Term of Award

Summer 2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of History

Committee Chair

Alan Downs

Committee Member 1

James Woods

Committee Member 2

John Steinberg

Abstract

The eighty-six years from 1860-1945 was a momentous one in American Indian history. During this period, the United States fully settled the western portion of the continent. As time went on, the United States ceased its wars against Indian tribes and began to deal with them as potential parts of American society. Within the military, this can be seen in the gradual change in Indian roles from mostly ad hoc forces of scouts and home guards to regular soldiers whose recruitment was as much a part of the United States’ war plans as that of any other group. The gradual granting of citizenship to Indians, culminating in the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, played a vital role in resolving the issue of whether Indians were even able to volunteer or enlist for regular service. Being primarily concerned with finding ways to win on the battlefield, the military proved more willing to accept aspects of Indian culture that the U.S. did not generally permit in civilian life, provided it did not interfere with the individual Indian’s abilities or duties as a soldier. However, the military was nevertheless a product of the same society that held various prejudices toward Indians, even if such prejudices were mollified by the desire to win battles. This thesis tells of the gradual acceptance of Indians into military and American life, a process that is still continuing today.

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