After Europeans landed on North American soil legislation was enacted which systematically robbed the indigenous people of their land and culture.
"We lived on our land as long as we can remember. No one knows how long ago we came there... All of a sudden one white man came. We had no idea what for. This was the inspector. He came to our tribe with [Reverend] Mr. Himan... They said the President told us to pack up- that we must move to the Indian Territory."
~ Standing Bear, Ponca tribe, 1878
(Source) The Atlantic (0:15)
1830: Indian Removal Act
Passed by President Andrew Jackson, the law stated that the Five Civilized Tribes must relocate west of the Mississippi River where the land would be theirs. The tribes refused and were rounded up by the US Army and forced to march 800 miles, killing thousands due to starvation, brutality and disease. In 1956, the government once again pushed Native Americans off their land, with the Indian Relocation Act.
(Source) 4570 Books
1887: Dawes Severalty Act
This act broke apart reservations and provided Native Americans a parcel of land to farm, with the promise of ownership after 25 years. However, the act was a failure as the Indians were not farmers and most of the land was unsuitable. Ultimately, white settlers bought 80% of the reservation land.
"From the time of their first contact with European settlers, the American Indians have been oppressed and brutalized, deprived of their ancestral lands and denied the opportunity to control their own destiny."
~ President Richard Nixon
"Indian Land for Sale Ad” by Dept. of Interior, 1911, (Source) Partnership with Native Americans
(Source) Golden Gate National Recreation Area
"Kill the Indian in him, and save the man."
~ Richard Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, 1892
Government Relocation Brochure (Source) Native Voices
1953: Termination Policy
Congress passed the Termination Policy declaring the closure of all remaining reservations in an effort to assimilate Indians into American society. Indians would be relocated into cities and provided with employment, thus removing government obligation to provide tribes with government assistance. This policy caused the most destruction to Indian culture and heritage.
"Nothing else that Congress can do causes tribal members to lose more of their rights than termination. Termination is the ultimate weapon of Congress and ultimate fear of tribes. Despite its drastic effect, the Supreme Court has held that Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause to terminate a tribe."
~ Stephen L. Pevar, The Rights of Indians and Tribes: The Basic ACLU Guide to Indian and Tribal Rights, 1992