Sunday, March 27, 2011

On the Reservation

     Native American reservations in the United States and in Canada are the epitome of imperialism. In short, "more sophisticated" civilizations stepped on land and deemed it their God-given burden to have dominion over the indigenous peoples. Succeeding this indignant annexation, the imperialists, or "patriots and nationalists" as they called themselves, encircled the native population, told them to pick-up all of their belongs and put them in secluded areas where they could "continue their lives" without Western interference. These reservations have existed as a constant reminder of who was ultimately stronger and who "acted on behalf of the people." Colonists and pioneers proceeded to destroy the landscape and to purge the land of plants and animals.
     Life on the reservations wasn't technically identical to the Native Americans' initial conditions. They were allotted a specific area of land in the wild and they had to make their bearings off where they lived. As is the case in Larry Watson's Montana 1948, Native American life was close to unbearable; their people weren't normally viewed as socially acceptable within the white Americans and if they tried to acclimate to the typical dwelling of a common American, they would be seen as "trying to be white." The physical land which the reservation was situated on was particularly unfavorable. No food could grow from the rough earth, summers were oppressively hot and winters were unremitting in its abuse. The new Americans may have rationalized that by taking Native American land and simply moving it somewhere else was justified. However, they failed to realize by acting as such, they stole what was most prized by their own kind: liberty and freedom.