The nativaeamerican experience, according to Fredrick Turner's accounts, analyzed according to Rousseau's Social Contract

Essay by monkey123University, Bachelor'sA+, February 2003

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The Native American experience in American history has been a central process in forming America's "institutions, ethos, and the character of its people" (Ringer 117). Through the construction of a "dual colonialist-colonist societal system" the American has forcibly and systematically secluded the Indian from all societal, cultural, and economic gains reaped by territorial expansion (116). Frederick Turner makes a valid claim when addressing the "importance of the frontier in the development of American institutions and society and of the character of its people" (117). The frontier "was a significant feature of the American experience" and critical in many aspects of American life (118). Whether for those on the frontier or not, the Native American experience was a defining episode of historic relevance in all modes of American culture. The importance of such an experience is largely contestable.

Some scholars such as Frederick Turner believe that the encounter with the Native American is the American experience par excellence.

The frontier experience is what gave birth to the culture of America we know today. In national defense, for example, the "Indian was a common danger, demanding united action"; the threat of Indian hostility was considered "instrumental in the development of a common defense" among sectional divisions of the country (119). Ringer however disputes Turner's claim as biased, only discussing "the virtues of the frontier experience" rather than the "deep-abiding racial and cultural antipathy and prejudice" that "was part of the frontier heritage" (119-20). The "bifurcated value system" of the frontier and its "schizoid character" of trying to promote, yet control, Native American life illustrates "the basic paradox of the frontier" (120). The fact that Americans allowed the continuance of Native American culture, yet broke treaty agreements and contracts made is a paradoxical situation that presents the duality of the American psyche: to...