A Past Forgotten
Centuries ago a people filled and roamed the North American continent with an easy freedom and uncommon respect for the surrounding land. Nature and man intertwined in gracious style and extraordinary equilibrium. These people known as Native Americans led an amazing interdependent lifestyle with their habitat that unfortunately cannot be found in today's busy age. These beautiful people with their mysterious and fascinating ways were devastatingly wiped out with the arrival and inhabitance of foreign peoples. Today the Native Americans' existence is scarce and the knowledge of them is even less. The land that is so commonly known as "America: home of the free" is anything but. It is a stolen land from the natives who originally inhabited it, and those few remaining should be largely compensated for the mistakes of Americas past.
The arrival of Europeans to America carried an array of diseases and scores of eager settlers. Ignorant to the ways of the white man, the natives welcomed their guests with no conceivable image of what was to come. Never having been exposed to alien germs, they were nearly demolished by the attack of the various diseases introduced by the new inhabitants. The remaining few were forced away from their homelands and confined to destitute reservations in the Indian Removal Act of 1830, more widely known as The Trail of Tears. (Trail) Regarded by the white man as uneducated and helpless, thousands of American Indians were forced to march to the reservations beyond the Mississippi, all the while being told it was for their own good. Eventually they were even expelled from these desolate locales for the mining of oil and gold by the new Americans. The pathetically small population that survived the horrific oppression of the white man was left to fend for itself against the growing power of the Federal government.
The unjust treatment exposed to the Native Americans did not go unrecognized by the American government. Attempts to correct the unfairness and to compensate the Indian population can frequently be referenced throughout recent history. The National Congress of American Indians (NCIA) is the largest and oldest organization that strives to bring more recognition to the health, welfare and self-determination among the Indian nations. (Issues) In return for vast Indian lands and resources ceded to the United States, the Federal government made certain promises to Indian tribes including the protection of Indian lands from encroachment, as well as promises to provide in perpetuity various goods and services such as health care, education, housing, and the continued right to self-government. (Issues) Several Acts have been put into place in order to protect and compensate the Native people. The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 was the most significant breakthrough in addressing the housing needs of American Indians. (Allen) This provided direct funding...