THE OLD WEST. 1860-1900. Indian Wars. Following the Civil War, the westward movement of settlers intensified in the vast region between the Mississippi River and the Pacific .
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Some of the biggest conflicts between the US government and American Indians were the SOUX WARS. They started in 1868 after settlers started to pour into the Dakotas in order to find GOLD rumored to be in the Black Hills. The Black Hills also were considered to be some of the most SACRED to the Sioux living there. Sioux Chief SITTING BULL had no intention to stay on the reservation when the survival of his tribe depended upon following the BUFFALO herds .
In 1875, the US government sent General GEORGE CUSTER to investigate the claims of gold in this region. In response, the US allowed MINERS and HOMESTEADERS to move into the disputed territory. The highlight of this conflict that you need to know is the BATTLE OF LITTLE BIGHORN. Custer was sent to hunt down any SIOUX or CHEYENNE who were not on the Dakota reservation. Unfortunately for him, the 200 Sioux he though he found was in reality an encampment of 2000! Indians wiped out all of Custer’s command. As a result, Custer became a martyr to American soldiers in the west.
In the aftermath of the Battle of Little Bighorn, aka “CUSTER’S LAST STAND,”all Indians not on reservations were systematically hunted down. The most famous example of this was Chief JOSPEH and his tribe called the Nez Perces. In 1877 they got tired of STARVING on the reservation in Kansas. So they decided to flee to CANADA where they could live where they pleased. They were captured and sent back to their RESERVATION.
The Ghost Dance infuriated the Bureau of Indian Affairs and they OUTLAWED its practice. In 1890 US agents decided to put a stop to all of this and went to arrest Chief SITTING BULL who was encouraging his people to perform the dance. When they arrived at the reservation to arrest Sitting Bull, a FIGHT broke out to protect the chief. Fighting broke out, and by the end of the day 500 of the Indians were dead. This Battle of WOUNDED KNEE ended the Indian Wars.
Southerners, including African Americans in particular (called EXODUSTERS), moved west to seek new opportunities after the Civil War.
New technologies (for example, railroads and the mechanical reaper), opened new lands in the West for settlement and made farming profitable by increasing the efficiency of production and linking resources and markets. By the turn of the century, the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains regions of the American West were no longer a mostly unsettled frontier, but were fast becoming regions of farms, ranches, and towns.
MECHANICAL REAPER (CYRUS McCORMICK)
DRY FARMING & HYBRIDIZATION
Labor for the transcontinental railroad depended upon IMMIGRANT LABOR. IRISH workers made up the bulk of the Union Pacific labor force, while the CHINESE formed the backbone of the Central Pacific.