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Blog Post 5 (9/22)

In chapter 7 “As Long as Grass Grows or Water Runs” of Zinn’s book the author focuses on describing how indigenous people of colonial America were mistreated through the westward expansion. I was always aware of how badly indigenous people struggled as America was always described to me as “the stolen native land”. Western immigrants and Andrew Jackson did horrifying murders and were disturbing to me. However, what I am really shocked about was not the struggle of the indigenous people but to see how lots of Americans are not aware of this part of the history as a lot of Americans believe that westward expansion was one of the best things that happened and they still view Jackson as a great president. 

Jackson supported the cultural belief of the manifest destiny which implanted the idea that American settlers are more superior and were destined to expand the lands and move North towards Canada and Florida. Jackson was described to be a “land speculator, slave trader, and the most aggressive enemy of the Indians”. He killed many people and justified it by the idea that Americans were biologically more fit to live in these lands than the indigenous people; he wanted to completely remove the natives from this land. Such actions had an effect that lasted until nowadays in terms of associating indigenous people with negative stereotypes and not recognizing native tribes or giving them their rights. 

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  1. Christopher Wilson Christopher Wilson

    I believe what shocked me the most was the role President Andrew Jackson played in systematically oppressing indigenous people. In learning about him in history, I do not recall his aggressiveness in coercing indigenous people and nations to move westward so that white Americans could settle and contribute to the growing capitalistic economy. For instance, when reading about the long journeys many indigenous people had to make to the Mississippi, I instantly thought of how African slaves had to also make extremely long journeys to the coast just so that they could be sold and shipped across the Atlantic. In both cases, these “death marches” resulted in thousands of indigenous people and African slaves dying because of lack of food, shelter, clothing or some other factor, such as extremely hot or cold temperatures.

  2. Annie Waters Annie Waters

    I share the same sentiment toward the idea of manifest destiny. I find it really awful that something as exploitive and malicious as banishing Indigenous people from their native lands was romanticized into an idea of American destiny and cultural progression. This showed up in a lot of different symbolism in media and art, such as heavenly and angelic figures portrayed flying westward in certain paintings. It’s interesting and daunting to think about how ideas of expansion were promoted.

  3. Sophia Peltzer Sophia Peltzer

    I find your comments on the legacy of Andrew Jackson and manifest destiny really interesting. When I was learning about American history, particularly in elementary and middle school, I always remember hearing about Jackson as a great military veteran and president for our country. Growing up attending Catholic school, the idea of manifest destiny was never objectively painted as an outright negative thing. I agree that it is both amazing and heartbreaking that so many Americans are so unaware of this history today, and the ignorance definitely contributes to systemic oppression in our systems today.

  4. Zariah Chiverton Zariah Chiverton

    You talk about what the Americas were destined for but what about the indigenous people? Do you think that they were destined to be wiped out or was that something that got in the way of their true destiny?

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