However, our continuing humanitarian obligation to the Indians cannot allow these primitive peoples to stand in the way of national progress. They must be removed and granted only a reasonable amount of territory.
Editorial Against Indian Removal
I regret to say that our potentially great nation is being sullied by the way that it has approached the question of Indian removal from the Great Desert. Largely to escape the oppression of a Royal Crown that failed to respect the autonomous rights of individuals, the Founder of this nation sought a new form of government that respected individual rights. Now, it is the American people who have been guilty of oppression. Practically, since our first settlers explored the land of opportunity, they have wronged this continents native peoples. In some cases, this was accomplished by trickery; in others it was by force; in still other instances, we have pledged our word in formal treaties only to renege on their provisions deliberately and with impunity at the native Indians expense. When the Indians reacted in the same way that we applaud ourselves for doing in conjunction with our historic Revolutionary victory, we have taken their attempts and rightfully defending what was theirs (even before we “gave” it to them) as a convenient excuse to slaughter them and decimate their remaining populations.
The people of this nation have no choice but to honor the contractual obligations into which we entered freely; indeed, we and not the Indians drafted the treaties ceding what we now refer to as the “Great Plains” to the Indians when we believed those lands to be worthless for our purposes.
Now that we have retroactively determined that those same lands are more valuable than we realized, we have exploited every conceivable trick to undo those provisions; where that has failed, we have simply overpowered the Indians by military action.
The territory at issue is rightfully that of the Indian peoples. In fact, their claim to the land is stronger and more justified today than it was before we explicitly negotiated the rights to it away in treaties that we drafted because we believed them to be in our interest at the time. If we are genuinely a nation of constitutional principles and values, we must demonstrate that now in connection with the proposed wrongful removal of the Indians from the territories that we expressly awarded them by treaty and by our good faith word.
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Gjerde, J. (Ed.). (1998). Major Problems in American and Ethnic History: Documents
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Takaki, R. (2008). A Different.