Some of the policies reflect the desire to make the Indian more like the Whites who came to this country, while others reflect cultural relativity.
In your opinion, which set of policies has been more effective? Why?
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If people are choosing to gamble then I wouldn't say they are being exploited, and certainly not in the manner of the exploitation that American Indians and African Americans have had to endure.
As for effective policies regarding Indians, I will say rather than one policy, the most effective thing the government has done for them is to in a sense "let them be free."
I think #4 makes a very pertinent observation about the wide variety of differences between the various idigenous groups. We are not able to make generalisations about different tribal groups, and certainly we need to be aware that various policies might impact some groups more favourably than others. Therefore we need to develop a more nuanced view of such issues.
It's difficult to draw conclusions on a subject like this, because there is such great economic and situational disparities between, say, the Pine Ridge Reservation Sioux, or the Oklahoma Cherokee or the Arizona Navajo. No one policy has a universal effect. There have been generally positive economic policies for native tribes in recent years, but the actual effect of them has been spotty, in my opinion.
Many fluctuations of the vagaries of history have changed U.S. policy since the "good faith" expression of policy of the 1700s:
The Northwest Ordinance of July 13, 1787 :
"(t)he utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their land and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in their property, rights, and liberty, ...."
Cultural relativism is defined by Dr. Jay Brown, TWU, as:
Relativism: A perspective that maintains that cultural diversity in ways of thinking reflects genuinely different psychological processes and that culture and thought are mutually constituted.
Cultural practices lead to different ways of thinking.
What we think influences what we do, but also, what we do influences what we think. [It a]ssumes that differing cultural practices reflect solutions to differing problems in differing contexts.
In light of this definition, as history's time goes by, more and more U.S. policy decisions reflect cultural relativism. An example is lawsuits of recent decades that found in favor of protecting Native American cultural images and icons.
Additionally, though it does not seem to be a relevant point in regards to U.S. Native American policy, there is a more complex aspect to cultural relativism. It is expressed in a United Nations statement written by Diana Ayton-Shenker:
How can universal human rights exist in a culturally diverse world? As the international community becomes increasingly integrated, how can cultural diversity and integrity be respected? ... Cultural relativism is the assertion that human values, far from being universal, vary a great deal according to different cultural perspectives. Some would apply this relativism to the promotion, protection, interpretation and application of human rights .... Taken to its extreme, this relativism would pose a dangerous threat to the effectiveness of international law and the international system of human rights
The Challenge of Human Rights and Cultural Diversity
by Diana Ayton-Shenker
I suppose I'd say that the more relativistic policies have been more effective. At least, it is clear that Native Americans are for the most part better off today than at times like the time of the termination policy in the 1950s. You could argue that the main reason for this is the presence of Indian casinos, which give the tribes more money than ever before. The casinos come out of the policy of giving Native Americans more autonomy and that is a more culturally relativistic set of policies than others in our history.
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