The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians

The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians

The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians

The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians

Synopsis

'The author's detailed analysis of two centuries of federal policy makes The Great Father indispensable reading for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of American Indian policy.' - Journal of American History.

Excerpt

The relations of the federal government of the United States with the American Indians through two centuries form a major component of American political history. From the beginnings of the nation, when some Indian tribes were political and military entities of power and independence with whom the young nation had to come to terms, to the present, when newly energized tribal organizations once again emphasize a government-to- government relation with the United States, Indians as tribes or as individuals have been persistently in the consciousness of officials of all three branches of the federal government.

I have long recognized the need for a comprehensive history of the relations between the United States government and the Indians. Excellent one-volume surveys of the subject exist, and there are now a great many scholarly studies of selected periods or particular aspects of American Indian policy. But what I have attempted here is a survey of the full scope of American Indian policy from the time of the Revolutionary War to 1980. I have sought to provide a reasonably complete discussion of the course of Indian policy development and implementation, with its many vicissitudes, and to indicate in the footnotes the essential documents and secondary works in which this history is set forth.

Because federal policies have rested on past experience, no full understanding of any part of the story is possible without seeing what went before or without examining the working out of the programs. I have learned from this comprehensive study that there was much more fundamental unity and continuity in the government's policy than I had previously thought from looking only at selected partial aspects or at limited chronological periods.

The officials of the federal government in the executive branch and in Congress faced a serious problem as greatly diverse cultures came into contact and often conflict within the expanding territorial limits of the United States. The Indian cultures were amazingly rich and diverse; but the Indian groups quickly fell far behind the white society in numbers and technical . . .

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