The history of the Plains Indians and the American West is very interesting. The book Our Hearts Fell to the Ground by Colin G. Calloway really goes in depth on how life was for the Native American people, as well as the progression of the American West. I really felt that the book was a good source of information on the lives of the Native Americans and had an excellent outlook on how they lived their everyday lives. This book possesses many illustrations and documents that have their advantages and disadvantages.
It also touches on the subject of how White soldiers really took over the Native American land and why this time was considered “a world in flux. ” On pages thirty- three through thirty- five there are many illustrations that the Native Americans used as a sort of short story. There are some that were images of positive events and there were others that were extremely negative. An example of a positive image with a good advantage would have been the image from 1840 to 1841. This was an image of peace. The symbol showed two hands that were different colors and from different tribes.
It symbolized that the Dakotas had made peace with the Cheyenne and they had moved past their previous ways. In the book it says “The symbol of peace is the common one of the approaching hands of two persons. ”(p. 34) I believe that this is an advantage because it really allows people to think highly of the Native American people for choosing peace and does not make them out to look like the savages that the White soldiers thought they were. Another image that had many positives and advantages was the symbol of Gen. Harney making peace with a number of the tribes of the Dakotas.
In the symbol it says that they called Gen. Harney “white beard or white mustache” (p. 35) This event was extremely significant for the Native Americans because it was a sign of progression for their people. They were finally given an opportunity of peace by the White man and they were given some of the respect they deserved. They symbol of the image was an officer in uniform shaking hands with a Native American. Peace is always something to work towards and can only produce positive effects, but peace is not the only positive thing that the Indians worked towards.
One final illustration that had a positive advantage was the symbol of the cow. This symbol is an extremely simple and non- extravagant drawing but I feel that it really stands for a lot. In the book it says that in 1868- 1869 Texas cattle were brought into the country. I believe that this symbol was an illustration of trade for the Native Americans. I think it marked the beginning of their trade because later on in the book there is a document of how the Indians go on to trade cattle for guns with other tribes. The image on page 48 really shows the trade use at its full potential by illustrating the trade within tribes.
Trade is a very important in any civilization and is always an important advantage. There are some of negative illustrations as well in this book that really do not promote the advantages of the Native Americans. The first symbol that I noticed as a disadvantage to the Native Americans was the 1839- 1840 event. The Dakotas killed an entire village of Shoshoni Indians. I feel that this is a negative illustration because it really went against the unity that the Native Americans should have had. Another negative symbol that I discovered was actually used as a positive symbol earlier.
I feel that the illustration on page 48 could be a negative symbol as well. The trade of guns could have been negative for the simple fact that it spread violence among the tribes. Although they were trading and advancing their ways of communication, some of the trades should not have been pushed for. I felt that overall this was a negative occurrence more than a positive one. Another disadvantage of the illustrations that are given to us in the book is the validity of the pictures. In many other types of History we know when exactly many events occurred.
For example, we know that on September 17, 1787 the Constitution was adopted. In a lot of Native American history we do not have the exact date of many events that took place. The inaccuracy of their history is a major disadvantage for themselves as well as those that want to learn more about the Native American ethnic background. These were only a few of the advantages and disadvantages that were shown in this book and there are many more that go into even more depth. The definition of “a world in flux” could pertain to many things.
In this essay, it pertains to the time period of the Native Americans in the early nineteenth century. I personally interpret the saying “a world of flux” into a world of disarray. Not very many things were going good for the Native Americans in that time period. During this period in time the American Colonists were ravaging the Native American crops and villages in hopes that they would surrender their land. They did everything in their power to rid the land of Indians by not only destroying their crops, but by killing herds of buffalo as well.
To give an example of the terror that had occurred, a Native American tribe surrendered themselves to an American colony in order to avoid death and torture, but they were murdered and mutilated by the White man. Men, Women, and children were shot from all sides of the village. extent of violence did not stop there for the American soldiers as they continued to desolate even more Native American tribes. Not only were Indians faced with the threat of the White Colonists, but they also attacked and killed each other.
Many Tribes went on to murder other neighboring tribes for resources, land, and other materials. During this time the different tribes should have banned together to go against the foreign monster that was causing so much destruction, but instead they would attack and kill other Native American tribes. Since both of these acts of violence were occurring, there is no wonder why this was a time of madness and disarray. Unfortunately there were even more negatives that took place during this time. The other disaster that took place in the early nineteenth century was disease.
The Native Americans had received various sicknesses from the White people and had no treatment to remedy these types of plagues. Diseases such as the whooping cough, smallpox, and measles were deathly during those times and caused much stress to the Indian people. Not only did the Native American people have to deal with the violence and ravaging of the White soldiers, but now they had biological sickness to worry about as well. Another reason that there was much disarray and confusion at this time is because of the integration of their culture with the White man’s culture.
They had adopted some of the European culture within their own and that might have caused some confusion. Earlier in this essay I talked about the symbol of peace and how that could be an advantage and a positive thing. But the symbol that was drawn of the “handshake” was not used by Native Americans until the White soldiers had arrived. Instead of their ceremonial treaty, they had now used other means of communication that was not a universal sign for the Indian people.
Guns were also a completely new type of integration to the Native American people that intrigued even more violence and the wide spread of death. These types of things did not exist to Indians until the Europeans came into the picture. If some tribes adopted other types of communication skills than other tribes then there is no telling what types of confusion could have existed during the early nineteenth century. In the early 1800’s, the world was upside down for many Native American tribes. They really had to struggle through some tough times and I could not imagine living in a time like that.
The amount of strength and determination needed to get through it all must have been immense and only a strong group of people could have gone through such suffering. Whether or not some may view the “White man” as a criminal or a just a part of history can be deciphered by the reader, but I believe that the Native American people would have thrived even more during their lifetimes without the interference of the Europeans. Although many people would choose the easy way out, the Indian people did not. They persevered through this “time of flux” and are an extremely respected group of people today.