How and why did the United States suppress Native American as well as Filipino aspirations for independence







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How and why did the United States Suppress Native American and Filipino’s Aspirations for Independence? (Revised according to Sean Handleys Comments)


Most industrialized nations have had to prove their might beyond their borders in order to achieve a status of power on a global scale. To do this, European nations, and indeed the United States have had to exert their influence into smaller countries, thereby bringing the effects of colonialism as they were once known. Indeed, European nations went into the so-called uncivilized lands in order to bring them ‘enlightenment’ but more so for their own interests. A large part of the third world was controlled by European settlers who had colonized the natives. America acquired colonies as it sought after the global extension of end-user markets for both its industrial and agricultural products. The United States, in a bid to prove its might, resorted to a number of ways to achieve its status. One of these was that of leaving the Native Americans defenseless as was noted through Nash’s assertions that “the federal government callously nullified pledges and treaties, leaving Indians defenseless against incursions” (Nash p. 522). However, the U.S. had to maintain its image as a liberator of oppressed nations and thus fighting for the good of those who did not have the power to fight for themselves. The United States used the notion of providing civilization and liberation to suppress the Native American and Filipino’s aspirations for independence, while in the real sense the U.S. sought to extend its powers on a regional and global scale; brutality and oppression were the tools used by the Americans for the repression of the Native Americans and the Filipinos.



Most of the American settlers did not care much about the people they had found in America. The egocentric nature of the settlers is asserted clearly by the Media Clip “Roots of the reservation” that notes ” Wherever Native Americans occupied territories that immigrants wanted to cross or mine or cultivate the government would use every means at their disposal to move them onto special colonies or reservations”  (“Roots of the reservation” History 100 Media Clip). The Native Americans were the original inhabitants of the land but they were not as strong as the new settlers were. The settlers did not care much for the culture and values that the natives had practiced all their lives. They imposed upon the natives what they thought they should. As indicated by Media Clip “Roots of the reservation” “…after being forced off their native lands, many American Indians found life to be most difficult. Beginning in the first half of the 19th century, federal policy dictated that certain tribes be confined to fixed land plots to continue their traditional ways of life…” (“Roots of the reservation” History 100 Media Clip). Additionally, according to the Media Clip “Roots of the reservation”  the 19th century federal policy ordered that the tribes should be “confined to the fixed land plots to continue their traditional ways of life” (“Roots of the reservation” History 100 Media Clip). This was not something that the natives had anticipated.


The settlers ignored the fact that each tribe had its own way of life and they practiced different cultures. They did not even consider the fact that some of the tribes were enemies or rivals in different capacities. The natives realized that the changes made would discontinue their way of life. According to Nash, “…the lives of most Plain Indians revolved around the buffalo…” (Nash p. 522), this implies they were protective of the buffaloes and they preserved them. Note that, the buffalo had an economic benefit to the natives, as it was a source of provisions, clothing and protection. Consequently, it made them oppose the construction of the railway line since it would interfere with the animals. On the other hand, the settlers wanted to hunt the buffaloes. Within a relatively short period, the number of buffaloes had decreased significantly from millions to a couple of hundreds. This did not stop the settlers from hunting them and some of those in authority suggested their termination. What the natives had considered a part of their life was terminated and its place, the settlers started keeping cattle.


The settlers were not content with this. They chased away the natives from the rich farmlands and placed them in land with poor soil and bad weather, which was not conducive for farming. They asserted that the natives did not know the proper farming techniques and argued that they wasted the land. The natives were left with no means of fending for themselves. They were powerless and defenseless and this made it easier for the settlers to rule over them. They not only robbed them off their way of life, they also took away their dreams and values and weakened their culture.


The Americans believed that their culture was superior to that of other nations. They wanted to conquer more land like the one they had done Alaska so that they could spread the benefits of this civilization. This inclination of domineering the world is brought out by Nash, “…as the United States sought to exert its influence on the world, so also did global events influence America…,” (Nash p. 600). They had also made a name for themselves as a country, which believed in the people’s liberation. Over the years, this tendency would become more express exemplified by the Media Clip “America eyes the imperial path“ “The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine declared the entire western hemisphere an American sphere of influence…,” (”America eyes the imperial path” History 100 Media Clip). This is what urged them forward to the Philippines. At the time, the Philippines were under Spanish rule and the Americans wanted control over it. They used every method they could come up with to make this possible. This included the release of the revolutionary Emilio Aguinaldo. By doing this, the people increased the trust they had in them since they believed the American soldiers were on their side. The American soldiers joined hands with the Philippines to fight against Spain however their motivation was not evident to the Philippines as indicated by Nash, “…the Filipinos looked on the Americans as liberators, although the intentions of the United States were never clear …,” (Nash p. 599).


The Filipinos fought hard for their independence and they succeeded but they did not manage to control Manila. After the success, Aguinaldo declared independence for The Philippines and he formed a government that was comprised of the elite in the Philippines. Most of the Americans who had been instrumental in the war against the Spaniards were not pleased with this government and the then president of the United States did not recognize it. Nash notes that, “the Treaty of Paris gave the United States the islands in exchange for a $20 million payment to Spain,” (Nash p. 611). This amount was paid over a period of three years by the McKinley administration with the financial obligation being considered as a worthwhile investment towards the establishment of a West Pacific location that would act as a penetration zone within the Chinese trading bloc. There was tension between the Americans and the Filipinos since Aguinaldo had been prevented from entering the city of Manila. American soldiers opened fire on the Filipino soldiers and this set in motion the second war in the Philippines.


The Americans succeeded in this war. Thousands of Filipinos and U. S. soldiers were killed. They succeeded because they made the people believe that they were fighting for their own good. This strategy amounted to numerous groups joining the push for expansion as noted by the Media Clip “America eyes the imperial path“ “…many different groups pushed for American expansion overseas…,” (”America eyes the imperial path” History 100 Media Clip). They made them believe that the government formed by Aguinaldo denied them their freedom. They also maintained that they were fighting for peace and the restoration of order. The American soldiers’ torched villages tortured the natives and killed them so that they could obtain information. They used cruel methods to torture the victims. The common method they used was ‘water cure’, which involved filling the victims’ belly with water until they were bloated and then stepping on their stomachs to release the water. They did this until the victim gave them the information they wanted.


The officials were powerful and they censored the outgoing cables so that the rest of the world, especially those in America, would not know what was going on. However, the mail was not censored. Not all the soldiers were happy with what was going on and they sent letters to America to inform the rest of the people of what was going on. The anti-war activists in America tried to end the atrocities and the violence that the Filipinos were undergoing but those in authority including judges, politicians and army leaders were not supportive despite the overwhelming evidence and the first hand experiences presented by the junior soldiers.


Back in the states, the Americans involved in the war justified their actions while at the same time denied the allegations that they had used ‘water cure’ to torture the victims. They gave contradictory evidence to support their claims. Some claimed that that Aguinaldo’s government was illegitimate and the population was incapacitated for self-government. Others, like General Robert Hughes, justified the torture exercised by the American soldiers saying that the Filipinos were not civilized. The American authorities supported the torture saying that the soldiers were ending the cruelty of Aguinaldo’s regime. The United States considered the Filipinos racially inferior. They could not understand why the Filipinos did not support them yet they wanted to bring developments by building a naval base in their country.



There were many methods, which the United States used to deny the Filipinos and the Native Americans their independence. For the Native Americans, they robbed them of their dreams and aspirations when they took away what belonged to them and forced them to do away with their culture. They seized their land and animals and denied them an opportunity to exercise their rights. They killed the Filipinos, tortured them and destroyed their houses. They made them loose their dignity and hope and they took their dreams away. The United States was no different from the other colony countries as argued in the Media Clip “America eyes the imperial path“ “the country that had once fought to throw off imperial shackles was now itself an empire.” (”America eyes the imperial path” History 100 Media Clip). The United States suppressed the Native Americans and the Filipinos because they wanted global power. They believed that they were civilized yet they used very uncivilized means to get that power. They wanted the people to reap the benefits of that civilization, but they did not do much to convince them it was necessary.


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