Rebecca Edwards New Spirits: Americans In The Gilded Age

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After the Civil War, America went through a controversial event that changed the social order of society. Because the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves, the white elite no longer controlled the African Americans. As a result, they felt threatened and wanted to secure their dominance in society by “incorporating” the influx of different cultures from immigrants and Native Americans. In Rebecca Edwards’ New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age, she states that there was an “incorporation of America” where assimilation began among certain groups to make them part of the whole. For example, the Native Americans faced a great deal of “incorporation” within what the whites thought of as an ideal society; as a result, their “incorporation” caused …show more content…

By Reconstruction, they were already moved off of their tribal lands from President Andrew Jackson in the early 1800s. The Native Americans encountered many hardships because of the Dawes Severalty Act and many battles such as the Battle at Wounded Knee. The Dawes Severalty Act caused them to lose their communal lands and their long-held belief that the land was not meant to be owned. The “acceptance of this system as a precondition for citizenship” influenced many Native Americans to give in to the assimilation (Edwards, 191). The Battle at Wounded Knee, caused by the misunderstanding of the Ghost Dance, increased the fear that the Native Americans’ customs were“too alien for inclusion” (Edwards, 162). Hundreds of Sioux were killed as a result of this horrific battle. However, their pain did not stop after these events. They did not give up so easily and tried to fight back. The Wars of the Peace Policy continued the goals of the Dawes Act by “divid[ing] reservations into individual parcels for families to farm.”(Edwards, 191) It attempted to control the wars that occurred by turning to assimilation instead. The division of their lands influenced them to assimilate into the white culture in order to gain their lands …show more content…

Because they were pressured to adhere to white customs, many Native Americans no longer felt attached to the history of their people and felt emotional trauma from their experiences. As a result of their assimilation, some Native Americans felt that they no longer fit in with the whites nor their own peoples. They were in a grey-zone where they didn’t belong anywhere. However, there were some assimilated Native Americans that actually benefited from their changes. For example, Patrick Miguel returned to his people and “helped his people win limited self-rule” (Edwards 108). Despite all of the abuse they endured, Native Americans were able to utilize their experiences to seek reform for their

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