New Spain was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire in cooperation with the major territories in the commonly known American Septentrional. The establishment of the New Spain followed the conquest of the empire of Aztec in 1521. It covered North America and South of Canada a portion that is presently occupied by Mexico and Central America, excluding area covered by Panama; most of United states, western of Mississippi river and Floridas. The Spanish East and West Indies were also included and the administrative units were in Las Californias, Nueva Extremadura and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico. New Spain was leading in the four Viceroyalties established for governing the foreign colonies of Spain under the rule of Viceroy in the city of Mexico whose responsibility was to govern different territories on New Spain instead of the king of Spain.

The Iroquois` Historical Account

The Iroquois lived in the north-eastern part of the present United States, in upstate New York and spread up to the Niagara Falls. From the historical records, it is known that they lived in communities in long buildings, which were not only their shelters, but also places for community meetings and worship (Tuck, 1978). Due to historical records, the Iroquois that consisted of the Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora established a constitution and its government to protect their citizens in different matters and conflicts, providing law on their territories (Barrett, 2003). The Iroquois were powerful people who later gained control of the present north-eastern part of the U.S.A. and eastern Canada due to migration and conquest. By 1680, they occupied the territories of Kentucky, the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, Illinois River, Lake Michigan, southern Ontario and south-western Quebec and finally New England with the Connecticut River and the Hudson River. In spite the fact that the Iroquois made a great impact on history of the United States, their amount in the 17 th century was approximately 20,000. Due to various epidemics which were brought from Europe and wars reduced their population almost in a half of its original number. Permanent wars with the French and British moved them back to the original territories (Barrett, 2003).

An efficient political and social organization of the Iroquois attracted the historians and the founding fathers of the U.S.A., such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. They invited the Iroquois leaders to take part in the meetings that led to the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Some of the Iroquois original laws (to serve, resolve and protect disputes) were included to the American Constitution. The Iroquois was one of the most influential Native American tribe and made an important input in the development of those territories, where they were settled. They were rather cultural people who educated their children, had their own traditions and holidays. People cultivated agriculture, gathered forest products like berries and mushrooms, went fishing and hunting. The fact that they lived in long houses was a symbol of their unity.

The Iroquois society is characterised by a rich and varied culture. Women had a great respect in their families and there never was any violence against them. They were responsible for bringing up children, property, dwellings and horses; furthermore, they could choose what kind of work to do in the dwelling. They had equal rights with their men and in case of divorce it was a man who had to leave the house, not a woman.

Colonial Wars

During the first meeting with the Europeans on their territories most of the Iroquois were rather friendly and helpful. They were acting that way because of their lifestyle and traditions, when all people used to help each other.  Colonial wars took place mainly in Canadian territories between the Iroquois and the French. Samuel de Champlain started the war against the Iroquois in 1609 and the battles had been continuing for the next 150 years. Native Americans were fearless fighters who did not save their lives protecting their native land, women and children against the European colonists. The war of 1650 is known in the American-Canadian history as one of the most severe war against French colonists who had a great fear against the Iroquois. It was hard for the French to establish their rules and laws because of the Iroquois severe resistance (Abler, 2007). The year 1650 is known as the year of the famous Iroquois attack due to which they dispersed the Huron`s throughout Ontario and had the intention to destroy Montreal and Quebec City. As a result of that war, the Iroquois returned to their own land. Only by the year 1760, England could establish their law and system as a result of seven years war.

Another war, which is worth mentioning, was in the September, 1680 where 500 Iroquois and 100 of their allies had a battle in the village of Kaskaskia in Illinois. Most of the Illini warriors were armed with bows and tomahawks while the Iroquois were armed with guns (Abler, 2007). The Illini joined a Canadian Army in the present territory of the upper New York State. Many Iroquois villages were burned and destroyed in that war. Some Iroquois live in New York nowadays, others moved to Canada in 1700s.

The arrival of the Europeans destroyed the culture, way of life, traditions and religion of Native Americans. Though, they put a great impact in the further development in different spheres of American life such as economic, political, military, education and etc. The Iroquois and other groups of Native Americans were moved from their territories because of reason of survival. Many of them died because of diseases which the Europeans brought with them. Government policies were held against Native Americans that forced them to live in reservations.

Today the majority of American Indians do not live in reservations like hundred years ago; approximately 80 percent of them live in urban environment and have equal rights with all the other citizens of the United States. It is worth mentioning, that most American Indians have been assimilated into American culture.&

Native America and the Clash of Cultures (During the Period of Colonization)

During the 16th century, Portugal and Spain were in the forefront of the exploration of the European and expansion of colonial ways as well as opening routes of trade across the oceans. Castilian conquistadors overthrew the Aztec and Inca civilizations laying claim to vast stretches of the fertile land in South and North America. The Empire of the Spanish subjugated the oceans with the large and well experienced army hence ruling the battlefield through their fearsome and well trained soldiers. The Spanish Colonization of America was motivated by their exploration, settlement, conquest and political rules. Colonial expansion across the place was enhanced by establishment of good and strong trade routes and the spread of Christianity via indigenous conversions (Converse, 2008 p. 87-88). The Spaniard tried to justify their actions of colonizing the natives through the use of religion. They convinced the natives to be converted to Christianity so as to behave like the Christians in catholic doctrines. This was after realizing that the natives accepted them when they came through the church than if they come in like colonizers (Hassig, 2006 p.76).

The South and North America forms the so called New World. This name emerged after the discovery of what it contained thus it was unexplored region sometimes. The millions of natives living there did not have knowledge of discovering the potential of rich resources in the place, for example, gold and fertile lands. The place also had the potentials of establishing and developing trade thus improving the economic standards of the place (Payne, 2006 p. 256-276).

When the first settlers came to settle in the place they discovered that the place was very productive. The Europeans decided to colonize the Americans in order to change their lifestyles and have them do things the same way as the Europeans. The Europeans also knew that after colonizing them they would take control over everything thus benefiting from the resources. The settlers moved to America in search for good and safer place to live in thus they explored in and out in search for riches thus they named it New World. America had the potential of become a victorious nation since they still had power to rebel the colonizers until they had to use other ways of reaching them like through the church thus they had to convert them to Christianity and took the advantage to change them to behave like the Europeans. The period the Europeans governed the American gave them an opportunity to enjoy the 'new world' because they could access and enjoy everything they wanted. This enhanced their social, political and economic development since they improved their financial status, improve the leadership skills and interpersonal relationship (Faragher, 2005 p. 235-256).

The southern Thirteen Colonies and Chesapeake supplied England with a lot f money and other resources which were essential during the period of British colonization. In the beginning, the settlers of Chesapeake Bay region were driven by the desire to own land. Tobacco was the main support for the economy of Virginia and Maryland. The farmers concentrated on establishing plantations of the cash crop by the riverbanks where there is good and fertile soil and for the assurance of easy transportation since water transport was the mostly used. For the labour of their lands, the planters brought in many English workers; mostly the young men who were brought in as indentured servants.  By 1700 more than 110, 000 servants had arrived in the place hence most of the immigrants in the place came in as servants. The population rapidly increased although these people were leading humble lives before they had enough money for farming.

In the 17th century, the image of France was represented by four groups; according to the reports of the explorers. These include: Fur Trappers and Traders, fishermen, missionaries and permanent settlers. The early French ventures in North America were the companies trading fur although very few of them prospered. The traders moved to the interior of the area in search of the commodity and the interaction between the foreign traders and the natives was considered to be essential. The Fishermen from French were the earliest Europeans to settle along the coastal areas as they carried on the economic activity. French missionaries especially the Jesuits worked hard to take Christianity to the natives, their efforts became successful when they joined hands with the traders (Powell, 2005 p. 204).

The Frenchmen who choose to move and settle in New France was not large, they were reluctant to leave their mild climate for harsh winters and infertile soil in Canada. However, the French officials enticed with money and other valuable gifts so as to agree to relocate. Once in New France the settlers were encouraged to try all means of increasing their population.

Like many other communities of the world, the Native Americans also faced many challenges during their period of colonization. This is because they were expected to leave their original cultures and adapt those of the colonizers and this was done by force or through tricks such as Christianity, trade or by enticing them.

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Native American Tribe - The Indians

30 years after the civil war, the government policy was intended to integrate into American society from Native Americans shifting from forced separations. The main objective was to incorporate the Native American society. Starting 1860s, there was aggressiveness in the government policy that affected the Native Americans. The policy was meant to force Indians to move out of the Americans land, with the help of their leaders. Failure to convince the community members would lead to a fight. In certain extreme instances, the military troop would invade into the innocent Indians and start a fight (Channing, 1978). Such aggression made the situation out of control as Indians resorted to fighting back to protect their land.

Before the exploration of America by Christopher Columbus at the end of the 15th century, there were a lot of Native American tribes who inhabited the country. Each of them had their own language, culture, traditions and religion. Each tribe had its name; most of them had the meaning “people.” Therefore, all those various tribes with their specific features and characteristics formed American nation, known in the history as Indians. It is worth mentioning that people who inhabited America, lived in peace with each other in spite of the difference they had in many aspects of their life, culture and development (Tuck, 1978). When the whites came to the American land, they brought a lot of conflicts, which occurred between the tribes and whites as well as between each other. With the European colonization of the American land, Native American tribes faced a lot of difficulties and changes in their lives. By the end of the 19th century most American tribes lost their freedom, independence, language and territories; those who survived and wanted to preserve their own traditions and the way of life had to move into reservations.

In 1980, the Indians ended the fight and resolved to a more peaceful and a soft line policy. That battle had resulted into so many deaths. They finally decided to find ways of making changes to these policies. Burke Act of the year 1906 was another policy that allowed the Indians to become citizens only and only if they choose to leave their tribe. In the year 1920s, all the Native Americans were granted citizenship. As much as the intention of the Indian policies had diverted, the outcomes of the same policies assisted in the suppression of the Native Americans together with their culture that they had embraced for so many years. The Indians lost most of their lands to the whites while they were implementing the reservation policy.

The Dawes Severalty Act had various negative implications on the lives of the Native Americans. When the policy of aggressive came into action, it faced so many critiques from the politicians and Easterners (Littell, 1861). This brought change in the Native Americans as much as the policies did not involve much blood. However, the problems for the Native Americans were not fully considered in the process. The attempt for the Native Americans to integrate into the American society was not successful. For the past 30 years, the Government policies were intended to integrate the American society with the Native American society without using force. Anyone who attempted to Americanize received a severe punishment and even one would receive a death sentence as one of the punishment (McPherson, 2009).

In the year of 1871, the American government engaged into numerous treaties. The Natives from the west were the only once who were resisting submitting to the American government and they submitted themselves last (Price, 1776). The battle that was commonly known as little Bighorn was in existence, in the year 1876, and that was the greatest victory that Native Americans ever had.  They, however, had various defeats like that of Sioux Uprising of 1862, the sand Creek Massacre of 1864, and the Wounded Knee of which existed in 1872. The US army decided to use force and persuaded the implementation of the new policies where the Native Americans were persuaded to change their tribe and religion and join Christianity and do Agriculture in the existing lands (Smith, 1978).

Under the New Echota Treaty, the removal of the existing policies took place. Using the policy of removal, most of the Indians were removed from the east and relocated to  the West by the government officials. Though this policy stated that one was to relocate voluntarily, most of the Native Americans decided not to relocate and remained in the east. This forced the Americans to input some pressure for them to move to the west. There are some Cherokees who were practically ejected from their home and taken to the west after they had utterly rejected to sign the policy of the removal treaties (Taylor, 2005).

The Native Americans were the local people in North America who occupied the boundaries of the today's continental United States. When European adventurers came to North America, they were able to conquer the Native Americans in their North American continent due to various disadvantages they faced. Some of the factors that made them vulnerable include their vulnerability to diseases and the high level of technology of the European Technology.

Vulnerability to European Diseases

Europeans brought diseases in the continent that the Native Americans did not have immunity to.  The Native Americans had also never been exposed to such diseases unlike the Europeans who had developed resistance to their diseases. Both communities suffered for the disease but Europeans suffered just minor ailments and did not experience the full force of the diseases. Since they were disease of the European origin, the Europeans had developed drugs and other remedies to assist them in dealing with the diseases. Their immunity had become well developed to resist such diseases. On the other hand, the Native Americans lacked all these abilities since the diseases were new to them. Their bodies were therefore severely affected by these diseases and the Europeans took advantage of this and were able to conquer them.

European technology

Europeans had very superior technology that was very new to the Native Americans. The Native Americans had never experienced things like the gun powder, the firearms and the wheel by the time the Europeans arrived in the continent. Europeans had very high level of technology that the Native Americans had never experienced and therefore had no mobility to fight the European conquests. Europeans had rifles, horses and carriages that aided in mobility during the conquest.

Other reasons for Native Americans' Vulnerability include the large number of the invaders, slavery tactics used by the Europeans, the strong warfare, and general abuse that led to death of almost 99 percent of the Native Americans.

Diseases and high level technology were the main elements used by the Europeans in conquering the Native Americans. The disease weakened them since they had never been exposed to such diseases and were easily conquered by the Europeans.

Alaska Natives

Native American peoples represent one of the most important elements of North American geography, history, demography and culture. Unfortunately, most Native American tribes face serious social, economic and health issues. This paper focuses on the discussion of Alaska Natives and the barriers they are facing to self-realization and productive development. A brief history of Alaska Natives is provided. The current state of demography and life among Alaska Natives are described. The main issues affecting Alaska Native people and possible ways to resolve them are discussed.

Native Americans are the indigenous people residing in the North American continent and covering mostly the territory of the continental United States, Hawaii and Alaska. They are made up by numerous nations and tribes that have passed a thorny way to self-identification and cultural recognition. Despite the multitude of tribal traditions and cultures, most Native Americans call themselves American Indians and currently make up almost 2% of the U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005). Alaska Natives are believed to play one of the major roles in the life and evolution of Native American nations. The scope of cultural, economic, political, and social issues faced by Alaska Natives cannot be easily dismissed. Embodied in the history of Alaska Natives is the political and physical oppression they have survived over multiple generations. It comes as no surprise that suicide and alcoholism are at the forefront of the social and cultural issues faced by Alaska Natives and only broad government support can help to alleviate the burden of these mental health problems on the Alaska tribes.

Alaska Natives: From History to Modernity

The history of Alaska Natives dates back to thousands of years (State of Alaska, n.d.). Today’s Alaska Natives are believed to have come from Asia, by traveling from Siberia by watercraft (State of Alaska, n.d.). The current state of archeological evidence confirms that people have lived in Alaska for at least 10,000 years, but the first colonization of the place had occurred thousands of years earlier (State of Alaska, n.d.). At different times different tribes thrived in Alaska, from the Tlingit and Tshimshians to Athabascan, Yupiks and Aleuts (State of Alaska, n.d.). The latter was the smallest Alaska Native tribe that made their living from the sea surrounding the Aleutian Islands which they inhabited (State of Alaska, n.d.). The ways Alaska Native tribes passed from their inception to modernity were different but the issues they are facing today are mostly the same.

Today’s Alaska Natives make a strong presence in the Alaska region. Alaska Native tribes make up approximately one fifth of the state’s population (State of Alaska, n.d.). 565 AI/AN tribes are federally recognized, with 100 more having state recognition (HHS, 2010). In 2008 the number of Alaska Natives was estimated at 4.9 million (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). Almost 2 million Alaska Natives live on trust lands and in reservations (HHS, 2010). 60 percent of them reside in metropolitan areas (HHS, 2010). 27% of the Alaska Native nation is composed by individuals under the age of 18 (HHS, 2010). In 2007 the median income for an Alaska Native family did not exceed $33,627 (HHS, 2010). Almost every fourth Alaska Native lives at the poverty level, whereas the prevailing majority works in professional and management occupations (HHS, 2010). 36 percent of Alaska Natives are claimed to have health insurance; 76 percent of them aged 25 have at least a high school diploma (HHS, 2010).

Despite the contribution made by government to the protection and revitalization of Alaska Natives, the latter are faced with a number of economic, social, cultural and political issues. Three most important issues affecting Alaska Natives are: 1) mental health and suicide; 2) poor and culturally misbalanced education; and 3) poor access to health care. Suicide is at the forefront of the social and health issues faced by Alaska Natives, originating from the continuous assaults and oppression transcending the history of all Native American nations. In the context of education, Alaska Natives have the perception that teachers do not care about their cultural and language needs (Reyhner, 2006). Most curricula are designed for mainstream Americans with little attention paid to Alaska Natives’ cultural heritage (Reyhner, 2006). Tests are standardized and culturally biased, as a result, many Alaska Natives end up in low-achieving classes (Reyhner, 2006). The lack of parent involvement adds complexity to the situation with Native Alaska education (Reyhner, 2006). In addition, Alaska Natives experience poor access to quality health care services. Barriers to health care in AN/AI nations range from the state-wide policy issues to micro-level obstacles, namely, the lack of transportation services (Baldwin et al., 2008). Nonetheless, no other issue affects Alaska Natives as seriously and deeply as suicide.

Suicide and Substance Abuse: An Explosive Mixture

For many years suicide has been one of the most serious mental health issues pressing Alaska Natives. Since the end of the 1960s the rates of suicide among Native Americans and Alaska Natives have increased dramatically (Kettl & Bixler, 1993). In the middle of the 1980s, the rates of suicide among Alaska Natives were twice as high as for the U.S., in general (Hlady & Middaugh, 1988). The situation is particularly difficult with youth suicides, since of all racial groups Alaska Native youth demonstrate the highest rates of suicide among males and females 10-24 years old (Dorgan, 2010). The effects of suicide on the lives of Alaska Natives cannot be overestimated. The suicide crisis in the AI/AN populations is more about human lives than about numbers. The rates of suicide among AI/AN nations indicates the seriousness of the existing social, cultural, and economic issues which young Alaska Natives cannot resolve. “Too often, Native young people simply fall through the cracks of a broken medical system that does not detect their mental health problems and, when they are detected, often fails to adequately treat them” (Dorgan, 2010, p. 213). The suicide problem leaves dozens of families in grief and reduces their physical and emotional ability to cope with the troubles of life.

For many years suicide has been a common problem for Alaska Natives and the rest of the U.S. In 2001, suicide was the eleventh leading cause of death among U.S. citizens and the factor responsible for 1.3% of all death in the U.S. (Gaynes et al., 2004). Every sixth American confesses having suicidal intentions or thoughts at least once in a lifetime (Gaynes et al., 2004). However, even in this case the situation with suicide among mainstream Americans is not as serious as it is among Alaska Natives. Coupled with substance abuse, suicide rates affecting Alaska Natives are twice as high as the rates of suicide at the federal level (Dorgan, 2010). The Alaska Native youth has the rate of suicide approximately 2.2 times higher than the average for the young people of other races (Dorgan, 2010). The history of these mental health issues dates back to the times of oppression and the dramatic changes most Alaska Natives have recently undergone.

The fact is that Alaska Native people faced numerous assaults and traumatic events in their way to liberation and self-identification. Pandemics, massacres, forced relocation and genocides altogether left a deep scar on the physical and emotional state of native people (Spicer et al., 2009). At present, these historical traumas are further coupled with substance abuse and interpersonal violence, child abuse and persistent discrimination against Alaska Natives (Spicer et al., 2009). In the meantime, Alaska Natives are going through the major economic, political and cultural shifts. The latter half of the 20th century witnessed Alaska Natives turning from a majority to a minority, filled with extreme cycles of social and economic changes (Hlady & Middaugh, 1988). Globalization and economic advancement changed the structure of community and family roles and severely undermined Alaska Natives’ cultural traditions and values (Hlady & Middaugh, 1988). Given the scope of the issue, broad government support is crucial to reduce the rates of suicide and related mental health problems among Alaska Natives.

Alaska Native Suicides: Preventive Efforts

Throughout their history Alaska Natives tried their best to address the problem of suicide rates. To some extent, suicide by itself served one of the most reliable ways to respond to the changes in the lives of AI/AN peoples. Community-based interventions and culturally-based mental health care used to be the most popular form of dealing with suicide in AI/AN tribes (Spicer et al., 2009). Alaska Suicide Prevention Council and the Community-Based Suicide Prevention Program were established as part of the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Prevention and Early Intervention program, to reduce the scope and implications of self-destructive behaviors among Alaska Natives (State of Alaska, n.d.). As of today, Alaska Natives have a number of programs implemented for their use.

As for the U.S. authorities, it was not before the beginning of the new millennium that the issue of suicide among AI/AN people has been federally recognized. The unique relationship between Alaska Natives and the federal government was colored with conflict and struggle (Spicer et al., 2009). For the most time, it was the federal government that caused serious emotional and suicide issues in AI/AN people, through continuous discrimination, oppression and violence. In 2003, the Indian Health Service (IHS) launched a broad Suicide Prevention Initiative to provide resources and information on suicide (Dorgan, 2010). Through 2004-2005, $200,000 was provided in funding to assist Indian nations in their suicide prevention efforts (Dorgan, 2010). Earlier in 2001 Congress had also passed the Indian Health Improvement Act but the reality is that no substantial decline in the rates of suicide have been achieved (Dorgan 2010). Apparently, only a broad federal program coupled with the implementation of culturally-based standards of education and health can help Alaska Natives to overcome the suicide problem.

Alaska Natives are facing a number of serious issues. Suicide produces huge influences on the quality of life among Native American nations in Alaska. The rates of suicide among Alaska Native youth are twice as high as among mainstream Americans. Community-based interventions and culturally-based mental health care used to be the most popular form of dealing with suicide in AI/AN tribes. Apparently, only a broad federal program coupled with the implementation of culturally-based standards of education and health can help Alaska Natives to overcome the suicide problem.

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