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Studying the History Behind The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Sherman Alexie English 10, Ms. Stanton.

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Presentation on theme: "Studying the History Behind The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Sherman Alexie English 10, Ms. Stanton."— Presentation transcript:

1 Studying the History Behind The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Sherman Alexie English 10, Ms. Stanton

2 Diversity between tribal groups is great in language, culture, histories and governments. Individual diversity within any group is great. In The Absolutely True Diary, Junior is from the Spokane Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington Like most other cultures:

3 The Absolutely True Diary is primarily set on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington 2,441 Spokane Tribal members (January 2006). Wellpinit, WA: official home of the Spokane Tribe. The 157,376 acre reservation was created in 1881. Previously, the Spokane Tribe lived on over three million acres.

4 The beliefs of all Plateau Indians held many commonalities with religions of other North American Indians. The Spokane believed in a Great Spirit. There also were such atmospheric spirits as the wind and thunder, and numerous supportive animal spirits that people sought for personal guardians.

5 Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries entered the region to convert the Native Americans and with the intention of “improving” their lives (mostly interested in religious conversion). Missionaries deliberately sought to extinguish the natives' religion and customs 1778 - Continental Congress: Reaffirms 1763 British policy (tribes accorded independent nation status; lands west of the Appalachian mountains are Native American; royal government must approve all land purchases). 1787 - Northwest Territory Ordinance: Opens the Midwest for settlement; declares U.S. government responsible for Native American property rights and liberty.

6 In 1810, the Spokane began major trading operations with white men. The Northwest Company's Spokane House (trading post) was established on their lands. However, smallpox, syphilis, influenza and other diseases, unwittingly introduced by the white man, proved to be disastrous to native peoples, including the Spokane. Entire villages were wiped out.

7 Native American children were taken away from their tribes and families to boarding schools in the East. Forced to abandon language, cultural practices, religion, and customs to become “Americanized” Common justification: “Kill the Indian to save the child”

8 Indian Removal Act (1830) This from southeastern states and their relocation to the teract called for the expulsion of all Native Americans ritory west of the Mississippi From 1860 onward, the Spokane shared the fate of numerous other tribes in the Northwest and elsewhere. Land-hungry homesteaders poured into the Plateau region and forced off the original inhabitants.

9 1887 - Dawes Act: Reservations divided in tracts, allotted to individual tribal members; surplus land sold. 1898 - Curtis Act: Terminates tribal governments that refuse allotment to individual tribal members; surplus land sold. 1906 - Burke Act: Eliminates Native Americans’ right to lease their land, with the intent to force Native Americans to work the land themselves.

10 Indians from different tribes were concentrated onto reservations, which compromised their tribal identities. That happened to the “lucky” ones; many tribes were completely annihilated in militaristic assaults, from disease, or from the loss of land-based sustenance.

11 Historical Summary: FYI Only

12 In 1500 Native American population stood at 10,000,000 and by 1900 declined to less than 250,000. Current population counts stand around 2.8 million. Approximately 25% of the Native American population live on reservations with approximately 75% living in Urban areas There are slightly over 557 recognized reservations in the United States

13 l By 2002 the Native American and Alaska native population was 2.8 million. – The Native American birth rate is almost twice the national average. – Half the population of Native Americans live on reservations that provide inadequate economic support. l Chronic unemployment is a serious problem. l Some tribes have succeeded through their own efforts.

14 Economic development - high rate of unemployment and poverty Tourism and the double edged sword source of income but also a source of degradation Cottage industries Income from mineral rights Casino gambling

15 l The average life span in some tribes is 45 years. – Nationally, the average life span is about 10 years less than the average. l Deaths by suicide among Native American males aged 15 to 24 is 50% greater than among the general population’s youth. l The most serious problem facing Native Americans today is alcohol abuse. l Poor, but with large tracts of isolated land, Native Americans in recent years have seen their reservations recommended as toxic-waste dumping grounds.

16 High rate of: 1. Alcoholism and mortality 2. Under nutrition 3. Tuberculosis and death 4. High rate of teenage suicide Lack of access to health care

17 Under-enrollment The under-financing Language barriers Educational Attainment - drop out or pushout rate is 50% higher than for African American or Latino students

18 Today, many people in the U.S. are oblivious to Native Americans’ problems and consider them quaint relics of the past; others find them undesirable and some want their land and will use almost any means to secure it. Of all the minorities in the United States, according to government statistics on income, Native Americans are the “poorest of the poor.”

19 Native American Land and Communities Today (2000).


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