The Impact of Westward Expansion on Native Americans

A review of Primary Sources
How Did Westward Expansion Affect
the Native Americans?
Brainstorm with your seatmates…
Write your answers on the egan boards given you
and report back to the class using--
K / W / L What you know…what you want to
know…what you learned (after the lesson)
Historical Context
Since the first English settlers arrived at Jamestown in 1607, the story of
America has been one of movement westward. As more and more
Europeans came to our shores, colonists spread further and further into what
was called the frontier, which is defined as an area of unsettled land. We
know, however, that America was already inhabited by Natives whose
ancestors had arrived thousands of years earlier.
Conflicts over land ownership, religion, and culture, combined with broken
promises by the U.S. government, moved the Indian population away from
their homeland. The presidency of Andrew Jackson forced the removal of
the tribes of the Southeast on the “Trail of Tears” to what is now Oklahoma.
Historical Context continued
In the period following the Civil War, many people moved west for new
opportunities and a new life. This would mean more clashes—this time with
Plains Indians. Although America had changed much in the 250 years since
the first settlers arrived, the attitude toward Native Americans had not. The
building of the transcontinental was the beginning of the end for many
proud tribes of the West.
Historical Context
The railroads in the United States helped to open the West, develop the
country economically, and create a sense of national unity, while also
displacing Native American peoples. Trains carried the US mail and
provided the same rights of way for the telegraph lines, setting the
foundation for mass communication systems vital to the operations of big
Your Task
With your seatmates review the following primary
source documents/photos and write your findings on
the doucument/photo analysis sheets given
you…you will need to report your findings to the
Swan to Commissioner (document A)
The Indians here I find are not very unlike white people, some are willing to
labor for what they have and others think they ought to be supported in their
idleness. It has been my aim from the first to put a premium on industry, and
condemn indolence (laziness) in any and all. I find the complaining and faultfinding usually belong to this class. The Indians here as a rule learn the trades
easily, perhaps more readily even than farming. There are goodly numbers
who can perform service in the shops or mills, and show evidence of rapid
advancement in mechanism.
1. What does industry mean as used in this passage?
2. What does idleness mean in this passage?
3. How is Swan changing the Native Americans he comes in contact with?
4.What judgments are being made about Native Americans ways of life?
Second Annual Address to the Public of
the Lake Mohonk Conference (document B)
1st. Resolved, That the organization of the Indians in tribes is, and has been, one
of the most serious hindrances to the advancement of the Indian toward
civilization, and that every effort should be made to secure the disintegration of
all tribal organizations; that to accomplish this result the Government should . . .
cease to recognize the Indians as political bodies or organized tribes. . . .
4th. Resolved, That all adult male Indians should be admitted to the full privileges
of citizenship by a process analogous to naturalization, upon evidence presented
before the proper court of record of adequate intellectual and moral
qualifications. . . .
6th. Resolved, That . . . our conviction has been strengthened as to importance of
taking Indian youth from the reservations to be trained in industrial schools placed
among communities of white citizens. . . .
14th. Resolved, That immediate efforts should be made to place the Indian in the
same position before the law as that held by the rest of the population.
1. What does the word “assimilation” mean?
2. What does the Mohonk Conference want to do to
the tribes in their area?
3. Why was it important that the Indians be “in the
same position before the law”?
Government Agents distribute sacks of
food to Native Americans (document C)
Government agents distribute sacks of food rations to Native Americans.
Credit: Group of Non-Native Men, Government Agents with Sacks of Food Rations to Be Distributed,
Circles by Seated Group in Native Dress; Log Buildings, Tipis, and Corral Nearby (no date) by Taylor
E. James, Photographs of American Indians and Other Subjects, 1840s–1960s, Smithsonian
Institution National Anthropological Archives.
1. Who are the people sitting in the picture and who
are the people standing?
2. How and why are the sitting people relying on the
standing people?
Buffalo Population (document d)
By 1889, only 1,091 buffalos were left in North America. A combination of factors
caused this rapid depletion of the buffalo population: white hunters, the construction of
the railroad, the introduction of European livestock diseases. This greatly impacted the
lives of Plains Indians, who used the buffalo for many products.
1. What was the buffalo population in 1800?
2. What was the buffalo population in 1889?
3. What was the cause of this decline?
4. What effect did this have on the Plains Indians?
What Did You Learn
Time to fill our the KWL Chart with what you
learned… take time to discuss with your seatmates.
Consider the question: What was the effect of
Westward Expansion on the Native Americans,
White Americans, and Big Business
What technological invention made the biggest
difference with the expansion?

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