Almost from the moment of first contact, Europeans had trouble understanding the Native Americans. On the one hand, they admired and coveted the apparent freedom and flexibility of the American Indian lifestyle. But, on the other hand, they did not understand the Native American culture and society and, as a result, feared them greatly.
During the American Revolution, both the British and the Americans tried to get the Native Americans to side with them. The Iroquois Confederacy in New York sided with the British because of long-term economic ties, but most Native Americans tried to remain neutral until they saw who won the war.
The American victory in the Revolution probably sealed the doom of the Native Americans. The British might have set aside a large section of territory for the sole use of the American Indians. But American desire for land meant a steady push westward of settlers, which slowly drove the Native Americans into smaller and smaller pieces of land.
During the 1790s, conflicts with the Native Americans were centered in the Ohio Valley. On August 20, 1794, an American army under the command of General Anthony Wayne defeated a force of Miamis, Shawnees, Ottawas, Chippewas, Sauk, Fox, and some Iroquois at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in modern-day Ohio. Following this victory, Wayne dictated the Treaty of Greenville, signed on August 3, 1795, which opened the territory from the Ohio River north to present-day Cleveland, Chicago, and Detroit. In exchange, the Native Americans would receive $10,000 a year. This opened up more territory for American settlement, but it also increased the tensions between the two competing cultures. Ultimately, Americans of European descent never did understand the Native Americans.
The first group of documents reflects the attitude that the Native Americans were human beings who could be dealt with fairly. The first selection