The Roots of Dependency
The Navajos, Pawnees, and Choctaws all had to endure European, political, economical, and environmental threats to their own culture. When the life and subsistence system (hunting and gathering) of an Indian Nation is affected; in one way or another it has an affect on an Indian population as a hole. The trials and tribulations that these three tribal nations have experienced is proof of that. Gradually the Indian community would go through a period of destruction and enormous amounts of prejudice that consequently would be the North American Indian s downfall.
The reliability of the Navajos to the government to maintain their everyday Navajo culture was prevalent due to the despicable attitudes and influence of Europeans. By 1945 the government had transformed the Navajo economy ..They were no longer self-supporting people (White, 310). Navajo dependency would point the finger at the reduction of resources as the cause of the problem. Resources such as the issuing of grazing permits, stockowners being forced below subsistence, and one-half of the Navajos corn crop were just a few of the reductions the government demanded. Fortunately Navajos rejected commercial economical values during the early 1900s, which prolonged their independence. Once the government gave the Navajos the power to revise the existing regulations to meet their objections, it (government) retained the right to veto any objectionable provisions the Navajos might insert in the regulations (White, 309-310). Once this occurred non-Indians could hold on to adequate resources. The Navajo population was doubling and the resources were dwindling just as fast.
The loss of subsistence land would be the biggest change of the North American Indians. Take for example the Choctaws. European diseases, the slave trade, and racially motivated influences forced the Choctaws westward, leaving behind them a reformed land of impoverishment. They regulated land and what was on the land. They fought European disease and avoided a social collapse of the Choctaw, until the market became an issue. Anything from knives and guns to agriculture was considered the market. Trade and market meant for the Choctaws to be dependent on anyone but themselves. Land sales were forced. The Choctaws land and labor gradually took the back seat. The Choctaws were never defeated; instead, through the market the Choctaws were made dependent and dispossessed (White, 146).
The Pawnee independency was much more subsistent than the Choctaws and Navajos. The increasing poverty of the Pawnees as their subsistence base failed and made them dependant on American annuities (White, 209). The Pawnees original dependence on goods that are redistributed within the society now was dependent on American goods outside their community. How did the Pawnee get to this point? Disease, subsistence failure, and cultural breakdown were the major factors. The death rates of the Pawnee were so preposterous in such a short amount of time that disease couldn t be the only factor. The biggest factor other than disease was simply the will to live (White, 205). The Pawnees like the Choctaws fought the slave trade and refused American ways. Ways such as the depending on crops raised by the Pawnee. The Pawnee disagreed. Since agriculture the Pawnee tended to become more and more unreliable than what would be a healthy lifestyle. Their eating habits became malnourished; therefore when disease did come there was no chance for the Pawnee Indian to fight it, much less survive. Deprived of hunting lands, sporadically horseless, often hungry, the Pawnee were literally fighting for the lives (White, 207). Pawnee population never recovers from the disastrous mix of American ways and politics.
All three tribal nations, the Choctaw, Pawnee, and Navajo share the unique religious aspect of having symbolic cultures. All these Indians shaped their environments. Once the white man came and made contact with each and every tribal nation, nothing would stop the depletion of game, the growth of the market, and chaos in the government towards Indian Nations. Towards the end Richard White discusses a very good point about decision-making. The Choctaw, Pawnee and Navajo all made decisions in altering traditional economic and cultural ways clearly caused by those actions of whites. Indians needed a way to reform from these costly decisions influenced by whites. One way for reform was modernization. Being able to accept modern day ways and assimilate into a larger society without disregarding their own culture.