From the 15th to 19th century the European colonization affected the Native American culture in many ways, such as diseases, war, and enslavement. Many diseases such as smallpox and measles were the main cause of the decline in the Native American population more so than war. Although they seemed to destroy Native American culture, they also improved it by trade.
The Native American way of life changed after trading with the Europeans. At first Native Americans wanted metal products, which they couldn't make themselves, such as axe-heads and knives. Later they realized the value of guns. Having guns and horses completely changed the way Native Americans hunted for food.
Also in the 15th century Spaniards and other Europeans brought horses to the Americas. Some of these animals escaped and began to breed and increase their numbers in the wild. The introduction of the horse had a profound impact on Native American culture in the Great Plains of North America. This new mode of travel made it possible for some tribes to greatly expand their territories, exchange goods with neighboring tribes, and more easily capture game.
In the 19th century, the Westward expansion of the United States incrementally expelled large numbers of Native Americans from vast areas of their territory, either by forcing them into marginal lands farther and farther west, or by outright massacres.
Under President Andrew Jackson, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forced the Five Civilized Tribes from the east onto western reservations, primarily to take their land for settlement. The forced migration was marked by great hardship and many deaths. Its route is known as the Trail of Tears.
Conflicts broke out between U.S. forces and many different tribes. Authorities entered numerous treaties during this period, but later abrogated many for various reasons. Well-known military engagements include the atypical Native American victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn...
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