Is American Indian History Best Argument for Small Government?



A conservative argument that pops up from time to time is making a new round on the Internet. On January 28, writer Steve Curtis posted an article titled Why the History Of Native Americans is the Best Argument For Small Government on in which he uses American Indian history as a way to knock progressives for their beliefs in government policies to solve some of the nation's largest problems today.

Writes Curtis:

“Progressives routinely tout the advantages of bigger government, particularly for the poor. Free health care. Free education. Free housing, transportation, Obamaphones, etc. You name it, progressives will tell you it can be “free,” paid for by higher taxes on the ‘evil’ rich and ‘big corporations.’ It won’t cost you a penny. All you have to do is remove existing constraints on their power, and they will use government to provide everything you need and want.

“Historically, how has an all-powerful centralized government worked out? Especially for those to whom so much was promised? Not well at all.

“A case in point is our nation's own Native American community. Native Americans signed hundreds of treaties with both individuals and with the United States as a whole. When the national government was weak, or non-existent, treaties were generally beneficial to both sides, such as William Penn’s purchase of land from the Delaware Indians.

“However, as the strength of the United States government grew with respect to the various Indian tribes, the stronger centralized government increasingly imposed their will on the militarily weaker tribes. Most often, these treaties took the form of a transfer of ownership of the tribe’s land to the U.S. government, and the forced relocation of Native American populations to ‘reservations’ with promises to provide food, housing, goods, land, money, and protection. The reservation system also allowed those who considered themselves to be ‘more civilized’ to control the tribes ‘for their own good,’ and to help ‘civilize the savages.’

“So, how did that work out?

“In spite of written guarantees, Indian treaties have rarely been honored, and the promises of food, housing, goods, land, money, and protection have been, for the most part, ignored. After all, once the Indians gave up their land and military capability, they had no means of enforcing the terms of the treaty, so they got whatever the more powerful central government decided was ‘enough.’”

As Curtis closes his piece, he states, “Progressives are promising that big government will provide food, housing, jobs, education, an income, security, and lots of free stuff, if we just give them the unconstrained power they need.”

For many American Indians those promises sound familiar yet remain far from sight, and Curtis suggests society should explore that dilemma in contemplating its contemporary path to prosperity.

An interesting question for Curtis and others to ponder: If progressivism has been the root cause of troubles for American Indians, then why do statistics show that an overwhelming number of Indians vote Democratic? In fact, in the 2012 presidential election, the county that is home to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in rural South Dakota gave the highest percentage of votes to President Barack Obama over any other county in the nation. We would love to hear what Curtis makes of that.

Read Curtis' full article here.

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tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
"Democratic"? Unfortunately for many as well, where do American Indians get their "NEWS" information and stories? The TV news mass promoted the 'progrssive' agenda for 2 years over the air-waves of promises and big-things to come for Indians. This is all fine and great in theory, but WHERE is the Federal Government going to get the money particularly in light of the US Federal deficit being doubled in 4-5 years! The basic notion of you can't SPEND and throw federal taxpayers dollars that the US doesn't have. I can make promises and highlight my talks on the TV tube, but if I can't or won't or don't know how to negotiate a settlement than to just simply rely on my STAR POWER, then what good is having the title US President if you can't function as a "Leader". Blaming George bush who last ran for US President in 2004 doesn't work. A Democratic Congress and Democratic Senate had control of the Federal Government in 2008-2010, yet they were STILL only able to pass a US Budget in 2009 (the last time - 3 now 4 years ago).

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
Because voting for the Left "seems" more promising than voting for the Right. The Right, as it stands to date, make no bones about their lack of compassion. The Left at least "appears" make an effort. President Obama has done a great deal in trying to honor old promises and settling the seemingly impossible lawsuits that are so out-dated the people who filed them are dead and their grandchildren reap the efforts of their diligence.

EyesWideOpened's picture
Submitted by EyesWideOpened on
Your question, Why do Indians overwelmingly vote Democratic? Answer, We fear our "Oppressors", and chose the least harmful.

tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
if history has an success stories, all one has to do is look at the history to the Democratic National Party to witness their core beliefs and values of how they were obstacles to American Indian inclusiveness as citizens and sovereign nations. Richard Nixon, REPUBLICAN, with BI-PARTISAN support was instrumental in supporting AMERICAN INDIAN affairs which still stands 40 years later in Indian Nation Sovereignty. Ronald Reagan, REPUBLICAN, with BI-PARTISIAN support was instrumental in establishing Indian Gaming Reserves which is evident in how Eastern Indian Nation Tribes have progressed into poltical campaign contributions to not just Republican politics but Democratic as well. If Republicans and TRUE bi-partisianship is any indicators of American Indian nations longivity, then this progressive agenda that Barack Obama promotes is contingent on the US money coming from somebody else; the money has got to come from somewhere and somebody else has to pay for all the promises and luxuries that Barack Obama is reckless and iresponsible in promoting. With the advent of estimated (in truth), 20+ Million illegal immigrants chomping and waiting on be STAMPED US GOVT approved - US citizens, where will the US Federal dollars be then for American Indians? How do American Indians collectively voting in national/state/local political elections COMPARE in relation to newly minted LATINO votes of 20+ milllion to LATINO interests and LATINO affairs?

Bo's picture
Submitted by Bo on
Yes, the government promised many things, including protecting Native lands form rapacious capitalists (goldminers, railroad barons, uranium miners, etc.) but it never produced. This is a failure of government, not a failure of the idea of government. Plus, Curtis misrepresents the goals and philosohy of progressive government advocates (a lying, Right-Wing, Freemarketeer. Now there's a shocker!)