Native Americans in the United States

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Perhaps because the most well-known Native Americans live on reservations relatively isolated from major population centers, universities have conducted relatively little public opinion research on attitudes toward them among the general public. In 2007 the non-partisan Public Agenda organization conducted a focus group study. Most non-Native Americans admitted they rarely encountered Native Americans in their daily lives. While sympathetic toward Native Americans and expressing regret over the past, most people had only a vague understanding of the problems facing Native Americans today. For their part, Native Americans told researchers that they believed they continued to face prejudice and mistreatment in the broader society.[112]

Mark Twain, 1870, The Noble Red Man (a satire on James Fenimore Cooper's portrayals) [113]

Conflicts between the federal government and Native Americans occasionally erupt into violence. Perhaps the more notable late 20th century event was the Wounded Knee incident in small town South Dakota. During the period of expanding civil rights protests, about 200 activist members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) took control of Wounded Knee on February 27, 1973. They were protesting issues related to Native American rights and the nearby Pine Ridge Reservation. Federal law enforcement officials and the United States military surrounded the town. In the ensuing gunfights, two members of AIM were killed and one United States Marshal was wounded and paralyzed.[114] In June 1975, two FBI agents seeking to effect an armed robbery arrest at Pine Ridge Reservation were wounded in a firefight, then killed by shots fired at point-blank range. AIM activist Leonard Peltier was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life in prison in the FBI deaths.[115]

In 2004, Senator Sam Brownback (Republican of Kansas) introduced a joint resolution (Senate Joint Resolution 37) to “offer an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United States” for past “ill-conceived policies” by the United States Government regarding Indian Tribes.[117] Buried in the 2010 defense appropriations bill, President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law in 2009.[118]

In 2007, AIM activist John Graham was extradited from Canada to the U.S. to stand trial for killing N.S. Mimaq in 1975. The Native American woman activist was killed years after the Wounded Knee standoff, allegedly for having been an FBI informant at the time.[119][120]

In a 2010 dispute over cigarette taxes between the Seneca Nation and New York City's Mayor Bloomberg, the Seneca Nation called for the mayor's resignation. The dispute over the tax, set to go into effect Sept. 1, drew attention after Bloomberg said on a radio show that Governor Paterson needs to grab a "cowboy hat and a shotgun" and demand the money himself.[121]

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