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In 1848, Gold was discovered in California, causing a flood of thousands of miners and settlers to travel the west in hopes of claiming the gold. By 1851, there were approximately 360,000 Indians living west of the Mississippi, some being more peaceful, while others were more nomadic. Prior to Grants Peace Policy, a “removal and concentration” policy took place that allowed the Government to legally remove Natives from the trails that settlers travelled along heading west, and restrict them to small, less-than desirable reserves. These reserves did not provide substantial hunting ground, and the Natives were driven out of their ancestral homes. The Natives didn’t understand what they had agreed to, as the same for so many other “treaties of peace”. The Indians were bribed into signing treaties they misunderstood with promises of blankets, foods, weapons and ammo, so long as they signed the treaties. This allowed the Government to have absolutely control over the Indians in their own “territory” as they now became dependent on them for most of their supplies. Once this policy took place, the ongoing Indian Wars began between the Natives and the U.S. Armies, as both parties continuously broke the treaty. The Natives, of course, had a right to break the treaties: The reserves offered little game, the Indian agents were corrupt, and the buffalo that the Natives so heavily relied on were being slaughtered by workers building the immigrant trail and railroad lines that cut further and further into Native territory. New policies were drafted, allowing the Natives to have larger reserves near their tribal land in South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Montana; As history repeats itself, this new treaty was not implemented by all parties, and were often broken.
In 1868, Ulysses S. Grant became the 18th president in the United States, putting him in charge of not only the entirety of Americans, but also roughly 250,000 Native Americans that now fell under the federal Indian policy jurisdiction. By the time Grant had become president, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was responsible for any Native American related affairs, but had unfortunately become an organization that was corrupted and inefficient with maintaining good-standing relationships with the Indians. Leading up to the election, policy makers and reformers demanded a drastic change in the operation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which would be a positive outcome and hopefully and end to the violence between Americans and the Indians. They requested that instead of using violence to keep the Indians under control, the Government should use knowledge and religion in hopes to convert more Indians over to Christianity, and better civilize them. President Grant created the policy, and it in these policies, “(1) would be placed on reservations, keeping them away from contact with the immigrants, teaching them how to be farmers, and exposing them to the aid of Christian organizations; (2) when necessary, would be punished for misdeeds, which should demonstrate the efficacy of following the government’s advice rather than continuing their traditional ways; (3) high-quality supplies would be furnished to reservations; (4) through religious organizations, high-quality agents would be recruited, who would fairly distribute goods and aid in uplifting the ; and (5) through Christian organizations, churches and schools would be provided, which would lead the to appreciate Christianity and civilization and educate them to assume the duties and responsibilities of citizenship” (Stockel, H). Along with these policies, it was documented that all willing Native recipients would receive education for kids, food, clothing, and instruction on farming techniques.
By 1870, Grant, going against his own religious beliefs, appointed churchmen as agents (Quakers) that were notorious for having strict integrity and apposed all violence, to have management over the reservations. His hope was to banish the old agents who used violence against the Indians in the reserves, and replace them with loyal, honest Christians to help bring peace between the Natives and the Americans. The Grant Peace Policy had such an impressive effect that many churchmen/agents of all religions became dedicated and motivated to improve the conditions in the reserves. However, tensions began to arise again as many Catholics felt discriminated as they were in charge of a lesser amount of Natives, as well as conflicts over who should control which reservation. Despite Grants Peace policy collapsing eight years after it was implemented, this treaty became one of the few movements where the Natives were content.
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