Contemporary U.S. Foreign Policy Trends and Interactions with Native Americans

To What Extent Are Trends in Contemporary U.S. Foreign Policy Framed by Interactions with Native Americans?

Introduction

Every event and phenomenon in global politics takes place within a historical, social and cultural context. So, when in 1964 Secretary of State Dean Rusk sought to explain the Gulf of Tonkin Incident with an assertion that Southeast Asians were simply different from Americans in their way of viewing reality[1], he was speaking as part of the pre-established way of thinking about the people of Southeast Asia. Although it would be oversimplifying to suggest that all that needs to be done to understand a trend is look at its context, it is a basic assumption of this study that knowing the context of a trend is at least an important part of understanding it.

With this basic assumption in mind, this study aims to demonstrate that certain trends in American foreign policy can be better understood when seen as framed by the context of interactions with Native Americans. Firstly, though, this study will need to show exactly what these ways of dealing with Native Americans were. I will then trace these trends through the history of 19th century and show how the trends become ‘embedded’ in American ideology. It will also be shown that these trends and practices are still visible in the cultural and political treatment of Native Americans today. This study will then consider whether these trends are also visible in the contemporary foreign policy of the United States. This study will not aim to argue that interactions with Native Americans directly cause events in contemporary U.S. foreign policy. But rather, trends that were established in U.S. ideology by the nature of interactions with Native Americans, are also relied upon to support certain trends in U.S. foreign policy. Therefore is it possible to argue that, indirectly, interactions with Native Americans frame trends within contemporary U.S. foreign policy.

As has been mentioned already, in order to do this we will first need to establish the character of interactions with Native Americans. It is impossible to consider this without considering trends that were set from the beginning of European interactions with Native People in the Americas. So, Section One of this study will establish the character of relations between Europeans and Native People in the Americas prior to U.S. independence. In order to do this, this study will consider examples from across the continent and across what is a rather broad period. It will be clear that from the start of these interactions, they were characterised by three things: violence, the construction of the Native People as inferior or, at least different, to Europeans and finally the connected belief that Europeans can ‘civilize’ Native People. By showing that these trends are as visible at the end of the period as they are at the beginning, this section will also demonstrate that these trends are ‘inheritable’ and set stage for demonstrating their ‘inheritance’ by the U.S.

Section Two will focus on the period between American independence and the 20th century. This chapter will demonstrate two things. Firstly that the ways of dealing with Native People discussed above were ‘inherited’ by the U.S. Secondly, Chapter two will show that the cultural practices associated with these trends became embedded in U.S. culture and ideology. This is a significant step in the ‘tracing’ of these trends to the present day, as if they exist within culture and ideology, then it is possible for them to operate in policy areas other than interactions with Native Americans. This opens up the possibility that the cultural trends may still inform contemporary U.S. foreign policy.

Section Three will consider the contemporary period and argue that cultural practices that construct Native Americans as inferior are still visible in popular culture. This is significant as it implies the endurance of trends which, as we shall see, have the capacity to affect foreign policy. The third section of this study will also consider federal policy towards Native Americans in the contemporary period and demonstrate that it, at least to some extent, is still based on the cultural trends discussed above. The fact that these trends continue in U.S. ways of dealing with Native Americans also provides legitimacy to wider trends in foreign policy in ways that will be discussed in the main body of this study.

The fourth and final Section of this study will consider whether these trends, are visible in contemporary U.S. foreign policy, after having considered multiple examples in U.S foreign policy, it should be clear that this is the case. Therefore by the end of the fourth chapter, it should be clear that there are trends in U.S. foreign policy that rely on practices that were established during interactions with Native Americans and became embedded in U.S. culture during the 19th century. This chapter will also consider whether it can be said that these trends in contemporary foreign policy can be traced back exclusively interactions with Native Americans, or whether other cultural practices play a role.

The argument of this study then, can be summarised in the following thesis statement: ‘There are trends that were established during European interactions with Native People in the Americas which were ‘inherited’ by U.S. and became embedded in U.S. culture and ideology. Through the endurance of these trends in culture and ideology, they continue to affect U.S. foreign relations today. Thus, it is fair to say that, indirectly, interactions with Native Americans frame certain trends in contemporary U.S. foreign relations.’

Following this introduction, I will set out in more detail the methodology of this study including the broad theoretical position from which it sets out and some of the problems inherent within it. After this will be the main body of the dissertation, with the chapters set out the in order established above.

Methodology and Context

Here the theoretical context of this study and will be discussed along with an outline of its methodology. Hopefully by the end of this section, a clearer picture of what exactly this study will attempt to do will have been presented.

Here, it is perhaps useful to turn to Michel Foucault and his concept of ‘genealogy’. Foucault tells us that the examination of the ‘descent’ of an idea or ideas “permits discovery” around it[2]. This essentially sums up the method of this study. There are, however, two problems with using ‘genealogy’ as the inspiration for the methodology of this study. The first is that Foucault tells us that in order to conduct a ‘genealogical’ study one requires a “knowledge of details and… a vast accumulation of source material”[3]. For temporal and spatial reasons, this kind of exhaustive knowledge is unachievable in this study. Although where possible the views of historians will be supplemented by documents, novels, speeches and such sources, it would be unrealistic to try and emulate this method exactly. Instead, this study will attempt to use this method as a ‘model’ rather than a definitive blueprint. The second potential problem with using this method as a model is fact that Foucault himself warns that it is not the purpose of genealogy to “search for ‘origins.’”[4] It may seem as though this is precisely what this study is attempting to do; to illustrate that certain trends in U.S. foreign policy have their origins in interactions with Native Americans. Foucault also warns against focusing on the “unbroken continuity” and reminds us that the “past does not actively exist in the present”[5]. Instead what ‘genealogy’ aims to show that over time ideas undergo “minute deviations… false appraisals… faulty calculations”[6] in order to “give birth to things that continue to exist and have value for us.”[7] This is a more accurate description of what this study attempts to do. By showing the various moments at which ideas about Native Americans underwent “deviations”, it will be possible to show how they end up supporting trends in U.S. foreign policy. For example, the embedding of these ideas into U.S. culture and their ‘crossing-over’ into foreign policy both represent the kinds of change quoted above. To summarise then, what this study aims to do is follow the transformation or ‘deviation’ of a set of ideas through interactions with Native Americans into contemporary U.S. foreign policy.

It would now be helpful to consider briefly where this fits into the broader discipline of International Relations. The assertion that all phenomena are contingent and specifically that the nature of U.S. foreign relations are contingent on some of the specifics of American history is significant here. This places this study within a tradition of International Relations theory that David Campbell calls “dissent”[8], which focuses “on the way the world has been made historically possible”[9]. Campbell speaks of how it is important to not commit to an epistemic reality and be conscious of perspective, something which may lead biased account[10]. This study will draw on this and highlight various ways in which an unacknowledged biased perspective can be problematic. It would seem then that this study lies within what Campbell calls “dissent”. This “dissent”, given the importance it ascribes to perspective, context and the biases these cause, and the suspicion of objectivity this implies, can in turn be placed within what Max Horkheimer called ‘Critical Theory’[11].

Talk of perspective leads to a major problem this study faces. If this study is aware of the biases perspective can cause, then I, as the author of this study, ought to be aware of my own. As a white person who has never set foot on a Native American reservation, the appropriateness of me writing a study on Natives Americans ought to be at least discussed. George Miles laments that Native history is too often reduced to a “convenient tool for cultural critics of white society”[12] , a process that, according to Miles, “reduces American history to a moral fable in which Native Americans become little than abstract components of an ideological agenda.”[13] Serious consideration ought to be given to whether this is something this study is guilty of. Hopefully, though, by acknowledging my perspective and context as a white British person I can avoid falling into the category of people that Miles is attacking and give a level account of the role which Native Americans played in the way in which America came to view the word. In other words I aim to treat Native Americans not as a “fable”, but as an integral part of U.S. history. Related to this is the tricky issue of how I refer to the people know as ‘Native Americans’. For the sake of simplicity in Section One, which discusses the Americas prior to the founding of the United States, I will refer to all Native People as Native People, as it seems inappropriate to use the term Native American before America exists. In subsequent sections however, I will use the term Native American.

With all of this considered, hopefully there is a clear picture of precisely what this study aims to do and how it aims to do it. Hopefully it is also clear where this study fits into existing literature, and that I am aware of some problems with my presumption that this is an appropriate subject for me to write about.

 

SECTION ONE

 

As has been mentioned the first section of this study will focus on the period from when Columbus arrived in North America to American Independence. In this section I hope to establish how European Colonists treated and viewed Native People. Although this period may seem very broad, this study does not intend to give a full history of it, but simply to establish trends and trace their development up to American Independence. In order to establish these trends I will look at examples from across the continent in early contact, including Columbus’s exploits on the island of Hispaniola, early English settlement of Virginia and Spanish behaviour in what is now the South Western United States. After these examples have been considered it should be clear that across the continent early relations with Native People were characterised by violence and violent subjugation. Then this trend will be ‘traced’ up to American independence, illustrating that these trends are ‘inheritable’ and suggesting the possibility that they could in turn be inherited by an independent America. Next we will consider cultural and social relations with Native People. Again we will consider examples from across the continent. After these examples have been considered, it should be clear that there is also a trend of ‘othering’, meaning here the construction of Native Americans as inferior or different. It will also be demonstrated here that these patterns of violence and ‘othering’ are linked through a tendency to try and ‘civilize’ Native People. Once this has been shown, we will have the basis of the trends which this study will trace the development of from interactions with Native Americans to contemporary U.S. foreign relations. This section will also, in the aim of not painting Native history with too broad of a brush, critically examine the claim that all interactions with Native People are characterised exclusively by the trends above.

If it can be demonstrated that the trends mentioned above are visible from the very first interactions, it will not only provide a convenient point of departure for the tracing of these trends, but also give some insight in to how deeply they run. It makes sense then to consider the nature of Columbus’s early interactions. These were almost immediately characterised not only by violence but also by violent subjugation. Howard Zinn tells us that the population of Hispaniola were quickly put to searching for gold by the Europeans. Zinn also tells us that if a Native person returned to the Europeans having not collected enough gold, their hands would be cut off and they would be allowed to bleed to death.[14] This demonstrates that not only were early interactions violent, but also that Native People were quickly subjugated to European needs. This subjugation is clear through the number of Natives taken to Spain as slaves: as early as 1495, as many as 1500 Arawaks of Hispaniola were rounded up[15]. Although these stories of the cutting off of hands and slavery are shocking, perhaps the best illustration of how violent these initial interactions were is statistics. Within two years of Columbus’s arrival on the island of Hispaniola, over half of its 250,000 population was dead.[16] So then, it should be clear that the relationship between early European colonists and Native People was characterised mainly by violence and a violent subjugation of Native People to Europeans.

If we consider the behaviour of other European empires during this period, we can see clearly how this trend of violence was not only visible away from Columbus, but also outside of Spanish policy as a whole. The nature of competition between European empires meant that Columbus’s trade in slaves was envied by the Portuguese. This meant that they were very quick to follow his precedent. In 1503 fifty slaves were captured by the Portuguese in Newfoundland and sold in Europe.[17] Although this does not demonstrate violence or even slavery on quite the same scale as it was practiced by Columbus in Hispaniola, this does demonstrate how quickly trends of violence spread amongst European powers in their interactions with Native People. This shows it was possible for Columbus’s violent and subjugating way of dealing with Native People to be taken on across the European powers and become a general way of dealing with Native People, rather than something that was specific to Spanish policy, Hispaniola as a region, or Columbus as an actor. This is important as it establishes violence as a general trend in America, something which it is likely the United States would ‘inherit’ when it became an actor in the region in its own right.

This general trend or precedent of violence was not limited to the areas where shipping slaves back to Europe was a possibility, neither is it unique to the very early stages of contact with Native People. It can also be seen in Spanish land-based colonisation of what is now the South Western United States. In 1598, the Keres tribe of what is now the South Western United States rebelled and killed 15 Spanish expeditioners[18]. Although, this demonstrates that the relationship between Europeans and Native People continued to be violent away from the coast line and further into the colonial period, this does suggest that the violence became more ‘two-way’. Although, it may well be possible to argue that this is not entirely underserved, it does undermine the assertion that violence is a specifically European way of dealing with Native People. However, if we look into the context of the Keres’s rebellion, we can see that it was born out of Spanish violence and subjugating behaviour: the Spanish expedition arrived at the Keres pueblo and demanded supplies and blankets. When the Keres refused, the Spanish decided to attempt to take them by force and in the ensuing struggle a Keres tribe member was killed, after this, the rebellion in which Europeans were killed began[19]. This shows that the violence was born out of European attempts to subject the Native People to their will, thus it would seem it is still possible to argue that violence and subjugation was the universal manner in which Europeans dealt with Native People in North America.

Having said this, given the scale of the Native response, it may still be possible to argue that what we see here, is a two-way violent relationship, and that my attempts to paint a narrative of European violence only serve to reduce Native People to being lesson about the evils of colonisation. However, we only need to look at the Spanish response to the Keres rebellion to see the ruthless capacity of the Europeans for violence and subjugation. In 1599, 70 well-armed Spanish soldiers approached the Keres pueblo and offered outrageous terms for peace, including leaving their pueblo and allowing it to be burned to the ground.[20] When the Keres refused these terms, the Spanish soldiers attacked the Keres and in the following massacre over 800 Keres were killed (perhaps nearly half the population), including 500 women and children and their pueblo was completely destroyed, in spite of the Keres attempting to surrender mid-way through[21]. What this shows us is the European capacity for violence outweighed the violence of Native resistance. Furthermore, Jack D Forbes tells us that the Spanish response was a warning to other tribes in the area not to attempt to resist the Spanish.[22] When the attack on the Keres is viewed in this way, rather than as simple revenge, we see that European violence, as well as being shocking in its scale, was also carried out in pursuit of subjugation. Overall, then, it would seem fair to say that in spite of the presence of violent Native resistance, the trend of violence and violent subjugation remained very visible in European ways of dealing with Native People inland and further into the colonial period. This demonstrates how these trends are passed down through the colonial period, which in turn suggests that they are ‘inheritable’ and may be able to be traced further.

If we do wish to trace these trends further, it would be helpful to consider whether they are visible in the English settlement of Virginia. If the trends can, as we’ve seen, be ‘inherited’ then surely their presence here would make it all the more likely that they were inherited by the United States. James Axtell tells us that from the beginning of the settlement of Jamestown in 1607 “the English sought to impose their will in Virginia largely with fire arms.”[23] Although it has to be said that this is not the same as actual violence, many of the same trends previously discussed are still visible: it is still Europeans attempting to subjugate Native People or “impose their will”, and it is still backed up by the threat of violence that firearms represent. So, although, at the beginning of the settlement of Virginia at least, the violence is not as obvious as it is in the case of the Keres, for example, the violent and subjugating trends are still visible. However, soon violence started to become a reality rather than a threat. Revenge for sporadic Native raids was carried out cruelly and as with the case of the Keres, excessively. Massacres took place up and down the James River, during which children were killed and entire villages were burned to the ground.[24] According to Axtell it was after the arrival of a resupply of the colony in 1609 with 600 men, weapons, armour and supplies, that these raids and massacres became common[25]. What this suggests is that, English violence was adjusted according to their capacity: in the early years of settlement, they had to simply settle for the threat of violence, however after the resupply of 1609, they sought to stamp their authority by increasing the violence with which revenge was pursued. What this suggests is that the trends of violence and subjugation were very much visible in the early English settlement of Virginia, and when the opportunity presented itself, the English endeavoured to pursue these trends.

This argument looks all the more convincing when we consider that after a Native attack in 1622 which killed 350 English settlers[26], the governors of the colony agreed upon total war as a “permanent solution” to the problem posed by Native People. After this point the goal of the English was to stop Natives in the region being “a people upon the face of the earth.”[27] This campaign was taken seriously and at one parley alone the English killed 250 Natives through poisoning and ambush while in July 1623 sixty Englishmen killed 800 Natives in a two day battle.[28] These two incidences alone far out match the number of English settlers killed in the entire uprising this campaign was supposedly revenge for. By this point the settlers had five of six fortified settlements established up and down and the James River.[29] It is difficult to see a campaign of this scale taking place if the English did not have such an established base to operate from. It would seem clear then that the trends of violence were inherited by English settlers of Virginia. Again, this not only shows that trends of violence and subjugation can be ‘inherited’ but also that they can ‘crossover’ from the behaviour of one set of Europeans to another. This suggests again that it is perfectly possible that the United States also inherited these trends, especially given that these trends appear to be visible in the English speaking settlers of the Eastern seaboard.

If it is going to be demonstrated that this trend of violence and subjugation is traceable into the post-independence period, then it must be shown to be as visible outside of the early colonial period. Unsurprisingly it is not difficult to find examples of violent and subjugating European behaviour in the later colonial period. In the 1760s, for example, a peace had been established between the British and the Delawares living in the Ohio Country, however this peace soon began to collapse.[30] Michael McConnell tells us that this collapse was down to the British and the fact that they began to make demands of the Delawares, which were backed up by force. In other words the British began to behave “like conquerors rather than brothers” and “this led to the collapse of accommodation”[31]. Although this episode does not show us that the British continued the trend of open violence to the same extent as it was pursued by Columbus, the Spanish in general or earlier English settlers in Virginia, it does show that the trend of violence and subjugation continued. Such was the power of this violent trend as a way of dealing with Native People that even in a supposed moment of peace, demands continued to be made and continued to be backed up by violence. Not only does this show that the trend of violence had become entrenched enough that it continued to govern behaviour in spite of a peace agreement being in place, but it also shows that these trends, although in a slightly changed form, continue to be visible in the later colonial period. This sets the stage for these trends continuation into the post-independence period.

Having seen that the trend of violence is still visible in the late colonial period, we should now consider what other trends characterised interactions with Native People of North America in the colonial period. Alongside the trend of violence, there is also the trend of ‘othering’, meaning the trend of constructing Native People as inferior to Europeans. As Ray Harvey Pearce puts it, Native People “were found everywhere to be… men who weren’t men, who were religiously or politically incomplete”[32]. Like the trend of violence this is also a trend which is visible from the very early stages of interactions with Native People. For example during a slave auction in Spain following Columbus’s first explorations of Hispaniola, one observer remarked that the Natives were “naked as the day they were born” and had “no more embarrassment than animals.”[33] This portrayal of the Native People as naïve and simple may seem harmless, however it does betray a belief that Native People were somehow “incomplete” from the very start of interactions. Again, like violence this trend is not limited to Columbus or the Spanish empire, but instead became part of the European ‘way of knowing’. For example Thomas Hobbes, an Englishmen writing in 1651[34], asserts that the “Savages” of America continue to live in the State of Nature or “Condition of Warre”[35], something which is characterised by a “Brutish” lack of order and organisation[36]. Hobbes also tells us that it is a rational “Law of Nature” that people must leave the state of nature and organise into state societies[37]. The implication here is that not only are Native People politically incomplete by still being in the State of Nature, but they are also devoid of some form of natural rationality that compelled Europeans to leave the State of Nature behind and therefore presumably inferior to Europeans. This shows that it is possible for this trend, like the trend of violence, to be passed from one European power to another and ‘inherited’ from one century to another. We have also seen, that it became ‘embedded’ through its visibility in supposedly unrelated works such as Hobbes’s Leviathan.

This pervasive belief that Native People were inferior or incomplete can also be seen at the end of the colonial period. For example after the end of the Seven Years War in 1763, Trans Appalachia was passed around between the European powers as if it were a “possession”[38]. However, even a few decades after this, very few Europeans lived in this region, while it was home to at least 24 indigenous nations.[39] The fact that Europeans felt able to pass around the region in this manner, clearly indicates that they continued to believe that Native People were inferior or incomplete, as there is an implication that they were incapable of politically occupying a territory in the same way that Europeans were. The link between this belief and Hobbes’s implied belief that Native People lack the same kind of political rationality as Europeans is clear. So, what we can see here is that the continued trends of ‘othering’, or the construction of Native People as inferior or incomplete, are as visible towards the end of the colonial period as they are at its beginning. This shows us two things. Firstly, that these trends can be passed on from one generation to the next and secondly, just as the presence of violence at the end of the colonial period sets the stage for that trend to be passed into the post-independence era, the same is true of this trend.

Having seen that trends of both violent subjugation and ‘othering’ are visible at the end of the colonial period, it would now be appropriate to consider the ways in which the two are linked. The belief that Native People were inferior or incomplete would often manifest itself in an attempt by Europeans to ‘complete’ Native People or bring them civilization. Violent projects or projects of subjugation undertaken by Europeans towards Native People were often justified as attempts to civilize the uncivilized. For example, we have already established that the settlement of Virginia was characterised by violence or at least the threat of violence. However, the Letters Patent that chartered the Virginia Company in 1606 tasked the Company with bringing “Christian Religion to such people, as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God and… bring[ing] the Infidels and Savages living in those parts, to human civility and quiet government.”[40] So we can see here how ‘othering’ and violence are linked. By insisting on the backwardness and inferiority of Native People, Europeans were able to insist that there was a need to intervene in the lives of Native People in ways that in reality would result in violent and subjugating projects. This process is clearer still in the case of Spanish missions in Southern California just prior to U.S. independence. These missions were presented as places where Native People would be ‘saved’ from their “free and undisciplined” way of life[41]. Or in other words, as places where European civilization could be brought to Native People. In reality however, these missions were essentially forced labour camps, in which people were not allowed to leave and faced violent punishment if they did[42]. If there was any doubt as to how much the missions represented a form of violence, during the mission period the Native population between San Diego and San Francisco fell from 72,000 to just 18,000.[43] So, we can see that the hiding of violent projects of subjugation behind the altruistic language of ‘civilizing’ is a common theme across pre-independence North American. It is also clear that this language of civilizing relies on the ‘othering’ and construction of them as in need of ‘completing’ by Europeans in the first place. It is clear then, that the trends of ‘civilizing’, ‘othering’ and violence are all linked. Having established these trends in the behaviour towards Native People, their potential to be passed on further and the connections between them, the rest of this study will follow these connected trends to contemporary U.S. foreign policy, where it will be argued that this complex of ‘othering’, ‘civilizing’ and violence is still visible.

Before we can move onto the rest of this study, however, in pursuit of a balanced account of Native history we ought to critically examine the claim that violence and ‘othering’ and ‘civilizing’ rhetoric are the sole characteristics of interactions of Native People in North America during the colonial period. This is not merely an exercise in balance and an attempt to not put Native People in the role of helpless victim. If it turns out to be demonstrable that interactions with Natives are not characterised by these things, it will have major implications for this study’s argument argument. It is useful then, to consider the nature of trade between Native People and Europeans during the colonial period. Native People, in terms of the trade they provided, would often be essential to European interest. For example during the French settlement of the Mississippi in the 18th century the Osage nation were so important to French interests, that Osage murders of Europeans were often forgiven.[44] What this suggests is that although the trend of violence existed, it was not as universal as it seemed. Before we read too much into this, however it is important to remember two things. Firstly that the violence of the Europeans, as we saw with the case of the English in Virginia, often matched their capabilities. The French in the Mississippi Valley lacked force and instead were mostly just mobile traders and trappers[45], something which will have necessitated cooperation with the Native People of the area. We cannot assume, given what we have seen about the ubiquity of trends across the Spanish and English and later British, that had the French had capabilities to engage violently they would not have done. Secondly, we ought to remember that although the trend of violence in not always visible in trade relations, the trend of ‘othering’ is. For example, in 1725 the French Company of the Indies brought a party of Osages to Paris in order to “Inspire in the barbarians a favourable impression of the French and attach them to our nation.”[46] This implies the superiority of the French civilization and therefore the perceived inferiority of the Osages. We can see then in the case of the Osages, although violence was not visible, the French were still constructing them as inferior. In a more general sense as well, Axtell tells us that Europeans would often believe that they had fooled “gullible” Natives in to trading furs for knives and fish hooks which Europeans thought were worth far less than furs, when in reality the value systems of the two civilizations simply did not match.[47] What all this shows is that although trade was not always violent, ‘othering’ is visible and took place in trade. It would seem then, that in most instances, at least one aspect of the complex of ‘civilizing’, ‘othering’ and violence was present.

Having considered the example of trade and whether it can be used against the assertion that interactions with Native People were characterised by ‘civilizing’, ‘othering’ and violence, we ought to consider the role that disease played in early interactions. For example Noble David Cook tells us that during the conquest of Mexico, Natives accounts stress that the ravages of disease are far more memorable than destruction caused by Spanish violence.[48] This suggests that the enduring cultural effects of the interactions may not be those that have their roots in violence but rather a memory of disease. In the case of the major loss of life on Hispaniola we have discussed already, it is actually impossible to tell how much of this loss of life was down to disease and how much was down to Spanish violence. However, if we consider that five out of seven translators employed by the Spanish in 1493 died of disease[49], it would seem possible that a large proportion of those who died in the initial phases of contact were victims of disease rather than Spanish violence. Although this loss of life is shocking and probably, as Cook suggests, equally as traumatic to the Native population as the violence of Europeans, it does not replace the violence and subjugating behaviour of Europeans. For example, in spite of the major loss of life in a great Caribbean outbreak of smallpox in 1518, Spanish friars on the island of Hispaniola were concerned that if the disease continued then there would not be enough labour to work the island’s mines in the following year.[50] What this shows us is that violent and subjugating behaviour was often visible alongside the ravages of disease.

At the end of section one then, the question ‘what characterised interactions with Native People prior to American Independence?’ has been answered. It would seem these interactions were characterised by attempts to construct the Native People are inferior or ‘incomplete’, attempts to ‘complete’ Native People or bring civilization to them and violent and subjugating behaviour that attempts to ‘civilize’ resulted in. It has also been shown that these trends not only characterise early interactions, but they are also all visible at the end of the colonial period, suggesting that they are ‘inheritable’ and could well be ‘inherited’. Having said this, we have also seen it may not be entirely accurate to suggest that these trends characterise all interactions with Native People in North America, however as we have also seen this does not necessarily detract from the power and durability of these trends.

 

SECTION TWO

 

Richard White tells us that “Americans inherited a legacy of previous Indian-white contact.”[51] In the previous chapter we established what this previous legacy contact between Native People and Europeans was, in this chapter we will essentially discuss the accuracy of White’s statement or whether these trends were ‘inherited’ by America and Americans. This is an important point in the wider argument, as if this study is to show that these trends influence contemporary U.S. foreign policy, then it needs to be demonstrated that these trends were adopted by the U.S. In order to do this, first whether the trends of violence and ‘othering’ are visible in the early period of American independence will be considered. Following this it will be demonstrated that both these trends are visible in major polices of the United States such as ‘Indian Removal’. From there, having seen that these trends were ‘inherited’ by the U.S. we will consider whether they became ‘embedded’ in U.S. culture. Finally, we will consider the later 19th century and demonstrate that these trends continued to be actively reproduced, rather than just be visible as a legacy, surprisingly late on, further demonstrating the durability and strength of these trends.

A useful place to start, as with Section One, is the trend of violence. From the very early stages of the post-independence period it is clear that the trend of violence has been ‘inherited’ by the United States. For example the ‘Ordinance for the regulation and management of Indian Affairs’, enacted by congress under the Articles of Confederation in 1786, specifically states that the superintendents for ‘Indian affairs’ are to report to the Secretary of War[52]. This places responsibility for Native issues with the Department of War. Although it would be an over simplification to suggest that this alone shows that there continued to be a violent relationship, it does show us that the trend of dealing with Native Americans in a manner which is potentially violent has been ‘inherited’. This ‘inheritance’ is not only limited to a legacy that can be seen in subtle implications like that described above. For example in 1810, the Shawnee chief Tecumseh bemoans the violent behaviour of the United States, claiming that since a peace treaty was signed with the Natives in 1809 that the United States had “kill’d some of the Shawanese, Winebagoes Delawares and Miamis and you have taken our lands from us.”[53] Given that in the previous section we used the British disrespect for peace treaties as evidence of how embedded the trend of violence had become in their interactions with Native People, the claims of Tecumseh seem to illustrate that these trends were also ‘inherited’ by the United States and were visible from the very start of the post-independence period. It would seem then that the U.S. inherited not only a subtle legacy of a violent way of dealing with Native Americans, but also continued to perpetuate this trend with violent practice.

The trend of violence is not the only trend that was ‘inherited’ by the U.S. however. In this early period we can also see that U.S. ‘inherited’ the legacy of ‘othering’. A section of The Declaration of Independence, for example, refers to Native People as “merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”[54] Clearly, this represents a continued belief that Native Americans were inferior. It would seem that the United States did indeed ‘inherit’ the legacy of the trend of ‘othering’ as a way of dealing with Native Americans. Again, however, if we look a little further into this period, it becomes clear that not only has the U.S. taken on the legacy of this trend but also continues to actively perpetuate it. For example, Kathleen Du Val tells us that after the end of the War of 1812, white settlers flooded into Arkansas, increasing the area’s population from 400 in 1803 to 30,000 in 1830.[55] Du Val also tells us that these settlers had a very clear image of the ‘savageness’ of the Natives compared to ‘civilized’ nature of whites.[56] Although this shows that some Americans continued to perpetuate the trend of ‘othering’, this cannot be used to make generalisations about America as a whole. However, Du Val tells us that by the 1820s, with the “full backing of Washington” officials in the region began campaigns of expulsion, behaving as though all Natives represented enemies.[57] The implication of this policy is that Native Americans and white people are incompatible and that Natives pose a threat to the progress of white society. This can certainly then, be placed within the trend of ‘othering’. Given the support the federal government gave to these policies, it would seem the federal government was just as capable of believing in and perpetuating the trend of ‘othering’ towards Native Americans as individual American Settlers were. Overall then, it would seem that with the trend of ‘othering’ the U.S. inherited not only a subtle legacy, but as was also the case with the trend of violence, it inherited a practice that it continued to perpetuate.

We can see just how completely these trends were adopted by the U.S. federal government if we look a little further into the period. The Indian Removal Act of 1830, for example, provided for Native tribes to be escorted from their homes in the East to new land across the Mississippi.[58] Richard White tells us that the removal policy, pursued by President Andrew Jackson was justified by the ‘fact’ that Native Americans had “neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral, habits nor the desire for improvement” that was required to live as part of white society.[59] Clearly then, we can see that the federal policy of removal was inspired by a deep conviction that Native Americans were both inferior and fundamentally different to white people. The level to which the federal government adopts these trends is crucial to the argument of this study if it is eventually going to demonstrate that these trends can be seen in U.S. foreign policy. In addition to this, if we consider Jackson’s own justification of removal, we can see removal is not only indicative that the trend of ‘othering’ has been adopted, but that the related trend of ‘civilizing’ was as well. Jackson declared in 1830 that his aim was to save them from “their wandering habits and make them a happy, prosperous people.”[60] It is clear from this that Jackson believed that it was necessary to bring ‘civilization’ to Native Americans. It was asserted in the previous chapter that this altruistic language of ‘civilization’ often was used to hide violent or subjugating projects. ‘Indian Removal’ is no different. Klaus reminds us, for example, of the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee march from their land to the new land that was assigned to them, during which thousands of members of the tribe died.[61] What this shows is that not only did the U.S. government ‘inherit’ the trends of violence and ‘othering’ but it also inherited the habit of combining these two into violent, or at least highly destructive, attempts to ‘civilize’ Native Americans.

Although it is clear that the trends in ways of dealing with Native People established in Section One, were ‘inherited’ by the U.S., if this study is going to show that these trends one day ‘deviate’ into practices that can operate outside of ways of dealing with Native Americans, then it needs to be established that at some point these trends moved beyond ‘Indian Policy’ and began to become embedded in U.S. ideology. Perhaps the best example of this process is the formation of the ideology of Manifest Destiny. In 1845 John O’Sullivan, the editor of the Democratic Review wrote an article in which he set out this ideology.[62]O’Sullivan described how it was the providential, inevitable destiny for the U.S. to dominate and expand across North America[63]. It is not hard to see this as the continuation of some of the trends we have discussed. It can be considered violent as such an expansion would undoubtedly cause conflict with Native Americans, it can be considered ‘othering’ because it continues the trend of constructing Native Americans as ‘not there’ or not occupying the territory they live in in the same way that Europeans do and finally, its talk of bringing “liberty” and “self-government” to the continent[64] means it can be seen as ‘civilizing’. So, although manifest destiny was not directly a way of dealing with Native Americans rather, it does draw on trends that were established while dealing with Native Americans. What this shows is that these trends are able to undergo ‘minute deviations’ from being specifically ways of dealing with Native Americans to being general aspects of U.S. ideology. This is significant in demonstrating that these trends frame contemporary certain trends in contemporary U.S. foreign relations.

Having said this, it would be useful to critically examine the significance of Manifest Destiny. If this study is going to argue that Manifest Destiny was one of the ways in which these trends in the interactions with Native Americans ‘deviated’ into general trends in U.S. ideology and eventually foreign policy, then it does need to be established that Manifest Destiny was in fact significant at the time. Patricia Nelson Limerick tells us that the “dominant motive for moving West was improvement and opportunity, not injury to others. Few white people went west intending to ruin the natives and despoil the continent”[65]. What this implies is that the U.S. was not dominated by an ideology which drew from negative interactions with and constructions of Native Americans to inspire the expansion west, but was rather just filled with people attempting to seek their fortune. This severely limits the potential for Manifest Destiny to act as the vehicle by which these trends ‘deviated’ and became a general part of U.S. ideology. To take this stance however, is to ignore the nuances of trends that govern interactions with Native Americans. As has been mentioned, because of the pervasive construction of Native Americans as inferior or ‘incomplete’ they were not seen as fully occupying the territory in which they lived. This trend ‘allows’ the west to be a land of opportunity and ‘allows’ the economic flood into that territory. If it were not constructed as empty as a result of this trend, one has to ask whether economic migrants would have flooded into the West to the extent that they did. So after considering the nuances of the ways in which Native Americans were constructed, it is clear that the economic goals of the emigrants that moved west, do not undermine the significance of manifest destiny but are actually indirectly are fueled by Manifest Destiny and trends that relate to it. This reaffirms the importance of manifest destiny, suggesting that it could well be a vehicle for the ‘deviation’ of trends in ways dealing with Natives to trends in U.S. ideology in general.

This ‘deviation’ that Manifest Destiny facilitated is already visible in the mid-19th century. For example during the U.S.-Mexican war of 1846, there was a belief that the U.S. invasion would be bringing liberty and democracy to Mexico[66]. An article in the New York Herald went as far as to say “We believe it is part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country”[67]. It is clear from the mention of “destiny” that there is a perceived inevitability to this expansion across the continent which is inspired by the ideology of ‘Manifest Destiny’. It also clear from the use of terms such as “civilize” that the trends of ‘othering’ and ‘civilizing’ are also visible here. So it would seem that ways of dealing with Native Americans were part of ‘Manifest Destiny’ which in turn was drawn upon in foreign policy. So, it would seem then that as early as the 19th century, through the ‘vehicle’ of ‘Manifest Destiny’ ways of dealing with Native Americans ‘deviated’ into trends in U.S. foreign policy.

Although it has been shown that certain trends both can and did ‘deviate’ into general trends in U.S. ideology and even foreign policy, it is important to remember that throughout even the latter half of the 19th century these trends of ‘othering’ and violence towards Native Americans continued be perpetuated. For example the idea that Native Americans were inferior or different was reproduced as part of supposedly apolitical literature. For example in his autobiographical account of life in the West during this period, Charles W. Allen refers to Native Americans as a “People of native simplicity.”[68]This implies a belief that Native Americans are different, or incomplete. Thus this can be seen as perpetuating the trend of ‘othering’. This is significant as according to Richard E Jenson in the introduction to Allen’s autobiography, “Allen expressed an uncommon degree of sensitivity and understanding” towards Native Americans[69]. Jenson also states that his Allen’s account “Does not contain flagrant bias or notable misrepresentation”[70]. If the most unbiased people writing at the time could not avoid slipping into perpetuating trends of ‘othering’, then it shows that these trends were very deeply embedded into ways of thinking. This is something that can be seen in perhaps more reputable literature as well. For example, Joseph L Coulombe tells us that to Mark Twain, Native Americans represented a racial “other”, a position which he ‘wrote out of’[71]. The fact that the trend of ‘othering’ Native Americans continued in culture even after it had begun to affect other aspects of American policy is significant to this study for two reasons. Firstly, this sets the stage for this trend to be ‘inherited’ into the contemporary period. Secondly, the deeply embedded nature of these trends will ensure that their legacy continues to operate in other areas as trends of U.S. ideology and U.S. foreign policy as it prevents the roots and therefore the ‘naturalness’ of these later trends being called into question.

Significantly, it is not just the trend of othering that continued to be visible and be perpetuated in the latter half of the 19th century. Violence also continues to be a visible as a way of dealing with Native Americans, again this is significant because it demonstrates just how deeply this trend was embedded in American practice. For an example of this violence, we need look no further than the infamous massacre at Wounded Knee. In 1890, during a band of Lakota’s attempt to surrender to American demands of disarmament, which were being met with at least some compliance,[72] some confusion led to a fight in the Native camp between soldiers and the Lakota. In the massacre that followed between 270 and 300 of the 400 Lakota present were killed. 170 of the dead were women and children, who were mostly killed while attempting to flee[73]. What this incident shows is that Americans, not only inherited the legacy of the European habit of using shocking levels of violence to deal with dissent among Native Americans, but they also continued to perpetuate this trend well into the post-impendence period and almost up to the twentieth century. This shows how deeply this trend was embedded in American practice, something which implies that it may be ‘inherited’ later on in American history.

After this second section then, three things have been demonstrated. Firstly, that the trends that characterised interactions with Native People in the colonial period were ‘inherited’ by the United States as a way of dealing with Native Americans. Secondly it was shown that through ideas such as Manifest Destiny, these trends ‘deviated’ into more general patterns of U.S. behaviour, specifically in foreign policy. Finally, it was shown that the trends of ‘othering’ and violence towards Native Americans not only continued in the form of their ‘deviated’ legacies, but continued to be reinforced later on in the period, suggesting that these trends would continue into the 20th century and meaning that the ‘roots’ of the new ‘deviated’ trends would remain intact.

 

SECTION THREE

 

Having seen how trends in the interactions with Native Americans can be traced up to the end of the 19th century and having seen the process by which these trends can ‘deviate’ into areas such as U.S. foreign policy, it would now be appropriate to consider whether these trends in dealing with Native Americans are visible in contemporary America. If it can be demonstrated that this is the case, then it would seem very likely that the ‘deviated’ legacies of these trends also continue to operate in U.S. foreign policy as the legitimacy of their roots would not have been called into question. Firstly, some aspects of contemporary U.S. culture will be looked at and trends of ‘othering’ Native Americans will be identified. Next, we will consider contemporary American ‘ways of knowing’ including biases in schools. Finally, it will be demonstrated that these trends are also still visible in the behaviour of the federal government towards Native Americans. Again this will all imply that the legacies of these trends will continue to operate in other areas of federal policy as the wider complex of which they are part continues to be reinforced.

As has been stated, the consideration of the place of these trends within the contemporary U.S. will be begun with a discussion of U.S. culture. In many of the works of literature regarded as important to U.S. culture, problematic views toward Native Americans are often implied. In John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, for example, we are of how farmers would argue that they have a deep connection to the land because “Grampa killed the Indians, Pa killed the snakes.”[74] In statements such as this Steinbeck implies that, like snakes, Native Americans are a natural inconvenience and something that needs to be removed in order that white Americans can occupy the land in the way that, as we have seen, apparently only they are capable of. Although whether Steinbeck’s writing is contemporary is debatable at best, David Wyatt tells us that The Grapes of Wrath “continues to be read as a radical critique.”[75] If works that contain biases against Native Americans can be considered “radical critiques” in contemporary America, then it is clear contemporary U.S. culture continues to ignore Native Americans, presumably because of an apparent inferiority. Thus it would seem that the trend of ‘othering’ is still visible and continues to be perpetuated. Steinbeck is not the only example of this. Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, which David Wyatt describes as a “Capstone novel about human solidarity”[76], presents Homesteading as an equalising benefit to humanity.[77] However historian Russell Weigley tells us that the Homesteading Act of 1862 was a major contributor to the erosion of Native independence in the West, as it meant more white settlers moved into ‘Indian Country’.[78] What this shows is that it is by ignoring the place of Native Americans in U.S. history that Hemingway is able to portray homesteading in such a positive light. Again, it would seem that the significance applied to For Whom the Bell Tolls, implies that Native Americans do not have a place in “human solidarity”. So the trend of ‘othering’ Native Americans is still visible in the contemporary world and therefore likely to still support a wider complex of trends that are visible in U.S. foreign policy that will be explored shortly.

This trend of ‘othering’ in contemporary culture is not only visible in the enduring significance of biased modern classics. It can also be seen in recent novels and in recent Hollywood films. The 2013 film The Lone Ranger, for example, according to some helped the “perpetuation of stereotypes through a character that lacks any real cultural traits.”[79] This shows that trends of ‘othering’ continue to be visible in cultural works produced very recently. An article in the Native weekly magazine Indian Country Today Media Network expands on this point, saying that given the character ‘Tonto’ is one of the most recognisable portrayals of Native Americans, his character traits and quirks become representative of the entire, diverse population of Native Americans.[80] So we can see through the continued use of stereotypes that the of the trend of ‘othering’ survives, in that Native culture and peoples must be being constructed as inferior in order for it to be possible for stereotypes to ‘speak for them’. In addition to this it is clear that the use of stereotypes perpetuates the trends of ‘othering’ into the future, thus contributing to the stability of the wider complex that is rooted in these trends. Outside of Hollywood as well, this trend of ‘speaking for’ Native Americans is visible. For example ‘Truth VS. Twilight’ is a website set up in collaboration between the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and the Quileute Tribe with the aim of dispelling some of the misconceptions held about the tribe because of their portrayal in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series.[81] This websites tells us that Meyer fabricates an origin story for the Quileute.[82] The fact that Meyer felt able to do this demonstrates that the trend of ‘othering’ is still visible. If Native Americans and their cultures were not constructed as inferior or different, then it is arguable that Meyer would not have felt able to completely rewrite an important aspect of Quileute culture. It has been shown then that not only are trends of ‘othering’ still visible in U.S. culture, but they also continue to be perpetuated.

These cultural trends in contemporary America also extend beyond problematic portrayals of Native Americans in fiction. They are deeply rooted enough that they are visible in what is taught at schools. For example Alison Owings tells us of a Hopi woman she interviewed who claims “we don’t even get Native history in schools.”[83] She goes on to explain how this is strange because she, as a Hopi, is expected to learn about the Constitution, the workings of the Supreme Court and in general integrate into American society.[84] This, the forcing of learning about America and the ignoring of Native history, can be viewed as part of the wider trend of ‘othering’. Because Native culture is constructed as inferior it is seen as unimportant as something to learn about and because a Native American is ‘incomplete’ they are encouraged to integrate into wider society as much as they can. Because these trends are apparently implied in teaching at schools, the trend is also perpetuated into the future.

Having seen how ‘othering’ is still present in the cultural portrayals of Native Americans and also in the ways in which Americans learn, it is now important to consider whether this trend still affects federal policy towards Native Americans. If it can be shown that these trends are influencing policy in the contemporary period, then it looks more likely that the ‘deviated’ legacies of these trends might also be affecting foreign policy in the contemporary period. In 2012, 29.5 percent of the Native American population lived below the poverty line, compared to just 15.9 percent of the population as a whole.[85] In 1980, the figure was 23.7 percent compared to just a third of this for the population as a whole[86]. So, since 1980, the percentage of Native people living below the poverty line has actually increased. This suggests a large amount of negligence towards Native Americans from the federal government. It is certainly possible to postulate that this negligence may stem from the pervasive trend of ‘othering’ discussed above: Native Americans and their culture are inferior and different and therefore it would not be worth intervening. It would seem that cultural constructions of Native Americans still affect federal policy. This provides ‘security’ for the ‘deviated’ legacies of these trends in foreign policy, as this makes it unlikely that their legitimacy will be questioned.

In Section Three then, it has been shown that trends of ‘othering’ continue to operate in contemporary U.S. culture and society in general. It has also been suggested that these trends continue to affect, or at least be related to federal policy toward Native Americans. Finally, one of the ways in which interactions with Native Americans frame contemporary U.S. trends has also been alluded to: while Native Americans continue to be treated in the way that they are by U.S. culture, a discussion on where their ‘deviated’ legacies come from cannot be held, as the trends are still reproducing themselves.

 

SECTION FOUR

 

So far in this study we have established the trends in question, seen that they were ‘inherited’ by the U.S., seen that it is possible for these trends to ‘deviate’ into factors which affect foreign policy and seen that they remain supported even after this ‘deviation’ by the continued problematic treatment of Native Americans in the contemporary period. All of this would seem to suggest that it is likely that these trends – violence, ‘othering’ and ‘civilizing’- continue to be visible in trends of U.S. foreign policy in the present day. Section 4 will be dedicated to demonstrating that this is indeed the case. In order to do this, first the Vietnam War will be considered, both in the language that surrounded its justification and the violence which characterised it. Next we will move even closer to the present day to consider the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan and how the trend of ‘civilizing’ in order to justify violent subjugation can be seen here. It will also be considered whether, although these trends are clear in U.S. foreign policy, they actually stem from ways of interacting with Native Americans

Firstly then, if we are to show that the trends we have established continue to affect contemporary U.S. foreign policy, it needs to be shown that trends of ‘othering’ and violence are visible in U.S. foreign policy. The Vietnam War can be used as an example for both. Trends of ‘othering’ are very visible in the circumstances that led to the escalation of the Vietnam War. The Gulf of Tonkin incident, which involved a confrontation in international waters in South East Asia, led to the passing of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which gave President Lyndon Johnson the power to escalate the war[87]. When asked to explain this apparently unprovoked attack on an American ship, Secretary of State John Rusk claimed that South East Asian people simply saw reality in a different way to Americans and therefore explain their motives would be impossible.[88] It is clear here that part of the justification for the escalation of the Vietnam War relied on the ‘othering’ of South Eastern Asians. David Campbell tells us that this is not just something that is limited to Vietnam, but rather is a wider trend in U.S. foreign policy. In his words: “the ability to represent things as alien… dirty or sick has been pivotal to the articulation of danger in the American experience.”[89] What this shows us at the very least is that the trend of ‘othering’ is visible in contemporary U.S. foreign policy. This suggests that there are certain trends in contemporary U.S. foreign policy that are framed by interactions with Native Americans.

The significance of the Vietnam War does not end with the excuses that were given for its escalation. In the violence which those who were ‘othered’ faced, it can also be seen as reflecting trends in interactions with Native Americans. The indiscriminate violence of the Vietnam War can be seen in the massacre of My Lai. At My Lai American soldiers arrived and rounded up the population, ordered them into a ditch and proceeded to shoot them[90]. Gerald Vizenor tells us that the massacre at My Lai and the Massacre and Wounded Knee are “inseparable.”[91] Given, what we have seen, however, I would say that it is clear that both of these massacres are part of a wider trend that is also inseparable from the Spanish massacre of the Keres tribe and Columbus’s violent behaviour in Hispaniola. It would seem, then, that it is clear that violent trends in the behaviour of the U.S. not only exist but are also part of a wider trend that goes back to interactions with Native Americans. The massacre at My Lai was not the only incidence of indiscriminate violence of the Vietnam War. For example John Prados, tells us of a highly controversial U.S. plan to bomb a set of dykes in Vietnam that could have drowned as many as 200,000 people.[92] Although the U.S. denies that these bombings ever took place, neutral observers such as the Swedish ambassador at the time assert that they did.[93] What all this shows us, is that indiscriminate violence exists as a trend of U.S. foreign policy, both unofficially in the case of My Lai and, allegedly, officially in the case of the dyke bombings. It has also been pointed out by Vizenor that this trend can be seen as being framed by earlier violent interactions with Native Americans.

By bringing our analysis closer to the present day and considering the examples of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can not only see that the trends of ‘othering’ and violence are visible, but we can also see that the linking trend of intervening in a violent manner in order to ‘civilize’ is also visible here. For example, it was argued by the U.S. that in order to bring ‘freedom’ to the wider region, a stable democracy would need to be brought to Iraq.[94] What this shows is that Iraq is being constructed as somewhere lacking ‘freedom’ and democracy and that America is willing to enter a war in order to bring these things. What this implies is that not only are Iraqis seen as ‘incomplete’, but also there is a willingness to undertake a violent project in order to ‘complete’ them. Given what we have seen previously, the extent to which this is framed by interactions with Native Americans is clear. Achin Vanaik tells us that this is a trend across U.S. foreign policy and not just limited to Iraq. He claims that the U.S. is a hegemonic empire and the expansion of its interests are seen as necessary for the “expansion of freedom.”[95] It would seem then, there is a general trend of ‘civilizing’ in U.S. foreign policy and therefore, arguably, a general trend in U.S. foreign policy that is framed by interactions with Native Americans.

In the case of Afghanistan as well, the trend of ‘othering’ that is necessary, for this trend of ‘civilizing’ is visible. For example, Maryam Khalid tells us that repeatedly in official U.S. rhetoric around Afghanistan binaries such as “good vs. evil” were repeatedly referred to.[96] Khalid goes on to say that these binaries were used in order to construct it as necessary to intervene in order to “discipline the barbaric enemy.”[97] We can see then that ‘othering’ and ‘civilizing’ operate alongside one another, as they did when Native Americans were being dealt with. We do not need to look very far to see that that here as well ‘othering’ and ‘civilizing’’ combine to justify violent behaviour. For example, John Tiram tells us that the U.S. invasion of Iraq created “a devastating reality for Iraqis.”[98] By 2010, the War in Iraq alone had claimed hundreds of thousands, if not a million lives.[99] By considering these examples then, we can see not only trends of violence and ‘othering’ but also that the operation of the whole complex of interconnected trends of violence ‘othering’ and ‘civilizing’, something which was established as a way of dealing with Native Americans in Section One. It would seem then, given that we have seen already that it is possible for these trends to ‘deviate’ into the area of foreign policy, that there are certain trends in U.S. foreign policy that are framed by interactions with Native Americans.

However the possibility of there being other sources of these trends in U.S. foreign policy needs to be considered. According to Khalid, for example, the ‘othering’ that took place in U.S. rhetoric around Afghanistan largely relies on ‘Orientalism’, and the history of U.S. interactions with the East, something which can apparently be traced back 800 years[100], rather than interactions with Native Americans. According to John Tirman, Orientalist trends which can be traced to The Crusades are also visible behind American behaviour towards Iraq.[101] Edward Said, the originator of the term Orientalism, tells us that “Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological distinction between ‘the Orient’ and (most of the time) the ‘Occident.’”[102] If this is the case then we can also see Secretary of State Rusk’s response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident and his claims that South East Asians see reality differently, as part of a wider trend of Orientalism rather than a wider trend of interactions with Native Americans. However, it is important to remember that these two legacies are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, perhaps what gives these trends such durability in American ideology and practice is that they are in fact framed by two histories which reinforce one another: Western interactions with the East over the last 800 years followed and reinforced by interactions with Native Americans over the last 500 years.

It is also possible to demonstrate, however, that these trends of U.S. foreign policy can operate outside of Orientalism, as they are also visible in the Western hemisphere. For example, although Reagan did not send troops into Nicaragua in order to overthrow the Sandinista regime in the 1980s, the intervention still represented the ushering in of “new regimes that would be friendly to U.S. interests and “freedom.””[103] It would seem then, that the trend of ‘civilizing’ is at least to some extent visible in the Western hemisphere, suggesting that these trends in U.S. foreign policy can exist in areas where the heritage of Orientalism is not felt. This can not only be seen in U.S. interventions by proxy. For example the 1994 American intervention in Haiti was justified as an attempt to restore democracy.[104] What is more telling than this however is the attitude with which the U.S. intervention was carried out. For example, President Clinton had the impression that Haiti represented a “crisis in our own backyard and one that we should be able to solve quickly.”[105] This attitude that there was a possible quick solution and America was the country to implement this solution failed to appreciate, according to Ralph Pezzullo, 190 years of Haitian history and the countries unique culture which includes a “distrust and fear running through Haitian politics.”[106] The attitudes of Haitians themselves are equally as telling as the attitudes of policy makers such as Clinton. For example, Bob Shacochis tells us that Haitians see Americans as “always there is one way or another as wardens, patrons, carpet baggers, saints, and thieves.”[107] What all of this shows is that America held the role of ‘civilizer’ in Haiti, or as a “saint” to ‘complete’ the Haitians by bringing them democracy. We can also see from Clinton’s attitude that to some extent the Haitian culture and situation was ‘othered’ in that it was constructed as simply part of Clinton’s “backyard” and as something that could be simply ‘fixed’. Finally the Haitian idea of Americans as “thieves” also implies that there are at least perceived subjugating undertones to U.S. involvement in Haiti. So, from the cases of Haiti and Nicaragua, we can at see that the trends that make up the complex of ‘othering’, ‘civilizing’ and violent or subjugating behaviour are at least to some extent visible in the Western hemisphere. Given what we have seen about how the ways of dealing with Native Americans can ‘deviate’ into foreign policy trends and the fact that the presence of these trends in the western hemisphere cannot be explained by Orientalism, it would seem reasonable to suggest that these trends in U.S. foreign policy are framed by interactions with Native Americans.

To conclude Section Four then, we have seen that it is possible to trace the trends established in previous sections into contemporary U.S foreign policy. However, we have also seen that it is possible to argue that these trends in contemporary U.S. foreign policy have their roots in places other than interactions with Native Americans. In spite of this it is clear from the existence of these trends in the Western Hemisphere that Orientalism cannot serve as an adequate root for these trends alone. Perhaps a fair assessment is that the two work together to reinforce strongly in the American mind a certain way of dealing with ‘others’. So although we cannot say that any trends in U.S. foreign policy are framed exclusively by interactions with Native Americans, we can at least say this is true to some extent.

Conclusions

This section will summarise what we have seen throughout this study and explicitly answer the question ‘to what extent are certain trends in contemporary U.S. foreign policy framed by interactions with Native Americans?’ as well as dealing with some remaining problems. In order to do this, what has been learned from each of the sections will be considered in turn and finally drawn together.

To begin with then Section One established certain trends that characterised European colonial interactions with Native Americans. We learned that there was often violence and subjugation in interactions with Native People in this period. We also saw that Native People were often constructed as inferior or different, a process referred to in this study as ‘othering’. Finally in Section One we saw that there were often attempts by Europeans to ‘civilize’ Native People. This linked the above trends together and it became clear that together these trends formed a wider complex. All of these trends could be traced through the colonial period, something which suggested their ‘inheritability.’ So, by the end of Section One, we had established what the ‘certain trends’ we aimed to trace into U.S. foreign policy were, and we had also seen that these were ‘inheritable’ something which set the stage for their tracing into contemporary U.S. foreign relations.

In Section Two we saw that these trends were ‘inherited’ by the U.S. in its practice towards Native Americans, taking us a step closer to demonstrating that they were still visible in the framing of contemporary U.S. foreign relations. In section 2 we also took an important step in demonstrating that these characteristics of interactions with Native Americans can ‘deviate’ into trends that affect foreign policy. This would seem to be our first clear indication that certain trends in U.S. foreign policy can be framed by interactions with Native Americans. Also in Section Two we saw that despite this ‘deviation’ these practices towards Native Americans continued, providing cultural support for and stopping any questioning of the legitimacy of the trends as they continued in U.S. foreign policy. Thus we can see one way in which interactions with Native Americans can frame certain trends in U.S. foreign policy. By providing cultural support for what becomes a wider complex of ‘othering’, ‘civilizing’ and violence in U.S. foreign policy.

In Section Three we saw how this continued to be the case in the present day. While Native Americans continued to be ‘othered’ by U.S. culture at home, there is no way that the trends the interactions gave birth to in foreign policy could be questioned as their foundations remained strong. So, we saw clearly if it was possible to say that these trends continued into contemporary U.S. foreign relations, then it would also be possible to argue that they are framed by interactions with Native Americans in the sense of the cultural legitimacy they continue to provide.

Finally, in Section Four we saw that these trends did in fact carry over into contemporary U.S. foreign relations, suggesting very clearly that the characteristic of interactions with Native Americans were reflected as trends of U.S. foreign policy. Thus, it would seem that the answer to the question this study asks is, at least, to some extent. However, we also saw in Section Four that Orientalist traditions could also be seen as a source for some of these trends. It is perhaps worth mentioning here in relation to the problem Orientalism poses for this study, that James Axtell tells us that when Europeans arrived in America they already had a strong idea of the ‘Other’ based on experiences in Asia amongst other places.[108] This implies that the treatment of Native Americans was always part of a wider habit among white people to ‘other’ non-white people. However, we can see how it was interactions with Native Americans (through all the issues of ‘inheritance’ and embedding in ideology) specifically that made these trends of ‘othering’ and ‘civilizing’ and violence towards the ‘othered’ and ‘uncivilized’ part of American practice. So even if ‘othering’ in the Americas was in first place drawn from pre-established Orientalists. We can still argue that these trends would not be as clear in contemporary U.S. foreign relations, especially in the western hemisphere, were it not for the role that interactions with Native Americans played in making sure the U.S. inherited these trends, adopted these trends to the extent that they did and finally used them in their foreign policy.

To summarise then, there are two ways in which it is possible to argue that interactions with Native Americans frame certain trends in U.S. foreign relations. Firstly trends such as ‘othering’ ‘civilizing’ and ‘violence’ would at least not be as strong or durable in U.S. foreign policy were it not possible to trace them back, through ‘deviations’ to trends in ways of dealing with Native Americans. Secondly, the fact that certain aspects of these ways of dealing with Native Americans are still visible in U.S. culture today provides support and legitimacy for the cultural and theoretical framework that holds up the trends in their ‘deviated’ form in U.S. foreign policy. So, past interactions with Native Americans frame trends in U.S. foreign policy by at least to some extent starting their development, while present interactions with Native Americans frame the same trends by the continued support they offer for the general way of ‘othering’ that exists in American policy practice. Although we cannot say that all of U.S. foreign policy is rooted in interactions with Native Americans, we can say conclusively that in multiple ways, there are certain visible trends at are framed, at the very least in part by interactions by Native Americans.

[1] Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States, From 1492 to the Present (Longman: London and New York, 1996) pg. 467

[2] Foucault, Michel ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy and History’ in Language, Counter-memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews by Michel Foucault. Edited by Donald F. Bouchard (Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1996) pg. 146

[3]Ibid. pg. 142

[4] Ibid. pg. 142

[5] Ibid. pg. 146

[6] Ibid. pg. 146

[7] Ibid. pg. 146

[8] Campbell, David. Writing Security: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity. (Manchester University Press, 1998) pg. 5

[9] Ibid. pg. 5

[10] Ibid. pg. 4

[11] Peoples, Columba ‘Theodor Adorno’ in Critical Theorists and International Relations. Edited by Jenny Edkins and Nick Vaughan-Williams. (Routledge: London and New York, 2009) pg. 9

[12] Miles, George ‘To Hear an Old Voice: Rediscovering Native Americans in American History’ in Under An Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past (Norton: New York and London, 1993) pg. 55

[13] Ibid. pg. 55

[14] Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States: from 1492 to the Present. (Longman: London and New York, 1996) pg. 4

[15] Ibid. pg. 4

[16] Ibid. pg. 4

[17]Axtell, James Natives and Newcomers: The Cultural Origins of North America. (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). pg. 81

[18] Forbes, Jack D. Apache, Navaho and Spaniard. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1960) pp. 87-88

[19] Ibid. pg. 88

[20] Ibid. pg 89

[21] Ibid. pg. 90

[22] Ibid. pp. 89-90

[23] Axtell. Op. Cit. pg. 241

[24] Ibid. pp. 248-249

[25] Ibid. pg. 249

[26] Ibid. pg. 254

[27] Ibid. pg. 256

[28] Ibid. pg. 256

[29] Ibid. pg. 256

[30] McConnell, Michael N. ‘Pisquetomen and Tamaqua: Mediating Peace in the Ohio Country’ in North-Eastern Indian Livees, 1632-1816 edited by Robert S Grumet (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996) pg. 291

[31] Ibid. pg. 291

[32] Pearce, Roy Harvey. Savagism and Civilization. (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1988) pg. 6

[33] Zinn. Op. Cit. pg. 4

[34] Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) pg. 1

[35] Ibid. pg. 89

[36] Ibid. pg. 89

[37] Ibid. pg. 92

[38] Nugent, Walter Habits of Empire: A History of American Expansionism. (New York: Vintage, 2009) pp. 9-10

[39] Ibid. pg. 3

[40] Pearce. Op. Cit. pg. 6

[41] White, Richard. “It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own”: A New History of the American West. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991) pg. 35

[42] Ibid. pg. 33

[43] Ibid. pg. 33

[44] Du Val, Kathleen. The Native Ground: Indians and Colonist in the Heart of the Continent. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006) pg. 111

[45] Cook, Noble David. Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest. 1492-1650 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998) pg.193

[46] Du Val. Op. Cit. pg. 107

[47] Axtell. Op. Cit. pg. 89

[48] Cook. Op. Cit. pg. 69

[49] Ibid. pp. 31-32

[50] Ibid. pp. 60-61

[51] White. Op. Cit. pg. 85

[52] ‘Ordinance for the regulation and management of Indian Affairs’ (1786) in The American Indian and the United States: A Documentary History – Volume III. Edited by Wilcomb E Washburn. (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1979) pg. 2141

[53] Tecumseh ‘Shawnee Chief Tecumseh Condemns U.S. Land Grabs and Plays the British Card’ in Major Problems in American Foreign Relations, Volume I: To 1920. Edited by Dennis Merrill and Thomas G. Patterson (Boston: Wadsworth, 2010) pg. 123

[54] ‘The Declaration of Indepence’ (1776) in Major Problems in American Foreign Relations, Volume I: To 1920. Edited by Dennis Merrill and Thomas G. Patterson (Boston: Wadsworth, 2010) pg. 37

[55] Du Val. Op. Cit. pg. 228

[56] Ibid. pg. 229

[57] Ibid. pg. 233

[58] Frantz, Klaus. Indian Reservations in the United States: Territory, Sovereignty and Socioeconomic Change. (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1999) pg. 14

[59] White. Op. Cit. pg. 89

[60] Jackson, Andrew ‘President Andrew Jackson Defends Removal, 1830’ in Major Problems in American Foreign Relations, Volume I: To 1920. Edited by Dennis Merrill and Thomas G. Patterson (Boston: Wadsworth, 2010) pg. 181

[61] Klaus. Op. Cit. pg. 14

[62] Zinn. Op. Cit. pg. 149

[63] White. Op. Cit. pg. 73

[64] Ibid. pg. 73

[65] Limerick, Patricia Nelson The Legacy of Conquest: the Unbroken Past of the American West. (Norton: New York and London, 1988) pg. 36

[66] Zinn. Op. Cit. pg. 152

[67] Ibid. pg. 152

[68] Allen, Charles W. From Fort Laramie to Wounded Knee: In the West That Was. (Lincoln, Nebraska and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1997) pg. 74

[69] Jenson, Richard E, introduction to From Fort Laramie to Wounded Knee: In the West That Was by Charles W Allen. (Lincoln, Nebraska and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1997) pp. XV-XVI

[70] Ibid. pg. IX

[71] Colombe, Joseph L. Mark Twain and the American West (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2003) pg. 93

[72] Ostler, Jeffrey. The Plains Sioux and U.S. Colonialism: From Lewis and Clark to Wounded Knee. (Cambride: Cambridge University Press, 2004) pg. 340

[73] Ibid. pg. 345

[74] Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. (London: Penguin, 2000) pg. 39

[75] Wyatt, David ‘Introduction’ in New Essays of The Grapes of Wrath. Edited by David Wyatt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990) pg. 3

[76] Ibid. pg. 1

[77] Hemingway Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. (London: Penguin Books, 1961) pg. 200

[78] Weigley, Russell. The American Way of War: A History of the United States Military Strategy and Policy. (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1973) pg. 156

[79] Fonseca, Felicia ‘Disney’s Tonto Offensive to Some In Upcoming ‘Lone Ranger’ film’ The Huffington Post, 12th April 2013. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/12/disney-tonto-offensive-lone-ranger-film_n_3263071.html (Accessed on 26th April 2013)

[80] Staff Writer ‘The Real Problem With The Lone Ranger Movie? It’s the Racism, Stupid’ Indian Country Today Media Network (online), 8th July 2013. Available at: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/07/08/real-problem-lone-ranger-movie-its-racism-stupid-150323 (Accessed on 26th April 2013)

[81] Truth Vs. Twilight. Misrepresentations Gone Wild. Available at: https://www.burkemuseum.org/static/truth_vs_twilight/ (Accessed on 2nd May 2014)

[82] Truth Vs. Twilight. Cultural Theft in Twilight. Available at: https://www.burkemuseum.org/static/truth_vs_twilight/facts-03.php (Accessed on 2nd May 2014)

[83] Owings, Alison Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans. (Piscataway: Rutgers University Press, 2011) pg. 184

[84] Ibid. pg. 184

[85] United States Census Bureau, Facts for Features: American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. Available at: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb13-ff26.html (Accessed on 28th April 2014)

[86] Klaus. Op. Cit. pg. 107

[87] Zinn. Op. Cit. pg. 467

[88] Ibid. pg. 467

[89] Campbell Op. Cit. pg. 3

[90] Zinn. Op. Cit. pg. 469

[91] Vizenor, Gerald. Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance

[92] Prados, John. Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945-1975. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009) pg. 484

[93] Ibid. pg. 484

[94] Dobbins, James; McGinn, John G.; Crane, Keith; Jones, Seth G; Lal, Rollie; Rathmall, Andrew; Swenger, Rachael and Timilsina, Anga America’s Role in Nation Building: From Germany to Iraq. (Santa Maria, Arlington and Pittsburgh: RAND, 2003) pg. 167

[95] Vanaik, Achin ‘Introduction’ in Selling U.S. Wars edited by Achin Vanaik (Gloustershire: Arris Books, 2007) pg. 1

[96] Khalid, Maryam ‘Gender, Orientalism and Representations of the ‘Other’ in the War on Terror’ Global Change, Peace and Security. 23 (2011) pg. 20

[97] Ibid. pg. 20

[98] Tirman, John. Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America’s Wars. (Cary, NC, U.S.A: Oxford University Press, 2011) pg. 192

[99] Ibid. pg. 229

[100] Khalid. Op. Cit. pg. 17

[101] Tirman. Op. Cit. pp.214-215

[102] Said, Edward W. Orientalism. (London: Penguin, 2003) pg. 2

[103] Tirman. Op. Cit. pg. 183

[104] Dobbins et al. Op. Cit. pg. 72

[105] Pezzullo, Ralph. Plunging into Haiti: Clinton, Astride and the Defeat of Diplomacy. (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2006) pg. 274

[106] Ibid. pg. 274

[107] Shacochis, Bob. The Immaculate Invasion. (London: Bloomsbury, 1999) pg. 12

[108] Axtell. Op. Cit. pg. 18

Written by: Seth Hopkins
Written at: Aberystwyth University
Written for: Jeff Bridoux
Date written: May 2014

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