American Involvement in the Vietnam War
The Vietnam War lasted from 1959 to 1975, with the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front fighting the South Vietnamese and the United States military. The United States involvement stemmed from the belief that if Vietnam came under communist control, communism would quickly spread throughout Southeast Asia. In 1965, the first American troops were sent to South Vietnam to prevent the downfall of the government. More troops were sent to Vietnam over the following years despite the war’s unpopularity at home. Demonstrations, sit-ins, and anti-war songs became common in 1960s America.
In 1968, Richard Nixon defeated Lyndon B. Johnson in the presidential election, promising peace with honor. He was unable to make progress in peace negotiations but won reelection in 1972. In January 1973, all participants in the Vietnam War signed the Treaty of Paris. Among the terms of the Treaty of Paris were the withdrawal of American troops from South Vietnam (that occurred by the end of March) and a cease-fire.
The casualties were immense: three to four million Vietnamese lost their lives, close to two million Laotians and Cambodians were killed after these nations were drawn into the conflict, and over fifty-eight thousand Americans died. The war cost the United States well over $ 130 billion. Despite the terms of the treaty, conflict persisted in Vietnam, and, in 1975, it was unified under communism.
The Chippewa originally settled in a large area ranging from present-day Ontario and Quebec to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. This area expanded to include Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Dakotas. When European explorers and settlers came to America, the Chippewa formed fur-trading relationships with them. This trade led many Chippewas to the prairies, where they gradually adopted a lifestyle different from that of their woodland forebears. In Erdrich’s Love Medicine, the Chippewa reservation is in North Dakota, making her characters descendents of the original tribe.
The Chippewa on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota were among the few Native American populations who asked that the government create a reservation for them. By 1960, close to seven thousand Chippewas lived there. Twenty years later, that number had decreased to about four thousand.
Life on Native American reservations has traditionally been difficult. The land assigned to reservations is generally unfit for rich crop cultivation, unemployment is high, education is lacking, disease and alcoholism are ongoing problems, and communication between generations is made more difficult by the Americanized schooling received by youngsters. Still, progress made since the 1980s has improved conditions.
Thomas E. Barden – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 14, Louise Erdrich, Published by Gale Cengage Learning.