The Great West and the Agricultural Revolution
The Clash of Cultures on the Plains (1)
• The Indians stood in the path of the advancing white pioneers. • An inevitable clash loomed
• Migration and conflict were no strangers in the arid West • After the Civil War, the Great West was still relatively untamed, wild, full of Indians, bison, and wildlife, and sparsely populated by a few Mormons and Mexicans. • As the white settlers began populating the west, the Indians began to turn against each other and at the same time, were infected by white man’s disease.
• The Sioux, displaced by Chippewas from the their ancestral lands at the headwaters of the Mississippi in the late 1700s, expanded at the expense of the Crows, Kiowas, and Pawnees, and justified their actions by reasoning that White men had done the same thing to them. The
government tried to pacify the Plains Indians by signing treaties with the “chiefs” of •
various “tribes” at Fort Laramie in 1851 and at Fort Atkinson in 1853. • The treaties marked the beginnings of the reservation system in the West • Established boundaries for the territory of each tribe and attempted to separate the Indians into two great “colonies” to the north and south.
the U.S. failed to understand that such “tribes” and “chiefs” didn’t necessarily represent •
groups of people in Indian culture, and that in most cases, Native Americans didn’t recognize authorities outside of their families.
• In the 1860s the federal government intensified its policies by herding the Indians into smaller and smaller confines
• Most well known was the “Great Sioux reservation” in Dakota Territory and Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma.
were often promised that they wouldn’t be bothered further after moving out of their •
ancestral lands, and often, Indian agents were corrupt and pawned off shoddy food and products to their own fellow Indians.
• White men often disregarded treaties, though, and frequently swindled the Indians. • In frustration, many Native American tribes fought back. A slew of Indian vs. White skirmishes emerged between roughly 1864 to 1890 in the so-called “Indian Wars.” • After the Civil War, the U.S. Army’s new mission became clear—go clear Indians out of the West for White settlers to move in.
• Many times though, the Indians were better equipped than the federal troops sent to quell their revolts because arrows could be fired more rapidly than a muzzle-loaded rifle. • Invention of the Colt .45 revolver (six-shooter) and Winchester repeating rifle changed this. • Generals Sherman, Sheridan, and Custer (at Little Bighorn) all battled Indians.
Receding Native Population (2)
• Violence reigned supreme in Indian-White relations
• In 1864, in Sand Creek, Colorado, Colonel J. M. Chivington’s militia massacred in cold blood some 400 Indians who apparently thought they had been promised immunity. These Indians were absolutely harmless, and the soldiers killed innocent children and women with no mercy. • In 1866, a Sioux war party ambushed Captain William J. Fetterman’s command of 81 soldiers who were building the Bozeman trail to the Montana goldfields. • No survivors, and one of the very few Indian victories
years later, in 1868, another Treaty of Fort Laramie was signed, in which the government •
abandoned the Bozeman trail after the Battle of Little Bighorn. • The “Great Sioux Reservation” was now fully guaranteed to the Sioux tribes. However,
in 1874, a new round of warfare began when Custer led a “scientific” expedition into •
the Black Hills of South Dakota and announced that he had discovered gold. • Soon, a mass of gold-seekers swarmed into the Sioux lands. • The aggrieved Sioux, along with the Cheyenne and Arapaho, took to the warpath, inspired by the influential and wily Sitting Bull.
• The Nez Percé Indians also revolted when gold seekers made the government shrink their reservation by 90%,...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document