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The Plains Indians


									    Chapter 2
Settling the Western Frontier
              The Great Plains
   The Great Plains was a vast stretch of land
    between the Missouri River and the Rocky
   During the 1840s and 1850s, European settlers
    passed up this area on their way to the rich lands
    of Oregon and the gold in California.
    The flat, dry Great Plains seemed useless to
               The Great Plains
   Beginning in 1858, many Americans traveled westward
    by stagecoach from St. Louis.
   A stagecoach is a horse drawn coach that was used for
    transporting people or mail.
   St. Louis was the western end of the railroad at that
   The three-week journey over mountains and deserts
    was a difficult one.
   Travelers were under constant danger of attack by
    robbers or American Indians.
               The Great Plains
   American Indians often saw the settlers as invaders.
   At the same time, most shipments of supplies from the
    East traveled by long ox-drawn wagon trains.
   A wagon train is a large number of wagons traveling
   Communication improved in 1861, with the completion
    of the telegraph.
   The appeal of the western frontier grew stronger to
    many Americans in the East.
               The Great Plains
   In 1862, Congress provided money for the construction
    of the transcontinental railroad.
   The time had come to link the far western parts of the
    country to the East.
   Two companies were chosen to build the railroad.
   The Central Pacific Railroad started in the West at
    Sacramento, California, and was built eastward.
   The Union Pacific Railroad started at Omaha,
    Nebraska, and was built westward.
                The Great Plains
   Work on the railroad increased after the Civil War
    ended in 1865.
   The Union Pacific Railroad hired thousands of war
    veterans, many of whom were Irish.
   The work was hard and dangerous. Many workers were
    killed in accidents and American Indian raids.
   Because of difficult working conditions and the loss of
    workers, only a few miles of track were laid each day.
              The Great Plains
   Chinese immigrant s on the west coast worked
    for the Central Pacific Railroad.
   They worked very hard, and progress was very
    slow because the land was so mountainous.
    Tunnels had to be blasted.
   Sometimes it took all day to go just a few feet.
                The Great Plains
   In May of 1869, the two railroads met at Promontory
    Point, Utah.
   The Central Pacific Railroad had laid more than 700
    miles of track.
   The Union Pacific laid more than 1,000 miles of track.
   A golden spike was driven into the final link of the
   The news of the completed transcontinental railroad
    went out on the telegraph to the country.
   Now, settling the Great Plains was more appealing to
    many Americans.
                  Frontier Life
   Miners, farmers, and people who tended cattle,
    or cowhands as they were called, were
    important in settling the western frontier.
   These groups lived different lives and faced
    different problems.
   Each had its own interest in the frontier as they
    searched for gold, built cattle ranches, or
    claimed land for family farms.
                  Frontier Life
   Gold was discovered near Pikes Peak, Colorado,
    just before the start of the Civil War. Silver and
    gold were found in Nevada.
   Miners and prospectors traveled many miles to
    these places.
   A prospector is a person who searches an area
    for gold, silver, or other minerals. During the
    1860s, gold was also discovered in Montana,
    Idaho, and Wyoming.
                 Frontier Life
   The mining boom felt throughout this Rocky
    Mountain region was similar in many ways to
    the California gold rush of 1849.
   Most miners never became rich.
   Individual prospectors could not compete with
    the special equipment that large mining
    companies brought to the mountains.
   These machines were faster than the pick, pan,
    and shovel methods that individual miners used.
                      Frontier Life
   Many of those who had traveled westward in search of gold
    settled down as farmers or ranchers.
   Others became loggers, taking advantage of the rich timber
   The lack of law and order in many mountain areas during this
    gold rush was similar to that in California in 1849.
   Many former miners grouped together to form city governments.
   They elected sheriffs to help provide them and their families
    with some law and order.
   As their lives became more civilized, the settlers in cities on the
    former frontier developed some pride in their new homes.
                  Frontier Life
   They elected sheriffs to help provide them and
    their families with some law and order.
   As their lives became more civilized, the settlers
    in cities on the former frontier developed some
    pride in their new homes.
                  Frontier Life
   Settlers in Texas discovered that large herds of
    longhorn cattle were running wild.
   This kind of cattle had been brought to America
    many years earlier by Spanish settlers.
   The Texans rounded up the cattle and raised the
    animals for beef, hides, and other goods.
   Texas became an important ranching area.
   Cattle were easy to raise in the grasslands of the
    Great Plains.
                   Frontier Life
   Ranchers wanted to bring their cattle to Chicago and
    many eastern cities.
   They could make more money if the cattle were sold in
    these areas.
   The ranchers' main problem was a lack of
   However, this problem was solved with the
    development of the railroad system.
   Then the grasslands were linked to America's major
                 Frontier Life
   Cowhands guided cattle to the holding pens near
   Before moving the cattle, every calf was branded
    with the special mark of its owner.
   Some cattle were moved over 1,000 miles.
   The Chisholm Trail was a widely used route.
                 Frontier Life
   The herd traveled ten to fifteen miles a day.
   A cattle drive took more than two months.
   During that time cowhands usually spent as
    many as eighteen hours a day in the saddle.
   The cowhands' main jobs were to prevent a
    stampede and to protect the cattle from thieves.
   A stampede is a wild rush of cattle.
                    Frontier Life
   Cow towns were a welcome sight to tired cowhands.
   Cow towns had many saloons and gambling houses.
    A saloon was a public building where people gathered
    to drink or gamble.
   The only law in cow towns was provided by United
    States marshals such as Wild Bill Hickock.
   It was a difficult job, for a marshal had to cover a large
   Law and order developed, as the frontier became more
                 Frontier Life
   In 1862, Congress had passed the Homestead
   This act made it very easy for pioneers to own
   Settlers were given 160 acres of land provided
    they agreed to live on it for five years.
   This offer brought many farmers, factory
    workers, and immigrants to the Great Plains.
                   Frontier Life
   Pioneers who owned land under the Homestead Act
    were called homesteaders.
   These people faced difficulties that were unknown to
    the farmers east of the Mississippi River.
   Eastern farmers were used to good land, plentiful
    water, and good supplies of wood.
   The plains farmers found the ground hard to plow, and
    there was little rain.
   In many areas, trees for building materials and fuel
    could be found only on the riverbanks.
                   Frontier Life
   Farmers soon learned that sod. which is thickly matted
    grass and roots, could be used in place of wood as
    building material.
   Brick-like chunks of sod were cut from the ground.
   They were piled one on top of the other to build the
    walls of a house.
   Trees from riverbanks formed the roof, which was then
    covered with sod.
   A sod house kept a farm family cool in the summer and
    warm in the winter.
                 Frontier Life
   There was enough water on the plains for
    farming, but it was underground.
   New inventions made it possible to drill deep
    wells into the Earth.
   Farmers then pumped water to the surface by
    using wind-powered devices called windmills.
   Farmers also used a dry farming method.
   Part of the land remained unplanted each year
    so that the area could absorb rainwater.
              The Plains Indians
   The Cheyenne, Comanche, Blackfeet, and the seven
    tribes of the Sioux nations lived on the open plains.
   They were called the Plains Indians.
   Their way of life depended on the buffalo.
   The treatment of buffalo herds brought them into
    direct conflict with European settlers.
   The Plains Indians were hunters and nomads.
   They followed the constantly moving buffalo herds.
   They ate the meat, used the hides for clothing and
    shelter, and made the bones into tools.
              The Plains Indians
   Some army and government officials thought that
    killing the buffalo would force the American Indians to
    settle in one place.
   Farmers and ranchers wanted the buffalo out of their
   Others killed the buffalo so that they could sell the
   Between 1865 and 1875, millions of buffalo were killed.
   William F. Cody got the name "Buffalo Bill" after he
    killed more than 4,000 buffalo in eighteen months.
            The Plains Indians
   Buffalo hides were very valuable for making
    high-quality leather products.
   Buffalo robes were popular in winter.
   By 1889, only 541 buffalo survived in the United
   As the buffalo herds disappeared, the American
    Indians lost their independence.
   They were forced to find another way to live.
              The Plains Indians
   The settlers and the U.S. government thought that the
    American Indians were in the path of progress.
   With little understanding of American Indians,
    government officials felt that the nations should settle
    in one place.
   The government signed treaties with the American
   According to these treaties, the American Indians
    would stay within certain boundaries.
              The Plains Indians
   The remaining land would be used for the European
    settlers and railroads.
   In return, the government would teach the American
    Indians to become farmers.
   Most nations, feeling that they had little choice, moved
    to a government reservation.
   A reservation is land set aside by the government for
    the American Indians.
   Some American Indians, however, chose to fight.
            The Plains Indians
   By the mid-1870s, after many battles and much
    bloodshed, most American Indians agreed to
    live on a reservation.
   These reservations were in New Mexico,
    Arizona, and the territories of Dakota and
   The government told the American Indians that
    their way of life would be protected.
            The Plains Indians
   The government's reservation policy was tested
    in 1874 when gold was discovered in the Black
    Hills of what is now South Dakota.
   This land was holy to the Sioux.
   They believed the Great Spirit was present in
    these hills.
   The United States government had promised
    that the Black Hills would belong to the Sioux
            The Plains Indians
   Government troops tried to protect these hills
    for the American Indians, but the number of
    prospectors who wanted gold was too great.
   It was clear that the government could not keep
    its word.
   Chief Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse gathered
    more than 2,000 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors
   They decided to defend their lands.
             The Plains Indians
   Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his
    Seventh Cavalry met this force at the Little Big
    Horn River in Montana on June 25, 1876.
   Custer and about 210 members of his troops
    were killed.
   The only survivor was an officer's horse named
             The Plains Indians
   The defeat of Custer shocked the country.
   The American Indians had won a great victory.
   However, Custer's Last Stand, as it was called,
    would be the last big victory for the Plains
   They eventually surrendered to government
    troops because of lack of food and ammunition.
            The Plains Indians
   Custer's defeat forced the government to move
    all American Indians onto reservations.
   In the summer of 1877, the government ordered
    the Nez Perce to a small reservation in Idaho.
   Settlers took their horses when the Nez Perce
    were leaving their homes.
   Angry warriors raided European settlers.
   The Nez Perce tried to escape to Canada to
    avoid any more bloodshed.
             The Plains Indians
   About 750 Nez Perce fled. Chief Joseph led
   They traveled 1,500 miles in seventy-five days.
   The weather was cold, and they did not have
   Little food was available.
   Many died along the way.
             The Plains Indians
   The Nez Perce were thirty miles from the
    Canadian border.
   Chief Joseph urged his people to surrender.
   He told them he was tired of fighting .
   "Hear me, my chiefs," he said, "I am tired; my
    heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now
    stands I will fight no more forever."
              The Plains Indians
   In 1870, Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Sioux wanted
    to inform the government officials of the problems of
    the Plains Indians.
   He spoke at a meeting in Washington, D.C., and told
    the audience about broken treaties, dishonest
    government agents, fear, and misunderstanding.
   Red Cloud wanted the President of the United States,
    whom he called the Great White Father, to understand
    that he wanted peace.
Congress Aids the American Indians
   The American people became aware of what
    had happened to the American Indians living on
    the western frontier.
   In 1881, Helen Hunt Jackson published A
    Century of Dishonor, a detailed history of how the
    American Indians were mistreated.
   Her book was sent to every member of
Congress Aids the American Indians
   Congress passed the Dawes Act in 1887. The
    purpose of the law was to turn the American
    Indians into independent farmers.
   Their lands were divided into family-size farms.
   Any American Indians who accepted land would
    be made citizens of the United States.
   They could not sell their land for twenty-five
Congress Aids the American Indians
   The Dawes Act attempted to protect the
    American Indians from being cheated.
   In many cases, however, the American Indians
    were cheated by land hungry European settlers.
   In some cases, even government agents took
    advantage of them.
   It was not until 1924 that all American Indians
    were made citizens.
Congress Aids the American Indians
   A religious movement known as the Ghost
    Dance developed in 1890.
   Some American Indians believed that
    performing this dance would protect them from
    soldiers‘ bullets, bring back the buffalo herds,
    remove settlers from their lands, and bring back
    their former way of life.
Congress Aids the American Indians
   The Ghost Dance frightened the settlers.
   An army was sent to prevent violence.
   The Seventh Cavalry arrived to arrest and disarm
    several hundred Ghost Dance followers from
    different tribes at Wounded Knee, South
    Dakota, on December 28, 1890.
Congress Aids the American Indians
   The next day, the cavalry tried to disarm the Ghost
    Dance followers.
   Someone fired a shot.
   It is not known who fired.
   The soldiers turned their guns on the followers and
    killed or wounded about 290 men, women, and
   Twenty-five soldiers were also killed.
   This massacre at Wounded Knee ended the fighting
    between the United States government and the
    American Indians of the western plains.
Congress Aids the American Indians
   People had moved into most areas of the
    western frontier.
   By 1890, for the first time in American history,
    there was no frontier line.
   The frontier had been conquered.
   Thirteen states were created from these vast
    western lands between 1864 and 1912.

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