BY Ben Hillsgrove
The Sioux Indians
Have you ever been kicked out of your home and forced to change your culture? Has anyone ever valued land over your life? Many countries pursue expansion, and in some cases it gets to the point of valuing land over people's lives. This is what the Sioux Indians fell victim to during the Western Frontier era. This is shown through the cultural integration, the land offers from the government, and the Sioux Indians conditions today.
To begin, the Indians were treated very poorly by the white men, they thought of them as lesser, not as bad as slavery, but close. The whites valued western expansion, and land over there lives. For example the offers made by the US government to buy their land were terrible one sided offers, and you can guess who had the strong side. One of the offers was to buy their land which was the Black Hills, for $0.50 a acre, as well as giving each person there own plot of land. This is very little money for that amount of land even in that time period. The Indians knew this, as well as the Black Hills being sacred to the Sioux people made them turn down the offer. The next offer the government gave the Sioux people was $1.25 a acre, as well as each person has their own plot of land. They turned this offer down also, this time primarily because the land was, and still is sacred to their people. The Sioux were not happy with these proposals, and the way the reservations were being run so they held dance circles, and gatherings to pray for the whites to be killed. This was also brought on by the famous leader Sitting Bull, Known as one of the greatest Indian Chiefs of all time. He told the Sioux people that they would not give in to the white man's plans, he said that the Black Hills was their land and they would not give it up. The people in charge of the reservation brought the army in, and when they went to the camps fighting broke out. Not long after Sitting Bull was killed by soldiers trying to restrain him. This shows how the white men, and the government valued the Black hills over the lives of hundreds of people at the time.
Furthermore, the attempts at cultural integration between the Sioux and the white men were very unfair and uncalled for. The Sioux children were forced to go to school. As well as attend church every sunday. They were asking these children to forget and reject everything they learned as young child, their entire cultural heritage. Lastly the would force them to cut off their hair, and choose a christian name. This was the government's attempt at cultural integration, this does not seem like integration it seems like more of a matter where they were forced to take on other customs, not integrate two different ones. Another hardship for the Indians was their food, they went from being nomads and hunting for their food, to living on a closed reservation and either farming or being provided with for. What we did to the Native Americans many years ago, still has a great impact on them today.
Lastly, even though society has made great strides towards equality, the Sioux are still being treated unfairly by the government. After the Sioux refused to sell the Black Hills in 1877, the government took them by force, which then forced the Indians to leave and live on reservations. In 2012 the government offered the Sioux people to buy back the land for 9 million, even though it had been stolen from them earlier (Williams). The Sioux people scraped the money together and ended up buying the land by the deadline (Schilling). This was especially hard for the Sioux people because of their poor financial situation on the reservations. Unfortunately reservation life for the Sioux is not very glamorous, about 97% live under the poverty level, with an average income of $2,600 to $3,500 (Lakota). The health care on reservations is not very good either. The rate of death is 300% higher than the rest of the U.S. (Lakota). This makes the average lifespan of a man 47 years old, and 52 years old for woman (Lakota). Another thing that is scarce for the Sioux is good food. Due to their financial situation they cannot afford good healthy food, as a result of this 50% of people over 40 suffer from diabetes (Lakota). Something else that is current hardship for the Sioux people is the dropout rate, the dropout rate is 70% higher than the rest of the U.S. (Lakota). This is very sad because if the could get a good education they would have a better chance of being able to escape poverty. One more current event for the Sioux is the 1.3 billion in unclaimed money. This money was given to the Sioux in 1980 for compensation for the government's actions earlier. The government granted the Sioux this money in return for taking the Black Hills years earlier. However the Sioux will not accept the money because they say it would be like finishing a transaction, when the Black Hills were never for sale in the first place. The Sioux people have been mistreated, and lived in poverty for many years, unfortunately though it hasn't changed very much.
In conclusion, even though society has made great strides towards improvement, there is still poverty all around us. The Sioux people are one example of this, although the government has tried to compensate for the previous actions, it has not been enough. Most still live in poverty, and without help it may stay like this for a while. It is important to learn about our history so we don't repeat it, this is a good example of something we don't want to repeat.
Sioux Indians Collage
Sioux Indians and the Issue on the Black Hills
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"Why the Sioux Are Refusing $1.3 Billion." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObabZdcEXh4>.
Williams, Timothy. "Sioux Racing to Find Millions to Buy Sacred Land in Black Hills." The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 Oct. 2012. Web. 17 Mar. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/04/us/sioux-race-to-find-millions-to-buy-sacred-land-in-black-hills.html>.