Student Question

What is the main message about the effects of imperialism on Indigenous people in each source and who is the author of each perspective?

Quick answer:

The main message in source 1 is that imperialism has had a devastating effect on Native Americans. The speaker portrays the perspective of Indigenous peoples. The main message in source 2 is that Native American culture needs to be erased through complete assimilation into the dominant culture. This speaker portrays the perspective of racist white government officials in the early twentieth century.

Expert Answers

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The speaker in the first quote, who is Native American, communicates that imperialism has had a destructive effect on Native communities. He states that imperialism has been characterized by betrayal: the government that was supposed to protect indigenous peoples instead perpetrated atrocities. These atrocities were a mix of intentional and accidental harm, as well as neglect, but the results have nonetheless been severe and detrimental. This speaker reflects the perspective of Native peoples who value their culture and expect their government to protect it.

The speaker of the second quote, a Canadian government official and author, was of European descent. In this quote, he regards Native peoples and their culture as a problem that needs to eradicated through assimilation into the dominant culture. He applauds the idea of the complete erasure of Native identity and finds Native cultures both threatening and worthless. His perspective is that of a racist white Canadian of the early twentieth century who is utterly assured of the superiority of white culture.

The juxtaposition of the two quotes shows the stunning difference in outlook between Native North Americans and certain early twentieth century whites over the value of cultural differences and distinctions in regard to Indigenous societies.

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