefully both will work. Iím
glad that these tribes can be their own nations and are finding ways to
work out their problems.
Since the arrival of
Europeans, the Navajo and the Poarch Creek Indians have had several
problems. These problems include poverty and weakening culture. The
Navajo and the Poarch Creek Indians have faced several challenges in
has forced both the Navajo and the Poarch Creek Indians away from their
imprisoned the Navajo in Bosque Redondo for four years and only allowed
them to return after signing a treaty in 1868. The
removed most Poarch Creek Indians from their territory in
and moved them to
not recognizing them as a nation until 1984.
Poverty provides another challenge for the Navajo. Reservation
grazing has led to soil erosion and impoverishment. The Navajo also have
a very high unemployment rate, around 60%.
Another challenge for the Navajo is weakening culture. A major
reason that Navajo culture has remained strong in the past is that many
Navajo are in a single area. When Navajo leave the reservation they lose
some of their culture as they go.
The Navajo and Poarch Creek Indians are presented with several
challenges. These include weakening culture, impoverishment and loss of
Since the birth of our country and even before the relationships
between Native Americans and those that are non-native have been
constantly changing. They have gone from times of war to times of
agreement and cooperation. Both sides have different beliefs, values and
goals that they strive for. These differences have led to a recent
deterioration between natives and non-natives. This deterioration can
easily be stopped if both sides would be willing to cooperate.
bears a bit of a grudge against the Navajo. The Navajo Nation is a
sovereign nation within the
This raises many problems dealing with governmental issues. In the
treaty of 1868 the
relinquished much of its control in the Navajo lands. Now with little or
no control over what goes on with in the nation, the
wants some influence once more.
The Navajo also feel some resentment toward the other side. Being
surrounded by and often immersed in
culture, some Navajo see the
as corruptive influence. Proof of the ďcorruptionĒ can be seen
everywhere. It can be seen by the replacement of older farming and
ranching techniques with more technologically advanced methods and by
the youth wearing t-shirts that bare popular music groups. This move
towards American culture is weakening the traditional Navajo culture.
Both groups are very different. If the U.S. would just respect
the Navajo way of life and try not to meddle in affairs that are not
theirs, and the Navajo would learn to respect the ways of the U.S. both
groups would get along much better.
Generally Americans have been greedy Europeans that
try to conquer as much land as possible.
Though done by other nations, it may be more evident in the
We violently pushed Native
Americans out of the land that was rightfully theirs.
Natives didnít even claim the land, but saw it as mother earth
for the use of all creatures in harmony.
Americans through their greed, have interacted and
impacted Native Americansí culture negatively, but have helped their
The American cultures need for resources such as coal, causes
them to impact the Native Americans in a negative way.
According to one woman, American strip mining in her area was a
horrible thing. The American
miners drank and gave alcohol to the young kids.
The coal dust also killed the animals and contaminated water.
Explosions from the mines scared the horses and other animals.
American miners were also there without permission.
Native American culture is to protect Mother Nature, and so they
pray that the water, air, herbs, and land will still be usable.
They think that the ďwhite manĒ is ruining mother earth.
Americans, because of their greed and manifest destiny, pushed
the Natives off of their own land. Americans
put them on a reservation and took their land. Americans basically
claimed the Indians, their land, and their water.
They ordered them around and made laws for them to follow.
The Americans then enforced the laws by using violence.
In schools, Americans rubbed in that they had guns, tanks, and
also soldiers to enforce the laws. Not
by choice we shoved the Natives into a small area called a reservation
and thrust our culture upon them or restricted their traditions.
Today, Americans and Native Americans interact for the good of
the Native American economy. Americans
visit the reservation of the Natives and it has become a tourist
attraction. This is a good
thing for the Indian Americans because they can then sell these visitors
hand made goods. The Natives
sometimes over price their products and the Americans can afford to pay
that price. If not than the
Americans will bargain and the Natives can still make a profit.
It also helps that the Native Americans are so willing to show
Americans their way of life. This
connection will hopefully educate the people of the
about Natives and maybe produce changes for the benefit of the Native
Though Americans help Natives Americansí economy diminutively,
they have mainly interacted and impacted Native Americansí culture
interrupted the Indians way of life by using resources on Indian land.
Then Americans took over the land all together and tried to claim
the land and water for themselves. Finally,
Americans and Indians have been able to trade goods to make a living.
Americans have taken much from the Indians and not given back.
Though a reservation seems like a lot, it isnít much compared
to the free roaming land that the Indians used to control.
How has the relationship with Native Americans and Non-Native Americans
The relations to the Native Americans did not start off
pleasantly when the Europeans first visited.
The Europeans and their idea of converting everyone into
Christians caused the near extinction of the Native Americans.
The Natives were pushed out of their homeland because the
Europeans thought that they had made a great discovery in finding this
new territory. The
population of Native Americans dropped an extreme 90%.
Today we have learned to respect the Natives because we are
disturbed by the monstrosities committed by former explorers and we have
sympathy for their race. People
value and respect the Native Americans.
government reserves specific land in different areas where the Native
Americans can live. A lot of
Natives choose to live there because they receive many benefits from the
federal government. Inside
these reservations the Natives can set up their own official government
as if they were their own country. They
elect a president and congress. The
Navajo nation has a democracy which is like most Native American
Native Americans do not have to pay any costs that have to do
governmental funding. They
are exempt from federal and state taxes.
They do not have to pay income tax or pay for Social Security.
They receive grants from the
Natives can get rides to prestigious schools if they have low
income. If the parents have
an income under $55,000 the
will send their kids to Harvard, Prince, or Yale with a full ride
scholarship. This gives a
lot of Natives an equal opportunity however the President of the Navajo
Nation disagrees with this privilege.
He believes that people should earn their schooling because of
their brains, not because of a low income.
Today we see lots of museums set up around the
that support the Native Americans. In
fact, just recently an American Indian Museum was built in
. It is a very interesting
and enlightening place. Today
the Natives of this country are respected and valued.
We owe a debt to them and they deserve to be treated like humans.
June 15, 2005
The Navajo people are an
ancient and proud people. This tribe of Indians has had a hard time
during the developing and changes of their nation. The Navajo tribe has
been identified as a sovereign nation, but the Navajo tribe faces
numerous societal difficulties and setbacks.
The Navajos history if
filled with war, oppression, and discriminatory treatment. The Navajos
currently are located in the largest Native American reservation. Their
lands do not spread as far as they once did and their population has
declined since the coming of Europeans to
. The Navajos have had a difficult past. The Navajos had numerous feuds
with the Spanish. These feuds tended to end in the enslavement or defeat
of the Navajos. Although the Navajos fought bravely, they were
outclassed by the Spanish military. The Navajosí total land decreased
during the Spanish occupation of their territories. Things only got
gave them even less freedom. The Americans feared them and considered
them a hindrance to development. The United States Government put the
Navajos into a small Native American reservation and had utter control
over the Indianís well-being.
The Navajos, not having
enough land to sustain their lifestyle, were at a disadvantage to other
economies. The Navajos didnít have enough land to allow their herds of
livestock to feed or to have farms. The Navajos soon had their own
dustbowl because their herds had eaten away the vegetation. Erosion and
other problems were found in the Navajo reservation. These problems led
to difficulties in agriculture. The economy declined as did the Navajo
way of life. The Navaho reservation was poverty stricken and had no
chance to change their situation, seeing how they had no say in the
eventually recognized the Navajos as sovereign nation while giving them
more land, but even with these large steps forward for the Navajos, they
still face many trials in every day life. The
has increased the size of the Navajo nation, and this increase in land
has helped to utilize the Navajo way of life. The Navajoís now have
land to feed their herds as well as to farm. The Navajosí now also
have their own government. This has allowed them to make changes that
are in the best interest of the Navajo people. Unfortunately, because
the Navajos have poor soil in parts of their reservation (because of
their earlier practices,) they still have trouble farming and herding in
some areas of their reservation. The Navajos are discriminated against
because of their color and the fact that they are clumped together in
one area. The Navajos in general are still poor because they havenít
completely recovered from the weaker economy they had during the early
years of their reservation.
The Navajos are a proud
people that face many societal and economical difficulties. The Navajos
have overcome the obstacle throughout their history and are now
beginning to reap the benefits with their own sovereign nation. The
Navajo nation will always have a special place in the hearts of those
who studied their history.