To free the slaves, reformers had to defeat the slaveholders, but to free the Indians, reformers bad to defeat--the Indians. Something had been holding blacks back, and that oppressive force was slavery. But what was holding the Indians back, preventing them from taking the opportunity to adopt civilized ways?
-- Patricia Limerick ( 1987), Historian
ALTHOUGH MAINSTREAM AMERICANS of the late nineteenth century believed Indian cultures and lifeways were destined to disappear, many opposed needless cruelty toward the victims. Activists and reformers pushed for better treatment of Indian people, arguing that under the circumstances, the best way to help the Indians was to elevate them to civilization as rapidly as possible. Beginning in 1883, the so-called "Friends of the Indian" sponsored annual get-togethers at New York's Lake Mohonk, attracting a broad range of supporters. Part of the larger American reformist movement, the Lake Mohonkreformers were dedicated to eradicating Indian poverty and inequality by helping Indians into the melting pot. Participants debated long and hard