Respond to the discussion

Research and explain the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and its effects on the use of Native American languages and the people who speak them.  Describe this legislation and the purpose behind it. Use examples in your discussion.
As the last few chapters of the textbook have shown, heritage languages1 have been seen as inferior, and at one point laws had been made to force language shift2 on minority groups. With or without this force, and partly due to negative language attitudes3, in two to three generations a native language is eventually lost by an ethnic family who lives in the United States due to the fact that the language was not passed down. This is an extremely tragic and almost inevitable result for foreign families moving to (or currently residing in) America. One example of this would be from the personal experience in my family. The parents or grandparents in my family are the ones most fluent in Spanish, but going down the line family members speak less and less Spanish as the generations go on. This is either because of language shift or because a family member never got to fully learn Spanish to begin with. The group of people that will be discussed in this response are Native Americans and any other people who spoke Native American languages at this point in time. This reply will provide information on what the Indian Removal Act is, why it was created, and the effects it had on Native American dialect4.
Based on personal educational experience, as children grow up, they are taught in school that Native Americans were some of the first groups of people to have settled in America. The textbook even mentions “recent scholarship suggests that the first Native Americans crossed the Bering Strait from Asia into North America between 15,000 and 50,000 years ago, during or immediately following the last Ice Age glaciation” and it is also mentioned how there is DNA evidence to support this idea (255). However, it is well known that the world does not always follow the first come first serve saying nor is the world a fair place. Even though Native American tribes were spread throughout the continent before Europeans crossed the Atlantic and set foot in North America, these tribes were not given the respect they deserved. A second example that would be comparable to this is the bully who takes what they want. Even if someone was seated in a certain spot first, the bully could come in at any time and take what he/she wants just because they are theoretically more powerful than the other person in some way. That is exactly what Europeans did to Native Americans. The education system has falsely taught children that Native Americans were the best of friends with these newcomers and make everything seem like all was rainbows and butterflies. As college students, hopefully it is known to most if not all how incredibly inaccurate that was. A third example which provides a false narrative would be the Disney movie Pocahontas.
The first affair of the Europeans arriving was the bringing of Old World diseases to North America. Contact with the early explorers and settlers had crippling effects on Native populations, and as a result, their languages as well. Since Native Americans had no previous exposure to these illnesses their immune systems were completely defenseless against the sicknesses. Unfortunately, this resulted in the loss of much of the population… even entire communities. A fourth example, in which we can relate to this tragedy is the current COVID 19 pandemic which has claimed the lives of many since people’s immune systems were unable to fight off the virus. In addition to that, warfare between the two groups resulted in more deaths of Native Americans. Last but not least “there was a decline in the number of Native Americans during the 1800s due to forced relocations of various tribes for the purpose of clearing the way for Anglo-American settlement” (256). Specifically, in 1830 the US Congress passed the Indian Removal Act for this reason. Eastern tribes were ordered to be relocated to “Indian territory” which happened to be west of the Mississippi. It was during their travel that thousands of Natives died from exposure to disease, starvation, inclement weather, and violent acts committed against them by frontier-men. 
All of these factors contributed to the mass number of deaths of Native American people. Even once they were settled in their new reservations many were unable to adapt to the change because of harsh conditions. Example five, imagine if one day the government evicted a family who has lived in Florida their entire life and have not traveled anywhere else then forced them to live in Antarctica. As one would assume, this family would likely have a tough time adapting to the drastic weather difference. The clothes they own probably would not be very warm, so if it wasn’t for stores (instead of having to make their own clothing) this family could likely die since they are unable to adjust to their new environment. Thus, it would make sense why this occurred with the Native Americans. This led to a further drop in the population, falling to 250,000 by 1890. Getting back to the Indian Removal act, as stated above and implied in the name, this law was created to selfishly remove Indians from their own territory so that land hungry Americans could continue their expansion westward without any interference. Since Native Americans still had somewhere to go then the land that was taken away doesnt matter, right? Wrong. A perfect example six would be if someone kept a favorite childhood toy which later got destroyed by their puppy. They can most likely easily find somewhere to buy that exact same toy just to have it back, but it wouldnt have the same meaning as the original. It was in 1814 that Major General Andrew Jackson led a crusade against the Creek Indians which resulted in a win. Then Jackson forced a treaty upon the Native Americans which stated they had to relinquish twenty million acres of their traditional land to the United States. However, it wasn’t until Andrew Jackson became president in 1829 that the removal act was created. 
So, without the speakers who formed a language, of course that said language is bound to go extinct or decrease in use. That would be like, example seven, in the movie The Lion King when the hyenas overindulge in their food sources and subsequently run out of things to eat. Well, it’s no surprise there isn’t anything to eat because they ate it all too quickly! The same concept applies here. There were a plethora of language variants used by different tribes which tended to be tailored based on region or social factors. There were even languages created so that those who spoke different languages could communicate via a common language which were referred to as lingua francas5. Yet as mentioned earlier sometimes entire communities were wiped out which meant they took their language with them. Those that did survive passed down what they could, writing down rituals and whatnot to promote language maintenance6 but that only helped so much. Aside from the living speakers themselves, unless these languages were written down for others to find and learn, then there was no bringing back lost languages. Example eight, the same way historians piece together information left behind from our ancestors it would have been possible to bring back certain Native Languages through language revitalization7.
In summary, the Indian Removal act was only part of the reason for native languages to be lost. The root cause of Native American languages being lost ultimately leads to the Europeans in general. Europeans brought all these problems for the natives which involved a lot of death or rules similar to the Indian Removal Act. Not only were there endless deaths of Native Americans before the act, the act added onto that amount. Basically, Native American languages were in danger even before 1830, the legalization of that act just further worsened what was already beginning to take place. Clearly, the removal act affected a lot more than just language. This act was practically a hidden pass for genocide. The worst part is, these languages did not die out on their own because they were no longer useful, but because of external factors8. 

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