Horses are introduced by the Spanish in 1598 and Brought to
the Great Plains in the 1700’s Now the Indians could be more
accurate hunters and didn’t need to farm
Indians rarely had bloody wars, they often “counted coup” which
was more respectable
Settlers avoided the Great Plains for a long time because they
thought you couldn’t farm there. What are the Great Plains?
Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota
Why did Settlers begin to want their land?
*Railroad companies needed to lay tracks
*The US Army built forts for settlers and
they realized the land was good for farming
*1858 the discovery of gold in Colorado
At first the Government was going to let them
live on reservations in all of the great plains,
but then gold was found!
*They are told they will be taught to farm and given
supplies, food, blankets and seed corn--- rarely
Treaties are usually made with chiefs who are
Many of the government officials were dishonest and
made money for themselves.
*From 1862 to 1890 the Sioux and the Cheyenne fight
*1862 young band of Sioux searching for food kill 5
whites in Minnesota
*the Sioux divide up into two groups
1) fled the vicinity
2) the other fear retaliation and attack first
killing hundreds of settlers before the state militia
3) “A great hanging-bee” 38 were hanged
4) Many others were pardoned
*1863 the remaining Minnesota Sioux were forced to
leave the state.
MMost successful Sioux were in Montana and
-they were able to stop the construction of a wagon
trail through their best hunting grounds
-they even made a treaty with the U.S. to abandon
several forts built on Indian land.
Colorado Territory-Sand Creek Reserve miners had forced
Cheyenne into this area and the Indians were short of food.
The Indians began raiding nearby trails and settlements
Fall of 1864 500 were encamped on Sand Creek with two
a. stars & stripes b. white flag=peace
* Chivington and his troops attacked while they were
sleeping killing 450 of them
*this leads to four more years of fighting
* finally in 1868 most of the Plains Indians withdraw to two
1) Black Hills of the Dakota Territory
*American troops had Winchester repeating rifles
*Native Americans had arrows
*railroad lines split up Buffalo herds
*Buffalo are killed due to
1) railroad owners who don’t want to
contend with them
2) European visitors going on hunting
3) Tannery firms that made them into
4) The U.S. Government knew that was
their food staple!
Why did many Plains Indians
aggressively resist removal to
Was this resistance justified?
The treaty of 1868 promised the Sioux they could live in the
“sacred” Black Hills area of South Dakota forever!
This land was sacred and good hunting grounds
Unfortunately, GOLD had been found in the Black Hills
The Indians appeal to the government to remove the miners to no
The government sends out commissioners to
1) lease the lands or 2) buy the area outright
The Indians refuse the offer and
the 7th Cavalry under Lieutenant-Colonel George Armstrong
Custer is sent
1) SITTING BULL- Lakota Tribe
a. medicine man revered by all! Even felt to be above all chiefs
b. He was able to convince the following tribes to form an alliance
Arapaho, the Cheyenne and the Sioux
1) CRAZY HORSE-
a. field commander in charge of making charges
and fake retreats
b. very skilled in attacking the enemy when they
least expected it
June 25, 1876 along the banks of Little Bighorn river in
*when it was all over, 264 soldiers including Custer were
*greatest victory the Plains Indians scored against U.S.
*this shook the U.S. government
*1877 Crazy Horse chose to surrender & he was
*Sitting Bull fled to Canada and held out for four years,
finally surrendered in 1881. For the next nine years
he was on a reservation and traveling with Buffalo Bill’s
Wild West Show.
1890 shot by US agents
after Sitting Bull is killed, Lakota Indians seek refuge and
travel 300 miles across South Dakota to Pine Ridge
*This was called a battle but really was a massacre
* reservation agents fear a “ghost dance” is going to cause an
armed uprising they send out for the 7th cavalry
*Dec. 29, 1890 the cavalry rounded up about 350 Sioux most
of which were elderly, women and children they searched them
for weapons and found two there was a scuffle, a shot rang out
soldiers on a nearby hill shot and killed 200 Indians and 25
Custer’s Last Stand/Little Big Horn leads to Wounded Knee
*make Indians give up their tribal system and become
*make children go to schools and tell them how their
culture is savage
*Dawes Act- each Indian family could claim 160 acres
All tribes are abolished while the government held the
land in trust for 25 years however, they were not given farm
equipment or taught to farm!
*speculators managed to buy up more than 2/3 of the
reservation lands through loopholes in the laws
*malnutrition and disease were common and death rates
Could the Americanization policy
have been changed to make it
successful, or was it by nature
doomed to failure?
Spaniards introduce cattle and horse to America
*Texas is the hotbed for cattle ranching.
*After the civil war, Texans come home to find
their cattle they left to fend for themselves has
exploded in population.
Longhorns are sturdy and can travel many miles
Only drawback is their nervousness.
How do you get all these herds to the east coast
where immigrants are increasing population over there?
*Shipping Yards –Joseph G. McCoy in Kansas
*Now you have the Long Drive
*you have 1-3,000 cattle, trail boss, horse wrangler,
cowboys and a cook and the chuck wagon
*Life on the drive sunrise to sunset –covered 10-20
miles a day
*lasted 3-4 months
*Stampedes, thunder & lightning, rivers and
End of the Drive= “Party time” in saloons for the
Finally head back home for winter and start over in
*cowboys didn’t like to fight with his fists-he needed
them for the drive
*usually only 5 ½ feet tall
*shootings were rare
*1 out of 7 were black – most famous -Nat Love
*by 1872 prairies are beginning to be filled up with
*buffalo herds were killed off leaving much more
open space for farmers
*Indians were on reservations
*Americans were eating more beef than pork
*refrigerated cars help get beef to the western part
of the U.S.
*Blizzards and droughts 1885-1886 ranchers lost up
to ¾ of their stock in the Great Plains
*1.5 frozen carcasses after blizzard of 1886
*Cattle could no longer be left to fend for
****FENCES needed to protect the cattle
****railroads could now ship the cattle
***By 1890 the Open range was fenced in!
TThe cattle industry becomes the meat packing
Why was fencing cattle-grazing land
a benefit to both farmers and
1862.The Homestead Act
a. gives 160 acres to anyone who could live on the land for 5
b. 4,000 families take advantage of this
c. some were New Englanders eager to have fertile land
d. some were German & Scandinavian unable to earn a living
in their native lands
e. thousands were “exodusters” blacks who moved to
Kansas from the South
Four transcontinental railroads are built
Followed by settlers
Union and Central Pacific given huge tracks of land
(10sq. miles for every mile put down)
Advertising all over the U.S. and Europe was sent
by R.R. Companies.
1889-Free Homesteads given in Oklahoma
In 24hrs. land hungry settlers claimed 2 million acres
You lived in Sod Houses with leaky roofs or dugout
They faced rain, cold, dry summers= prairie fires, hail
Grasshopper plagues which destroyed crops
Loneliness-land stretched for miles before you had a
Winter storms kept them inside for weeks (no tv, radio,
Four technological inventions bring relief!
1. Barbed wire invented by Joseph f. Glidden
2. Steel windmills to help pump water to the surface
3. The Steel Plow
4. The Steel Reaper- could not only cut wheat, but threshed it as well
These inventions helped farmers increase their productivity, but
they were expensive and started to make them vulnerable to the
banks. If they had a bad season, they could go into debt.
Farmers were also dependent on railroads to get their crops to
By the 1890’s the farmer’s frontier was disappearing from the
Great Plains and the farms that made it were very large.
How did both the sod houses and
the windmill illustrate the ingenuity
of plains settlers?