Capitalism In Native American Society

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Capitalism has always been a subject of controversy throughout American history. As America expanded west and developed many new advancements in technology, more specifically the railroad, many people sought to make big profits out of the new and advantageous land. A common argument that historians often put forth about the settlement of the West was that big businesses and entrepreneurs had capitalized on the mostly untouched valuable resources of Western United States and had turned them into commodities thus destroying Native American society. Before America’s expansion into the West, Native American tribes lived in a society free of the capitalistic ideals, which in turn, made them less concerned about profit and more concerned about their…show more content…
One example of Native American’s spiritual and deep connection can be found in the book; Pretty-Shield Medicine Woman of the Crows which tells of the first hand accounts of an elder woman of the Crow tribe. She talks about an experience her grandmother told her about having a conversation with a chickadee by saying, “ ‘I am a woman, as you are. Like you I have to work, and make the best of this life,’ said the bird. ‘I am your friend, and yet to help you I must first hurt you. You will have three sons, but will lose two of them’ ”. Pretty-Shield then goes on to explain that two of her grandmother’s children were killed by the Lacota, a neighboring tribe. Her grandmother finished by saying, “It is bad to harm the chickadee, and foolish not to listen to him.” This experience Pretty-Shield’s grandmother had with the “animal people” proves how the Native Americans (more specifically the Crow tribe) had a deeper connection with the animals than the European settlers ever could. This shows that the Crow tribe used the animals for more purposes than just food and clothing; they listened to the animals for advice and tellings of the future, they were a part of the tribe’s society. It is a fair assessment to say that animals were a significant part of the Crow culture and many other Native American tribes in North America. Native Americans lived in…show more content…
From the initial settlements of the continent, disease brought over from Europe had severely weakened or killed off many different Native American tribes. Because of this, it is hard to find an accurate recount of native life before the arrival of Europeans making it hard to understand their societies before contact. Disease was not the only major effect on the lives of Native Americans. American capitalistic ideals began to intrude on the resourceful and relatively untouched west. The American’s began to turn many valuable resources, more specifically the buffalo, that the Native American’s used for survival into commodities with the sole purpose of making a profit. It is true that Native American’s hunting of the buffalo on horses had significantly decreased their population, but it was the American’s capitalistic ideas that led to their near extinction. An excerpt from a book by Foner states, “Hunting by mounted Indians had already reduced the buffalo population - estimated at 30 million in 1800 - but it was army campaigns and the depredations of hunters seeking buffalo hides that rendered the vast herds all but extinct.” Because of this, many tribes began to grow hungry as their primary source of food had almost all but disappeared from the lands surrounding them. The extermination of the buffalo was not only an attack on the buffalo themselves, but

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