The conquest of the far west
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The Conquest of the Far West. Chapter 26. In the late 19 th century ‘the west’ would have been land west of the Mississippi River Anglo-migration would encounter Eastern Indian tribes (moved during Jacksonian Period) forcibly resettled in ‘ Oklahoma Territory ’ such as Cherokee & Creek

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Societies of the far west

  • In the late 19th century ‘the west’ would have been land west of the Mississippi River

  • Anglo-migration would encounter

    • Eastern Indian tribes (moved during Jacksonian Period) forcibly resettled in ‘Oklahoma Territory’ such as Cherokee & Creek

    • Midwestern Plains Indians; diverse group of tribes including the Sioux Nation & the Cheyenne

      • Primarily nomadic buffalo hunting peoples

    • Far Western tribes like the Pueblos had lived amongst Spanish settlers since the 1600s

  • US government’s treatment of the Indian was criticized by Helen Hunt Jackson in A Century of Dishonor (1881)

Societies of the Far West


The romance of the west

  • Understanding of the 19th century west is often mythical due to”

    • Late 19th Century ‘Rocky Mountain School’ of artists inspired by the untouched west

      • Albert Bierstadt

    • Mark Twain’s early literary efforts were about his youth on the Mississippi River or young adulthood in Nevada

    • Cowboy Myth

      • Cowboys were often poor young men (sometimes former slaves) who worked on western ranches & cattle drives

        • Popular in western novels like ‘The Virginian’

    • Wild West Shows –’Buffalo Bill’ & Annie Oakley; gunslingers

The Romance of the West



The dispersal of the tribes

  • Whites saw the west as ‘virgin land’ waiting for them to tame

    • Presence of the Indians did not fit this ideal

  • Us gov’t Indian Peace Commission in 1867 decided to move all of the Plains Indians into two reservations, one in the Oklahoma Territory and another in the ‘Dakotas’

    • No more individual tribal treaties; Indians expected to form permanent settlements

  • Railroad building, fad for hides & settlers were decimating the buffalo –main Indian food source

  • Nearly all of the 15 million killed b/w 1865 - 1885

The Dispersal of the Tribes


Indian hunting

‘Indian Hunting’


  • Battle of the Little Big Horn began attacking wagon trains & ranches; eventually soldiers, MT (1876) -Sioux left their Dakota reservation in 1875 under the leadership of Sitting Bull & Crazy Horse

    • Gen. George A. Custer & the 264 men of the 7th Cavalry attacked –no US soldiers survived

    • Within two years the Sioux were forced back to their reservations

  • Wounded Knee, SD (1890) –Last major fight b/w US army & the Sioux. More than 300 Indians killed


The dawes act

  • Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 began attacking wagon trains & ranches; eventually soldiers

    • Provided for the gradual elimination of tribal ownership

    • 160 acres to a family or 80 acres to an individual

    • Could not gain full title to the land for 25yrs

    • Applied to all tribes but the Pueblo

    • Assimilation with Anglo ways was a major goal

      • Prevented Indian rituals like the Ghost Dance; and mandated Christian Church attendance

      • Children often removed and sent to boarding schools

The Dawes Act


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