The Demise of Native Americans in the 19th Century

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In the late 1800’s, the few Native Americans that were left in the United States were almost completely extinguished. Many different things contributed to their near-extinction, some intentional and some unintentional. Some tribes went willingly, and some fought to the death. But in the end, it was proven that Native Americans and settlers could not live together in peace, and Native Americans were the ones at loss.

A number of American inventions indirectly hurt the Native Americans. In 1874, Joseph Glidden invented barbed wire. He thought that this would be a harmless invention that would help keep people and animals out of one’s property. What it really did, however, was block the migration of the buffalo, which the Native Americans depended on for food, clothing, and shelter. They couldn’t chase them after they were blocked, and lost their most important resource. John Deere invented the steel plow in 1837. Like Glidden, he did not think that this invention would hurt anyone. He thought it would make farming possible in a tough region. It did exactly that, which put the Midwest land in higher demand, bringing more settlers to the region, taking up Native American land. The McCormick reaper was invented in 1834 by Cyrus McCormick. It was designed to make cutting wheat easier and less time-consuming. This put wheat farming land in demand, bringing more settlers to take up Native American land. Though these inventions may not have had evil intentions, they greatly harmed the Native Americans, particularly in the Midwest region.

The United States Congress did not make it any easier for Native Americans, in fact they may have intentionally tried to make it harder. In 1830, President Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law. This allowed Jackson to negotiate with Native American tribes in the South to move to federal territory west of the Mississippi River. Jackson then proceeded to completely remove Native Americans from the territory,...