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The attitudes of outsiders to Indians.

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The attitudes of outsiders to Indians A lot of the attitudes of outsiders to Indians were seen to be savage, cannibal, and primitive. Also the outsiders arrogance has prevented them from learning and understanding the Indians, for example the outsiders didn't fully understand how Indians see land nor did they understand many aspects of Indian life and customs which many thought was primitive. What's an important source to understand how outsiders' attitudes to Indians are like are the attitudes by writers with experience with Indians. What makes them an important source is because their work had great influence on how the Americans saw the Plain Indians. A lot of people never had a first hand account with an Indian, so their impression of the Indians is greatly affected by the pictures and descriptions of non-Indian accounts. There are three men who are particularly influential and their work widely read and seen. These men are George Catlin, Colonel Richard I Dodge, and Francis Parkman. Each of these men had experiences with Indians which they wrote about, some good and some bad. Firstly, Francis Parkman came from a rich Boston Family. He was educated in an expensive private school and went to study in Harvard University. He is always interested in the Indians. His purpose to set off to explore the frontier was to find out about the Indians to write his book, The Oregon Trail. This book is important because it had great influence on the way outsiders view the Indians. ...read more.


His work clearly shows his understanding and acceptance of Indian life. He wrote at that time "Nothing short of the loss of my life shall prevent me from visiting their country and becoming their historian". This suggests that he REALLY is willing to learn and understand about what Indians do, which is why he appreciates their life because he understands. His 8 long years of experience when travelling in the West also explains why he learnt so much, unlike Francis Parkman whose only been travelling for 5 months and thus understanding little of the Indians. This is an extract from George Catlin's book, "From what I have seen of these people (the Indians) I say there is nothing ver strange in their character. It is a simple one, and easy to understand if we take the time and care to familiarise ourselves with it". This is what Catlin just did and what others should do to give positive attitudes of Indians. The reading of this book may have made outsiders have a positive attitude of Indians. Remember that not only did Catlin publish his book but he also did over 500 drawing and paintings which he exhibited around America and Europe. The power of his visual images gave him a great influence on the way other Americans thought about the Indians. His painting may try to describe and explain what and why the Indians are doing what their doing but not everybody can see that which then leads to a misunderstanding of the Indians that also leads to a negative attitude towards Indians. ...read more.


The people believe that God wanted them to spread their perfect form of government and freedom-loving country all across the continent. They felt as if they were carrying out God's will to gain control of land in the continent and even fighting for it. The way to gain control of the land was to settle in it. They believe that the 'savage' Indians had no rights to the land because the wasted it. "God has given the earth to those who will tame it" is what Horace Greeley wrote. The settlers also felt that they would bring civilisation, the settlers' kind of civilisation to the Indians. At that period of history, the settlers or outsiders attitude to the Indians were wholly negative. Outsiders popularly labeled the Indians as 'savages'. Their ignorance to understand Indian customs and many aspects of Indian life had described the Indians to be 'primitive' and has failed for them to understand that Indians believe that no one can own or sell land. The idea of America fulfilling their Manifest Destiny was like an excuse to fight for the land and 'possess the whole continent'. But the attitude of majority of outsiders was influenced, if not created, by writers writing about Indians. Influential writer like Francis Parkman and Colonel Richard Dodge, and the paintings by George Catlin are the people who sets the outsider's attitude of Indians because many outsiders has never witnessed a real Indian. Many writers would spread their view of Indians in a negative manner and that is why the attitudes of outsiders towards Indians were wholly negative. ...read more.

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