Chapter 19 Transforming the West 1865–1890 MAP 19–1 Indian Land Cessions, 1860–1894
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Transforming the West 1865–1890
As white people pushed into the West to exploit its resources, Indians were steadily forced to cede their lands. By 1900 they held only scattered parcels, often in areas considered worthless by white people. Restricted
to these reservations, tribes endured official efforts to suppress Indian customs and values.
The spread of the railroad network across the West promoted economic development by providing access to outside markets for its resources. The discovery of precious metals often attracted the
railroads, but stockraisers had to open cattle trails to reach the railheads.
Century Economic integration of the West promoted regional agricultural specialization. Stockraising and grain production dominated the more sparsely settled West, while the South grew the labor-intensive crops of cotton, tobacco, and sugar cane, and other areas concentrated on dairy products, fruit, and other crops for nearby urban markets.
that belies a more complex and disruptive reality, particularly for Native Americans.
Railroad building on the Great Plains, colored engraving, 1875 (Granger Collection 4E239.36).
Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit,
Utah. Railroads transformed the American West, linking the region to outside markets,
spurring rapid settlement, and threatening Indian survival.
government, in the Treaty of Fort Laramie, to abandon army posts and withdraw from Sioux territory.
and missionary schools sought to promote “Americanization” and suppress native
cultures. Such education, said one member of Congress, “is the solution of the vexed
Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Library, “Phillips #436.”
Idaho State Historical Society
New Mexico, in 1888. The company, a British corporation, held 8,000 square miles of
rush of people into the West from throughout the world contributed to the diversity of the region’s population.
Indian removal, railroad expansion, and liberal land policies drew farm families into the West from much of Europe as well as the East. Technological innovations like barbed wire and
farm machinery soon enabled them to build farms, but economic, social, and environmental challenges remained.
Data Source: Historical Statistics of the United States (1975).
suffered from a dual wage system that discriminated in favor of Anglos and were often
restricted to segregated housing areas.
Division of Cultural Resources, Wyoming Department of Commerce.