Try to explain why Native Americans have been treated so differently as a minority group than other minorities in our society. What is there about the Native American experience that accounts for those differences?

Native Americans have been treated so differently in our society due to a number of inter-related factors.  Their special treatment relies on the fact that even though Indians were the original inhabitants of this land, American progress and expansion has taken precedence over equality of treatment.  This brief essay will outline the major determining factors that have led to this treatment.

Once the colonialists had settled on the Atlantic coast and began their expansion westward, they came across tribes of Native Americans that they had never before encountered.  Contrary to popular myths and stereotypes, Native Americans are not a homogenous population with the same traits and modes of existence.  Much of history has settled on this naïve idea at the cost of understanding how different tribes and different colonialists interacted.  Some interactions were of course very violent while others were somewhat peaceful.

Another factor that has shaped how Native American populations are treated is how they have been identified.  They were and are treated different from other minority groups such as African Americans because they were minorities by conquest and not by immigration.  This is why there is a Bureau of Indian Affairs but not similar organizations for other minorities and it may help explain why Indians have been relegated to live reservations instead of being immersed into the melting pot of society.

The history of the treatment of Native Americans in America is a complex issue that is still being worked out today.  There have been many factors that have influenced their special treatment, many of which will hopefully change for the better.