Amerindian Genocide

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Amerindian Genocide
California skulls.jpg
Perpetrator: Spanish Empire
Portuguese Empire
British Empire
French Empire
Russian Empire
Dutch Empire
Danish Empire
Mexican government
Canadian government
United States government
Argentine government
Chilean government
Brazilian government
Paraguayan government
Uruguayan government
Guatemalan government
Peruvian government
Confederate States of America
Date: October 12, 1492 - present
Location: The Americas
Motive: Enslave the Native population and use them to find gold
Gain the land of Native tribes
Impose "superior" cultural values on the Native Americans
Crimes: Crimes against humanity
War crimes
Mass murder
Ethnic cleansing
Forced assimilation
Hate speech
Blood quantum
Anti-Native American Sentiment
It is also apparent that the shared history of the hemisphere is one framed by the dual tragedies of genocide and slavery, both of which are part of the legacy of the European invasions of the past 500 years. Indigenous people north and south were displaced, died of disease, and were killed by Europeans through slavery, rape, and war.
~ Excerpt from American Philosophy: From Wounded Knee to the Present.

The Amerindian Genocide, AKA the Native American Genocide, the American Indian Genocide or the American Indian Holocaust and sometimes known as the Conquest of America, is a blanket term for the various atrocities carried out against indigenous peoples of North and South America from their discovery right up to the 20th Century. It is considered to be the foremost example of genocide of indigenous peoples and being considered by many historians to be the largest and the worst genocide in history, surpassing even The Holocaust in scale and numbers of death. It began in October 12, 1492, when the Americas were discovered by the Spanish Empire, and continued well into the 20th century in various different forms and nations, the genocide will ended into the present day. It is estimated a total of 100,000,000 Amerindian people died, with one of the biggest causes of death being illnesses such as smallpox, with some estimates placing 90% of the deaths as a result of the epidemic introduced by European settlers.


Genocide in the Caribbean

Depopulation of the Taíno

When Christopher Columbus first landed in Mesoamerica in 1494, he took several members of the Arawak tribe captive in the hope that they could lead him to gold. Upon writing to King Ferdinand of Spain of his discovery, Columbus was granted permission to enslave the native population and use them to find gold. Columbus's troops immediately set about raping, killing and torturing in an attempt to force the natives to tell them where the gold was. Columbus organized several groups of armed men to search for the non-existent gold, leading to the deaths of thousands of sick and unarmed natives. Captives were used for sword practice, with Columbus's soldiers attempting to decapitate them or cut them in half with one blow. The situation was so extreme that about 50,000 Taíno natives chose to commit suicide rather than live under Spanish rule.

Columbus enslaved the population of Hispaniola and set up a system wherein all natives over 14 were responsible for gathering a certain amount of gold each month, awarding them with a copper token to hang around their neck if they succeeded. If a native was caught without a token they would have their hands cut off and be allowed to bleed to death. Natives who attempted to flee slavery were mauled to death by attack dogs. Sexual slavery was also widespread, with Columbus forcibly marrying native women to his men. During this period the native population of Hispaniola plummeted rapidly until it was practically wiped out, partly due to being killed and partly due to smallpox introduced by the Spanish which the natives lacked any immunity to. Columbus was eventually arrested by agents of the Spanish Crown for his atrocities, but the charges against him were dropped.

After approximately three million natives were killed, the Spanish colonial authorities reformed their approach, adopting the encomienda system; a system of slavery wherein certain grant holders were awarded a monopoly on the labor of certain groups. Natives were allocated to certain encomiendero and put to work mining for gold. This ended up being deadlier than traditional slavery because there was no incentive to keep the native slaves alive as they could be replaced for free, resulting in the Spanish abusing and killing the native slaves regularly. The encomienda system has been described by modern historians as explicitly genocidal, because it resulted in the intentional deaths of millions and the eradication of potentially thousands of native cultures.

Conflict with the Kalinago

The Caribbean island of Saint Kitts was colonized by British, French and Irish settlers in 1623, upsetting the native Kalinago tribe. The Kalinago chief Tegremond began plotting to kill the settlers in 1626 out of fear they would massacre his people. However, the settlers were informed and decided to take pre-emptive action against the natives. Tegremond and his tribe were invited to a feast, where the settlers got them drunk before allowing them to return to their village. The settlers then attacked the village and killed 120 Kalinago, including Tegremond, while they were in a drunken stupor. The following day, 4,000 Kalinago were rounded up and forced up to what is now known as Bloody Point. The Kalinago fought back, leading to the killings of half of the captives. The other 2,000 managed to escape into the mountains, where they were hunted down and either enslaved or forcibly removed to Dominica.

During the colonization of the Leeward Islands, the Kalinago engaged in conflicts against the British and French settlers and destroyed their plantations in an attempt to expel them from the islands. In 1660, the British and French signed the Saint Charles treaty to expel the Kalinago to Dominica and Saint Vincent, which served as reserves for the native Caribs. On Saint Vincent, a series of wars took place between the Kalinago and the British until the resistance was finally crushed in 1797 and the natives were deported to the island of Roatan off the coast of Honduras.

Genocide in Mexico and Central America

Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire

An army of Spanish conquistadors led by Hernán Cortés led an invasion of the Aztec Empire, resulting in a two-year war between the Spaniards and the Aztecs. Cortés also recruited several indigenous allies that happened to be enemies of the Aztec Empire, such as the Tlaxcaltecs to assist in his invasion. Although Cortés managed to convince Emperor Montezuma II to surrender peacefully, he quickly left Tenochtitlan to deal with Pánfilo Narvez challenging his command, leaving several conquistadors and Tlaxcaltec rulers in charge. When Cortés returned, he discovered that the Aztecs are on the brink of rebellion after the subordinates he left in charge had massacred several Aztec chiefs. When Cortés tried to flee the city with the Aztecs' gold, many conquistadors drowned in Lake Texcoco, in what's known as the "Night of Sadness". Eventually, Cortés returned to Tenochtitlan and invaded the city, to which they managed to successfully conquer Tenochtitlan, execute Emperor Cuauhtémoc, and rule the empire.

Spanish Conquest of the Maya

Starting in 1524, Spanish conquistadors such as Pedro de Alvarado and Francisco de Montejo began a series of invasions against the Mayan civilization. Unlike the conquest of the Aztec Empire under Hernán Cortés, which took over two years to successfully conquer, the conquest of the Mayan civilization took over seven decades, due to the conquistadors' unfamiliarity with the environment and the fact that the Mayan civilization consisted of separate kingdoms instead of one unified empire. As the conquistadors and their indigenous allies invaded and plundered the cities over time, many Mayan civilians were subjected to slavery under the encomienda system and were forced to convert to Christianity.

Spanish Conquest of Central America

After Christopher Columbus claimed Honduras for Spain during his final voyage in 1502, the conquistadors began colonizing the area that would become El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua in 1524. The indigenous peoples living in the area led a war of resistance against the Spaniards that lasted fifteen years until the war ended with the defeat of the Lenca leader, Lempira. The Mesoamericans and Chibchans were then subjected to slavery via the encomienda system and many were sold to slave owners in Panama and the Caribbean.

Campaign against Apaches

The Mexican government hired bands of scalp-hunters to hunt down and kill Apaches in the 1830s and 40s, offering a cash reward for every Apache scalp brought back. The most infamous of these groups was lead by John Joel Glanton. Many of these groups killed Mexican civilians in addition to Apaches since it was impossible to distinguish between the scalps of Apaches and non-Apaches. The Mexican authorities eventually ended this practice in 1849 and declared all scalp-hunters outlaws when they realized how many non-Apaches were being targeted.

Yaqui Wars

The Yaqui Wars were a series of conflicts fought between the Yaqui tribes and the Mexican government. Although fighting was reported as far back as 1533, the wars did not become genocidal until the 1860s, when 600 Yaqui rebels surrendered to the Mexican army only to be herded into a church which was then destroyed with artillery, killing 120 Yaqui prisoners. Afterwards a number of Yaqui were deported or enslaved in an attempt to prevent further violence. Another uprising in the 1870s lead to outright ethnic persecution of the Yaqui, with Mexican troops destroying their ranches and killing many Yaqui not involved in the uprising simply for being present.

The 1890 Yaqui Uprising against President Porfirio Díaz was crushed by the Mexican and United States armies. A peace treaty was signed in 1897, but this was later broken and another war was started, continuing into the 20th Century. By 1903, President Díaz had decided to resolve the Yaqui Wars once and for all by deporting all the Yaqui. Organized manhunts were carried out by the government to capture all Yaqui. 15, 000 Yaqui were enslaved, and 60, 000 died during deportation. The genocide came to an end when President Díaz was overthrown in 1911, although minor skirmishes continued until 1929.

Guatemalan Genocide

During the Guatemalan Civil War, Guatemalan officials began persecuting Mayan civilians for allegedly supporting leftist rebels during the war as well as being viewed as sub-human. Mayan women were subjected to genocidal rape and abductions, while others were executed and dumped in unmarked graves. It is estimated that 150,000 Mayan civilians were killed during the genocide, while another 200,000 people fled the country and took refuge in southern Mexico.

The most intense stage of the genocide took place during the presidency of General Efraín Ríos Montt from 1982 to 1983; he was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity in 2013 and was sentenced to 80 years in prison, but that sentence was overturned and his retrial was not completed by the time of his death in 2018.

Genocide in South America

Genocide in Brazil

Inspired by the Spanish colonization of the Americas, Pedro Álvares Cabral colonized Brazil for the Portuguese Empire in 1500. Over the following century the native tribes suffered massive depopulation due to ethnic violence and smallpox introduced by the Portuguese, who enslaved them in a system similar to encomienda and forced them to cut down the forest for tropical hardwoods. When slaves began to die at a higher rate due to poor treatment, the Portuguese disguised themselves as Jesuits (who were welcomed by the natives due to being less likely to mistreat them) in order to gain access to native villages, where they would abduct and enslave as many natives as they could, killing any who resisted. It is estimated that abuses by the Portuguese led the Brazilian population to drop by over 90%.

It is estimated that around 80 tribal groups residing in Brazil were wiped out to extinction within the first half of the 20th century. In other cases, encroachment by loggers and cattle ranchers led to outright massacres against uncontacted tribes to the point of near extinction, such as an Ankutsu tribe being massacred by a party of cattle ranchers in 1990, leaving only seven survivors and the village being bulldozed by FUNAI agents to conceal the evidence. To this day, encroachment into the Amazon rainforest by miners and loggers continues to threaten the cultural way of life for the indigenous peoples of Brazil.

Spanish Conquest of the Inca Empire

In 1532, an army of conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro began an invasion of the Inca Empire. Pizarro was successful in raiding the Inca Empire's gold and silver and killing the last emperor, Atahualpa. Afterwards, the Neo-Inca State was established with Manco Inca becoming the new emperor. In 1541, Pizarro was murdered by Diego de Almargo II, who would later murder Manco three years later. In 1572, Francisco Toledo managed to successfully crush the resistance of the Neo-Inca State before capturing Emperor Túpac Amaru I and executing him.

Spanish Conquest of the Muisca

The Spanish conquest of the Muisca Confederation was part of a series of colonization of the Intermediate Area, in which the Chibchan nations residing in Central America and northern Colombia were annexed by the Spanish Empire. The acquisition of the Muisca Confederation was led by several conquistadors such as Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada and his brother, Hernán Pérez de Quesada. The conquistadors established settlements in the region such as the New Kingdom of Grenada and subjected the Muisca to slavery via the encomienda system. The war ended in 1940 when the last ruler, Aquiminzaque was decapitated and the confederation was annexed under Spanish rule.

Massacre of Salsipuedes

On April 11, 1831, Uruguayan president Fructuoso Rivera orchestrated a genocide against the last remnants of the indigenous Charrúa people residing in the banks of the Salsipuedes creek. The Uruguayan Army led by President Rivera's nephew, Bernabé Rivera began attacking the natives after intoxicating them when they were offered a request to protect Uruguayan territories. Two attacks later occurred against the survivors of the massacre. It is estimated that 40 people were killed and another 300 were taken as prisoners, who were later sold into slavery in Montevideo. When it was believed that the Charrúa group had become extinct, the last four survivors were sold to French scientists and were transported to a human zoo in Paris.

Conquest of the Desert

In the 1870s, Argentina began a campaign of southward expansion into Patagonia to prevent Chilean influence in the region. This led to a series of conflicts against the indigenous Mapuche tribes living in the region, to which the Argentinians were successful in annexing the Patagonian region and subjugating the Mapuches. Many of the campaigns against the Mapuches happened under Julio Argentino Roca and the Mapuche resistance against Argentinian colonization is considered to be one of the most successful American indigenous resistance movements in history. Some have considered the Conquest to be a civilizing mission, while others labelled it as a genocide.

Pacification of Araucania

Similar to Argentina's Conquest of the Desert, the Chilean occupation of Araucania was a campaign of territorial expansion to colonize Patagonia and annex Mapuche territories. The Chilean conquest led to many Mapuches getting killed in war and dying of foreign diseases such as smallpox. The occupation also led to the Mapuches being left in a state of poverty for generations. A few massacres against Mapuche workers by Chilean soldiers and police officers have also taken place during the 20th century as well.

Selk'nam Genocide

Due to continuous attacks by Selk'nam warriors on miners and farmers, the settlers decided to put an end to the attacks by attempting to completely eradicate the Selk'nam population. Most of the massacres took place under the orders of several settlers such as Julius Popper, Ramón Lista and José Menéndez. Many of the victims were raped and mutilated and others were captured to be sold to concentration camps and human zoos. The extermination policy remained in place until early 20th century. The last full-blooded individual, Angela Loji, died in 1974.

War of the Triple Alliance

The War of the Triple Alliance (1865-1870) was launched by the Empire of Brazil, in alliance with the Argentine government of Bartolomé Mitre and the Uruguayan government of Venancio Flores, against Paraguay. The governments of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay signed a secret treaty in which the "high contracting parties" solemnly bind themselves to overthrow the government of Paraguay, which was lead by Francisco Solano López at the time.

In the 5 years of war, the Paraguayan population was reduced, including, civilians, women, children, and the elderly. Julio José Chiavenato in his book American Genocide affirms that it was "a war of total extermination that only ended when there were no more Paraguayans to kill" and concludes that 99.5% of the adult male population of Paraguay died during the war. Of a population of approximately 420,000 before the war, only 14,000 men and 180,000 women remained.

Putumayo Genocide

The Peruvian government ceded to the Peruvian Amazon Company the Amazon territories north of Loreto, after the company's founder Julio César Arana purchased the land. Shortly after, private hosts of Arana – brought from Barbados – which consisted of forcing Amerindians to work for him in exchange for "favors and protection", with the offer being unable to deny as disagreements led to their kidnapping by mercenaries paid by the company. The Amerindians were subjected to isolation processes in remote areas to collect rubber in inhuman conditions and if they did not meet the required amount, they were punished with death or were disappeared in "distant camps" where ninety percent of the affected Amazonian populations were annihilated.

Napalpí Massacre

On July 19th, 1924, during the Conquest of Chaco, Argentinian police officers and ranchers massacred over 400 Toba and Mocoví people. Those who were survived were beheaded and hung before their bodies were buried in mass graves, while others were burnt. Some accounts suggest that the perpetrators had also taken their genitals and ears as trophies.

Paraguayan Genocide

The genocide of indigenous peoples in Paraguay took place between 1956 and 1989 under the presidency of General Alfredo Stroessner. The Aché in particular were subjected to killings and ethnic cleansing by loggers, miners and farmers. It is estimated that around 900 Aché people were killed, amounting to to 85% of the population. The notion of whether or not the systematic killings of the Paraguayan natives amounted to genocide is debated by historians.

Plan Verde

In the early 20th century, the Peruvian government adopted the theory of eugenics as a means of population control within the country. After the overthrow of president Alan García in 1989, the Alberto Fujimori administration established the National Population Program to sterilize women deemed "unfit" for society, including 300,000 indigenous Peruvians. The project continued until Fujimori was forced to flee to Japan in 2000.

Genocide in the United States, Canada and Greenland

Extinction of the Beothuk

The Canadian Beothuk people of Newfoundland became extinct in 1829. Initially co-existing with English settlers, the Beothuk had been forced off their fisheries and hunting grounds in the 17th Century, leading to starvation. The Beothuk’s attempts to reclaim these lands resulted in an all-out war during which the Beothuk were hunted down and killed. The colonial government attempted to mitigate this by putting out a reward for capturing Beothuk alive, but this just lead to more killing as settlers slaughtered any Beothuk who resisted capture. The last few Beothuk died of tuberculosis introduced by the settlers in captivity.

American Indian Wars

Many wars were fought against Native American tribes in the United States and Canada, first by colonial powers and then by the United States and Canadian governments. These wars left thousands, if not millions, of Natives dead and are generally viewed as xenophobic and genocidal, often leading to colonists adopting policies of outright extermination against the natives if they started winning (notable examples of this tactic being seen in the Pequot War, King Philip’s War the French and Indian War and the First Seminole War among others). There were also cases of U.S. Army troops massacring Native Americans, such as the cases with Sand Creek and Wounded Knee. Many of these massacres were done in reprisal for attacks and raids on settlements. In one instance, the U.S. government orchestrated a genocidal campaign against the indigenous population of California that lasted from 1846 to 1873.

Conestoga Massacre

The Paxton Boys, a vigilante group, raided Conestoga Indian Town, Pennsylvania, on 14 December 1763 with the intention of wiping out the Conestoga tribe, who they had accused of providing intelligence and aid to hostile tribes during Pontiac’s War. They shot and scalped six Conestoga during the attack and burned down the village, leading to Governor John Penn posting a reward for the capture of the Paxton Boys and placing the remaining sixteen Conestoga in protective custody in Lancaster Gaol.

On 27 December the Paxton Boys attacked Lancaster Gaol. They shot six Conestoga adults and eight children purposefully non-fatally before mutilating and scalping them, executing those who survived with shots to the head. Governor Penn increased the reward for their capture to $600 ($21, 000 in today’s money) but they were never brought to justice because many locals sympathized with them. Only two Conestoga survived, leading to the extinction of the tribe when they died.

Sullivan Expedition

In 1779, during the American Revolutionary War, American generals John Sullivan and James Clinton conducted a series of attacks on Iroquoian villages by employing scorched earth tactics to destroy their crops and villages. The expedition was enacted under the orders of George Washington to put an end to attacks by Iroquoian people and Loyalists sympathetic to the British and was mostly done in retaliation to the Cherry Valley massacre of 1778. After the expedition, the economy of the Iroquois Confederacy was severely devastated and many people died from disease.

Gnadenhutten Massacre

At the time of the American War of Independence, many Native Americans had been converted to Moravian Christianity and so remained neutral due to Christian pacifism. This alienated them from the American militias, who saw them as traitors for not helping to resist the British.

On 4 March 1782, Lieutenant Colonel David Williamson lead the Pennsylvania Militia in a raid on Gnadenhutten, a Moravian Indian village inhabited mostly by Lenape and Mohican tribesmen. They first came across the half-Lenape Joseph Schebosh and hacked him to death before proceeding on to the village, where they acted friendly and falsely promised the Moravians that they would take them to Fort Pitt to keep them safe from potential enemies. Several militiamen also persuaded Moravian Indians from the nearby town of Salem to come to Gnadenhutten for safety.

Once all the Moravian Indians had gathered, the militia confiscated their guns and axes (which they used for hunting), tied them up and announced that they had been found guilty of false charges of murder and espionage. The militia voted in favor of killing them (with the exception of eighteen who refused to take part in the massacre) before taking them to “killing houses” on 8 March where they were beaten, scalped and hacked to death while singing hymns and praying. Many native women were gang-raped by the militia before being killed. Overall, 96 Moravian Indian men, women and children were killed. The militia planned to commit another massacre at a nearby Moravian Indian settlement but the inhabitants were alerted to the events at Gnadenhutten and fled before the militia arrived.

Awa'uq Massacre

On April, 1784, during the Russian colonization of Alaska, a party of 130 Russian fur traders massacred a community of Alutiiq people residing on Sitkalidak Island. It is estimated that about 500 were killed in the massacre, while 1,000 people were captured as each chief was forced to surrender his children to the Russians as hostages.

San Nicolas Island Massacre

In 1814, a party of Aleut hunters working for the Russian American Company mass murdered and raped the native Nicoleño population residing on San Nicolas Island within the Channel Islands off the coast of California. The last surviving member, Juana Maria, died in 1853.

Trail of Tears

On 28 May 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed into law the Indian Removal Act, which authorized the US government to confiscate Native American land. The Act was strongly enforced under Jackson’s presidency and that of his successor, Martin Van Buren.

Under the Indian Removal Act, the government had a mandate to remove 50,000 Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole and Chickasaw people from their homeland and seize it for themselves. No means of transportation were provided after the Natives were removed, meaning they were forced to walk 2,200 miles to Indian reservations. 4,000 deaths were reported on one march alone, and estimates of the total death toll range from 5,000 to 25,000. Others Natives were herded into concentration camps until new land was found for then to settle on, but this was generally used as a last resort.

Long Walk of the Navajo

In 1864, after a Navajo tribe led by Chief Manuelito were defeated by the U.S. Army with the help of a Ute tribe, they were forced to walk 300 miles from their ancestral homelands in Arizona to a reservation in eastern New Mexico known as Bosque Redondo. The U.S. soldiers were complicit in the suffering of the Navajo during the Long Walk. Several women who struggled to keep up were mercifully killed by the soldiers based on oral accounts from the survivors. The Navajo were also subjected to slavery after being captured by New Mexican and Ute raiders. It is estimated that about 200 Navajo people died on the Long Walk.

At Bosque Redondo, the Navajo, along with the Mescalero Apaches, suffered from appalling conditions, as the inhospitable land on the reservation was not suitable for farming. After three years of staying at Bosque Redondo, general William Sherman and his peace commission offered the Navajo tribe to move east to Indian territory in Oklahoma, to which the tribe declined and requested an offer to move back to their ancestral homeland. A treaty was signed in 1868 and the Navajo returned to their original homeland.

Cypress Hills Massacre

On June 1st, 1873, a party of American hunters and traders massacred a group of Assiniboine people residing in a camp near Battle Creek in Saskatchewan. An investigation into the massacre was commissioned and most of the perpetrators were put on trial. This also led to the establishment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian resentment towards American people as a result of the massacre.

Wounded Knee Massacre

Based on the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, the U.S. government was able to convince the Lakota tribe to move to the Great Sioux Reservation in return for less inhumane treatment. At around this time, the Sioux took up the "Ghost Dance" religion, which taught that loving each other, working hard and not stealing or fighting would lead to the reunion of the living and the dead and the sweeping away of evil. White authorities, alarmed by this new religion, began arresting Lakota leaders, leading to many Lakota attempting to flee the reservation.

On December 29, 1890, the Seventh Cavalry Unit, lead by James W. Forsyth and acting on orders from President Benjamin Harrison, intercepted a group led by Chief Spotted Elk as they were fleeing the reservation. Forsyth announced that they were to surrender all their weapons, but one deaf-mute man, Black Coyote, did not understand his orders and failed to put down his rifle. The soldiers attempted to take the rifle from Black Coyote, causing it to discharge. The panicked soldiers immediately opened fire on the unarmed Lakota, some of whom attempted to retrieve their guns in self-defense, which was used to justify the massacre. Women and children fled and took cover in a nearby ravine, but were killed when Forsyth ordered light artillery positioned on the hill to fire on their position. It is estimated that around 300 Lakota were killed in the massacre. 20 of the soldiers who participated in the massacre were rewarded Medals of Honor.

Assimilation policies

The Bureau of Indian Affairs pursued a policy of cultural assimilation of Native Americans under the Dawes Act of 1887. Based on Richard Pratt's ideology of "kill the Indian and save the man", the BIA forcibly enrolled Native American children in "Indian boarding schools" (most infamously Carlisle Indian Industrial School) where they were banned from speaking their native language and practicing their religion. Children were harshly disciplined if they refused to assimilate into white culture and many died. Parents who refused to give up their children were incarcerated. This policy of cultural genocide finally ended in 1934 when the failures of the policy became clear and the schools were all closed.

The Canadian government pursued the same policy with the Canadian Indian residential school system which was designed to forcibly assimilate native children into western culture. These schools were even more brutal than the American ones, with many acts of physical, mental and sexual abuse being committed against the children. Thousands of children died due to poor treatment until the system was closed down in 1997, and mass graves are still being uncovered today.

Indian termination policy

"Indian termination" is a phrase describing United States policies relating to Native Americans from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s. It was shaped by a series of laws and practices with the intent of assimilating Native Americans into mainstream American society. Cultural assimilation of Native Americans was not new; the belief that indigenous people should abandon their traditional lives and become what the government considers "civilized" had been the basis of policy for centuries. What was new, however, was the sense of urgency that, with or without consent, tribes must be terminated and begin to live "as Americans." To that end, Congress set about ending the special relationship between tribes and the federal government.

In practical terms, the policy ended the federal government's recognition of sovereignty of tribes, trusteeship over Indian reservations, and the exclusion of state law's applicability to Native persons. From the government's perspective, Native Americans were to become taxpaying citizens subject to state and federal taxes as well as laws from which they had previously been exempt.

The policy for termination of tribes collided with the Native American peoples' own desires to preserve Native identity. The termination policy was changed in the 1960s and rising activism resulted in the ensuing decades of restoration of tribal governments and increased Native American self-determination. This policy would continue until being discontinued by the Nixon administration.

Forced sterilization

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Indian Health Service performed thousands of sterilizations on Native American women between the ages of 15 and 44, with 3,406 women being sterilized between 1973 and 1976. Most of these sterilizations were performed without informed consent, with the women being either tricked into thinking the process was reversible, blackmailed into consenting with threats of losing welfare or simply forced to undergo the procedure with no prior knowledge. This was part of a wider policy of eugenics which also included African-Americans and the poor. It was halted in 1976 when the General Accountability Office found the sterilizations to be noncompliant with IHS ethics and policy and declared a moratorium on all sterilization procedures.

Highway of Tears

In British Columbia, Canada, tens of poverty-stricken natives have been subjected to homicides, rapes and disappearances. Many of these cases have been unresolved, with some activists arguing that the lack of coverage and results of the investigations are due to systemic racism and the media being complicit in the injustices suffered by indigenous people. These crimes still persist to this day.

Spiral Campaign

In Greenland, thousands of Inuit women has intrauterine placed on them by Danish government officials to control the birth rate among the Greenlandic Inuit population. Some have characterized this act as genocide and both the Danish and Greenlandic governments are currently conducting an investigation into the campaign.