From as early as the time of the early European settlers, Native Americans have suffered tremendously. Native Americans during the time of the early settlers were treated very badly. Europeans did what they wanted with the Native Americans, and when a group of Native Americans would stand up for themselves, the Europeans would quickly put them down. The Native Americans’ bows and arrows were no match for the Europeans’ guns and cannonballs.
When the Europeans’ guns failed, the diseases they brought killed Native Americans even more effectively. In a poem by Louise Erdrich called Dear John Wayne,” a line from a cowboy and Indian movie states the position of many European settlers in the Americas: “Everything we see belongs to us.” Native Americans did not like the way they were being treated. Every generation that passes sees fewer and fewer Native Americans in the Americas. Native Americans were dying like flies around bug spray mist. If it were not for war (such as the French and Indian War), it would be European diseases like cowpox and smallpox that were killing them off.
The Native Americans wanted their old way of life back and for the Europeans to leave. In the movie Smoke Signals, a character named Arnold Joseph expressed the sentiment of the Native Americans with the line Poof! The white people are gone.” The Europeans were determined to eliminate the Native Americans, as evidenced by the attitude expressed in the quote “Come on boys we got them” from the film Dear John Wayne. The Europeans only desired the land, gold, or labor of the Native Americans.
Unfortunately, the Europeans succeeded in taking advantage of the Native Americans, and in the end, they were conquered. The Native Americans did not understand European ideology, including the concept of fighting for land. Death makes us owners of nothing” (Dear John Wayne) was their belief. They also couldn’t comprehend how one person or group could own land since they believed that “you could not own the sky.” The Native Americans were sick and tired of being oppressed, so they decided to band together to stop it. “Sometimes it’s a good day to die” (Smoke Signals) was an idea present on that day.
That day was when the Battle of Wounded Knee happened. Unfortunately, the Native Americans lost that battle and their resistance was shattered. Native Americans have been through a lot in America. They were the first ones here and they still are here.
However, the problem is that Native Americans are still treated with disrespect. There is still a lot of prejudice and racism against them. I believe that if a race could survive after all the wars and diseases that the Native Americans have faced, they should be respected and not treated with disrespect.