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Bordewich, Fergus M. KILLING THE WHITE MAN'S INDIAN. Doubleday: New York, 1996

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hobbes2@ice.net  Red Earth, Killing (Ashworth)
Don Martin <damart1@odin.cmp.ilstu.edu> Killing the White Man's Indian (Martin)
Jkechan@aol.com  Killing the White Man's Indian by Bordewich (Carlson)
Justin Michael Almli <jmalmli@ILSTU.EDU> Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus
LUISARTURO <LUISARTURO@AOL.COM> Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus
LUISARTURO <LUISARTURO@AOL.COM> Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus
"Eric T. Knepper" <eknepp@ILSTU.EDU> REVIEW: Fergus M. Bordewich (Knepper)
"Eric T. Knepper" <eknepp@ILSTU.EDU> Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus
"Michael A. Schoenfield" <maschoen@EXECPC.COM> Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus
"Eric T. Knepper" <eknepp@ILSTU.EDU> Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus
"Michael A. Schoenfield" <maschoen@EXECPC.COM> Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus
"Michael A. Schoenfield" <maschoen@EXECPC.COM> Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus
"Eric T. Knepper" <eknepp@ILSTU.EDU> Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus
Sarah Elizabeth Niziolek <senizio@ACADCOMP.CMP.ILSTU.EDU>  Killing the White Man's Indian (Niziolek)
Danielle Lee Walker <dlwalke@ilstu.edu> Killing The White Man's Indian
Maureen N Kaszonyi <mnkaszo@ilstu.edu> KILLING THE WHITE MAN'S INDIAN (Kaszonyi)
Autumn Pemble <atpembl@ilstu.edu> Re: Killing The White Man's Indian

Date: Mon, 21 Apr 1997 15:45:44 -0500
From: hobbes2@ice.net (by way of Gary Klass <hobbes2@ice.net>)
Subject: Red Earth, Killing (Ashworth)

Vine Deloria, Jr. (RED EARTH, WHITE LIES), Scribner, 1995, and Fergus M.
Bordewich, (KILLING THE WHITE MAN'S INDIAN), Doubleday, 1996.
Review by Pam Ashworth

Descriptions of the American Indian today range from victim to
environmentalist to "Noble Savage" to simply, Native American. These,
however, do no come close to appreciating the complexity of Indian life.
Native Americans are much more than what contemporary American society seems
to think.

The study of Native Americans lends itself to numerous approaches. Vine
Deloria, Jr., a Sioux Indian himself, engulfs American Indians in a cloak of
mysticism while attempting to dispel any notion that Native Americans are at
all responsible for environmental degradation. Fergus Bordewich, however,
views such works as unrealistic portrayals of Native Americans as "Noble
Savages"- an inauthentic account created by Westerners that depicts Native
Americans as the supreme defenders of the earth and its life forms. In
addition, Bordewich moves beyond these questions of Indian identity to
address the complex issues affecting today's Native Americans.

For Deloria, much of the current scientific doctrine regarding Native
Americans is unsubstantiated, at best, and mythical, at worst. False
theories are allowed to persist due to a reluctance among scientists and
academics to contradict previous finding by colleagues. Furthermore,
centuries-old, tribal oral traditions are dismissed by the scientific
community as senseless folklore unworthy of any attention. As a result,
Americans are left with an inadequate knowledge of Indians, their histories,
and their relationship to the environment.

Despite the acclaim and status the general population thrusts upon
scientists, scholars, for Deloria, are by no means deserving of such high
praise. For instance, these professionals "lie and fudge their conclusions
as much as the most distrusted professions in our society- lawyers and car
dealers"(p. 40). By distorting their findings to conform with established
precedent, academics will not risk ridicule by others in their field. In
effect, questionable observations, particularly in the areas of geology and
anthropology, continue to exist at the detriment of Native Americans. An
important example involves the seldom disputed theories of evolution. The
scientist, Stephen Jay Gould, apparently uncovered evidence which "reverses
Darwin's original ideas completely"(p. 39). Gould theorized that the
absence of transitional fossils signaled periods of rapid evolutionary
change as opposed to tradition theories of a slow process of evolution.
Deloria views Gould's work as significant enough to undermine all theories
of Darwinism. The scientific community, however, rejected Gould's research
and its implication for Indian history.

The origin of American Indians is of great concern to Deloria. In its
simplest form, Western science purports that Cro-Magnon man evolved from
Neanderthal man. Yet, Native Americans must be relatively new arrivals to
the Western Hemisphere due to a lack of skeletal remains of Cro-Magnon and
Neanderthal man here. American Indians, therefore, "had to wait...for a
convenient ice age when the North American continent could be linked with
Asia"(p. 69). For Deloria, these explanations of Indian occupation of the
hemisphere are easily refuted. For example, William Laughlin, an
acknowledged expert on the Bering Strait land-bridge theory, can not offer
convincing evidence of mass migration to North America. Although the
land-bridge theory is essential to placing Native Americans as late-comers
to the continent, Laughlin describes the bridge as swampy, boggy, frozen,
severe, and devoid of substance- conditions "not conducive to human
migration"(p. 86). Thus, Native Americans, according to Deloria, may indeed
have inhabited North America for thousands of years longer than scientists
would like to think. However, if scholars recognize an extensive time-frame
for Indian presence, Native American claims to land become justified- an
unacceptable development and an insurmountable obstacle to adjusting current
scientific doctrine.

If today's scientists and academics were committed to truly scholarly
research, Deloria suggests that they would be well served by studying the
oral traditions of American Indians. Oral traditions have survived
countless generations as they have been recounted by prominent tribal
members. These traditions have also remained essentially true to their
original forms, for they have been altered only for purposes of
entertainment for fellow tribal members. More importantly, oral traditions
hold important keys to understanding the history of the earth and the
Indian's place in that history. For example, a number of tribes located in
the Pacific Northwest hold traditions that describe the Columbia River as
once flowing beneath the Cascade Mountains and later reemerging at the
Pacific coast. A woman of the Wishram tribe further elaborates that the
underground river was used as a detour to bypass the Cascades. Although
geologists claim that if this landscape actually did exist, it would have
been thousands, if not millions, of years ago, Deloria cites it as evidence
of the Native American people's long history on the continent. Moreover,
the author finds the traditions quite plausible, "since the Humboldt River
sinks in several places in Nevada" today(p. 189). Scientists, however,
argue that traditional peoples were frightened of nature and merely created
fictional accounts to ease their fears. Furthermore, the frequent use of
supernatural events in oral traditions precludes scientists from giving any
serious consideration to these ancient tales.

Deloria's greatest attack on Western science is its assumption that
Paleo-Indians, the ancestors of today's Native Americans, are responsible
for the extinction of a large number of Pleistocene-era animals,
particularly the megafauna. Megafauna include large species of bison,
mammoth, mastodon, and others and are widely believed to have been hunted to
depletion by Paleo-Indians who crossed the Bering Strait land-bridge.
Deloria rejects this account in part due to its reliance on the defunct
land-bridge theory and in part due to its neglect of so-called common sense.
For example, the author believes that today's game animals, such as
buffalo and deer, were present at the time of the megafauna's extinction.
Why then, Deloria asks, would the Paleo-Indian kill the megafauna as opposed
to the smaller, easier to kill, and less dangerous game animals?
Furthermore, scientists have no accurate account of the weapons that would
have been required to kill such a large number of species. Instead,
Paleo-hunters have only been found to have used small stone tools. While
Deloria compiles a long list of grievances against this "overkill" theory,
Western science continues its use as "a good way to support continued
despoliation of the environment by suggesting that at no time were human
beings [American Indians] careful of the lands upon which they lived"(p.
113). The effect is to blame today's Native Americans for the demise of
these creatures.

As appealing as much of Deloria's work is- indeed, it is often
fascinating- it does not lend itself to credible support. A wholesale
condemnation of the scientific community is certainly not warranted. There
are, of course, numerous instances of deceit in scientific research. The
current controversy surrounding tobacco companies and the information that
they withheld from the public is but one timely example. However, science,
like many areas of scholarly inquiry, changes with the times. For example,
medical studies regarding cancer and heart disease once relied solely on
research involving men. Today, studies in women's health receive the
attention that they deserve, partly as a response to the increasing number
of women working in the health sciences. Similarly, it can not be argued
that the condemnation of a few obscure scientists, such as Gould, is an
indication of the academic community's broad distaste for differing
perspectives. Science would never adapt or evolve if all minority
viewpoints were suppressed.

The debate regarding the origins of American Indians are best left to
geologists and anthropologists rather than to political scientists, like
Deloria. In today's environment of renewed respect and admiration for
Native Americans, it is unlikely that a conspiracy is at work to place
Indians as new-comers to North America. Anthropologists, in particular,
increasingly work under pressures to remain sensitive to all cultures and
traditions and to distance themselves from Western preconceptions. The
assertion that scholars deliberately employ false dating techniques to
thwart American Indian land claims is, thus, patently absurd. Deloria can
likely find relief in the growing number of Native Americans acquiring
higher levels of education and entering scientific fields of work. Perhaps
they will seek to answer the interesting questions the author raises and
attempt to use the oral traditions of American Indians in the process.
However, as Deloria himself indicates, oral traditions are as complex and
varied as any geological dating mechanism.

While claims that Native Americans hold a greater respect and appreciation
for the physical environment may find more receptive audiences, Deloria is
not without fault even in this regard. As Bordewich effectively argues,
American Indians, like all peoples, have at times been forced to exploit the
environment for their own ends. Native Americans today are no exception.
For example, the Campo Indians of California are preparing to turn part of
their reservation into a landfill for the city of San Diego. Other tribes
engage in logging and mining- all in the name of economic development.
Moreover, the widely held belief that Native Americans universally revere
the natural world is based on the myth of the "Noble Savage." For instance,
the words of Chief Seattle, which stir the hearts of environmentalists, are
"quite simply, an invention" of a Texas screenwriter(p. 133). Some American
Indians are indeed deeply concerned about the environment. However, as the
economic survival of reservations increasingly becomes tantamount to Indian
survival and autonomy, many tribes are now forced to reassess their
relationship to the earth and its resources.

If Bordewich appears to be in marked contrast to Deloria, he essentially
is. While Deloria analyzes the scientific perceptions of Native Americans,
Bordewich examines the practical and immediate concerns of American Indians
today. Attempting to shatter the often false image of the "Noble Savage,"
Bordewich addresses Indian education, politics, economics, and reservation
life and their implications for the future of Native Americans. Discarding
the new-age mysticism of Deloria, Bordewich approaches the American Indian
as an unbiased scholar.

According to Bordewich, the most hopeful sign for the future of American
Indians is the renewed focus on education. Little Big Horn College, for
example, is administered by the Crow Indians. Operating on a minuscule
budget, the college can boast of success. Its staff has "carried the
concept of self-determination beyond politics and into the lives of ordinary
men and women"(p. 271). The college has not only touched but transformed
the lives of many poor, chronically unemployed, and often alcoholic, Crow
Indians. Like other effective Native American colleges, Little Big Horn has
incorporated studies of tribal traditions with fields essential to the
future employment of reservation members: accounting, nursing, secretarial
studies, business administration, industrial arts, and data processing, for
instance. Moreover, students receiving two-year degrees at Indian colleges
are now appearing in larger numbers at traditional four-year and graduate
universities. Although institutions like Little Big Horn are not found on a
significant number of reservations, they are the key ingredient to the
future economic development of both tribes and individual Native Americans.

If one force exists that can threaten the important contributions of Native
American colleges it is tribal politics. Too often corrupt or self-serving,
many tribal leaders lack the needed leadership skills to manage today's
tribal governments. Frequently receiving millions of federal dollars each
year, funds are seldom used in ways that would truly benefit reservations.
As tribal governments retain sovereign powers, they are free to regulate
membership, tax policies, and even the behavior of non-Indians on non-Indian
land on reservations. The perplexing nature of tribal politics is
inextricably tied to the issue of sovereignty and the complex relationship
between Native Americans and the federal government of the United States.

"Indian Country," as aptly described by Bordewich, is a "confusing snarl of
jurisdictions and conflicting powers that nearly defies human ability to
unravel"(p. 113). Many reservations today consist of tribal land, state or
county land, federal land, private land owned by non-Indians, and land held
in trust by the federal government. To be certain, this pattern of
distribution often leads to conflict. For example, crimes committed on
reservations may fall under the investigative powers of a state government,
the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the FBI, or tribal law enforcement officials.
Furthermore, questions of civil rights may vary according to the
reservation, or part of the reservation, involved. For instance, Pequot
Indians provide no guarantee for the right of trial-by-jury. Also, union
activity is forbidden by the tribe. Since tribal law does not allow for
appeal to state or federal courts, the Pequot tribe essentially acts as
"employer, judge, and jury"(p. 114).

The economic development of Indian reservations is a top priority of
Bordewich, and he holds the Choctaw Nation as a possible model to emulate.
Positioned in one of the most impoverished regions of Mississippi, the tribe
has transformed itself "from a welfare culture into one of the largest
employers in the state"(p. 303). By courting business from Xerox, AT&T,
Navistar, Harley-Davidson, and Chrysler, the Choctaw have dramatically
increased family income; built a hospital and new schools; and opened
numerous businesses, including food stores and a radio and television
station. The reservation's economic progress has helped the Choctaw acquire
control of the administration of federal programs formerly under the
direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. For example, law enforcement,
credit, finance, health care, and social services are now operated by the
tribe's bureaucracy. While Bordewich rightfully acknowledges that such
economic success can not be duplicated by all tribes, it remains a central
approach to addressing the social ills that thrive on many reservations.

Reservation life today is often witness to poor health conditions, high
rates of suicide, teenage pregnancy, single-parent families, soaring
unemployment, extreme poverty, crime, and a sense of desperation and
hopelessness. For Bordewich, these features are too frequently related to
the most striking problem of all: alcoholism. The city of Gallup, New
Mexico, graphically illustrates the destructiveness of alcoholism for Native
Americans. Prohibition remains in force on the Navajo reservation, located
to the north of Gallup. Bootlegging is common, and on weekends, the
population of Gallup soars with an influx on Navajo and Zuni Indians who
bring with them "an often deadly determination to drink"(p. 242). What
follows for the small town of Gallup are rapes, burglaries, robberies,
traffic accidents, assaults, and murder. To make matters worse, tribal
leaders often underestimate the severity of the problem or fail to address
it at all. However, some tribes have adopted a variety of approaches to
combat the ravages of alcoholism, including anything from psychotherapy and
spiritual practices to laws banning the cashing of welfare checks in liquor
stores. If there is any hope of controlling alcoholism among American
Indians, it is in the determined efforts of those few reservations who have
declared war on the disease.

The intriguing and eye-opening account of Native Americans provided by
Bordewich leaves little room for disagreement. For example, a reliance on
education must be at the foundation of Indian life. In addition to fighting
the vast social problems of the reservation, increased Native American
education will be a catalyst for economic advancement. Although Bordewich
opens himself to attack by advocating the teaching of white educational
norms, these criticisms are unfounded. A focus on Western education does
not undermine traditional Indian cultures. For all practical purposes, most
Native American cultures have already been lost. Moreover, the training
Indian colleges do provide on traditional tribal culture allows the youngest
generations to learn of their ancestral roots- information their parents
did not likely possess.

In a similar manner, Bordewich also risks condemnation for his candid
discussion of Native American alcoholism. Critics may suggest that the
author is simply exploiting the stereotype of the "drunken Indian." Others
may view his work as a hindrance to greater understanding and respect for
Indian peoples. As Bordewich convincingly argues, however, alcohol is an
enormous problem facing today's reservations. It simply can not be
overlooked merely because it causes discomfort for some. Furthermore,
alcohol stands in the way of Native American progress. If the American
Indian is to thrive in the future, reservations must pursue economic and
political development, educational achievement, and social advancement.
Alcohol, though, is a real threat to these goals.

The most likely criticism that Bordewich will face is that he is
essentially favoring the assimilation of Native Americans into white
America. Opponents may point to the author's treatment of Western
education, political, and economic systems and conclude that he views future
Indian culture as one in the same as American culture. This is hardly
Bordewich's plan. Instead, he sees the preservation of the Native American
as dependent upon the Indian's ability to adapt to a changing world. An
increasingly global and capitalist economy demands economic development and
the ownership of private property. Economic development, in turn, requires
quality education and a sound government and society. Although traditional
Native American culture is virtually extinct, Bordewich wishes that what
remains of Indian culture be kept intact for later generations. For
example, the distortion of Indian symbols and identity in popular culture,
such as athletic teams with Indian logos, is as offensive to Bordewich as it
surely would be to Deloria. Furthermore, Bordewich stresses that Native
Americans are not a monolithic group. This is evident as the questions of,
who is an Indian, and what constitutes an Indian tribe, become increasingly
relevant. Indeed, the survival of the last traces of truly Native American
culture- not the false "Noble Savage" ideal that many Americans and Indians
have adopted- will depend upon the Indian's ability to operate the
reservation within the Western world.

Although Deloria and Bordewich approach the Native American dilemma with
vastly different perspectives, one important theme is shared by both
authors: the utter devastation Indians experienced with the arrival of
white American settlers. Both give vivid accounts of the destruction of
tribes due to disease, war, and forced exile. Both take note of the U.S.
Constitution's failure to even mention Native Americans. Bordewich recounts
the massacre of entire, unsuspecting tribes by whites, while Deloria speaks
of Indian women suffering reproductive sterilization "at government clinics
without their knowledge or consent"(p. 19). Bordewich describes the
mindless looting of Indian cultural artifacts, and Deloria points to the
killing of American Indians solely for the purpose of experimentation with
Indian bodies. The list of atrocities is enormous, indeed, and demonstrates
white America's attempt to put an end to the "Indian problem" for good.
Both authors agree that this history should never be forgotten.
Pam Ashworth
Illinois State University

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Date: Wed, 23 Apr 1997 20:20:06 -0500
From: Don Martin <damart1@odin.cmp.ilstu.edu>
Subject: Killing the White Man's Indian (Martin)

>Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 17:19:47 +0900
>To: gmklass@ilstu.edu
>From: Don Martin <damart1@odin.cmp.ilstu.edu>
>Subject: Killing.... Indian Draft
>Cc: damart1@odin.ilstu.edu
>Fergus Bordewich, Killing the White Man's Indian (Doubleday, 1996)
>Review By: Don Martin
>Mail to: damart1@instead.edu
> The tragic past of Native American peoples has set the stage for the
enormous problems they face in contemporary America. Bordewich tells a
story of an entire race that has coped with wide spread genocide and
continue to struggle to exist in a very complex society. The modern day
Indian faces a multitude of problems; identifying with their own culture,
assimilating into American culture, attempting to keep part of traditional
ancestry alive.

Bordewich seems to en grain himself with past and present chronicles
of Native Americans. In essence, the reader is able to almost "walk in the
shoes" of Indians. The stories so graphic in nature, leaving the reader in
agony, hitting so close to home. He tells the story of one Indian tribe in
California that was basically eradicated in a 12-hour period, through the
course of one night. White settlers preyed upon men, women and children,
without remorse, leaving wounded infants still attempting to feed from
mothers that were slaughtered

To truly understand the plight of the Indian it is necessary to know
their past. It is difficult for other Americans to understand the modern
day Indian without taking into account their past. Almost everyone has
heard or read stories, shallow in nature, that have vaguely portrayed
Native Americans. However, the adverse affects which continue to afflict
Indians will never be known by most Americans simply because we have chose
to marginalize historical events almost as if they never occurred.
Some of those that do recognize the history of Native Americans, such
as the whites currently living close to reservations, have somehow
concluded that the Indians have been given more than enough. According to
Bordewich, they believe Native Americans are eager to take hand-outs and
will continue to take as long as the government allows it. Maybe they are
unaware of the contributions Indian tribes have made over the years.
The Navajo proved to be an integral part of WWII, due to the language
barrier they provided for the Japanese. Prior to their involvement the
Japanese had continually broke our military codes. Bordewich points to the
economic success of the Choctaw tribe in Philadelphia, MS. Through the
wisdom and passion of Chief Martin a rural southern town is able to sustain
quality of life not paralleled by other town in the area. In Philadelphia
an industrial park hosts major corporations such as AT&T, Xerox, Navistar
and Boeing- all solicited by Chief Martin. He laid the plans for a
thriving industrial park at a time when almost 80% of his tribe was
unemployed. Now with full employment of its own members, nearly half of
the tribe's workforce are black and white Mississippians. The mayor of the
town firmly believes if it had not been for the efforts of the Choctaw,
Philadelphia would be in the same position as other rural towns- companies
struggling to meet their payroll and inadequate funds for police and fire

Identifying the true identity of Native Americans is complex, is more
than an understatement. Bordewich eludes to historian Robert E. Berkholder
Jr.'s perspective that the "Indian" identity is basically a figment of the
white man's imagination or is largely one of a Euro-American perspective.
Berkholder noted accounts of history that detailed Columbus' description of
Native Americans as "peaceful, simple peoples, unaware of evil." While
other Euro-American perspectives depict Indians as savages. Even more
interestingly is the dilemma faced by Indians in contemplating which of
these labels fit, if either. Over the years Native Americans have
struggled to truly identify themselves from their own ancestry and that
perpetuated by whites.

The old saying that there are three sides to every story- each of the
two parties sides and the truth, lends well to native American history.
Bordewich reflects the stories of Native Americans as they fell victim to
whites and vice versa. However, the truth of the matter doesn't lye
entirely in the old newspaper archives, written by biased white
journalists, or the oral traditions passed on by Indians, subject to
"modification" as time passes- both were sources of information for
Bordewich. The truth lies somewhere in between, probably closer to the
Native American accounts but, in which those in academia and anthropology
have a difficult time recognizing.

Today native Americans face dilemmas which pit tribal governments and
the federal government against each other. Often the outcome is
misunderstood by both sides and only leads to further confusion. Bordewich
told the story of a woman who owned a tavern in the midst of a reservation
but, was not in actuality directly on the reservation. The tavern sat in
what was essentially "patchwork-type" borders that were very unclear. This
was not a problem unique to that particular area and is present throughout
the U.S. The woman was forced to close her tavern for not conforming to
the tribal government and was ultimately closed down.

Other problems faced by Native Americans include high rates of
alcoholism, economic developments and assimilation into American culture
without abandoning their cultural heritage. The recent emergence of
casinos and their profits have lodged many battles in state courts. The
"tribes" which run the casinos are often difficult to identify and some
have questioned their validity.

A number of tribe have turned to education as a way for future and
further development. Evidence is provided by the development of native
American Colleges such as Little Big Horn College, ran by the Sioux tribe.
However, some of the more traditional-based Indians have argued that
although economic developments and educational advances are prosperous but,
not without a price- abandonment from older traditions.
Native Americans face a multitude of problems. Their eradication can
be paralleled to the Holocaust, although it is difficult to determine how
many Indian tribes existed and were subject to genocide. They will
continue to struggle for economic rights and land ownership. The main
problem comes in trying to determine how much is enough- in land and
dollars- for the federal government to consent to. Let us not forget
though, we are all on "borrowed, stolen, leased or Indian-originated land.
In the words of Malcolm X, if anyone was- "hoodwinked, bamboozled and led
astray"- it was the Native Americans.

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Date: Fri, 25 Apr 1997 14:15:24 -0500
From: Jkechan@aol.com
Subject: Killing the White Man's Indian by Bordewich (Carlson)

Bordewich, Fergus M. KILLING THE WHITE MANS INDIAN. Doubleday: New York,

Reviewed by: Patrick Carlson
e-mail: pzcarls@ilstu.edu

When I think of the issues that were discussed to this point, I feel that I
have gained a grasp of urban and racial politics. However when I think of
racial politics, I would never have thought of American Indians within these
groups. Troubles among the Indians are not as publicized as those of the
African-Americans or the homeless, nor do Indian issues appear to be in the
same political light as the hearing impaired or Affirmative action. However,
from before the "Trail of Tears," until the casino gambling rings of the
1990's, the saga which Indians have lived through has been a long and drawn
out process with several more down's than up's.

Like any other minority group in the U.S., Indians want nothing more than to
be integrated into mainstream society. Indians have the potential to be a
prosperous group, and would like to be seen as such. The important question
though, is do they want to be seen as a prosperous group of people of people
in their own sovereign nations or do they want to be accepted as equal among
the citizens of the U.S.? Bordewich examines the several low points and high
points of Indian society in today's America, everything from reservation
casino's to Indian hunting as a hobby to alcoholism.

Although it is hard to place dates on the Indian inhabitation of America, we
know that they have thousands of years on the white man. Once the settlers
arrived, they immediately tried to take over the "new world." As more and
more settlers arrived expansion became a necessity. As a stable government
began to evolve into the democracy we have today, a hard line approach to
Indian extermination evolved with it. The U.S. wanted to expand and no
Indians were going to stop this expansion. Indians were coerced and forced
to leave their land and move onto government granted reservations.

On almost all occasions, the Indians would not simply give up the land to
the white man, but would try to fight for it, or at worst they were going to
receive fair compensation for the land they gave away. The white man was
able to coerce the Indian into relinquishing land with relative ease though.
One example of coercion which Bordewich sites took place in New York. There
was a large area of land that the whites wanted to purchase a lease for, but
the Indians did not want to sell. The people looking to purchase the land
took the Indians into a hotel and served them all liquor until they became
intoxicated and in no state of mind to sign a lease. The whites received the
land at a price that was lower than one could imagine. The Indians received
a payment that was probably 15 times, at least, below what they should be
paid for the land. The Indians had their day of redemption though. Just
recently the lease had expired on the land and the Indian residents chose to
not renegotiate the lease. The residents were permitted to stay on the land,
but their rent increased into the several hundred dollar range (some
residents were paying as low as one dollar per year).

Sometimes, the government simply forced the Indians off the land. One
example of forced removal was the "Trail Of Tears." This event was one of
the low points in American history. This example of Indian removal occurred
in Georgia. The state legislature started to pass territorial laws on Indian
reservations among other aspects of the Indian sub-culture. The U.S.
Congress joined in and started to pass laws on who should receive what
territory. The Indians were told to do as instructed, or the situation was
to be resolved with extreme prejudice. The end result was that the Indians
gave up their land and moved. The journey across the country to their new
reservation became known as the "Trail of Tears" because several thousand
Indians walked across the nation. Along the trip, it has been approximated
that 25% of all Indians died in the course of the journey. Several died from
starvation and disease, but others were slaughtered on the trip.

Another example of Indian removal occurred in California around the time of
the Gold Rush. By this time, expansion westward had become such a large
practice that limited land space became available. With a mass population of
Indians and new settlers from the East, some group had to give. The accepted
idea was that the Indians were going to be that group that gave way. Since
they would not simply leave, Indian hunting became common practice. Laws
were passed which basically stated that any Indian that posed a threat
towards the settler could be legally killed. This practice of Indian hunting
continued and eventually turned into a form of Indian genocide.

The most obvious example of this occurred in the state of California on an
island just off the coast. This island had been an Indian area for years. A
California prospector, had wanted to purchase the island for business
purposes, from the Indians. The Indians were not willing to budge on the
issue of a sale, so the man chose to take the situation out of their hands.
Along with several other Californians, they all went to the island and
slaughtered virtually the entire island. No liberties what-so-ever were
taken with Indians, anyone who was in plain sight was slaughtered. This
tragic situation as major in Indian history, but what is more tragic, the
slaughter or how the federal government has chosen to remember them? Should
a tourist go and visit the island, they will find a plaque that says simply
that this area is historical. If you go to the town chamber of commerce, you
will find information stating simply that Indians lived there and nothing
more. The government has chosen to downplay the entire situation, as well as
others, in order to keep the white man in the best light possible.

Reservation life today is not the most ideal of situations, but several
Indian tribes have made the best of what they have been given. They have
tried to exploit as many resources as possible without jeopardizing their
personal beliefs. Tribes are building several casinos and different stands
at historical monuments to try to gain a higher economic acceptance than they
have had over time. The most prosperous of reservation businesses are the
casinos. Some of the reservations are making as much as 500 million dollars
a year on legalized gambling houses. Tribal casinos account for almost 6
billion dollars annually in gambling revenues. This equates to almost some
six percent of the total revenues mad annually in the nation from legalized

Indian reservations are also tax exempt. This upsets some state
legislatures because they feel that they deserve more say in the what kind of
gambling should be granted to the reservations. In order to work out this
difference, tribes have come up with a payment plan where they pay a certain
percentage to the state in order to maintain the operations.

There are two major problems with tribes in America. The first is that of
alcoholism. On a tribe, it is not uncommon for a majority of the people to
be alcoholics. This adds to crime and takes away from potential earnings by
several tribes. Alcoholism is a problem that is nation wide, but appears to
be much more of problem in low income areas. Reservations are severally low
income and have high unemployment.

Another major problem is that of tribal laws and governing. Indian
reservations are basically sovereign nations within the U.S. One inherent
flaw is that some people are subject to different laws than others. One
example of the flaws within the system occurred in a murder case in Arizona.
A young boy was shot and killed by a drunk Indian who was from another
reservation. The case was an obvious homicide, but was never pursued as one.
Under federal law, the federal officers can investigate any homicide that
occurs on the reservations in connection with the tribal police. Under the
tribal law, they could only charge the suspect with a weapon charge. The
federal officers chose not to purse the criminal for the charge based on a
lack of evidence, and the tribal police had to release him due to the fact
that he was from another reservation.

I believe that tribal governments want to be viewed as a quasi-government.
They want to have direct rule over their land, but are willing to work with
the federal, state, and local governments. They want to be part of the
larger communities around them, but do not want to be full out citizens and
give up the sovereignty that they have maintained for years.

Economically, reservations are trying to grow. One example of this lies in
the South. A reservation in Mississippi has brought in outside companies to
build a plant on their reservation. This gave the reservation a chance to
increase employment and has raised the per capita incomes of residents to
almost 22,000 dollars per year. By allowing for companies to build on their
land, they have shown that they are willing to integrate into the economic
community. The problem with this though is that outsiders can be viewed as a
threat according to Bordewich. The outsiders can challenge the legitimacy
of the government on the reservation.

I feel that Indians have been the most widely discriminated race that has
been studied to this point. Racial problems and political problems studied
to this point have been problems that the U.S. directly created. Indian
troubles are a problem that the U.S. created directly, but the Indians do
have the basic rights to the land. They have also received the least amount
of support. Indian's face stereotypes that they have yet to shun. Even
african-americans have been able to shun several of the stereotypes that they
faced. Indians will always be considered lower class until they can force
people to see that they have integrated as far as they want. It is now time
the U.S. to move towards the Indians instead of continuously shunning them


Back to top...

Date: Tue, 14 Apr 1998 13:36:21 -0500
From: Justin Michael Almli <jmalmli@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus

One day a group of aliens came from the sky. They raped our
women, killed our men, and destroyed almost every aspect of human culture
as we know it. The survivors of this invasion were sent to austrailia to
be forgotten. If this sounds like a ludicrious story, its not. One day a
group of white men came from across the seas, and decided to obliterate
every aspect of Indian culture. Indians were murdered by the hundreds of
thousands. Their land was ripped from their very existence. Women and
children were raped and killed, and this was all done in the name of
noble, civilized, decent white folks trying to start a morally correct

Killing the White Man's Indian, covers many aspects of
yesterdays and todays modern Indian. He begins with a few of the horride
accounts of Indian genocide and some accountability as to why some of
these actions had taken place. Without a basic understanding of the
problems that Indians have encountered in the past it is difficult to
understand where they are at now. Indians have endured just as much
punishment and basic lack of civil rights than any oppressed group in the
world. Yet the attention they receive for trying to better their culture
is almost non-existent. Granted, some Indians were able to own black
slaves, but from the accounts of this book blacks definetly receive more
respect than the Indian nation. This could be that the black cause has
been in the limelight for the past fifty years, but Indians are generally
fighting for the same issues. Indians, just as blacks, have a difficulty
identifing with their own culture. Certainly Indians, just as much as
blacks, have a hard time identifing with their ancestory. Finally,
Indians, as well as blacks, have not been successful in assimilating into
mainstream American life.

Most Indians today are spread out on reservations all around the
country. Indian culture is still trying to stay alive, but it is fighting
a losing battle. A large percentage of Indians battle alcoholism and
chronic poverty. One reservation claimed that it spent 90% of it's budget
on fighting alcoholism. Trying to keep a culture alive under these
conditions is difficult. Another grueling truth is that most non-Indians
living on or near the reservations have some sort of anemosity toward
Indians. Indians law is what prevails on a reservation so most
non-Indians don't feel like they should have to abide by Indian law.
Indian culture then is still looked upon as it was two-hundred years ago,
a threat. Why should Indian culture be looked upon any different than
black, Asian, or Hispanic culture. They all have a right to survive and
be represented in today's America. The gross under-representation of
Indian culture could be linked solely to money. Even blacks and Hispanic,
very poor minorities, have more money collectivly, and more power groups to
represent their views. The Indians have the Bureau of Indian Affairs,
which is a knock knock joke in the satire of government, just bad.

Indians have steadily been increasing their monetary funds, as a group, by
accepting garbage dumps on their reservations and gambling. Even though
gambling is closely linked to some of the Indians problems. So, it will
be interesting to see what the future holds for Indians.
Indians have failed to assimilate into American life too. This
all comes full circle to the money problems, alcoholism, and
under representation in government. But wait, the Indians have tried
assimilation. As a matter of fact, they ran a quite successful area in
Georgia. Their government was modeled after the white mans government.
They gave up hunting and replaced it with plowing fields and raising
livestock. They even owned slaves just like your average European. They
were successful, just as the Europens were successful. They were, in my view, succesfully
assimilated. What happened next was normal European based politics. It
involved a heavy amount of backstabbing. So again even after successful
assimilation they had lost everything. This brings me to my point. Why
would the Indians even want to try that again? So they can be betrayed
again? I would want nothing to do with a government that has consistently
showed its outright hatred of my race. In some countries, those actions
would call for revolution or terrorism. But this is the United States,
so if the Indians want to, or need to assimilate they are going to need

Blacks have endured many hardships in the course of American
history, but they have made many advancements as a race. Indians have
endured many hardships in the course of American history, but their
advancements and representation are a fraction of that of blacks. I think
the Indian will survive just as they have survived in the past. With the
continuing growth of money, education, and representation Indian culture
will survive.

Back to top...

Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 03:13:51 EDT
Subject: Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus

I was intrigued by your review and glad to read it fully. After reading you
interesting overview, I thought a few points could be made from which you
could draw upon to strengthen your analysis and stance on indian experiences
in America.

First, you state:
<< I would want nothing to do with a government that has consistently
>> showed its outright hatred of my race. In some countries, those actions
>>would call for revolution or terrorism. >>

I would be careful not to think that anyone was sitting back, waiting for
oppression. It might be of interest to you to read about the indiscriminate
violence and (seemingly) never ending conflict that occurred among the many
ancient North American nations and the "old world" nations from arrival (and
even in some cases, prearrival) of the Europeans. To appreciate the rise of
conflicts among the nations and with the European settlers (the section on the
Delaware is very intense) visit:


under [H]-- history (warning, some sources, by the sites own admissions,
have felt the site has a bias in some regards--and in fact, they have what
seems to be a bigotted, overgeneralizing, stereotypical, quote on the second
page by Charlot, Flathead, 1876---http://www.dickshovel.com/Passthru.1.html.
It is up to you to decide on the sites content, I find it interesting even if
sometimes questionable.)

I have a site (in the works, early stages) that tells a bit about an episode
that some historians descibe as THE event that strongly influence the rise of
the all out philosophy of, "the only good indian is a dead indian." It is on
the Quaker page, under the Paxton Boys' section.

Next, you allege that:
>>The gross under-representation of<<
>>Indian culture could be linked solely to money.>>

Here, I would say you are probably incorrect. The gross under-representation
of the various Indian Cultures could also be linked to animosity (ethnic
hatreds and biases), a winner-takes-all electoral system (rooted in part in
class bias), and the nature of democracy (majority rule) among other factors.

Next, you assert that:
>>Indians have endured many hardships in the course of American history, but
>>advancements and representation are a fraction of that of blacks.

Be sure to back up your assertions (for instance, what advancements are you
talking about and what would you describe as approximately equal

Finally, you state:
>>They {Native Americans] even owned slaves just like your average European.

Not to beg an inconsequential point (because a very significant number did,
and that is the real issue), but I do not think your average European
immigrant could (or did) own slaves. This is not to imply that the average
European wasn't a racist (I do not know empirically, but I would strongly
suspect it is not a stretch of the imagination).

Attention to these few points would probably strengthen you arguments.

Back to top...

Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 02:24:30 -0700
From: "Eric T. Knepper" <eknepp@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: REVIEW: Fergus M. Bordewich (Knepper)

Fergus M. Bordewich, KILLING THE WHITE MAN’S INDIAN (Anchor Books, 1997).

Reviewed by Eric Knepper, Illinois State University.
April 14, 1998

The plight of the American Indians, like the history of Blacks in
America, has been a sad tale. And like the future of Blacks in America,
the future of Indians is both promising and daunting, fraught with both
obstacles and challenges. In "Killing the White Man’s Indian", Fergus M.
Bordewich opens the readers’ eyes to the changes that the Indians have
faced and how many Indian tribes have adapted to those changes, in many
instances reversing the image of Indians. Most importantly he presents an
unwritten challenge to consider what we as a nation should do next.

A new Indian is emerging in America. In the past, Indians have been
seen as both enchanting and atrocious people. On one hand Indians have
been revered because of their "spiritual connection to all living things",
and on the other they have been condemned because they are seen as drunks,
savages, and hopeless recipients of government handouts. The new Indian is
a stark contrast to the old one. He is someone most Americans are
unprepared for. He is educated, he is politically empowered, and he is
ready to fight for his rights.

In setting the stage to describe the new Indian, Mr. Bordewich takes
the reader on a brief journey through the events that have led us, and him,
where we are today; he discusses the early interaction between Indians and
the white settlers. Everyone has heard the stories of how the settlers and
Indians interacted: the oppressive United States government intended to
cause the genocide of the Indians; honest and peaceful Indians were evicted
from their land; Indians cruelly and brutally fought against the white
settlers; white settlers forced their customs on the unwilling Indians.
Unfortunately, each one of these stereotypes is false, or at least not
entirely true. The United States government established treaties with the
Indians and attempted (however poorly) to protect the Indians’ land; in at
least one instance the United States government contemplated fighting
against settlers who were wrongly invading Indian lands (37). The
Iroquois, Sioux, and Navajos, contrary to their noble and honest
reputations, were often aggressive and cruel towards other Indian tribes
(36). Indians did not monopolize all aspects of cruelty in and after
battles: Europeans and Americans bought shoes made of Indian skins, Dutch
colonists used Indian heads as kickballs, Indians’ skin was often used as
tobacco pouches (35-6). And not all of the Indian tribes rejected white
ways: several Indian tribes embraced European forms of government and
education (38).

Throughout the book as Mr. Bordewich introduces various issues with
real examples of real Indian tribes and people who make the book come to
life. The Lumbee tribe provides the perfect example to address the
questions: What is an "Indian"? and What is an "Indian tribe"? The Lumbees
are an unrecognized Indian tribe in Robeson County, North Carolina. Their
unrecorded history, their lack of traditional Indian activities, and
non-Indian appearance have prevented them from becoming recognized by the
government as a bone fide Indian tribe. None the less, they continue to
insist on to their "Indian" heritage and are proud of their "Indian tribe"
despite their inability to be officially recognized.

The importance of Indian ancestors and artifacts, contrasted with the
desire of scientists to study ancient bones and artifacts is examined with
the assistance of the Omaha Indians. The Omaha Indian tribe was in a
unique situation. Their tribe suffered from a decline in cultural heritage
and knew little about their history. Scientists who studied ancient Omaha
Indian bones were able to piece together many aspects of the Omaha past.
However, the Indian tribe demanded the return of the bones for spiritual
reasons, and now the possibility of learning more about the Omaha’s past is
buried on the reservation.

Since the government has been in the habit of returning sacred Indian
territory to Indian tribes, attempts to acquire land have increasingly been
made based on claims that specific areas of land are spiritual in their
Indian tradition and therefore sacred. Several of these types of claims
are presented and appear to be rather dubious in nature. Placing
state-of-the-art telescopes on top of Mount Graham was delayed as a result
of claims that it was a "sacred" mountain by the Apache tribe. The Black
Hills of South Dakota are alleged to be sacred to the Lakota tribe.
However, the Lakota tribe was originally from Minnesota. The attraction to
the Black Hills to the Lakota might be that it contributes over $600
million to South Dakota’s government.

The Choctaw Nation from Philadelphia, Mississippi has become on of the
most successful Indian Nations in the United States. The Choctaw tribe’s
business enterprises employ people from outside the tribe: "there aren’t
enough Indians" (302). Their success has not been a miracle. Rather it
has been the result of hard work and a European-style business attitude:
the business managers hire people without concern for political connections
and are able to fire those who do not perform satisfactorily. The average
Indian family’s income in the tribe is $22,000.

The new Indian is more successful and competitive than his successor.
However, not all of the Indian tribes are as aggressive and successful as
the Apache, Lakota, or Choctaw. Many are still mired in poverty,
hopelessness and alcoholism. Unfortunately, many tribes are located on
land that is not able to support economic growth because of its poor
location and lack of resources. How do those Indian nations that have been
unable to adapt fit into the national puzzle? And how do we treat them in
the face of other Indian tribes’ successes?

At the heart of the "new Indian issue" is sovereignty. Is it fair for
Indians to have their own nation-states while others do not? Should other
groups be allowed their own sovereign areas? How long should the United
States government be expected to compensate Indians for past injustices?
When should the Indians be expected to be able to cope with American life
on their own? Where do we draw the line? Fergus M. Bordewich doesn’t
attempt an answer to any of these questions. Instead he leaves these
questions for the reader to consider.

The "new Indian issue" is one that needs to be addressed, especially
in our increasingly fragmenting society, and "Killing the White Man’s
Indian" provides a concise summary of the central issues and an ideal
spring-board for opening discussion to address them.

Back to top...

Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 02:38:41 -0700
From: "Eric T. Knepper" <eknepp@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus

At 01:36 PM 4/14/98 -0500, you wrote:


> Most Indians today are spread out on reservations all around the
>country. Indian culture is still trying to stay alive, but it is fighting
>a losing battle. A large percentage of Indians battle alcoholism and
>chronic poverty. One reservation claimed that it spent 90% of it's budget
>on fighting alcoholism. Trying to keep a culture alive under these
>conditions is difficult. Another grueling truth is that most non-Indians
>living on or near the reservations have some sort of anemosity toward
>Indians. Indians law is what prevails on a reservation so most
>non-Indians don't feel like they should have to abide by Indian law.
>Indian culture then is still looked upon as it was two-hundred years ago,
>a threat. Why should Indian culture be looked upon any different than
>black, Asian, or Hispanic culture. They all have a right to survive and
>be represented in today's America. The gross under-representation of
>Indian culture could be linked solely to money. Even blacks and Hispanic,
>very poor minorities, have more money collectivly, and more power groups to
>represent their views.

What other minority group in America (or in the world) is better treated
than the Indian in America? Indian Nations are given $3 billion
collectively and live on their own mini-nation-states where they are free
from outside intervention. Surely this is a better situation than the
blacks, Hispanics and all other minority groups face in America.

>The Indians have the Bureau of Indian Affairs,
>which is a knock knock joke in the satire of government, just bad.
>Indians have steadily been increasing their monetary funds, as a group, by
>accepting garbage dumps on their reservations and gambling.

Not all Indian tribes have resorted to gambling and garbage dumps for
economic success. What about the Choctaws of Philadelphia, Mississippi who
have provided jobs to every working Indian in their tribe and "import"
labor from outside the tribe?

Have a great day!
Eric Knepper

Back to top...

Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 21:44:00 +0100
From: "Michael A. Schoenfield" <maschoen@EXECPC.COM>
Subject: Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus

As an American Indian I want to strongly disagree with the hypothesis that has
been taken, i.e., that American Indians greatly benefit from governmental
largeness. We have never gotten what is due us and the small (3 billion is being
kicked around) preparations hardly make up for the prejudice still being shown
to Indians and the physical violence given to Indians. Whether it is occurring
in northern Wisconsin when Indians are exercising their treaty rights by
harvesting fish or in other places, Indians has been shown to be second-class
citizens. The white majority culture owns much more than 3 billion. dollars to
American Indians and we will not give up fighting for our rights until the
wrongs are paid for fully. Remember that the land that you think that you own
was stolen from it's real owners. America has to do much, much more to pay for
the governmental policy of genocide which is still being played.

Mike S.

Michael A. Schoenfield
Michael A. Schoenfield & Associates, Ltd.
2637 Mason Street Voice: 608) 238-6121
Madison, WI 53705-3709 Fax: (608) 233-2507
E-Mail: maschoen@execpc.com
WWW Address: http://www.freeyellow.com/members/schoen/index.html

Back to top...

Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 22:50:39 -0700
From: "Eric T. Knepper" <eknepp@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus

Mike S. wrote:
>As an American Indian I want to strongly disagree with the hypothesis that

>been taken, i.e., that American Indians greatly benefit from governmental

The United States government has been quite accomodating to American
Indians. Many American citizens themselves haven't been, but the government
has been quite generous. What other country in the world has provided so
many concessions to an aboriginal people within their borders - such as
identification of sovereign status to a minority group? Take for instance
New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, the native populations on those
countries were almost completely decimated and the existing populations do
not receive support in the same proportion or abundance as American
Indians. Have you heard of Canadian Indians having sovereignty within
Canadian borders? - surely they existed?

But, our discussion is about American Indians.
I guess my major questions are: What is "due to you"?
How much will be necessary "until the wrongs are paid for fully"?

The history of the world is a story of groups of people "stealing land"
from one group or another - many tribes themselves "stole the land" from
other tribes. (Or from the animals that existed here before them - should
we somehow try to make ammends to the countless buffalo, coyotee, and other
creatures that we have kicked off their land?)

>America has to do much, much more to pay for
>the governmental policy of genocide which is still being played.

You are starting to sound like my "favorite" author Tony Brown in saying
that there is a "governmental policy of genocide which is still being
played" against the Indians. Which policy is that? The one in which
American Indians were given their own land within the borders of the United
States? Or the policy of allowing Tribal governments the right to open
gambling operations (and other potentially illegal businesses) in areas
where they would be outlawed for other citizens and communities? Or
perhaps you are referring to the policy of giving American Indians tax
payer money? I'm confused.

Have a great day!

Eric Knepper

At 09:44 PM 4/15/98 +0100, you wrote:
Back to top...

Date: Mon, 20 Apr 1998 20:55:20 +0100
From: "Michael A. Schoenfield" <maschoen@EXECPC.COM>
Subject: Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus


Let us put the "largness" of the US government on the discussion table. Now, who,
what, when, were, and how did the US government become "quite accomodating"? I
cannot think of one item provided by the US government that is "quite generous."
In fact, the US government along with Europeans have stolen land -- taking land
under the assumption of a valid treaty or contract if you will. And now you speak
of soverignity. Believe me when I state Eric that it is all for show.

Now you ask when we will satisfied. Well, I can't speak for any of my brothers and
sisters, but if you want my personal opinion When the last white man has left
North America! We will take our land back, torn up and destroyed as it is, and
just put off the whole miserable episode to bad legal advice. Now is that what you
wanted me to say? It is my understanding that neither the Seminole Indians as well
as some other tribes -- I heard that the Mescalaro Apache do not have a signed
legal treaty (but who knows). Further it is my studied opinion that said
"treaties" are/were not worth the paper that they were written upon.

Mike S.

Michael A. Schoenfield
Michael A. Schoenfield & Associates, Ltd.
2637 Mason Street Voice: 608) 238-6121
Madison, WI 53705-3709 Fax: (608) 233-2507
E-Mail: maschoen@execpc.com
WWW Address: http://www.freeyellow.com/members/schoen/index.html

Back to top...

Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 22:37:50 +0100
From: "Michael A. Schoenfield" <maschoen@EXECPC.COM>
Subject: Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus


At least we both agree (or I am assuming we agree) that most indian treaties are
not worth the paper they were written upon. Actually, these treaties were for all
intents and perceptions a joke until a few American Indian youth went to law
schools and we -- American Indian peoples -- started to receive a little of what
we are owed. What has been received however is minuscule as opposed to what is
due. Unfortunately, native peoples to this date are often willing to accept beads
instead of what is due -- diamonds and platinum. Far too many people are unwilling
to review historical truths when determing just how much is due. Believe me when I
say that the U.S. government is not going broke with it's payments to native
peoples. If we could put a dollar value upon land, culture, genocide (sorry but if
a hat fits, wear it), poisoning (alcohol and other drugs such as opiates imported
with the Whites or did I cover that under genocide), poverty, etc!

You ask about a written policy of genocide. Check out what happened to the
Cherokee nation under Andrew Jackson stewardship. I think that we can all agree
that this was not the high point of legal responsibilities due native peoples.
Anyway, my dear sweet White wife just came in to kiss me good night, so .... Good

Mike S.
Michael A. Schoenfield
Michael A. Schoenfield & Associates, Ltd.
2637 Mason Street Voice: 608) 238-6121
Madison, WI 53705-3709 Fax: (608) 233-2507
E-Mail: maschoen@execpc.com
WWW Address: http://www.freeyellow.com/members/schoen/index.html

Back to top...

Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 17:40:48 -0700
From: "Eric T. Knepper" <eknepp@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Review: Killing the White Man's Indian; Bordewich, M Fergus

A most interesting dialogue from Michael A. Schoenfield:

>At 08:55 PM 4/20/98 +0100, you wrote:

>Let us put the "largness" of the US government on the discussion table.
Now, who,
>what, when, were, and how did the US government become "quite
accomodating"? I
>cannot think of one item provided by the US government that is "quite
>In fact, the US government along with Europeans have stolen land -- taking
>under the assumption of a valid treaty or contract if you will. And now
you speak
>of soverignity. Believe me when I state Eric that it is all for show.

First, lets get the point straight concerning what we are discussing:
1. You start by saying "Let us put the 'largness' of the US government on
the discussion table";
2. Then you bring up "stolen land -- taking land under the assumption of a
valid treaty or contract";
3. And finally you state that "it {sovereignty and/or the treaties?} is all
for show".

Now that the issues have been set:
1. GOVERNMENT GENEROSITY: I currently work on the Yakima Indian Nation (in
Washington State) for Heritage College. The Yakima Nation has three
schools, a medical clinic, and housing that are all paid for and supplied
by the US government, inaddition to the other federal payments the tribe
receives. This is nothing but government generosity through the treaties
that were signed. The issue of "are these quality institutions" arises:
the schools are no better or worse than the others on non-Indian land in
this area; the clinic is used by the Indian staff here at this school even
though they have access to health care provided by the college; the housing
is much better than many of the dilapidated shacks that other people live
in around the Indian Nation. The first instance of government generosity
arose at the time of the signing of the treaties with the Indian Tribes.

2. TREATIES AND STOLEN LAND: I will agree that many (perhaps most or all)
of the treaties that have been signed between various Indian Tribes and the
US government have been made at times when the Indians were at a
disadvantage to put any leverage into the deals, thus the idea of "stolen
land" because of the perceived unequal and unfair nature of the treaties.
This was, however, first of the generous benefits our government bestowed
on the Indians.
If it wasn't because of government generosity towards the Indians, why did
the US government sign treaties in the first place? Why didn't the US
government kill all of the Indians (the supposed policy of genocide you
mentioned previously) and claim the land for itself instead of signing
If the US government had a policy of genocide (rather than generosity)
towards the Indians, either:
A) the Indians were superior in defending their lands and the government
couldn't continue taking more land and killing more Indians (which I don't
think was the case because few if any Tribes would have been able to defend
themselves against a full US Army attack) OR
B) the government never had a policy of genocide in the first place and
never intended to kill them all and the treaties provided the only method
of stopping the US citizens from continuing their racist and near-geoncidal
Just by the simple fact that the US government made treaties with the
Indian Tribes verifies that there was never an official policy of genocide
towards the Indians and that the US government was rather generous to the
Indians. It is a matter of degrees; while the government could have been
more generous, it was none-the-less generous by signing treaties and not
killing them all when it could have.

That's why every Indian inherantly has dual citizenship (US and Tribal) and
does not pay state income tax on income earned on the reservation, does not
pay sales tax on transactions made on the reservation, and does not pay
local property taxes on reservation land. Each recognized Indian Nation is
on a "government to government" relationship with the Federal government.
Each Indian Nation is restricted by few (if any) local State laws. They
have their own Tribal government that interacts directly with the Federal
government (through the BIA, I think) just as France, Mexico, or Canada
would (perhaps with less impact or power than these countries). Just ask
any non-Indian who gets into a legal confrontation with an Indian on an
Indian Reservation how valid the treaties and Indian sovereignty is!

>Now you ask when we will satisfied. Well, I can't speak for any of my
brothers and
>sisters, but if you want my personal opinion When the last white man has left
>North America! We will take our land back, torn up and destroyed as it is,
>just put off the whole miserable episode to bad legal advice. Now is that
what you
>wanted me to say?

And I want world peace!
Your suggestion is even more ridiculous than Tony Brown's suggestion that
all Blacks move to one state to take over the politics in that area.
Would you also reject all economic and scientific advancements that have
been made by the whites? Aren't most Indians actually part "white"
themselves? How would you determine who stays and who goes?


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Date: Fri, 08 May 1998 08:14:09 -0500
From: Sarah Elizabeth Niziolek <senizio@ACADCOMP.CMP.ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Killing the White Man's Indian (Niziolek)


Fergus M. Bordewich, "Killing the White Man's Indian," Doubleday
Publishing 1996

Reviewed by Sarah Niziolek

After centuries of discrimination, attempted genocide, and genocide the
American Indians are fighting back. "Killing the White Man's Indian"
takes a look at the inner workings of modern tribal politics. Fergus
Bordewich discusses many issues concerning the United States and Native
Americans but he focuses on three main issues: White's image of Indians
versus real Indians, the fight for tribal sovereignty and political
power, and finally the survival of the moder tribe.

When colonists first came to the United States the natives were tolerated
and even helpful, but as more whites came to the New World and began
moving west--problems began. The Indians were now in the way. There was
now an "Indian problem" and the problem was the existence of the Indians
themselves. Indian killing became a way of life, it was a form of
reliable, state-subsidized off season work for ranchers and unemployed

Indians all over the country were forced off their lands. The most
famous example was the Cherokee nation formally of Georgia. This was a
tribe that had gone to great lengths to assimilate into white culture.
The United States had signed numerous treaties with the Cherokees that
guaranteed the nation's territoral integrity (in return for a series of
land sessions in three different states). However, as in many of the
United States dealings with Indians, the federal government signed a deal
in 1802 that would seal the fate of the Cherokees. In order to have
Georgia give up land claims in present-day Alabama and Mississippi, the
government promised to get rid of all Indians in the State. This idea of
Indian removal had originated with Thomas Jefferson but was seen by
President Monroe as "revolting to humanity and entirely
unjustifiable"(44). In 1828 gold was discovered in the heart of the
Cherokee nation and all reasonable hope of their winning the right to
stay was lost. In an attempt to save the sacred lands the Cherokees sued
the State of Georgia contending they were a sovereign nation and were not
subject to Georgia's law. This attempt, never the less, failed. Chief
Justice John Marshall concluded the Indian tribe was "a distinct
political society, separated form others, capable of managing its own
affairs and governing itself" but the tribes are not quite independent
nations, rather they were "in a state of pupilage" (45). Suffice it to
say, the Cherokees were forced to leave and relocate in Oklahoma. This
is the journey that forever will be known as the Trail of Tears.

Yet, after placement on new reservations Indians were still subjected to
the white's land hungry greed. Acher after acher of reservation land was
allotted to white settlers with very little or no payment made to the
Indians. Indians were seen as a dying race and in an effort to expedite
this laws were passed making it legal and justifiable to kill any Indian
carring a gun. Hence, the federal reimbursement of basically freelance
murder in may western states.

As time moved on white perception of Indians has changed form a savage to
more of children of the earth "Until now, each age has imagined its own
Indian: untamable savage, child of nature, steward of the earth, the
white man's ultimate victim"(343). As it stands today many white
Americans see the Indians as glorified "flower children" of a time long
forgotten. A time when all of lifes secrets were learned from the earth
and from the soul. The truth is quite the opposite. Alcoholism and
unemployment run rampant on almost every tribal reservation. The
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has an active alcoholism rate at 53 percent
with rates of liver disease and death from direct effects of alcohol
eight times higher than the national average.

Many Indian tribes are finally seeing this as a problem and are
attempting to do something about it by trying to run programs supported by
taxes collected through political power. Like the Cheyenne River Sioux
tribe, they are trying to tax the non-Indian bar owners living on their
reservation. This is where tribal sovereignty and political power come
to play. In order for these non-Indians to be taxed by a government that
does not represent them, the tribe must prove sovereignty. Since 1977
the principle of "tribal sovereignty" has become the cornerstone of
federal Indian policy. Under the Indian Civil Rights Act tribal
governments must enforce most of the basic principals of the Bill of
Rights. At the same time the government wants Indians to practice
self-determination and govern themselves but they are still keeping a
choke chain around their necks.

A victory has finally come though with recent Supreme Court decisions
that have upheld the rights of tribes to define their own criteria for
membership, levy taxes, and to regulate the conduct of non-Indians on
non-Indian land within the reservation boundaries. Another victory for
tribal sovereignty and the powers of self-government and
self-determination came in October of 1991 when the United States House
of Representatives voted "explicitly to extend a tribe's jurisdiction
over all Indians who commit misdemeanors on reservation land"(125-126).

In other efforts to achieve power tribes have been claiming their right
to ancestors remains and other sacred objects being held in museums
throughout the United States. This is a way for many tribes to regain a
sense of culture and in some instances put to rest the bones of wondering

Political power is also essential for the continued longevity of modern
tribes. In an effort to gain wealth and political and economic freedom
tribes have begun taking advantage of sovereign rights. Many tribes have
allowed nuclear plant, toxic waste disposal, garbage dumps, and the most
popular gambling casinos on their reservations in order to make money.
Many tribes are winning their rights to payments by non-Indians who had
perviously enjoyed years of lease free land.

The struggle to live in America as a Indian is not an easy one. With
increasing political power and wealth among tribes the future looks much
brighter. Bordewich uses great personal stories and insight to make the
"Indian problem" real and understandable. He presents the facts and
shows their impact. Quite successfully, he points out the United States'
wrongs and what it has cost the Indians. Yet, it is not a cry for
sympathy rather its almost a show-up. Showing how far some Indian tribes
have come and what they can still achieve, at the same time he shows that
there is still some hurt and perhaps feelings of continuing
victimization. "...One can hear the resignation of people still

accustomed to defeat, and incomprehension that, for the first time in
their modern history, the Paiutes hold the stronger hand, the power to
dominate and thwart their white neighbors, if they wish..."(156). A
people so accustomed to being stabbed in the back can now be conceivably
be seen as a power to be reconned with.

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Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 16:25:29 -0500
From: Danielle Lee Walker <dlwalke@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Killing The White Man's Indian

"Killing The White Man's Indian" by Fergus M. Bordewich Reviewed by
Danielle Lee Walker

Fergus M. Bordewich's novel Killing The White Man's Indian Reinventing
Native Americans At The End Of The Twentieth Century provides an insightful
look into the lives of Native Americans. The book dwelves into the (what
proves to be a very complex) question: what does it mean to be a Native
American. (Indian is the term Bordewich uses for the majority of this
book.) This is actually a very complex question. Bordewich examines how
natives have been viewed in the past and he compares past views with
present day views.

Throughout history natives have had to deal with
incorrect images of them and currently natives have advanced in regards to
their statuses. The title refers to the fact that natives are in fact
attempting to break away from the image placed upon them by white men and
are evolving into a more educated group of people. The images of the
natives can be both positive and some negative. Nonetheless, these images
are inaccurate. In some cases the natives themselves propound their own
inaccurate self-image. Native Americans have been viewed as savages both
positively and negatively. Some of the positive images that emerged around
the Colombus era of natives emphasize them as being gentle creatures who do
not disturb anyone. They were viewed as "noble savages." They were also
viewed as being pitiful. Some images of the natives have been that they are
an unfortunate helpless group of people who will have to depend forever on
the government. On a darker side, natives have been viewed as cynnical
savages. They were viewed on cannibilistic terms. They have been viewed as
evil and devil-like. Some of their images seem to portray them as being
monstrouslike. Either image was not beneficial. They became widespread and
emerged. These stereotypes led to the natives as being what Bordewich calls
"White Man's Indian." Bordewich who is white grew up on Indian reservations
in the 1950's and 1960's. His mother befriended a Lakota woman when he was
a child. He revisited her in Salmanca, New York while beginning to write
this book. Bordewich gives very good descriptions of various native groups
and their varying lifestyles. He is also very good at comparing the
viewpoints of different groups of people. He compares the viewpoint of a
Lakota woman with that of a World War II veteran who he met at a historical
museum in Montana. The Lakota woman seemed to have a more serene nature.
The veteran was very bitter, he complained about so much focus being spent
on the natives. Bordewich claimed that this man's viewpoint was a common
one. Inferior images of natives have led to vicious battles. There were a
majority of occasions where the natives were forced to endure drastic
changes in their lifestyles do to the influence of whites in power,
especially whites with governmental power.He discussed the Cherokee. The
capital of their nation is New Echota, Georgia. Thomas Jefferson upon
making the Louisiana Purchase acquired lands, Native American lands that
were east of Mississippi. As a result the Cherokee were removed. In 1830
laws protecting natives were declared invalid. Later on in the 1830's
Andrew Jackson who was president at the time forced them to relocate with a
removal bill. The Cherokee filed suit in the Supreme Court in a landmark
case entitled "Cherokee Nation v. Georgia." They lost by a unanimous vote.
Justice Marshall delivered the opinion stating that Native Americans did
not have the legal rights to possess certain lands. He did view them as
being an individual group of people but he viewed them as inferior to
whites whom be stated should have the supreme power. Consequently, a short
while later, in 1838 Jackson ordered the forcible removal of the Cherokee
and they embarked on a infamous march that is known as "The Trail Of
Tears." 25% of Cherokee died in that march as a result of being cold,
hungry, and homeless. While Bordewich clearly points out that white men
have done a horrific amount of damage to the natives he does not attribute
every hardship the natives have faced as a fault of whites. Disagreements
between various tribe members have led to tribal wars such as the battle
between the Mandans of Mississippi and the Sioux. Native Americans have
expressed clashes historically between their cultural differences between
other tribes. Actually Bordewich mentions that many people do not realize
that that some of the customs of the natives were not influenced by whites.

Scalping for example Bordewich states was not a white custom but one of the
natives. Bordewich also makes note that some natives were willing to
assimilate into modern technology more so than other natives, and that
there are natives who have great use for the white influence of technology
that were previously unknown in native tribes. Bordewich discusses the
positive sides of whites in government and the advancements that have
occured throught time. He discusses the 1930's where under the presidency
of Franklin Delano Roosevelt John Collier Commissioner Of Indian Affairs
helped pass the 1934 Indian Reconstruction Act which halted conversion of
reservations to the personal property of Native Americans. Collier tried to
help give the natives some power. Republicans have had a history with
helping Native Americans. He truly analyzes how helpful Richard nixon was.
I was very surprised to learn that the Watergate scandal did not
effectively harm his reputation among Native Americans. In 1975 he passed
the Indian Self Determination Act which gave tribal governments authority.
He also staffed his Bureau Of Indian Affairs primarily Native American.
Never before had this occured. When Bordewich focuses on the more current
decades he analyes a lot of the problems natives are facing. Alcoholism is
an enormous problem. Native Americans are "three and a half more likely to
die of cirrohis of the liver compared to other americans." In many court
cases involving natives 85-90% involve alcohol of some sort. Sadly only 10%
of natives acheive stable sobriety, but there are treatment centers such as
Red Road Approach which was created by a Native American named Thin Elk. AA
is around, the Talking Circle is a form of therapy used where a feather is
passed around and individuals express their feelings. Also, sweat lodges
are available. I had no idea there were so many variations of treatments
available. I knew alcoholism was a problem but I did not know exactly how
profound it was. Sometimes natives have been taken advantage of because of
the alcoholism problem. Bordewich described how some of the white settlers
purposively caused the natives to become drunk as a ploy to acquire their
land. Another dilemma natives face is poverty. The reservations are
predominately poor. This I knew but not the exact extent. What I like about
Bordewich are his vivid descriptions. In one chapter he describes the
harshness of reservation life. There is rampant crime and filth dominant.
The inhabitants are often too poor to leave. Natives that do acquire land
have a difficult time doing this. In the current 1990's the Native American
population is growing. There are better health centers available and
education is more advanced. There are colleges such as Blackhawk where
regular education classes along with reservation training are taught.
Nonetheless, the problems still persist. Overcoming the trauma of the past
may be nearly impossible to do,but can the natives look forward to the
future? I hope so. Will they be able to maintain their culture while
functionally in this world? I do not know for sure but I sure hope that
they try their best. Bordewich does favor assimilation and he feels that
the natives need autonomy for reservations. I agree that they will probly
have to adapt to the modern life in many ways but only time will tell if
they maintain their culture.

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Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 14:36:19 -0500
From: Maureen N Kaszonyi <mnkaszo@ilstu.edu>


Reviewed by: Maureen Kaszonyi, Illinois State University 4/6/99

The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of this Earth is sacred to my people…The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man-all belong to the same family (132).

The source of this excerpt is most often attributed to Chief Seattle speaking against the selling of Puget Sound to the government in 1854. It is used profusely by environmentalists, as a signpost of “ancient wisdom,” to advance their causes and was even cited in a 1991 United Nations Conference on the environment (132). Indeed, it seems to epitomize the view of Indians everywhere. The problem is, it is not historically accurate to attribute these words to Chief Seattle. His original speech was given in 1854 but is gone. A white Doctor first wrote the speech down 23 years after the fact, from recollection even though analysis of historical events show, unequivocally, that he took great liberties with Chief Seattle’s words and ideas. Further, it was actually a Texas Scriptwriter who, trying to advance environmental causes, in 1972 created the version we are all familiar with!

So, why do so many groups continue to cling to the notion that these words are the authentic sagacity of a nobler people and not merely a commercial worded in 1972? In short, because they want to. White people adhere to a romanticized notion of what it is to be Indian. White’s tend to put Indian’s and they’re culture up on a pedestal, often describing them in terms of man in his infancy or as man unspoiled. What’s wrong with this is the fact that, however well intentioned, this white man’s notion of what it means to be Indian often forestalls efforts to help Indians living today take part in a broader culture that would afford them more rights and opportunities. It is largely the white man’s sense of righteous altruism towards the Indian that has kept the Indian from achieving true freedom. In reality, much of today’s current Indian “culture” is a show put on for whites. For example, many performances of ritual Indian dances are done to make whites feel good about themselves and, more importantly, bring in the white’s money even though they have little or nothing to do with what it means to be an Indian in modern America.

To find out what it is to be an Indian in modern America, we must first define who is actually Indian. This is a much more complicated task than one would think. It is currently popular to claim to be “Indian,” Bordewich points out that, “Since 1960 the number of Americans claiming to be Indian on the census form has tripled” (18). Obviously, a better system than self-proclamation is necessary to define who is Indian but that system has proven elusive. The most apparent bloodline is fraught with difficulty for many reasons. First of all, accurate records of tribal marriages and births were not always kept. Second, Indians have historically intermixed with many different races including Latinos, Blacks and whites making it difficult to define who is truly Indian. Today, this trend continues as they are the minority group most likely to marry outside of their race. According to Bordewich, many tribes currently have no full-blooded members. Further, very few tribes insiston having at least a 50% blood quantum for membership. Most tribes opt for only 25% or as little as 12.5% blood quantum for membership, in some cases there is no blood quantum requirement at all. This creates problems with people who are truly not Indians enrolling in tribes to reap benefits, like fishing and casino rights; they would otherwise not have (73). Indeed, such arbitrary distinctions about blood quantum bring into question what it is to be Indian.

Other possible classifications of “Indianess” such as religion or culture are also problematic. Religious classification of "Indianess" is problematic because there are many Indians who have become full Christians or at least intermixed many Judeo-Christian ideas with their original religion. Traditional cultural classification is equally difficult because it would require imposing the white man’s idea of what it means to be Indian on tribal recognition. For example, there is a group of people claiming to be the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina. They have petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs as well as other tribal organizations for recognition for decades. The problem is, according to the Lumbees, that they do not exhibit enough of what is often thought of as Indian Culture to gain the recognition they deserve. Bordewich writes, “there is nothing about the Lumbees that fits conventional notions of what it means to be Native American. Yet, for as long as they can remember, they have possessed an unflagging conviction that they are simply and utterly Indian” (63). The main spokesperson, Cynthia Hunt complains, “[We are not accepted as Indians] because we ain’t got feathers and beads. It really gets me…Are you an Indian just because the feds gave you a reservation?” (62).

In a word, “yes.” The only people defined as Indians, and therefore entitled to a part of the 3 billion dollars of federal money allocated for Indians yearly, are those who are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes. Although this has the problem potentially leaving out many who are rightfully Indian from receiving benefits, it is simply the only way the government can put such an elusive thing as “Indianess” into concrete terms. Indeed, it is far superior to earlier fiascoes and embarrassments the US government has committed in the quest to define who is Indian. For example: In 1869, the Supreme Court of New Mexico Territory declared that the Pueblos were not actually Indians, since they were, “honest, industrious and law-abiding citizens” and exhibited “virtue, honesty and industry to their more civilized neighbors.” A few years later, the United States Supreme Court held that the Pueblo’s could be considered “Indian’s only in feature, complexion and a few of their habits.” However, after receiving agents’ reports of drunkenness, dancing and debauchery, the Court reversed itself and declared the Pueblos were Indians after all. (66).

Given the history of Tribal intermixing and arbitrary classifications of what is “Indian” the huge amount of energy spent trying to define just who is really “Indian” may seem pointless. But there is a point, it isn’t so much the relationship that Indians may have with ancestors or each other it is the relationship that Indian people have with the government today. In the past the government first took advantage of the Indians by cheating them in land treaties by getting them drunk before negotiating or promising to return lands far into the future-a time in which they were certain Indians would be extinct. Later, the US government became paternalistic, certain that, Indians would be well off if we could get the “Indian” out of them. This inspired the Haskell Institute, which operated from the late 1800’s through the 1950’s. The Institute basically stole Indian children from their parents and tribes re-named them with Anglo-names and attempted to educate the Indian out of
them. One of the founders of the institute stated: A great general once said that the only good Indian is a dead one… In a sense I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: Kill the Indian in him and save the man. (282).

Under Nixon the US government stance on Indians and Indian affairs began to radically change affording more power and self-determination to Indian’s. In 1977 the capstone policy of the US government on Indians was articulated. It stipulated, “All future policy making must be guided by two fundamental principles”: 1. Indian tribes are sovereign political bodies, having the power to determine their own membership and power to enact laws and enforce them within the boundaries of their reservations 2. The relationship that exists between the tribes is based on a special trust that must govern that of the stronger towards the weaker (85).

Some may see this as justice for the Native American. Finally, after centuries of violence and oppression they have freedom that is rightfully theirs. Unfortunately, many problems have occurred because of tribal sovereignty that make one wonder if it is indeed in the best interest of the Indians themselves and also brings into question the rights and equal protection of these individuals who also happen to be US Citizens. Bordewich asks: Are Indians so fundamentally different from other Americans, so historically and culturally unique that they occupy a special category over which conventional American values, laws and criteria of ethics should not apply? (16).

Tribal sovereignty is basically the concept that, “Indian nations are recognized as the sole governing authority inside their reservation boundaries” (107). This opens up a minefield of potential abuses that make no sense within the structure of the established legal system. It seems as if Indians were assumed to be so noble that traditional government controls were not necessary. Bordewich writes, “[Claims of sovereignty] frequently appeal to a kind of divine right that flies in the face of modern American ideas about law (107). Within the doctrine of tribal sovereignty, tribal leadership acts without any checks or balances. In Santa Clara Pueblo vs. Martinez, the Supreme Court ruled that the idea of self-determination and tribal cultural traditions superceded civil liberties of those under tribal jurisdiction. One formal tribal president declared, “The system is weak, deficient and creates an arena of corruption. There’s no code of ethics, no responsibility. Without a!
ntability, the system supports corruption” (89). And Bordewich iterates, “No other governments have such ill-defined and ill-regulate powers, coupled with the court sanctioned right to discriminate and sheltered beneath the principle of tribal sovereignty.

Tribal Sovereignty is accompanied by the allotment of Indians onto reservations. Many problems arise from this segregation that beg the question, “Isn’t separate inherently unequal.” Modern day life on most reservations is not very happy. Rates of alcoholism, poverty, suicides, assaults and arrests are staggering and disheartening. Unemployment runs as high as 80% on some reservations and as many as 55% of the children drop out of school (16). Unfortunately, current white man’s ideas about Indians may help to perpetuate this situation because there is the romanticized notion of the passivity and stoicness which may be rooted in Rousseau’s ideas about Indians: “His moderate wants are so easily supplied with what he finds everywhere ready to his hand, and he stands at such a distance from the degree of knowledge to covet more, that he can neither have foresight or curiosity (34).

Another aspect of this separation of tribes onto reservations is that many “white” people feel that, “Indian reservations and the way of life they preserve is a precious natural resource that must be preserved without the taint of contact with non-Indian America” (16). Is it really fair for us to segregate people and risk trammeling the same civil rights that we hold so dear because of some intangible sense that it is good? It seems that some Americans feel they want Indians to be separated into zoo-type of situation- provided they act like “Indians.”

When Indians on reservations do not act like Indians presumably should is when white people get upset. Many people near the reservations that are actively enjoying immunity from government laws regulating nuclear waste disposal, logging and the exploitation and control of natural resources wonder how can Indians do this? The fact is modern Indians have very diverse ideas and while some may regard the land as sacred many others see it as a resource asserting “It is our land, we will do with it what we want.” This is hard to believe for many white’s but the Indian’s assert that Self-reliance and survival is what it means to be Indian-not some words dreamed up by a script-writer in the seventies.

Many reservations have become very powerful; the Pauite tribe of Nevada basically controls the access to the scarce water supply for Reno and the developing surrounding areas. Bitter from ages of unfair dealing the whites have bestowed on them they say, “ Why should we let them have water and be responsible for their growth? We just stand to lose what we have” (155). Indians have become capitalists they want to know, “If the water is taken what will we get in return?” Other tribes have become extremely wealthy and powerful by opening up casinos. These casinos can guarantee each member of the tribe up to $60,000 yearly salaries whether they work or not. Many times the only thing “Indian” on the reservations that have casinos are the outfits the cocktail waitresses wear on the casino floor.

Some tribes, in many ways have become multi-million dollar corporations. The problem is that sometimes people who have little more than eighth grade education’s is running them. Other tribes that do not have natural resources or casinos are not so lucky, for those tribes and the children on those reservati9ons the future seems bleak.

The idea of tribal sovereignty, like many ideas including the Dawes act that are well intentioned, may be more harmful than good to those who it intends to help. It seems unfair and racist to keep Indian children apart from opportunity for the sake of “Indians.” It is also strange, given the fact that there has been so much contact with the white man’s world, culturally and biologically, that we think separating Indian’s will somehow keep them “pure.” Perhaps the idea of tribal sovereignty is one whose time has come and gone. No other race or religion has such a strange, privileged on the one hand yet unprotected and hopeless on the other, relationship with government. Considering the downside of sovereignty it may be time to rethink Indians once again.

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Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 23:36:03 -0700
From: Autumn Pemble <atpembl@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Re: Killing The White Man's Indian


Unfortunately, there are negative words associated with Indians. I was
interested in your review, because I read the book Lakota Woman. It talked
about the problems that the Indians faced. For example, the issues of alcohol
abuse, poverty, and sexual abuse were mentioned throughout the book. Also,
white people were trying to overpower the Indians and make them assimilate. I
thought that was awful. I agree that the Indians should be left alone. They
should be able to live how they want. After all, they were here first. When
people of color are discussed, the Indians are often forgotten. That is a
shame. I do not agree with Bordewich. Assimilation is not the best thing for
Native Americans. If they choose it, that is great. However, I think it is
important that they do not loose their culture.

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important that they do not loose their culture.

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