The effect of technological advancement and government action on the lives of the Plains Indians in the second half of the nineteenth century
The Plains Indians were for a long time not treated as part of the American society, and were instead regarded as inferior. The history of civilization has documented various atrocities against this group of people. Some laws were even enacted aimed at restricting and curtailing their freedom-social, cultural and economic freedom (Document 12). This history further documents how these people were denied their fundamental human rights by the powers that were. Their way of life was looked down upon and often regarded as primitive and backwards.
This paper investigates the civilization and way of life of the Plains Indians, especially in the second half of the nineteenth century. This particular time signifies the period when the Plains Indians went through lots of hardships. This paper is of the view that the technological developments and government actions left a negative impact on the lives of the Plains Indians in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Plains Indians, government actions and technological developments
According to Richardson (1881, Document 1), management of Indian affairs has been among the prominent matters challenging the US Congress attention. This issue has caused a lot of embarrassment and trouble since the inception of government, yet it is only recently that there has been an effort to solve these problems in order to achieve success. The trend in the past was to tidy over short-term difficulties rather than grappling with the immense permanent problems (US Statutes, 1887, Document 2).
The concerned authorities have always followed the easier course in solving the Indian problems, thus achieving only short term success. For instance, the government dealt with the Indian tribes as separate nationalities and relegated them through treaty stipulations to occupy the Western reserves. In addition, the government encouraged them to live savage lives, undisturbed by any efforts to bring civilization to them. This policy resulted in neglect of the Plains Indians, making their lives very miserable and difficult (Carnergie, 1889, Document 4).
The Plains Indians found themselves forced to seek other hunting grounds, often against their will, by the adventurous white settlers since they bordered the reservations. Even from these new hunting grounds, they would often be dislodged whenever the white settlers felt like owning some more land (Document 3). These policies caused a lot of disturbances among the Plains Indians, making their lives unbearable. Moreover, they are the cause of what is commonly referred to as the Indian problem, which has led to sacrifice of human lives as well as spending millions of dollars to in an attempt to solve it.
According to William Serin (Document 6), more misery for the Plains Indians was created by the technological advancements, which led to massive layoffs. These advancements came at a time when many companies were raising concerns over having excessive wage bills. Courtesy of the technological developments, one worker was now able to do the work meant for up to ten workers. The companies therefore embarked on a cost reduction venture in order to secure profits. This involved laying off excessive workers and incorporation of the new technology into their operations.
The massive lay-offs led to revolts and strike organized and led by the labor unions. On the other hand, the company owners were opposed to these revolts, leading a clash. Some of the revolts turned tragic, due to the intensive confrontations between the two adversaries. Dangerous weapons such as guns were used to stop the riots, often turning fatal, especially for the workers, many of who were the Plains Indians. In some instances, the people were denied their fundamental freedoms and rights. For instance, there were times when taverns were under instructions not to sell liquor and beet, aimed at preventing excessive drinking.
The Plains Indians lived very miserable lives in the wake of the second half of the nineteenth century. The government actions as well as the technological developments did not make the matter any better. The government used discriminatory policies aimed at restricting and colonizing the Plains Indians.
The technological developments also led to many Plains Indians losing their jobs during the rapid industrialization period. They also suffered greatly due to the industrial unrest as a result of these technological developments.
This account confirms that technological developments as well as government actions left a negative impact on the lives of the Plains Indians in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Hawk, AP US History Document Reading Packet Unit 6, retrieved from http://aristotle.newarka.edu/~bhawk/APUSUnit6.html, on January 30, 2009