A statesman once wrote: “Every man in the street, white, black, red or yellow knows that this is 'the land of the free' ... 'the cradle of liberty'." How would Native Americans, like Chief Joseph and Geronimo respond to this particular statement?
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These sorts of Native American leaders would have had a very hard time taking this claim by Ralph Bunche at all seriously. Of course, Bunche was making the claim years after they had died.
For Native American leaders, the idea that the United States was a land of opportunity would have been laughable if had not been so horribly untrue. For Native Americans, the United States was a land that they had been pushed out from and which had been taken from them violently. After being hounded across Idaho and Montana, Chief Joseph would not have felt very much as if he was living in a land of opportunity. Instead he would have felt that the white Americans were taking the opportunity to take away his land. He would not have felt as if his people had any opportunities as all, pinned as they were on the reservations and deprived of their ability to pursue their native ways of life.
Thus, regardless of what Ralph Bunche may have felt in the middle 20th century, Indian leaders from the middle 19th century would surely not have seen the US as a land of opportunity for the “red” men.
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