The factors of the American culture that caused varying and unrealistic ideas about Native Americans included the fact that the natives were seen as the enemies of progress. Further they were also seen as standing in the way of settlement. These factors led to stereotyping of the natives who as a result were subjected to various atrocities. Such atrocities were aimed at provoking the natives so that they could reiterate. Their (natives) retaliation against the atrocities was then as an excuse to attack the natives. The natives were therefore regarded as savages who had to be christened and modernized. As such, the christening and modernizing aspects could not be achieved without unless there was some form of interaction regardless of whether the interaction was through violent means.
Further the natives had acquired vast lands where they could accommodate few Cheyennes and this was seen as a setback to the economic boom that America was experiencing. In order to address this setback, the leaders were not about to preserve the status quo at the expense of a higher loyalty which was material progression. The natives could not therefore be tolerated since they ‘stood in the way of progress’. Consequently, the European immigrants abided by the thought that the Natives were standing in the way of progress since they (European Immigrants) could not access mines and could not engage in large scale production for export purposes since the Natives continued to hold thousands of acres of land for their own comfort. A transformation of the native cultures in the mold of the European-American culture albeit through vigorous means was seen as a necessary evil.
The foregoing cultural assumptions are still rife in the American societies today. While the efforts to assimilate the Native Americans into the European-American culture is not official today having been abandoned, there is continued integration of the Native American tribes as well as individuals to date. However, although there is a perception that the Native Americans have been integrated, a number of Native Americans still feel an exacting sense of being from different society thus have no sense of belonging towards the majority society of the ‘white’ Europeans despite resolute efforts aimed at integrating them. Nevertheless, the doctrine of material wealth is incorporated in almost all spheres of the American societies.
Some of the cultural ideas used to fight other cultures were that some cultures presented progress while others were obstacles to progress. For instance, in the case of Kansas attack, Custer justified the attack by arguing that the village contained men guilty of theft, murder and other outrages. However, it is notable that the city of Denver was also alive with theft, murder and other outrages yet the army never thought of leading mounted troops on Denver, shooting and burning it down. The only logical explanation would therefore be that Kansas represented an obstacle to progress while Denver epitomized progress.
Among the philosophies that have been advanced to excuse war like behavior among communities include the need to modernize certain cultures in a bid to accommodate dynamism in the production sector. For instance, it is alleged that America was undergoing a historic economic boom which could only be sustained by civilizing the Indians and incorporating them in the community thereby making them a component of a progressive society through the entrenchment of a culture of wealth creation. Another argument is that the leaders could not make any attempts to stop the attacks against Indians because they (leaders) had a higher loyalty, doctrine of material progress. Interestingly, the defenders of the army which was perpetuating atrocities against Indians reasoned that it was difficult to differentiate the right from the wrong.
The same arguments for attacking others are not used in societies today. Although there is a substantial undertone of material progression in feudal societies today the argument has changed from civilization to fighting to control resources which are believed to be the ‘ancestral’ to one or the other society.
Ambrose, S. (1996). Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors.
New York: Anchor Books.