Native American Indians Then and Now

Native American Indians Native American Indians have not changed much in hundreds of years. The Natives still have the same belief as they did from the beginning of time. They are still forced to live on reserved lands that do not seem livable and are in worse conditions now than ever before. Even though people think due to casinos that the American Indians have it made, the Natives are still being mistreated, many tribes are well below poverty levels, highest in death rates, have the most number of preventable diseases, the highest of teen suicide than anywhere in the Nation.

Native American Indians traditions go back to the beginning of time. The Native religion is more about sacred and ceremonies. The Native people do not have a word for religion it is more a way of life to them than a religion. According to one researcher, “There is not one Native tradition to represent Native religion. Just as there are numerous Christian beliefs the Native people have many different beliefs.

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The Native ceremonies are so similar that it is impossible to discuss them as one” (Burbar, and Vernon 2006) The Natives have always been connected to the lands.

Most of their ceremonies and sacred objects come from the lands and has everything to do with how they feel about them. Native people do not believe they can own the lands that people are merely caretakers of it. The Native believe that the land is a gift from the Creator, put here to give them tools for survival.

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They believe if they take something from the land that they must give thanks for the gift given. They do this by offering sacred herbs, prayer, and dance. Native American Indians The Native people give each member roles to keep the villages running smoothly.

The Native men hunt and protect the village, while the women gather fruits, berries, and keep the camps, the children gathered wood, help clean hides, look after the younger children and clean the camps. One researcher studies tells stories of how some tribes are at certain times in the tribal life. “On the Northwest coast, young women were taught that the wives of Makah whale hunters must very still in bed while their husbands hunted, since their movement influenced the whale’s behaviors. In a Navajo story Black God had all animals penned up until his wife opened the gate.

The animals escaped and thereafter had to be hunted, (Kidwell, 1998). All of this became threatened with the arrival of foreigners. With the foreigners coming and bringing there Christian beliefs the Native traditions were going to be challenged. With the start of the White Mans government the Natives faced having several ceremonial rights taken away for hundreds of years. The Natives were stopped from worshiping in manners they were accustomed. The Natives were forced to worship the Christian belief and if they refused they were put to death or imprisoned. Many of the Native traditional ceremonies were stopped completely.

Two of those rights at this time were the Ghost Dance, and the Sun dance. The Natives found ways around this; they would go to places they knew white men would not to have ceremonies that had been band. Due to so many of the Native rights being taken away the Natives formed a group called “American Indian Movement” (AIM). AIM in the early years was called “Indian wars”. After fighting the government for several years and fighting for their right to religious freedom President Jimmy Carter signed the American Indian Religious freedom Act, Native American Indians (AIRFA). Burke, and Vernon, 2006), AIRFA was one of the very few times when congress gave the Natives the legislative right to worship in the manner he or she feels fit. (Burke, and Vernon, 2006).

After a few more decades of being mistreated and having rights taken and treaties broken Aim reformed again. AIM’s early and best known leaders, Russell Means, Dennis Banks, Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt, these Native men formed together to fight for the rights of all indigenous peoples across the world. According to one research study, the “Trail of Broken Treaties” was “AIM’s first national pretest event of the 1970’s.

AIM’s best-known and controversial protest action began February 1973 in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, a small town in Pine Ridge Reservation”, (Encyclopedia Race and Racism p. 82) better known now as the “Siege at Wounded Knee”. The siege lasted 71 days and when it was over several of the AIM members were arrested for causing riots. Many of the AIM leaders spent years in legislation, exile, or prison. One of the best known cases is that of Leonard Peltier. Peltier was imprisoned for killing two FBI agents. Several years later it was proven that Peltier did not receive a fare trial.

Much of the evidence was not allowed in court and was suppressed from the jurors. After decades of trying to get Peltier freed from prison he was finally deemed the only American political prisoner in 1984. Peltier is still in prison to this day and the Natives are still fighting for his release. A more resent less known case August 22, 2008 of the Natives not receiving justice is the case of Robert Whirlwind Horse 23 and Calonnie Randall 26. These two Natives was struck and killed by a drunk driver Timothy Hotz while walking on a reservation road.

This was Hotz Native American Indians fourth DUI, one year prior Hotz had his third DUI. After striking the Natives Hotz continued to drive home without stopping. The next morning Hotz noticed hair on his bumper and turned him self in to authorities. Mr. Hotz received 51 months for killing the Native men. This infuriated the Natives once again. (Means, Russell, Republic of Lakota 2009, April 22). Another case of a young native boy went to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and was upset at the justice received over Hotz actions and was outraged.

He shot one bullet into the radiator of the BIA agent’s car and received 20 years imprisonment. The Natives are still being forced to live on reservations. The reservations are in such horrendous conditions almost all the reservations are in worse conditions than most third world countries, (Republic of the Lakotah, conditions); According to one Native “It is like living in Hattie’s”,(Means Russell). The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is one such reservation. “The United States Government has not upheld many of it promises to the Lakotah people and the results to this is astonishing”, (Means, Russell, Republic of the Lakotah).

Due to the conditions the Lakotah people are forced to live in has caused them to have the highest death rates than anywhere else in the Nation. Reservations across the country are well below the poverty level. (Figure 3 below) The average life span of a Lakotah Male is 44 years. (Figure 1 below) The Lakotah people have the most preventable diseases than anywhere in the nation. Much of the disease could be stopped if the government would allow the Natives have vaccines and medications. The teen suicide rates are the highest of anywhere in the nation.

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Native American Indians Then and Now. (2017, Feb 24). Retrieved from

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