The nineteenth century stands apart in the minds of indigenous peoples as a period of extreme hardship. Tribes in the first half of this era, were initially victimized by the enactment of devastating "segregation" measures (i.e. the Indian Removal policy and later the Reservation policy). Later in the century, when it was clear that segregation was an insufficient response to intercultural relations, the federal government shifted its powerful attention to a series of overtly ethnocidal "civilization," or better termed, "Americanization" measures. Broadly stated, such measures entailed the cultural assimilation, the spiritual assimilation, and the physical assimilation of indigenous lands and resources. The principal change agents for the United States government were the military, Christian missionaries, and federal bureaucrats. These change agents were both supported, but also frequently challenged in their efforts to transform Indian tribes by land speculators, state officials and frontiersmen.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 1996 Institute for Teaching and Research on Women, Towson State University. This article first appeared in Race, Gender & Class (Winter 1996), 97-111.

Please note that downloads of the article are for private/personal use only.