In the spring of 1868, a conference held at Fort Laramie (present day Wyoming), resulted in the Sioux Treaty of 1868. The treaty stated that as long as the Sioux agreed to settle within the Black Hills reservation in the Dakota Territory, there would be peace between the whites and Sioux. However, when migrant workers repeatedly violated the treaty, they found gold within the Black Hills. So in 1874, General George A. Custer and the United States Army led an excursion to the Black Hills with the objective that accompanied minors would find gold.
Due to the repeated violations and the battle of Little Bighorn, chief of the Sioux, Crazy Horse, spoke on behalf of the Native Americans requesting that their way of life be returned, as all they wanted was peace and to be left alone. Limited by how far and where they could hunt, their main source of food, Buffalo was becoming scarce. Without an abundance of buffalo, they were forced to live an idleness life, as buffalo created warmth by making cloth and tipis, and not having enough meant not being able to travel as often.
Five years after the death of Crazy Horse, the chief leader of the Sioux, Sitting Bull, also spoke on behalf of his fellow Native Americans requesting that “the life my people want is freedom.” For Sitting Bull, the whole idea of the government-organized reservation system was a form of enslavement. Sitting Bull thought that the Great Spirits gave them their land, to roam freely, and that someone so different like the white men should not be able to force them to live accordingly to their ideas and lifestyle. As stated before by Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull’s idea of freedom on behalf of the Sioux nation was a life of hunting buffalo and a right to move freely in the open country.
When comparing the conceptions of freedom and liberty between both the Sioux nation and African Americans, both races have different views and definitions on what freedom and liberty stood for. In general, for African Americans and the Sioux nation, freedom meant escaping the numerous injustices of slavery from the whites. For Native Americans it meant roaming freely through the country for hunting purposes, while for African Americans it meant having the same protected rights as whites under the constitution. This meant, the right to vote and the right to own property, two major aspects on how the whites viewed freedom and liberty in America
America was based on the ideas of democracy, a form of government in which all citizens have an equal saying in the decisions that affect their lives. White Americans, white males in particular, had a very narrow minded view on who was considered a citizen. For them, women, African Americans, and Native Americans all had freedom and liberty, but were not necessarily considered “citizens”, so they had no saying in the decisions that affected their lives. White Males believed they were the superior race and that there belief of freedom and liberty was always right.
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