Native Americans In World War 1 Essay

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The history of American Indians is not well taught amongst the general population. For many, the extent of their knowledge consists of racist depictions of armed conflict between white colonists and Native people, such as the movie They Died With Their Boots On. This film glorifies Custer and demonizes the Indians as savage and stupid. Films like that one reflect how the history of Native people is understood as a history of war. However, most only consider it as war between Indians and settlers, as opposed to the many wars in which Natives and white Americans fought on the same side. World War I, for example, saw Native participation at a much higher proportion than other groups. However, rather than change popular thought, white people saw Indian participation in the war both as a means of further assimilation as well as, contradictorily, confirmation of the stereotype wherein Indians are perpetually stuck in the past. On the one hand, Indians fighting overseas proved that Indians could be and had been assimilated into mainstream American culture. Indians volunteered to serve in a proportion higher …show more content…
They seem to be inherently at odds with each other- Indians are either becoming more civilized, or they are not. However, they are not as incompatible as they seem. Putting aside the ideological incoherency of Indian policy as a whole, it seems that the one idea justifies the other. That is, because they are a savage people, then assimilation is a great, helpful thing. If Indians were no longer understood as savages, then there would be no justification for continued assimilation policies, however the government still wanted to pat itself on the back for what a good job it is doing. As a result, we find the reinforcement of both of these opposing stereotypes surrounding Indian participation in World War

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