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Conquest has always remained a crucial part of the USA national history. Since its founding in 1776, the state strived to expand its borders beyond the initial limit to gain new lands for settling and economic growth. The inclusion, forceful or not, caused a series of both the positive and negative demographic aspects. The leading tendencies included settlement and growth of the national identity among the Anglo-American citizens. They began to distinguish themselves from the Native Americans and immigrants and feel their supremacy as a civilization. Regarding the latter ones, they also took part in the population influx into the lands, although locally, they still became the victims of discrimination and segregation.
The concepts of frontier and manifest identity played a critical role in shaping the outlook of the Anglo-American population. Both were mean to support the westward expansion of the US territory. More specifically, the first one drew a line between civilized lands and the “wild” area for future colonization. As Lim notes, “At the so-called frontier, la frontera, American and Mexican elites began imagining the future” (20). The second one, in turn, signified the desire of Anglo-Americans to “civilize” the lands in question further and further by using the modern means at hand. With both influencing their minds, the colonists, pushed by the interested political and economic parties, became the settlers supposed to “transform” the lands. Furthermore, the authorities attempted to attract the immigrants of European origin for their goal, deeming them more reliable than the others.
The non-Anglo-American nations were still a valuable part of the described situation with settlements. As one could guess, the native Indians who remained on these lands after the massive genocides, especially on the Spanish territory in Mexico, had a saying in the process. However, as Lim points out, their numbers were scarce, and their communities were dispersed by the governmental policy of removing them from the borderlands for further assimilation (44). For instance, the boarding schools for Indian children were supposed to suppress their native language and culture, banning the children from using their mother tongue.
The situation with Indians should be elaborated upon since it is an especially harsh example of the Anglo-American approach to their domination and modernization. The mentioned boarding schools were forced onto the children as an instrument to cultivate the “civilized” English, as opposed to their national languages. In the process, the kids suffered several harsh practices, including direct violence, to make them avoid using the native language. As one of the school participants complained, the prohibition of tongues other than English was official, and every deviation from it was punished (“Our Spirits Don’t Speak English: Indian Boarding School”). Therefore, the children became the victims of rapid assimilation attempts. They directly stemmed from the concepts of Anglo-Americans about their civilization mission on the continent. The Indians were presumably chosen as the nation which required “civilizing” the most. After all, there was a long history of pushing them back from the conquered lands into limited areas.
The other nations, such as Mexicans, were treated less harshly due to the skin color distinction, which allowed them to participate in the colonization of the borderlands more profoundly. Nonetheless, closer to the end of the 19th century, the segregation policy became more prominent, primarily because of the movements of Afro-Americans, Indians, and Chinese.
Lim, Julian. Porous Borders: Multiracial Migrations and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. Edited by Andrew R. Graybill and Benjamin H. Johnson, The University of North Carolina Press, 2017.
“Our Spirits Don’t Speak English: Indian Boarding School.” Youtube, uploaded by Richheape. 2008, Web.