Native Americans Transition From Freedom to Isolation Essay

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Native Americans Transition From Freedom to Isolation

America's history since 1865 to date is a remarkable record of various accounts of despair, hope, triumph, and tragedy. The country's history consists of some compelling transformations with one of these significant accounts being the battle between Americans and Americans in the final period of the Civil War. In its initial years, the United States was politically isolated from the rest of the world but has developed to become the leading world power and beacon of democracy by the 20th Century. America's history revolves around isolation, end of isolation in 1920, and grand expectations experienced by the nation itself and its people. The development of the United States to become a dominant world power is rooted in the beginning of isolation and the struggle to overcome this isolation by Native Americans.

Native Americans Experience of Isolation:

Before the end of isolation period, Native Americans were largely isolated from the rest of the world because the country's cities were hugely separated and isolated from each other. Actually, one of the prominent historians used the symbol of an island to describe country as an isolated island community. In addition to being very much separated and isolated, the country was also characterized by weak communication systems between cities. This period was known as the search for order era since it was a time after the destruction and divisiveness of the Civil War. During this era, Native Americans experienced the nation's search for economic, political, social, geographic, and racial order.

America started to fight with the meanings of emancipations because of the Civil War as approximately 4 million freed slaves were struggling to find a home for themselves as citizens. The struggle of the freed slaves to build homes for themselves lasted from 1865 -- 1877 and was known as the Reconstruction era. Unification of the country and initiating the first constitutional steps towards equality were important facts during this period due to the inability of Reconstruction to end the political, economic, and social isolation.

The experience of Native Americans during this period was characterized by constant battles with Indians and the isolation from many global struggles. These aspects continued to be a facet of the American society until the beginning of the twentieth century and contributed to what is commonly referred to as the American character.

The experience of isolation by Native Americans because of the various reasons that have been mentioned previously can also be referred to as isolationism, which is the country's longstanding unwillingness to be involved in wars and European alliances. Proponents of this aspect argued that America view of the world was different from the perspective of European societies. Therefore, they believed in isolationism because America could promote its cause for democracy and freedom through other means except war. Notably, these people did not oppose the need for America to expand its territorial, economic, and ideological interests by being involved in the world stage ("Isolationism," n.d.).

Collision of Cultures:

The history of early Americans is characterized by early cultural interaction with the collision of West African, European, and Native American people in North America. This cultural interaction in North America took place because of several reasons. First, Europeans discovered America accidentally and developed empires from the conquest of indigenous peoples and slavery of Africans. This conquest of indigenous peoples and slavery of Africans resulted in disaster for the Africans and Native Americans while contributing to triumph for the European peoples.

The cultural collision took place when Europeans arrived in the land and had numerous impacts for European and Native Americans. The impacts of this collision of cultures following the arrival of Europeans included the emergence of diseases and death as well as the destruction.

Mass deaths occurred in America's history because of the Europeans arrival as Indian peoples lacked natural immunities and died due to contact. Actually, approximately 80% of the Indian population in North America had died within a century of interactions with European people. However, in the wake of these impacts from cultural collision, Native Americans maintained their vibrant culture as they struggled to adapt to the radically changing environment. North Americans became isolated because of the failure of the influence of cultural interactions to transform them into helpless pawns.

Native Americans Transition from Freedom to Isolation:

As previously mentioned, American history begins with the political isolation of the country from the world as a virtual island between two great oceans. Ancestors of the Native Americans occupied
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all the habitable areas in North and South America after the last glaciers ended the first great migration to America (Guisepi, n.d.). During this period, the Native Americans lived from the rest of the world and diseases that have become known as the Old World. This was regardless of the fact that some Native Americans who interacted with the first Europeans had become diverse peoples. These Native Americans suffered greatly because of their isolation even as the beginning of American history is coupled by a biological and cultural collision.

Native Americans experienced transition from freedom to isolation when the country changed its perspective of the world and relationship with it. During this period, the country's leaders mainly focused on expansion of the nation within the continent itself. The motivation behind this expansion within the continent itself was physical expansion as the country sought to acquire enough land for its entire people. The period was also coupled with the rapid growth and change of the country as it expanded its borders westward since occupants in this region migrated to other places in search of a better future. Due to these rapid changes in the country, Native Americans experienced transition from freedom to isolation through the following ways:

Value of Individualism and Self-Improvement:

The concept that America was growing and expanding was fundamental in the development of a nation that valued self-improvement and individualism. The government did not permit certain immigrants to take advantage of some important laws, a factor that contributed to extreme isolation from these immigrants. A new era of isolation of Native Americans began when free interactions with inhabitants from other cultures such as Asians and African-Americans became hindered. The political culture of the country not only resulted in a clash of cultures but also contributed to isolation through valuing individualism and self-improvement.

Radical Changes in the Environment:

The clash of cultures and divergent features between the New South and New West was the other factor that contributed to the transition from freedom to isolation of Native Americans. While inhabitants in the South hoped to see the promise of freedom, Native Americans sought for the independence and self-rule the country experienced before the Civil War. The clash of cultures had changed every natural environment with the Native Americans adapting to the physical environment and shaping it to meet their needs ("Native American Voices," n.d.). While other cultures were turned into helpless pawns due to their failure to adapt to the changing environment, Native Americans adapted to the radically changing environment while retaining vibrant cultures. This ability to adapt to the radically changing environment and shaping it to meet their needs contributed to the Native Americans transition from freedom to isolation.

Native Americans Struggle to Overcome Isolation:

At the beginning of the 20th Century, America changed its strategy from expansion of its borders within the continent to global expansion. While the strategy for borders expansion was motivated by physical expansion, America's global expansion strategy was motivated by economic forces. The concept behind this new focus was imperialism or the notion of an American empire since it had enough land and its citizens were not looking for new areas to conquer and occupy. As America was politically isolated from the world in its early history, Native Americans struggled to overcome this isolation. These Native Americans struggled to overcome this isolation because sectional disagreements that focused on slavery had strained union between North and South. There are various factors helped Native Americans in their efforts to overcome isolation including:

Acting as Dynamic Change Agents:

One of the most common misconceptions regarding Native Americans is the fact that they are considered as passive victims. Many people tend to think that Native Americans were vanishing people and passive victims of a covetous and land-hungry white population. On the contrary, these people struggled to overcome isolation by acting as dynamic change agents. This was largely through the reactions to the threats of their culture by physical resistance and cultural adjustments. Throughout history, Native Americans are considered as dynamic agents of change because of their various discoveries. In addition to developing innovative and creative cultures, Native Americans made various contributions to contemporary ecology, medicine, architecture, and art. While many of their innovative and creative discoveries were initially neglected, they proved to be a significant factor in the struggle of Native Americans to overcome isolation.

One of the major aspects of Native Americans struggle to overcome isolation was their ability to adapt to diverse and demanding environments. This was coupled…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bowles, M.D. (2011). American History 1865 -- Present: End of Isolation. San Diego, CA:

Bridgepoint Education. Retrieved from

Guisepi, R.A. (n.d.). The United States of America. Retrieved November 27, 2011, from

"Isolationism." (n.d.). United States History. Retrieved November 27, 2011, from

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