One must understand the nature of settler colonialism which was used to murder Native Americans (Dunbar-Ortiz, 2014). When the English stole land from the Irish and others, settlers were forced to come to America but with the promise of land. The lust for land made Native Americans easy targets by rampaging racist settlers, murdering Native American men, women, and children. The settlers that came to America were hell bent on destroying Native American people and replacing them with black slaves. Scalps of native people were removed early on by these white settlers and sold across the country—this is where the phrase “Red Skin” comes from—the dripping blood from the skull of a removed scalp (Dunbar-Ortiz). Interestingly, the Scots in Ireland used to scalp the Irish people and brought that practice with them to America.
History glorifies murderers like Christopher Columbus. Names like the “District of Columbia,” “Columbia University,” and “Columbia Pictures” honors a man that could justifiably be called a murderous psychopath. White supremacy was attached at the hip to the American settler as they used God as a justification for murder and the enslavement of blacks. Native Indigenous People did not have any recourse to the court system during the frightful days of their extermination.
When Andrew Jackson was elected President (1828) he pursued a racialized policy of ethnic cleansing. The philosophy of “continentalism;” which later became Manifest Destiny, was employed as buttress for domination. White supremacy was extensive during these times and fueled the ideas of taking over lands from the East Coast to the West Coast. Settler colonialism was the brutal method by which native people were exterminated. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 forcibly removed native people from their lands by military force. When people are the victims of colonial conquest their culture and life styles are crushed. A forced march was ordered and many died along the “Trail of Tears.” It is important to note that the victims of colonialism may take some time to self-identify, but this is what they must do amongst themselves and not be labeled by conquerors or others that are not connected to their way of life.
African slaves lost their community (tribal) connections and became black, colored, Negro, African American, and now back to the term black. A similar situation took place with “Indians.” Indians became Native Americans and Indigenous People. In the black community it has settled down to either African American or black at this juncture in black history. The terms “colored” and “Negro” are no longer acceptable with most blacks and have generally become derogatory terms. In the black community one could argue that a steady state condition now exists, but this cannot be said for all people. Researcher Dunbar-Ortiz uses all three terms for Indigenous People as she recognizes the question has not been settled. Undoing the psychological damage is a struggle that must be undertaken to right centuries of wrongs.
According to Anderson (2005), in The Conquest of Texas: Ethnic Cleansing in the Promise Land, 1820-1875, “The abrasiveness of Texans, their martial mentality and penchant for violence, their individualism and deep-seated racism, and their lust for profit made conflict with Indians inevitable.” According to Randolph (1989) in An Empire for Slavery, “During the late 1830s and early 1840s, intermittent warfare between Anglo-Americans and these east Texas Indians resulted in expulsion from the area.” The last of the Indigenous fighters were finally removed or killed in Texas by 1875. But their ancestors fight on in the world of today for their human rights.