In Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, what was the nature of interaction between Nathan Meeker and the Utes?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As the 19th century wound down, the US government's policy towards Native Americans became one of assimilation.  Nathan Meeker's interactions with the Utes were based on his desire to assimilate them into more American ways of life.

Meeker believed that the Utes were savages.  He wanted to reform them and make them into farmers who would become Christian and would essentially become like "regular" Americans.  Meeker was also not above simply lying to get his way and to push the Utes in the direction he wanted.  For example, there was an incident in which an Indian shoved him into a hitching rail.  Some days later, Meeker reported this as an assault that had badly injured him and used it as a way of getting troops to come to arrest the Ute leaders.  This ends up with the Utes being pushed off their land and moved to a reservation.

Meeker's interactions with the Utes, then, were ones where he felt he knew what was best for them and would use any tactics he felt necessary to impose his will on them.