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Ethnocentrism can be seen most clearly in the policies of the late 1800’s. Specifically, we can see it in the boarding school system where Native Americans were forbidden to speak their own languages orwear their hair in traditional ways. The design of US policy early on was always to exterminate Nativepopulations and take their land. Those that were not exterminated, attempts were made toexterminate culture such as language and religion. They were often brutally successful (Dawes-Severalty Act).
The Dawes Severalty Act (1887), cosigned Native American tribes to the status of wards of the U.S.Government by forbidding that any more treaties be drawn between the U.S. and the tribes or the tribalnations. This public policy presupposed the ethnocentric position of tribal inferiority against dominantgroup superiority.
While we look at aspects of American policy such as Indian Reorganization Act and other such decisionsas positive, we must not be blind to the way that indigenous people have been marginalized andsidelined systematically for a long period of history. While now the Native American people have theirown reserves, it has certainly not allowed them to become more respected of part of the mainstreamsociety.
This is a permanent issue, because there is no question that the lands of Native Americans were takenfrom them by the US government, and there is no practical or legal way to reserve that crime. The realquestion now is do native tribes deserve more federal compensation for those lands, and on existingreservations, what rights and authorities Native Americans living there have than non-Natives do not.
When The Americans were colonized, land was taken away from the natives and they were systematically slaughtered, enslaved or “civilized” by their new neighbors. When we felt bad about it, we gave them land in reservations and forced them to stay on it. They can leave, but whatopportunities are there for them?
With all this being said, I do feel that Native Americans have begun to take back their independenceand the opportunities may be growing to a degree. In the early 21 st century, Native Americancommunities remain an enduring fixture on the United States landscape, in the American economy, and in the lives of Native Americans. Communities have consistently formed governments that administerservices like firefighting, natural resource management, and law enforcement. Most Native Americancommunities have established court systems to adjudicate matters related to local ordinances, and mostalso look to various forms or moral and social authority vested in traditional affiliations within thecommunity.
There are 563 federally recognized tribal governments in the United States. The United Statesrecognizes the right of these tribes to self-government and supports their tribal independence and self-determinations. These tribes possess the right to form their own government; to enforce laws, both civiland criminal; to tax; to establish membership; to license and regulate activities; to zone; and to excludepersons from tribal territories. Limitations on tribal powers of self-government include the samelimitations applicable to states; for example, neither tribes nor states have the power to make war,engage in foreign relations, or coin money.I feel that it is difficult to draw conclusions on a subject matter like this, because there are such greateconomic and situational disparities between, say, the Pine Ridge Reservation Sioux, or the OklahomaCherokee or the Arizona Navajo.
No one policy has a universal effect. There have been generallypositive economic policies for native tribes in recent years, but the actual effect of them has beenspotty, in my opinion.
We are not able to make generalizations about different tribal groups, and certainly we need to beaware that various policies might impact some groups more favorably than others. Therefore we needto develop a more nuanced view of issues.
The only true effective policy is the most effective thing the government has done for them is to in sense “let them be free”.
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