Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Reservations

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R is for Reservation
When this girl pulled "R" out of the hat, she immediately thought of reservations.  Cedar Ridge Academy is located near the Ute Indian Reservation and we participate in a lot of the sports that the organize.  As an international school, we have the opportunity to learn a lot about different cultures that other schools don't have the ability to do so.  In addition, with a private school and therapeutic boarding school schedule we have the flexibility with our blended learning format to step outside of the box and explore the world around us.  This student of U.S. History has been able to learn a lot from the world around her.

While the concept of Indian reservations had been around since North America was first settled, reservations as we know them today came about in 1867. During this time period many people, encouraged by government actions such as the Morrill Land-Grant Act and the Homestead Act, left the Eastern cities to settle in the West. The federal government wanted people to settle the west, because it would result in more money for the country. The federal government formed the Bureau of Indian Affairs (IBA) to manage the reservations. The IBA still exists today and works with the United States government to improve the welfare of Native Americans. While some Native Americans agreed to be relocated onto the reservations, many resisted, leading to bloody conflicts.

A big aspect of Native American culture was the idea of working together for the benefit of the community, instead of the individual. Many tribes also had a very nomadic lifestyle, which conflicted with the more western standards in the US. In 1887, Congress passed the Dawes Act, dividing up the reservations into individual plots of land. The act assigned plots of land to each Native American. It was an attempt by the government to force Native Americans to become farmers and to assimilate to American culture. However, the Dawes Act severely weakened the Native American culture and changed their way of life.

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Native American boy with authentic tribal face paint 
stands in front of ancient petroglyphs.
There are about 285 Indian reservations in the US in 30 states. The largest Indian reservation in the US is the Navajo Reservation, which covers around 14 million acres, which is roughly the size of West Virginia. The main source of income on reservations comes from agriculture, although it is far from the only way money is made. Many reservations also make money from tourism, demonstrating some of their culture for people. Another main source of income for many Indian reservations is gambling casinos. While some reservations are able to make a considerable amount of money by running casinos, the practice has moved many Native Americans even farther away from their culture. Today more and more Native American youth are moving farther away from their ancestors’ way of life and moving closer to the more ‘American’ culture, suggesting that the original purpose for the creation of Indian reservations is being accomplished. However, has it been worth paying the price?

Sources:
Appleby, Joyce, et al. The American Vision. New York, NY: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print. 542-545.
Tiller, Veronica E. Velarde. “Indian Reservation.” The World Book Encyclopedia. Ed. Scott Fetzer. Chicago: World Book Inc., 2005. 188-189.

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