APUSH The Closing of the Western Frontier _1_

The Closing of the
Western Frontier- An
The End of the Great West
1865: Great West wild expanse, about 1,000
miles on each side—habitat of Native
Americans, buffalo, prairie dog, coyote
1890: Entire domain carved into states and the
four territories of Utah, New Mexico, and
“Indian Territory (Oklahoma)
How did this happen?
The Clash of Cultures on the Plains
Native tribes themselves
already warring, adapting,
changing their way of life
White soldiers and settlers
entering the plains before
the Civil War accelerated
this process
Brought disease
Hunting and grazing of own
livestock decimated bison
Shrinking buffalo population
contributed to more native
The Beginnings of the Reservation
1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie:
Established boundaries for the
territory of each tribe, attempted to
separate Indians into two great
By 1860s, whites accelerated this
process, moved Natives into smaller
False promises to Indians: When
signed treaties, US promised would
leave Natives alone and provide food,
clothing and other supplies. Usually
not the case.
In the decade after the Civil War,
army troops warred with Plains
Indians to herd them onto
reservations. Plains Indians had
advantage with superb horsemanship.
Brutality of Indian Wars
Aggressive whites often shot
peaceful Indians
Sand Creek Massacre, 1864—
Chivington’s militia massacred
400 Indians who thought were
immune from attack
Indians too responsible for
brutality—ex: Fetterman
Trail of Broken Treaties:
Government promises to stay out
of Indian territory, constantly
breaks that promise when its to
their advantage
Indians Resist White Encroachment
Sioux wiped out Custer and
his troops at Battle of Little
Bighorn (1876)
Chief Joseph and Nez Perce
attempted to escape US
authorities trying to herd
them onto reservation
Apaches under Geronimo
put up fierce resistance, flee
into Mexico to avoid
The “taming” of the Indians
US did succeed in herding Indians onto reservations
US claimed reservations would help Indians keep
their cultural autonomy, really it made them isolated
wards of the government
Why did whites succeed?
Railroads—helped break up land, supply white settlers and
Use of force
Decimation of buffalo
Black Elk Speaks
“Once we were happy in our
own country and we were
seldom hungry, for then the
two-leggeds and the fourleggeds lived together like
relatives, and there was
plenty for them and for us.
But then the Wasichus
(white people) came, and
they made little islands for
us…and always these
islands are becoming
smaller, for around them
surges the gnawing flood of
The Decimation of the Buffalo
In beginning, tens of millions of buffalo
Key to Native American life: food, fuel, clothing,
weapons, tools
With the building of the railroads, whites began
killing off buffalo
Used for food
For hides
Often, killed for sheer amusement
Targeted buffalo as a way of killing off the Plains Indians
1865: 15 million buffalo
1885: less than a thousand!
Critique of Indian Policy and the
Push for Assimilation
Helen Hunt Jackson’s books, esp.
A Century of Dishonor
Many humanitarians misguided in
critique: wanted Indians to
assimilate so as to avoid attacks of
Withheld food from Natives to
force them to give up own
religion and customs
1884, persuaded US government
to outlaw sacred Sun Dance
Led to 1890 Massacre at
Wounded Knee—2000 killed
just for practicing Ghost Dance
Dawes Act (1887)
All part of push towards
Dissolved tribes, wiped out
tribal ownership of land, set
up individual Indian
homesteads of 160 acres.
If Indians behaved like
“good white settlers” would
get ownership of land and
Extra land sold to railroads
and white settlers, proceeds
used to civilize and educate
native peoples.
Forced Assimilation
Established Indian schools to separate
children from tribes, teach them
English, as well as white values and
“Kill the Indian and save the man”
Dawes Act tried to kill collective
ways of life of Indians, make them
into individualists
Tribes lost land—by 1900, 50% of
what they had held 20 years earlier
Forced assimilation remained policy
until “Indian New Deal” of 1934
Still, with end of warfare, Indian
population on reservations began to
Growth of Mining Frontier
Catalysts: Conquest of Indians and coming of railroad
Fortune seekers continued to pour in, especially after
discovery of gold at Pikes Peak, Colorado and
Comstock Lode in Nevada (59ers)
Rise and fall of boomtowns
Corporations becoming more involved in mining
Women played key role on frontier—earned vote in
Western states first (Wyoming, Utah, Colorado,
Effects: Facilitated building of railroads, intensified
conflict with Indians, refueled silver debate.
The Rise of Ranching
With railroads, cattle could now
be shipped across country, to
industrial meatpacking industry
Began “Long Drive” in West—
cowboys drove herds over plains
until reached railroads.
This practice threatened by
incoming settlers and sheep
herders, built fences conflicts.
Overtime, cattle-raising became
more of a business, learned to
avoid perils of overproduction and
Multiple Choice Practice
The Plains Indians were finally forced to surrender
A. Because they were decimated by their constant
intertribal warfare
B. When they realized that agriculture was more profitable
than hunting
C. After such famous leaders as Geronimo and Sitting Bull
were killed
D. When the army began using artillery against them
E. By the coming of the railroads and the virtual
extermination of the buffalo
Multiple Choice Practice ctnd.
The nineteenth century humanitarians who
advocated “kind” treatment of the Indians
A. Had no more respect for traditional Indian
culture that those who sought to exterminate them
B. Advocated allowing the Ghost Dance to
C. Opposed passage of the Dawes Act
D. Understood the value of the Indians’ religious
and cultural practices
E. Advocated improving the reservation system
Multiple Choice Practice ctnd.
The bitter conflict between whites and Indians
A. During the Civil War
B. As a result of vigilante justice
C. When big business took over the mining
D. As the mining frontier expanded
E. After the Battle of Wounded Knee

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