I would not say that I have interacted with many American Indians in the past years, but the few I have met, I think I learned one or two things from them. However, most of my mental images of the American Indians has been shaped by the media; both digital and the print. To begin with, I have this image where I see them as people that have undergone through oppression during their life time. They existed long before America was colonized. This means that they had the first-hand contact with the British, and they did not see eye to eye. The British were enemies trying to take what was theirs. Most of them died during this period as they attempted to fight the colonizers. The number of deaths was very high since the British were using all sorts of mechanisms to get rid of people that stood in their way. They could spread various epidemic diseases such as chicken pox, measles, and small pox among others.
I do not think the oppression of American Indians ended when the country gained independence. During the George Washington’s era, American Indians were discriminated and oppressed in various ways. The aspect of civilization was meant to assimilate them, by way of coercion since most were not receptive. The passing of various policies by the Congress like the Indian Removal Act meant that most were resettled away from their homeland.
Another image that comes to mind with regards to American Indians is poverty. This is an image I have derived from various media sources such as books and documentaries. From their early periods, American Indians were hunters and gatherers. In the current generation, most of them are struggling with poverty in the midst of a large population. The aspect has resulted in various health issues related to health practices and nutrition. It is well recognized that American Indians are dying of suicide, alcoholism, tuberculosis and diabetes among other conditions at very high rates.
Talk of culture. This is a mental image that I have conceived regarding the American Indians based on the people that I have interacted with. They tend to be prayerful, adore families and have an aspect of creativity. American Indians tend to view nature as a gift that God has bestowed upon them. As a result, they believe that they are supposed to lead their life in a manner that shows appreciation. How they resisted civilization is also an indication of their cultural beliefs. It took much effort by the government to coerce them into accepting various ideals.
These mental images have shaped various understandings in my life, more so regarding America. I have come to understand that the peace, freedom and civilization that we enjoy has come as a result of other people having to undergo through phases of oppression and turmoil. In the face of it, these are good things. However, they have not necessarily been attained in favorable ways. There are people who have died and encountered other forms of sufferings for this to be actualized. I think it is high time Americans became appreciative and accorded these people some form of respect and treat them as the heroes that they are.
The reflection has also made me understand that when it comes to politics and social life, it does not matter whether you are good or bad. Bad things are likely to happen to good people depending on the circumstances. American Indians played a critical role in the fight against colonization. This made them good people in the face of the country, isn’t it? But how were they treated? They were treated with oppression and discrimination. This is to mean that the world is not a fair place. The repercussions that accrue to an individual are not necessarily as a result of his/her actions. Another thing that can be learned is that change is inevitable. Regardless of how people try to fight it, change will triumph at the end. American Indian’s resistance to civilization did not mean that it will not take place in the long-run. This aspect applies to day to day activities. Regardless of who you are, you cannot resist change. Yes, you might fight and delay it for some time, but eventually it will take place.
From the reflection, I can also tell that I am compassionate. I feel sympathetic towards the American Indians for the difficulties that they have had to endure. It is my hope that their efforts would be appreciated, and hence the country treats them better in future.
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