“Thinking Like an Indian” by Frederick Hoxie and “The Long, Bitter Trail” by F. C. Wallace

The history of the United States admires a wide specter of events which happened during a relatively short period of time in contrast with other countries. People of America are a sort of diversity in their ethnic, cultural, and traditional coloring. The issue of Native Americans is a very striking theme due to the hilarious and sometimes mysterious nature of these people. Two authors dedicated their works to Native Americans in order to work out the need of every human being living in the US to “think like an Indian”. They are: Frederick Hoxie and his book Thinking like an Indian and F. C. Wallace with his work The Long, Bitter Trail. This flow is evaluated by two authors in a similar manner of a historical analysis use and due to gradual prospects in both books on the essence of main values of Indians having no change throughout centuries.

The expansion of Anglo-American troops was negatively apprehended by people who lived on the American continent primordially. This approach is widely described by Wallace and Hoxie. Indians urged to provide their living with pure motives for vital things of life, such as: fatherland, family, community, and traditions. Looking at the alien invasion was quite astonished for them with European real intentions for war and bloody resolving of the national issue and the problem of territory division. The heirs of puritan descendents were cruel and merciless. Their culture differed far from the culture of Native Americans and the flow of negative manners, habits, and views on life. Frederick Hoxie while depicting the figure of Neolin, a missioner from Europe, pointed out an intentional desire of Indians to reject all that European culture suggested to Indians:

Described in early accounts from the 1760s as a young man, Neolin based his preaching on a vision that had convinced him that Indian people should separate themselves from all trappings of European culture (Hoxie, 2001, p. 3).

The family ties were strong enough between the members of one tribe. That is why the violation of traditions prescribed by ancestors could not be possible. It also concerned the mentality of Indians in a wide scope of their preferences in life. F. C. Wallace in this case adheres to classical American writers and J. F. Cooper, in particular, with a display in his novels of moral qualities which white people should borrow from Indians (Wallace, 1993).

Historians according to both writers should not estimate both European and Indian cultures in the same way due to strict and strong motivations of Native Americans to keep their culture in safety without any overlap with Europeans. Moreover, Hoxie insists on the fact that “Indian people and white people shared no common history” (Hoxie, 2001, p.5). The author continues with a point that the history of Native Indians can be perceived by means of a set of cultural and relational aspects of their living. Such a “nativist” outlook, as Gregory Evans Dowd called it, became the most significant approach while learning the culture and manner of Indians in the historical cut (Hoxie, 2001). This fact was quite dangerously apprehended by white people who were surprised with the Indians’ stubbornness and endurable attitude toward their understanding of how to live and share territories. Expansion itself made Native Americans resist in every possible way. This fact, in return, provoked Europeans to adopt and further provide the so-called removal policy for their hazardous neighbors (Wallace, 1993).

Though, historians should incorporate their arguments about the core values of Indians when encompassing the previous history of these people touching upon legends and beliefs of Indians. Their genuine evaluation makes people providing an outlook on the historical background of Indians see the difference in religious frameworks of two nations. Here one can see the difference in beliefs and how both Europeans and Indians followed them. “European culture was the birthplace of sorcery and evil” (Hoxie, 2001, p.6). With no points for making two nations similar in their historical development F. C. Wallace pointed out that the struggle about Indians’ belonging to the American nation began when Cass, particularly, made grave attempts in recognizing Indians “not as constitutionally but as linguistically inferior to Europeans” (Wallace, 1993, p. 43). This motive gives a controversial picture of relations within Europeans and Native Americans. It was so until William Apess published his book “Eulogy on King Philip” where he illustrated the two most convenient approaches toward a better understanding of the history of Native Americans on the whole (Hoxie, 2001). These approaches are: nativist, as was mentioned above, and moralist.

F. C. Wallace in his book tries to find out the answers for Indians’ capability of civilization (Wallace, 1993). It is so because for a historian the theme of civilization is rather significant and creates a complex of constituent parts concerning humanity, religion, culture, arts, which are worth of deeper learning. The reflections of this theme were quite different and the vast majority opposed this fact. Many thought that this can be achieved by means of the removal policy, others tried to maintain affairs with Native Americans in the flow of patience toward different nationalities corresponding to the “melting pot”. After a hard and live discussion of this problem nationwide the results left much to be desired: “The committee declared that the Indians were incapable of “civilization,” despite their recent “extravagant pretensions,” so loudly touted by misguided zealots opposed to emigration” (Wallace, 1993, p. 67).

These prospects on the whole made a reflection of how an experienced historian should perceive the history of the United States with special glimpses on its Native-American part. Furthermore, the points of historical background and the pathway of the American nation foundation are to be taken into account, of course. It is worth mentioning that the issue of American history was ornamented and shaped totally after the World War I, when a huge scope of scholars and social figures were united in the opinion that the American society should be learnt and evaluated as the “collection of communities shaped by tradition, economic structure, ethnicity, or social institutions” (Hoxie, 2001, p. 8).

Thus, the historical approach toward understanding of the relationships which were provided in the United States since its foundation does not exclude the significance of Native Americans as the ethical community of people being prior to Europeans. A historian should contemplate the overview of America starting with its shaping and connection to Indians and their sense of values in life in contrast with the European influence on the historical coloring of the US. The gradual changes which characterize the flow of the American people toward freedom and equality are, undoubtedly, reckoned with the indestructible nature of Indians’ culture.


  1. Hoxie, Frederick E. (2001). “Thinking like an Indian”: Exploring American Indian Views of American History. University of Illinois.
  2. Wallace, Anthony F. C. (1993). The Long, Bitter Trail: Andrew Jackson and the Indians. Hill and Wang.
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