"North American Indians"–modeled
from images by George Catlin.
In the prints of Currier and Ives, Native Americans are portrayed
either as savage (a dangerous element that was faced "heroically"
by pioneers for the sake of progress and the safety of family
and farms) or noble (like Nature itself, still meant to be conquered
for the sake of progress).
Unlike African Americans who were a special category of Americans,
or Asians who were clearly "foreign" and subject to
oppressive laws, Native Americans "represented a special
case in that the right to space lay bound up with the very right
to exist" (26).
In 1887 the General Allotment Act (also called the "Dawes
Act") broke up tribally owned lands, allegedly to create
land ownership by individual Native Americans. Subsequent amendments
to the act put these allotted lands up for sale or lease. As
a result, Native Americans lost an estimated eighty percent
of their most valuable lands and sixty-six percent of their
total land base (26A).
For more information about Native Americans at the end of the
nineteenth century, view "The Unincorporated: Native
Americans and the Age of Incorporation, 1880-1990"
Curtis: Selling the North American Indian."
The Great West