Vanishing Indian Analysis

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During the era of Western exploration in the U.S., a variety of myths arose concerning the vast, untouched territories of the West (untouched at least by white settlers), as well as myths about the Native Americans that inhabited them. A common myth that was advocated by many 19th century commentators about the Native Americans was that their communities would soon become extinct, unable to adapt to the rapidly changing world brought to them by the Americans; although there was some truth to this statement, the reality was that some Native Americans were able to persevere and endure the intrusion of Western settlers into their homelands, as well as preserve their Native American culture to some extent. The myth of the “vanishing Indian” is…show more content…
Furthermore, the myth of the vanishing Indian is also demonstrated in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West advertisement, as it portrayed Native Americans as uncivilized, violent peoples. This advertisement likely facilitated racist views—namely, views that Native Americans were primal warriors…show more content…
Therefore, according to Morgan and Cody (as well as other contemporaries sharing similar viewpoints), as Americans gradually permeated Native American territories and established towns and cities, these Native American communities—supposedly made up of primitive barbarians—would fail to come to terms with American efforts to “civilize” Native Americans, thus resulting in warfare between the U.S. and these Indian tribes, and eventually leading to the total genocide of the Indian population (2). However, although warfare did erupt between the two groups—which resulted in the extermination of the majority of Native Americans—theories of total extinction of the Native Americans were inaccurate for two dominant reasons: one, a small but significant group of tribes remained after the intrusion of White settlers, and two, Indians tribes were not made up of simpleminded brutes, but intelligent peoples who were, initially, willing to negotiate with U.S. envoys before war erupted. Both of these facts disproved the claim that Native American stubbornness to adapt to American civilization would be the only cause of their demise—instead, it was the U.S.’ fault
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