War was waged on indigenous peoples across the Americas in the late nineteenth century by creole elites who saw them as obstacles to the dream of modernity upon which their republics had been founded. One of the earliest of these wars occurred in Chile starting in 1869, when the government adopted a policy of forcefully assimilating the lands and indigenous peoples of southern Chile. In Argentina, General Julio Roca led the “Conquest of the Desert” (1879 – 84) against the Mapuche Indians; in Canada, federation in 1867 prompted a shift from the previous policy of respecting indigenous lands to a far more aggressive policy of colonization. In the United States, a history of force was finally trumped by reason with the Dawes Act of 1887, dividing Indian lands into small parcels and enabling white settlement of all lands west of the Mississippi. This...

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