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Ethnic Groups and Discrimination Essay Sample

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Ethnic Groups and Discrimination Essay Sample

When I think about the ethnic group I identify with the most, I would have to say classify myself as a White person. I have adapted White ways or the ways of my family. I don’t have very many cultural beliefs or views to follow. On the other hand, I am one-quarter Cherokee Indian. My father’s mother was a full-blood Cherokee. I’ve always been intrigued by this culture and the challenges and discrimination the tribe had faced throughout their development. The Cherokee Indians once settled in the Great Lake region of the United States. The Indians migrated south to the region which is now Georgia. Once settled in the south, the Cherokee tribe prospered. The tribe constructed a written language, built cities which included a capital city, and developed a constitution among the Cherokee people. When the White settlers began settling in the Cherokee lands, they showed much discrimination against the tribes. The settlers believed the Indians did not belong and they had the right to take over their lands. The tribe reached out to the government for assistance, but received no sympathy.

The cry for help turned into a treaty to make the Indians move from their already settled homelands to areas west of the Mississippi River (Hicks, 2011). Though other Indian tribes agreed to sign the treaties and move out, the Cherokee tribe refused. This started issues among the United States troops and the Cherokees. The troops forced more than 16,000 Cherokees into camps to await their unwanted evacuations of their lands (Hicks, 2011). In these camps the Cherokees were devastatingly abused; suffering from starvation, disease, physical and sexual abuse. If any Indian attempted to flee and escape the camp they would be shot on sight by the troops. Small portions of the tribe were made to evacuate the land during the heat of the summer. Cherokees endured heat exhaustion, desert suns, and hellish temperatures. The remainder of the tribe would be held until the winter. The tribe was forced to move from the land and face the dead of winter, which lead to historical event referred to as The Trail of Tears.

The Indians walked an excruciating 800 mile journey through the treacherous terrains. Cherokees suffered starvation, sickness, disease and over 4,000 deaths among their people (Hicks, 2011). As the Cherokees settled to their new lands, the tribe began to adopt the ways of the White people; languages, writing, education, and other cultural characteristics. Though the tribe adopted these ways, the United States still did not accept or view the Indians as citizens of the United States. Even African American slaves were awarded citizenship when they were set free after their involvement with the war. It wasn’t until 1924 that all Indian tribes were granted citizenship to the United States on a national level, though they were not recognized by the state as citizens until 1962 (Chiodo, 2011). Today there are many challenges Cherokee Indians face daily. Cherokee people identify strongly with both cultures; White and Cherokee Indian. It is sometimes a struggle for individuals to figure which culture they identify with the most. These people want to “fit in” with society, but still practice his or her cultures as well. Cherokees and other Indian tribes still participate in their cultural events (“Indian Country Diaries”, 2006). Another challenge Cherokees and other Indian tribes are encountering in today’s society is states’ rights.

This principal is asking the members of their tribe to be responsible for developing their own programs from within the tribe and sponsoring their own legal standpoint in their nation. The tribes are expecting to fund this through the gaming funding, though figuring how to be a sovereign nation is a large challenge (“Indian Country Diaries”, 2006). Since the states’ rights have forced the tribes to have their own schools, educational programs, and even law enforcement, this could cause prejudice or discrimination from White or other ethnic groups toward the Indian tribes. Cherokee Indians, along with other tribes have adopted gaming and casinos within the United States. These establishments are considered a part of the reservations and can hold different “rules” as opposed to others of their kind. This is where discriminatory acts can develop from other ethnic groups.

Inside these casinos, though creating jobs for all people, the Indians will be the first to get jobs within the facility. For example, if a White person who had experience in a field which would be an asset to the business and an Indian who had minimal experience in that same field, the business can hire the Indian regardless of the expectancy level. This situation would be considered reverse discrimination. When I think about the Cherokee Indians and their ways of life, I can say I do not identify with them or any other Indian tribe. I am curious about their cultures, but would never be able to maintain myself within their way of life. I once worked in a very large casino where I was encountered by many Indians in a particular tribe. I worked among the Indians and served other Indians as customers within the facility. I experienced a big “blow” from reverse discrimination. I do understand the severity of discrimination the tribes received in the past, though I feel discriminating others who would be more qualified for a job is absurd. In my area, which is close to the main casino, there are many stereotypes of the Indians that work and gamble at the casino. I feel stereotypes and discrimination in any form do not present a fair opportunity for anyone.


Chiodo, J. J. (2011). Citizenship: The Cherokee Indian Perspective. National Social Science Journal, 36(2), 24-34. HICKS, B. (2011). THE HOLDOUTS. Smithsonian, 41(11), 50.
Indian Country Diaries. (2006). Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/indiancountry/challenges/index.html

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