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The Conquest of the West

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 9 years, 4 months ago


Talking Points
Western Migration and Settlement




Historical Context -Native Americans out West faced two options: agree to settle on a reservation or fight the U.S. Army as “hostiles.” Some chose reservations, others to fight, but all were cleared out.





The compromise of 1877 Hayes wins the election through bi-partisan commission designated to pick winner.  Hayes agrees to pull troops out of the south effectively ending Military Reconstruction and the government role as protector of the blacks.  Troops stationed in La and SC are sent out west.  Why did it end? – Political Horse trading!!




Unorganized territory west of the Mississippi - the term condenses a huge area into one term the “West” Unlike the rich, lush farmland in the eastern part of the United States, the Great Plains stretched for miles upon miles with barely a tree in sight and low annual rainfall that often left the land dry and parched. In the Rockies deposits of silver, copper, gold, lead and other minerals were waiting to be exploited.



Cowboys and Indians


#2 DIVERSITY of the WEST  - Who lives out West? It  is a multi-cultural and multi-racial society.

Buffalo Soldiers – 20% of the US Calvary is African American.


Chinese – 10,000 Rail workers imported to work on Trans cont. RR

Also would impact agricultural development with farming techniques


Mexicans – Regular cross-cultural border flow and conflicts over land acquisition


Women – “Soil doves”  More men than women out west;  Homesteader families


Indians - Tribes




The attitude and opinions that structured this relationship (innocence vs. ignorance)




Despite destruction, most whites were not motivated by blood thirsty conquest

A misunderstanding of how other cultures (Native Americans) lived and what they valued

Land is unsettled – Americans have become rugged individuals because of our experience settling the west. Remember this is our Manifest Destiny!!!


Cowboys and Indians - Distorts our understanding and masks a harsh reality (IMAGE)







1830 The Trail of Tears
Five Civilized tribes are relocated to the plains Indians are not sovereign nations, but domestic dependents.


1830-1860An uneasy co-existence
Indians Nation are responsibility of the federal government.  However, the presence of white settlers cannot be controlled or managed. This is a problem. Instead of making treaties, we begin to move Indians to reservations.


Reservation policy is contradictory!
To protect Indians from whites we attempt forced assimilation while herding Native American’s off to reservations?







 Strained Relations
Relations with Indians quickly deteriorate WHY?

1 Resource competition  - White settlement of the west, building the transcontinental Railroad, the desire for land as a resource…Native Americans are in the way and the Army is sent to pacify them


2. All Native Americans not on reservations are considered hostile regardless of status. If Indians are not in direct control, they are swept up in the movement.


3. Western Settlement is disrupting the patterns of Native American life – eating away at their livelihood


The Buffalo become a HUGE part huge of this story WHY?

REEL History "Dances with Wolves" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPA64RTfNiI










#4 Three Kinds of Indian Conflict



Expanding Native American tribes vs. Expanding United States government


US Government attempts to stop Indian raiding of white settlements. Why are Indians raiding settlers’ livestock? 



Smaller Indian tribes attempt to preserve their independence





1868 Medicine Lodge Treaty

Red Cloud agrees to keep peace with the US so he can continue expansion.


News of Indian wars reaches the east. This news becomes a political hot button. Policy – discourages warfare and sign treaties (pacification)


Grant established commission to investigate Indian relations


1874 – General Custer finds gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Immediately attacked by the Sioux whose land was protected by a treaty with the whites

1876 Custer’s Last Stand 12,000 Sioux wipe out 600 of Custer’s men in 20 minutes


Government pursues Crazy Horse (wins the battle, looses the war)


1890 Ghost Dane Movement  
Indian Resistance and Hostility. This freaks out white people. Remember early slave revolts?


Wounded Knee - 146 Sioux women and children are massacred








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