Plains Indains

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(1999 FRQ) “Plains Indians”

In the last half of the nineteenth century, the lives of the Plains Indians were more dramatically affected then ever before. Both the technological breakthroughs and government policies had a significant impact on the Plains Indians. Technology played a major part not only with the advancements with railroads but with the now exchangeable parts in guns, which showed useful in the battle of Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee. The government gave the railroad millions of acres of land grants, such as the Morrill Land Grants. This action by the government often forced the Plains Indians to move or they were forced onto reservations by the government. The Dawes Act of 1887 forced certain tribes onto reservations. Frontiersmen and railroad companies now expanded out west with technological advancements, forever changing the lives of the Native Americans. As a result of technological developments, the Plains Indians suffered many losses. Most notably, the expansion of the railroad led to a severe loss of the Indian population as well as their culture and way of life, which depended heavily on the buffalo. Railroad expansion brought white settlers to lands which were nearby to pre-existing Indian territories. This caused much conflict between Native Americans and whites who wanted to claim the land. Indians also experienced difficulties because treaties were usually not honored by settlers and the government. The railroad also allowed frontiersmen to have easier access to food and supplies when fighting the Indians. Because the whites had this advantage, Indians experienced an increase in the number of casualties. Railroads also provided easier access to the buffalo for the whites. Indian life revolved around the buffalo as they used every part of it- for food, homes, and clothing. Settlers would kill the buffalo for business and for money. One such individual, Buffalo Bill slaughtered hundreds of buffalo selling it to other...
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