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The Great West: Native Americans. Closing the Frontier?. In 1890 Census, government said that the frontier (place of uninhabited wilderness in the West) was closed No more empty land in America? Frederick Jackson Turner writes his Frontier Thesis encouraging “rugged individualism”

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The Great West: Native Americans

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The great west native americans

The Great West:Native Americans

Closing the frontier

Closing the Frontier?

  • In 1890 Census, government said that the frontier (place of uninhabited wilderness in the West) was closed

  • No more empty land in America?

  • Frederick Jackson Turner writes his Frontier Thesis encouraging “rugged individualism”

    • Meaning that people can support themselves out West

Native americans

Native Americans

  • Living in what was known as the “Great American Desert”…not really a desert at all

    • Were promised by the US government that land would be theirs forever…not really

  • Most numerous were the Plains Indians

    • Nomadic, followed the buffalo

    • Did not think of land as property that could belong to just one person…different from American concept of land

The great west native americans

Sioux Nation

Threats to indian life

Threats to Indian Life

  • White man’s disease

  • Gold was discovered in California bringing more settlers to the West…trample on Indian land

  • Railroad was being built that needed to go through Indian Territory

    • This need led to the government setting up reservations that would put Indian tribes on smaller specific areas…but many are nomadic



  • the center of Indian life

  • White settlers killed off thousands

  • Hunters invaded, trading fur in the East

  • Some killed for sport leaving the carcasses to rot

    • Indians see their way of life rotting

  • RR companies hired sharpshooters to kill those obstructing traffic (Buffalo Riders)

  • Encouraged by US army…would keep the Indians from being nomadic

Nez perce indian tribe

Nez Perce (Indian Tribe)

  • Living on reservations and doing well but land was needed for white settlers

    • Essentially playing by the rules but still not good enough for the white man

  • Chief Joseph tried to escape US troops by heading into Canada

  • Troops caught up with them and Chief Joseph surrendered

    • “I will fight no more forever”

    • Were sent to unfertile lands in Oklahoma

Let s review

Let's Review

  • What threatened farmers in the late 1800s causing them to invest in barbed wire?

    • Corn farming

    • Cattle ranching

    • Sheep ranching

  • What invention allowed cattle ranches to thrive and increase sales of beef?

    • Barbed wire

    • Refrigerator rail cars

    • Vaccines

  • What impact did the railroad have on Native Americans?

    • They built the railroads

    • They were forced to move further west

    • They were forced to move onto reservations

    • Why did the army feel it was justified in their treatment of Native Americans?

Sand creek massacre

Sand Creek Massacre

  • Indians had been attacking settlers to keep a hold of their lands…raised the distrust among settlers

  • Unarmed Cheyenne and Arapaho are attacked by Colorado militia for no reason

    • Killed men, women and children

    • Indians tried to signal that they were of no threat

  • Created even more Indian resistance and military occupation

Sand creek massacre1

Sand Creek Massacre

Battle of little big horn

Battle of Little Big Horn

  • Gold is discovered in Sioux territory…white men try to take it

  • Sioux send out their troops and so does the US Army under Colonel Custer

  • 250 soldiers vs. 2,000 Indians

  • Indians charged killing Custer and all of his men

  • One of the very few Indians victories

Wounded knee

Wounded Knee

  • With so many threats to their way of life, Indians start to practice the Ghost Dance, thought that it would

    • Banish white settlers

    • Bring back the buffalo

  • Frightened the government…they order the arrest of Sitting Bull who was leading the Ghost Dance

  • When the troops come to arrest Sitting Bull, they disarm the Indians…fire is shot?…troops react by killing over 300 Sioux

  • Buried in a mass grave…disrespectful in any culture not just Indians

  • 18 Congressional Medals of Honor awarded to the troops

The great west native americans

Blizzard hits and the bodies are left there to freeze



  • Reservation life was not working so government suggested assimilation (adopting the culture and civilization of whites)

  • Helen Hunt Jackson criticized the government’s treatment of Indians in her book A Century of Dishonor

    • Talked of broken treaties and the plight/poor condition of Indians

Dawes severalty act

Dawes Severalty Act

  • Replaced the reservation system (placing TRIBES on land) with an allotment system (placing FAMILIES on land)

  • Each Indian family was given 160 acres

    • Not enough for farming in the West, only in the East

    • Land could not be sold for 25 years

    • Significance: Attempt to assimilate Indians by giving them land but they don’t even know how to farm

Let s review1

Let's Review

  • This ritual was supposed to restore the Native American way of life, but made the US believe tribes were becoming more hostile.

    • Ghost Dance

    • Assimilation

    • Purification Rites

  • What was designed to assimilate Native Americans by encouraging them to become farmers?

    • Emancipation

    • Homestead Act

    • Dawes Act

  • Who defeated the Americans at Little Bighorn, encouraged the Ghost Dance, but was killed while being arrested?

    • Crazy Horse

    • Sitting Bull

    • Chief Joseph

    • Why was the Dawes Act a failure?

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