Conflict Between Native Americans and Term Paper

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In general, both sides fought using impromptu raids and very vicious and undercutting tactics. However, this was the traditional fighting method used by Native Americans during this particular era and could be understood in terms of their cultural perspective.

The fifth criteria of just warfare is that "war must be the only possible means of righting the wrong done." This particular standard is another very flexible standard for warfare. Both sides of any conflict must justify their actions as "last resort" even if other opportunities were open for negotiation. However, in this historical context it could be argued that war was inevitable. This is because population tension within the eastern border mandated that a push by the colonials west of the Ohio River was inevitable. As a result, land that was traditionally Native American would ultimately get taken away from their ownership by the colonists. This it is an unavoidable end because of population tensions and the perpetual conflict between the Indians and the colonists. This is evidenced by the slow but consistent withdraw of Native Americans from their traditional eastern borders towards the west. The Indian Nations lost battle after battle to keep their territory and although there was a hiatus of conflict before the Civil War, it is evident that the conflict would have had to happen sooner or later. This was the explicit justification used by the Shawnee tribes who eventually invaded and raided the Kentucky states in an attempt to rid the colonial presence, they believed that preemptive attacks were the only means that they could avoid total annihilation by the colonists in the near future. For the colonists this issue became rather delicate, although they did not have to expand or forcefully take away land from the Shawnee, they felt that they had rightfully earned that land in lieu of trade and bartering. As a result, although they were extremely manipulative they were in fact in many ways justified. In addition, they did so under the protectionist clause in defense of their properties which validates their actions.

History is ultimately written by the victors and the sixth criteria for just warfare are that "there must be a reasonable right to victory." The Indian Civil War was a crucial turning point for the dynamics between Native Americans and colonials. It symbolized the final attempt by the Indians to reclaim their territory and stop colonial expansion. In the wake of the conflict the Shawnee tribes were dispersed and a consolidated Indian Nation would eventually be much weaker than previous this conflict itself. Symbolically this implied that the conflict could have been curtailed had the proper combination of social and implicit barriers been in play. The reasonable right of victory standard can be applied to either side of the conflict. The Shawnees defied their allegiances with the Iroquois Confederacy in order to enter into the war on the side of the British. They staked their claim of their territorial possessions very strongly and fought almost to a standstill throughout the conflict.

The final standard for just warfare is that the "probable good must outweigh the probable evil effects of the war." This standard can be understood as the greatest good for the greatest number. The "evil" effects of war very much refers to the deaths and destruction that resulted from constant raids throughout the war. It is estimated that within the "bloody" year of 1778 more than a thousand casualties were lost by both sides of the war. The probable good for the Native Americans is the retention of their land, they would stop the advancement of the colonials beyond the Ohio River region for at least another decade thus giving them a position to fortify and develop comparable strength to the colonials. Furthermore, they wanted to protect their culture which was radically changing as a result of imports from Europe such as alcohol. For them a victory would have symbolized an escape from the grip of acculturation, an important goal for the Shawnee Indians. For the colonials and the Native Americans that fought by their side, this conflict meant the ability to prosper and spread throughout the Continent. It meant that more land could be freed up for cash crops and the population tensions would decrease among all colonials and Native Americans east of the Ohio region. It also meant that the Native Americans would become even more acculturated and enjoys much of the luxuries brought over from Europe.

In the final analysis the Indian Civil War did little for the Native Americans who staked their lives to defend their territory. Upon the defeat of the British they ceded over much of the territory of the Indians without approval or even notification to their allies. As a result, the Shawnees continued to fight a losing battle without the aid of the British supporting them. They inevitably lost the majority of their holdings and were forced onto reservations. The end results of this war and the genocides that followed are indeed horrible to comprehend and all Americans still bear the burden of the ancestral crimes committed by the government and the early founders of this nation. However, from a perspective of the motives of the war and the actual conduct of it, a definitional understanding would argue that a just war did take place. Using the seven above criteria, the conflict is deemed as morally legitimate.


A. Britt, Great Indian Chiefs (1938, repr. 1969)

M.F. Schmitt and D.A. Brown, Fighting Indians of the West (1948, repr. 1966)

R.H. Lowie, Indians of the Plains (1954, repr. 1963)

A.M. Josephy, the Patriot Chiefs (1961)


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