For American Indian nations, the new United States government did not live up to its founding claims about human equality, rights, the rule of law, and
national sovereignty. Instead, the US government repeatedly sent invading armies into indigenous territories and violated its own treaties and laws to do so.
(Even today, US courts have acknowledged that Mount Rushmore and the northern rim of the Grand Canyon are the rightful territory of Native tribes, though
they have not been returned).
After pushing the new US border to the Mississippi River, the government then implemented a policy of “ethnic cleansing” — forcefully removing American
Indians from their homes and marching them at gunpoint hundreds of miles westward (with many dying along the way).
President Andrew Jackson, an architect of this plan, was loudly pro-slavery and anti-Indian. He was also incredibly popular with American voters (who now
included poor white men as well as rich white men).
— Dr. Barrett
HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT NEED TO BE ANSWERED BELOW THE LINE.
* Tecumseh believes (correctly) that the US government negotiated in bad faith to take Shawnee land. He demands its return in this letter and is ultimately
interested in organizing all American Indian nations to form one united defense against US encroachment.
* John Ross believes (correctly) that the US government negotiated in bad faith to take Cherokee land. He demands its return by filing court cases that went
all the way to the US Supreme Court. The Cherokee won the case, but President Andrew Jackson refused to comply with the court’s order.
* American Indians did not have voting rights, so their options for influencing the US government were limited to other means.
* How are the principles behind Tecumseh’s and John Ross’ arguments similar to those expressed by Henry, Paine, and the Declaration of Independence?
* What is Jackson advocating? Who does he say will benefit? Whom does it actually benefit?
* How does he describe this policy and his motivation?
* How does he describe American Indians?
* How does he describe the United States?
* What does it tell us about American politics that Jackson frames this policy in such a positive light? (Forget about trying to figure out what ‘is in Jackson’s
heart.’ Instead, consider what it tells us about Congress and the American people that they want to hear this policy described in this manner). Why doesn’t he
just say “we want the land and we’re going to take it?”