“An Indian's View of Indian Affairs” is a speech by Chief Joseph to the audience, including President Hayes, in Lincoln Hall, Washington. Chief Joseph was the leader of Nez Perce Indians living in Oregon and Idaho before they were forced to move to Oregon. Chief Joseph was fighting for the rights of his people. He appealed to the government to allow them to move back to their native lands in Oregon. More importantly, he wanted the White men to stop treating Indians like wild animals; he wanted equal and just treatment for his people.
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The topic of Indian oppression by the whites is dominant in the speech. The whites came and forcefully took the land and property belonging to the Indians. The White men took away horses and cattle of the Indians without paying for them. The White even branded the cattle so that they could claim them to be their original property. However, despite all this, the Indians chose not to fight against the White men for the sake of peace (Erick 31).
Chief Joseph also talks about the empty promises that the United States government gives to his people. He is bitter that the government promises justice for people, but this promise is never followed by real actions. Good words will not bring back the dead who gave their lives for their country, fulfill the promises of General Miles, bring good health to Chief Joseph’s people, give them a peaceful place to live nor pay for the lost cattle and horses (Erick 32). If peace is to prevail between the Indians and the White, then the government should treat both of them equally. The government should apply the law equally to all Americans regardless of their race. Americans of all races should have the freedom to choose where to travel, work, and trade; they should also have the freedom to choose their own friends and religion (Erick 33).
The paper highlights the level of racial discrimination in America. The Whites, being the dominant race, trampled on other races. At the time, the American government was composed of the representatives of only one race, the Whites. There was poor or zero representation of other races such as Blacks and Indians in the government. As such, their complaints and cries of oppression were rarely addressed, because the people oppressing them and the people hearing their cases were the same.
The Gilded age refers to the period after the Civil War and up to the beginning of the 20th century. This was a period of industrial growth marred by serious social problems. The dominant social problem was the rights of the blacks (Robert 45). This article proves that the Whites were the dominant force in the United States, curtailing the rights of other minority races such as the Indians and the Blacks. To the Whites, the minority races did not deserve to be the part of the government or own property.
This paper teaches a lot about American History at the time. The dominant question as pointed above was the question of social injustice and oppression. America was at war with itself; that was a silent war between the different races occupying the nation. The speech does not show the effect it had on Washington and whether the President heard the cries of the Indians. Did he take any action to address the issues that Chief Joseph raised? Did the Indians resettle at Oregon after the death of Chief Joseph? The fact that Chief Joseph got a chance to address the President in Washington shows that the minority races were slowly starting to get a voice; the government was willing to listen to their persistent cries though it rarely responded to them.
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