“Manifest Destiny”: The phrase is evocative of so many things that Euro-Americans call progress: populating the west with hard-working settlers, expanding profitable agriculture and industry, sharing the attributes of democracy and Christianity, and removing the Indians. For the American Indian people, however, such “progress” brought cultural, political, economic, and spiritual genocide.
Yet despite the movement of Euro-Americans who believed that they had the God given right to spread their “yearly multiplying millions” across continental North America, many Indian people resisted such encroachment. They united in peaceful and wartime opposition to the flood of westward expansion; they entered into trade agreements that encouraged strong economic ties with white Americans; they met with federal agents to plead for their survival; and they spoke in front of the Supreme Court in unsuccessful attempts to prove the unconstitutionality of state and federal actions. None of these efforts stopped the tide of Indian Removal, and no actions of the settlers could fully silence or stem the power and eloquence of Indian resistance.
Reprinted from Teaching with Voices of a People’s History of the United States, published by Seven Stories Press.