"Some observers believe, as one noted Indian activist has asserted, that “American policy toward the Indians has always revolved around the same central theme: how can ‘we,’ the superior, enlightened, Christian people, help/destroy, ‘them,’ the inferior, uncivilized, pegan people, in such a way as to eliminate… Indian people as members of distinct societies.” Other observers liken the federal-Indian relationship to a pendulum that has swung back and forth between attempts to annihilate tribes during certain periods of time and attempts to support tribal self-government and autonomy at others.
In fact, federal Indian policies can best be understood when placed in historical perspective. Many of these policies, as one court recently noted, are “better explained by history than by logic."
Stephen L. Pevar, The Rights of Indians and Tribes
, Fourth Edition (via adailyriot