American Indians are among the most celebrated native communities that are associated with the growth and development of America’s demography. Traditionally, they have been isolated from other members of the American society because of their assumed lack of Americanism desired by everyone. This essentially points out to the manner in which they have integrated less with the contemporary society, consequently leading to their characterization as outsiders. In fact, in the case of American Indians, one would think that they were excluded from all the major events that add prominence to individuals and communities. Even though there could be few chances in which they were incorporated into the contemporary society, American Indians still believe that their sovereignty has been undermined by other members of the population, which drives them to become extremely aggressive in representing their concerns. Indeed, American Indians have proactively used assertions as a way of reinforcing their sovereignty; however, even though it may have proved meaningful in some situations, there are times when these assertions did not bear fruit.
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Firstly, some of the assertions initiated by the American Indians took the form of legal battles, but some of the cases proved difficult to challenge in the court room. This is partly because there were contradictions in establishing the actual definition of the claimed American Indian territorial integrity. In the case “Cherokee Nation versus Georgia”, Indians brought a suit to challenge the jurisdiction under which the manner in which they had lost control of their land after the successive treaties, which had wittingly been imposed upon them, but they failed to provide legal backing for their claims. Indeed, the deciding judge in the case remarked that the Indian Territory had been admitted as a geographical component of the United States; hence, any commercial contact would be classified as falling within the assigned jurisdiction (Prucha 59). Hence, this reveals how sometimes the legal assertions that were made by the American Indians did not necessarily have a legal backing that would guarantee success. This could also have been driven by the poor approach used when initiating the assertions by overlooking the probability of their being competent justification statements to challenge the verdict taken.
Secondly, the traditional Indian governments asserted that the American Indians were the rightful occupants of the American soils; hence, their rights superseded those of other communities whom they considered to be foreigners. In this regard, the Indian authorities asserted that discovery of the American lands did not actually give the new occupants more rights than those practised by local members of the community. Nevertheless, these efforts proved to be futile in the subsequent rulings that followed because their American Indians’ rights were not official promulgated. For example, in the ruling that was taken in the “Worcester versus Georgia” case, it was stated that it is was not entirely easy to determine or comprehend some of the propositions that were undertaken by the natives that inhabitants of a specific area could have original authority to dominate over other inhabitants (Ortiz 23). In this regard, it is evident that the assertions of the Native Americans that pursuant to their original or ancestral claim to the American lands, this did not guarantee them the right o domineer over other tribes or new occupants. Additionally, it also implies that the assertion that Indian Americans could take control of their entire lands was not well contested. Thus, the decisions that were taken by the courts ensured that the territorial distribution was also given to other occupants whom the American Indians considered to be lacking ancestral claim.
Thirdly, the American Indians also used tribal assertions as a way of affirming the rights towards land ownership based on communal basis. Hence, using the communal factor, the American Indians asserted that they had the right to decide how allotments would be carried out with an aim of promoting equality. According to “Early US leaders conceived of individual land ownership as a way to civilize Indians and minimize their territorial claims” (107). In order to counter this, American Indians settled on tribal assertions as a way of affirming their sovereignty to the foreigners. Tribal assertion implied that foreigners had no right to implement decisions on the locals without taking due consideration of the cultural uniqueness and the existence of structures within the tribes to competently address the issues aforementioned. To some extent, these tribal assertions on territorial land distribution acknowledged that civilization was gradually setting; hence, there was need to look at issues from an economic point of view. The fact that civilized tribes such as Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Seminoles, and Creeks were thriving from their allotments, the assertion that there was need to redistribute the land on communal basis served to prove a point to the new governmental authorities who had the view that communal allocation undermined economic development. However, again this strategy did not prove successful because the US leaders interpreted that it would result in a monopoly effect by giving certain members of the local communities more chances to exploit the land than others (Ortiz 109). In essence, the tribal assertions used by the Indians undermined economic individualism on the basis that it would promote equal distribution of resources. Nevertheless, tribal assertion did not prove entirely successful because the Indians lacked sufficient authority.
Fourthly, the American Indians also asserted that in as much as they had legally sold the land to new occupants, this did not necessarily imply that they lost entire control over activities that took place in the land. In this venture, the American Indians were unsuccessful as seen in the case between Johnson and Graham’s Lessee versus William McIntosh. In this case, the deciding judge ruled in favour of the defendant on the basis that the Indians did not hold the sovereign right to sell land; instead the United States government was given that right. Again, the American Indians found themselves in an unfavourable spot where they had to contend with the legal provisions. In a bid to prove put the matter at home, the legal redress given stated that “if the principle has been asserted in the first instance, and afterwards sustained” (Prucha 37). In this regard, in as much as the American Indians had asserted their claims based on their original occupation, their right was taken away by new comers who made the desired approach of making their authority known and subduing the Indians. This further illustrates how assertions made by the Indians regarding their sovereign ownership of land did not qualify in the eyes of the legal system. As a result, they were forced to abide by the rulings and their insubordination recognized legally.
Fifthly, American Indians continue using their cultural heritage as an assertion to promote their formal recognition and sovereignty. Indeed, the American Indians have a unique culture, which focuses on safeguarding the community discipline by promoting a common code of conduct guided by special rules and regulations. This assertion strongly relies on the element of communal existence among the Indians, which permeates their unique cultural tradition into the American culture. Indeed, using the strategy the American Indians have attempted to make their culture to look more intact and legitimate compared to the dynamic nature other communities. Nevertheless, this assertion has not been successful because of the formal lack of self discipline among the American Indians themselves. In fact, to further assert the dominance of their cultural heritage, the American Indians have isolated themselves from the contemporary society, which unnoticeably is a weakness point. According to Ortiz “much of the erosion of Indian sovereignty is not through the passage of laws of Congress taking away powers of self-government, but rather the alienation of Indian citizens who refuse to be bound by Indian community decisions and values” (27). Hence, this further points to the formal lack of mutual attachment among certain community members to the overall goal of the assertion of their cultural heritage, which is to retain the cultural value framework of the society. Thus, the assertion of their American Indians’ cultural heritage did not prove to be a major success in safeguarding their sovereignty.
Finally, it is evident that despite the proactive use of assertions to reinforce the sovereignty of American Indians, this did not lead to a successful outcome. In fact, the positive elements are mainly undermined by the existence of a poor knowledge structure, which limits their decision making power in legal battles. Tribal assertions proved to be unpopular with the contemporary society because it discouraged economic individualism; hence, it failed to meet its objectives. The assertion that they still had a stake in land that was sold but was initial part of the community land also failed to safeguard their territorial integrity. Additionally, in as much as the legal system may appear to having played a role in limiting the territorial sovereignty of American Indians, other factors such as isolation from the rest of the American society seemed to further undermine sovereignty.
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