Opinion

Levi Rickert: In their own words -- Presidents on Indian people





Levi Rickert shares some illuminating quotes from U.S. Presidents about Indian people and Indian affairs:
The following quotes about American Indians are from various presidents since President George Washington and up to President Barack Obama. The quotes here do not include all presidents. However, there are quotes from every president since President Franklin Roosevelt.

The reader will get a sense of how the hostility towards American Indians has lessened during the past two hundred plus years. Just as federal policies toward American Indians have altered, so too have attitudes by presidents. Of course, United States presidents set forth policy.

“Indians and wolves are both beasts of prey, tho’ they differ in shape.” -- George Washington

“If ever we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe, we will never lay it down till that tribe is exterminated, or driven beyond the Mississippi… in war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy them all.” -- Thomas Jefferson

“My original convictions upon this subject have been confirmed by the course of events for several years, and experience is every day adding to their strength. That those tribes cannot exist surrounded by our settlements and in continual contact with our citizens is certain. They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear.” -- Andrew Jackson

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Levi Rickert: US Presidents in Their Own Words Concerning American Indians (Native News Online 2/17)