Native American Rights

Since European settlers began arriving in North America, Native American Rights have been in jeopardy. The stories commonly told about Thanksgiving and Columbus Day in the United States are more fiction than fact. Columbus actually enslaved or caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people after he arrived in Central America. European settlers starting coming to present-day United States in the seventeenth century; by that time, Native Americans had been there for thousands of years. Relations between the two groups were mostly peaceful in the beginning, but it wasn't long before Indians were in battles with the whites to defend their traditions and lives.

Another trial that Native Americans faced was the diseases that were brought to them by Europeans. Because their immune systems hadn't encountered these diseases before, Indians were unable to fight them off. This caused illnesses spread quickly among the tribes. Many people, perhaps millions, died as a result of infections like smallpox and syphilis.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 displaced Native Americans from their homelands. They were forced to relocate to areas that were designated as reservations and Indian Territory. The United States Government wanted the tribes' land and its natural resources. Many people simply wanted the Indians, who they saw as being uncivilized, out of their way. Moving across the country on the Trail of Tears, Native Americans were forced to leave many aspects of their former way of life behind. They had depended heavily on their natural environment for survival. The environment, climate, and resources on the reservations were very different from what they were used to.

The Native American Rights Fund, NARF, is a nonprofit organization that was developed in 1970 to protect Indian legal rights. NARF had identified five essential areas that they focus on. These goals include making governments accountable to Native Americans, promoting human rights for Native Americans, protecting the natural resources of tribes, preserving the existence of tribes, and developing laws that benefit Indians and educating the public. They work to defend the laws that are already in place as well as creating new ones.

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