The History of Federal Indian Policy

by Robert J. Miller, Professor, Lewis & Clark Law School, Portland, Oregon

Excerpt from the article:

The relationship between European countries, the United States and American Indian Nations on the North American continent has been one of conflict, strife, and occasional warfare between different people, cultures, and religions. Indians and tribal governments owned lands and assets that European settlers, American colonists, and then United States citizens desired. The land and its valuable resources including animals and furs, water, timber, and minerals proved irresistible to Americans. Europeans brought new ideas, new ways of life, new forms of government, religion, and diseases to the North American continent. All of these factors played a major role in changing the cultures and lives of the Indigenous peoples of North America.

American Indian tribes and native peoples also played an important role in American history and had a profound impact on the European settlers. From the time European settlers landed at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, tribal governments sometimes helped and sometimes opposed European settlements in North America. Indian tribes undoubtedly had a major influence on the development of the original thirteen English colonies and on the establishment of the United States government. European countries, and later the United States government, had to deal politically on a government-to-government basis with tribal governments and had to address the interests of Indian peoples.

Download the entire article: The History of Federal Indian Policy (pdf)

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