When did Indians become US citizens?
Native Americans became US citizens with the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924
Until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, Indians occupied an unusual status under federal law. Some had acquired citizenship by marrying white men. Others received
citizenship through military service, by receipt of allotments, or through special treaties or special statutes. But many
were still not citizens, and they were barred from the ordinary processes of naturalization open to foreigners. Congress took
what some saw as the final step on June 2, 1924, and granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the United
The granting of citizenship
was not a response to some universal petition by American Indian groups. Rather, it was a move by the federal government to
absorb Indians into the mainstream of American life. There is no doubt that Indian participation in World War I accelerated
the granting of citizenship to all Indians, but it seems more likely to have been the logical extension and culmination of
the assimilation policy. After all, Native Americans had demonstrated their ability to assimilate into the general military
society. There were no segregated Indian units as there were for African Americans. Some members of the white society declared
that the Indians had successfully passed the assimilation test during wartime, and thus they deserved the rewards of citizenship.
Dr. Joseph K. Dixon, an
active proponent of assimilating the "vanishing race" into white society, wrote:
"The Indian, though a man
without a country, the Indian who has suffered a thousand wrongs considered the white man's burden and from mountains, plains
and divides, the Indian threw himself into the struggle to help throttle the unthinkable tyranny of the Hun. The Indian helped
to free Belgium, helped to free all the
small nations, helped to give victory to the Stars and Stripes. The Indian went to France to help avenge the ravages of autocracy. Now, shall we not redeem ourselves
by redeeming all the tribes?"
So, the Indian Citizenship
Act of 1924 proclaimed:
"BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and
house of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all non citizen Indians born within the
territorial limits of the United States be, and they are hereby, declared to be citizens of the United States: Provided That
the granting of such citizenship shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of any Indian to tribal or other
property. (Approved June 2, 1924)"
Viewing: 500 Nations
(372 minutes). Description: 500 Nations is an eight-part documentary (more than 6 hours and that's not including its interactive CD-ROM
filled with extra features) that explores the history of the indigenous peoples of North and Central America, from pre-Colombian
times through the period of European contact and colonization, to the end of the 19th century and the subjugation of the Plains
Indians of North America. 500 Nations utilizes historical texts, eyewitness
accounts, pictorial sources and computer graphic reconstructions to explore the magnificent civilizations which flourished
prior to contact with Western civilization, and to tell the dramatic and tragic story of the Native American nations' desperate
attempts to retain their way of life against overwhelming odds. Continued below...
word "Indian," and most will conjure up images inspired by myths and movies: teepees, headdresses, and war paint; Sitting
Bull, Geronimo, Crazy Horse, and their battles (like Little Big Horn) with the U.S. Cavalry. Those stories of the so-called
"horse nations" of the Great
Plains are all here, but so is a great deal more. Using impressive computer imaging, photos, location film footage
and breathtaking cinematography, interviews with present-day Indians, books and manuscripts, museum artifacts, and more, Leustig
and his crew go back more than a millennium to present an fascinating account of Indians, including those (like the Maya and
Aztecs in Mexico and the Anasazi in the Southwest) who were here long before white men ever reached these shores. It was the
arrival of Europeans like Columbus, Cortez, and DeSoto that marked the beginning of the end for the Indians. Considering the
participation of host Kevin Costner, whose film Dances with Wolves was highly sympathetic to the Indians, it's no bulletin
that 500 Nations also takes a compassionate view of the multitude of calamities--from alcohol and disease to the corruption
of their culture and the depletion of their vast natural resources--visited on them by the white man in his quest for land
and money, eventually leading to such horrific events as the Trail of Tears "forced march," the massacre at Wounded Knee,
and other consequences of the effort to "relocate" Indians to the reservations where many of them still live. Along the way,
we learn about the Indians' participation in such events as the American Revolution and the War of 1812, as well as popular
legends like the first Thanksgiving (it really happened) and the rescue of Captain John Smith by Pocahontas (it probably didn't).
Reading: The Cherokee Nation: A History. Description:
Conley's book, "The Cherokee Nation: A History"
is an eminently readable, concise but thoughtful account of the Cherokee people from prehistoric times to the present day.
The book is formatted in such a way as to make it an ideal text for high school and college classes. At the end of each chapter
is a source list and suggestions for further reading. Also at the end of each chapter is an unusual but helpful feature- a
glossary of key terms. The book contains interesting maps, photographs and drawings, along with a list of chiefs for the various
factions of the Cherokee tribe and nation. Continued below...
to being easily understood, a principal strength of the book is that the author questions some traditional beliefs and sources
about the Cherokee past without appearing to be a revisionist or an individual with an agenda in his writing. One such example
is when Conley tells the story of Alexander Cuming, an Englishman who took seven Cherokee men with him to England
in 1730. One of the Cherokee, Oukanekah, is recorded as having said to the King of England: "We look upon the Great King George
as the Sun, and as our Father, and upon ourselves as his children. For though we are red, and you are white our hands and
hearts are joined together..." Conley wonders if Oukanekah actually said those words and points out that the only version
we have of this story is the English version. There is nothing to indicate if Oukanekah spoke in English or Cherokee, or if
his words were recorded at the time they were spoken or were written down later. Conley also points out that in Cherokee culture,
the Sun was considered female, so it is curious that King George would be looked upon as the Sun. The "redness" of Native
American skin was a European perception. The Cherokee would have described themselves as brown. But Conley does not overly
dwell on these things. He continues to tell the story using the sources available. The skill of Conley in communicating his
ideas never diminishes. This book is highly recommended as a good place to start the study of Cherokee history. It serves
as excellent reference material and belongs in the library of anyone serious about the study of Native Americans.
Reading: Trail of Tears: The
Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. Description: One of the many ironies
of U.S. government policy toward Indians
in the early 1800s is that it persisted in removing to the West those who had most successfully adapted to European values.
As whites encroached on Cherokee land, many Native leaders responded by educating their children, learning English, and developing
plantations. Such a leader was Ridge, who had fought with Andrew Jackson against the British. Continued below...
As he and other
Cherokee leaders grappled with the issue of moving, the land-hungry Georgia legislators, with the aid of Jackson, succeeded
in ousting the Cherokee from their land, forcing them to make the arduous journey West on the infamous "Trail of Tears." ...A
treasured addition for the individual remotely interested in American Indian history as well as general American
Reading: 1491: New Revelations
of the Americas Before Columbus.
Description: 1491 is not so much the story of a year, as of what that year stands for: the long-debated
(and often-dismissed) question of what human civilization in the Americas
was like before the Europeans crashed the party. The history books most Americans were (and still are) raised on describe
the continents before Columbus as a vast, underused territory,
sparsely populated by primitives whose cultures would inevitably bow before the advanced technologies of the Europeans. For
decades, though, among the archaeologists, anthropologists, paleolinguists, and others whose discoveries Charles C. Mann brings
together in 1491, different stories have been emerging. Among the revelations: the first Americans may not have come over
the Bering land bridge around 12,000 B.C. but by boat along the Pacific coast 10 or even 20 thousand years earlier; the Americas
were a far more urban, more populated, and more technologically advanced region than generally assumed; and the Indians, rather
than living in static harmony with nature, radically engineered the landscape across the continents, to the point that even
"timeless" natural features like the Amazon rainforest can be seen as products of human intervention. Continued below...
Mann is well aware that much of the history he relates is necessarily
speculative, the product of pot-shard interpretation and precise scientific measurements that often end up being radically
revised in later decades. But the most compelling of his eye-opening revisionist stories are among the best-founded: the stories
of early American-European contact. To many of those who were there, the earliest encounters felt more like a meeting of equals
than one of natural domination. And those who came later and found an emptied landscape that seemed ripe for the taking, Mann
argues convincingly, encountered not the natural and unchanging state of the native American, but the evidence of a sudden
calamity: the ravages of what was likely the greatest epidemic in human history, the smallpox and other diseases introduced
inadvertently by Europeans to a population without immunity, which swept through the Americas faster than the explorers who
brought it, and left behind for their discovery a land that held only a shadow of the thriving cultures that it had sustained
for centuries before. Includes outstanding photos and maps.