The United States wanted to prevent hostility, so they tried to get the Indians to agree to living on reservations instead of on their homelands. For the rest of the following century they struggled to force the Indians to accept it, they failed to do so in the end and were forced to more desperate measures to clear the west for western settlement. The first policy was the Medicine Lodge Treaty, signed in Kansas, 1867. It divided the Great Plains into two huge Indian territories. In return for government supplies, most of the Indians stayed in their reservations.
The Northern Plains Indians did not agree so readily. Red Cloud signed the Fort Laramie Treaty in 1868, after the government agreed to abandon forts along the Bozeman Trail. Most white settlers wanted to commit genocide against the Indians rather than restrict them to reservations. The U. S. army did not abide by the reservation policy, as long as the army sustained the settlers’ hunger for extermination. Within a few weeks of the Fort Laramie Treaty, troop’s massacred Cheyenne’s in Washita, Oklahoma. Those troops were led by Colonel George Armstrong Custer.
In South Dakota, there was a massive gold rush on Indian lands. When the Lakota Sioux refused to give their lands to the miners, General Custer led the battle of Little Bighorn; Custer’s men were slaughtered by 2,000 Indian warriors led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in 1876. Forced to desperate measures, the whites decided to rid the Indians of their number one source of sustenance, the buffalo. A U. S. army colonel urged one hunter “Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone”. 30 years later, the Indians surrendered out of starvation.
The Sioux war ended in 1890 with a shocking massacre of 200 Native American men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. America decided to commit Cultural Genocide against the Indians now that they were under American control. The best way to kill a culture is to “educate” their children. They built a school, called Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. The school was divided between boys and girls. The children couldn’t communicate with each other without permission, not even if they were related.
After they got off the train, they received a bath with lice soap, lice soap burned when it got into cuts. Next the boys had their hair cut, some of the little girls got their hair cut too, but that was rare. The boys hair was a symbol of manhood Cutting off a man’s hair is wrong in their culture. It basically degraded the little boys in a sense, a symbolic castration. If something really bad happens, they used to cut their hair off as mourning for a terrible event, like if someone close to them was found dead.
The clothes the children wore over to Carlisle Indian School were burned while the child was getting a lice soap bath and a haircut. Next were the new white people clothes, what any other white kid would be wearing. They also get a new name, from “Running after horses” to John or Hank or Henry. It’s called a Christian name, a white name. They put their new name in their very own Bible; it made them think that it is their personal property. The children were punished if they speak in their native language. Overall, the Indians were successfully Americanized.