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The white settlers arrive. Today. First we will look at some of the conflicts between the Native Americans and the White Settlers Then we will look at why some of the causes and effect of these incidents. One of the underlying problems was that each group believed in different things.

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The white settlers arrive

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  • First we will look at some of the conflicts between the Native Americans and the White Settlers
  • Then we will look at why some of the causes and effect of these incidents.
  • One of the underlying problems was that each group believed in different things
the settlers
The settlers
  • The settlers thought they were (a) superior and (b) that their beliefs were the correct ones
  • Which is odd as many people had come to America to get away from groups at home who tried to tell them what to do!
  • And it was not just the Native Americans that they tried to order about, but groups like the Mormons, a Christian Sect, who believed in polygamy.
who were they
Who were they?
  • In 1492 Columbus set sail and, rather fortunately, discovered America. He was the first of many. To Central America came the Spanish looking for gold and other treasures.
who were they5
Who were they?
  • To the north came the French who were mainly interested in trading for furs and other valuable things. To the east coast came the British looking for land to settle on.
who were they6
Who were they?
  • Millions more came from Europe looking for land they could own, or a place where they practice their religion in peace without anyone else giving them trouble, or to make their fortune in this new land of opportunity.
So …
  • America was a rich country. There was fertile land, plentiful animals and minerals like gold were found in great quantities. This led to the taking over of the land by the more powerful white men. They had some big advantages. They outnumbered the Native Americans many times over. They had more effective and powerful weapons and a fierce determination to take what they wanted.
to begin with
To begin with ….
  • …. the whites settled close to the coast.
  • However, gradually they started to move further inland.
  • The first white people to do this were known as pioneers.
  • They traveled into the wilderness and began to make the land their own.
  • This westward expansion led to more and more conflict with the Native Americans who felt their land and way of life was being threatened.
the first removal of native americans
In 1803, the US government purchased Louisiana (in Central North America) from the French, so that the Native Americans could be sent there.

But it was not until the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which forced all Native Americans in the eastern United States (eg Cherokee, Seminole) to go there (the Trail of Tears), as land became scarce in the East

Many thousands lost their lives

The first removal of Native Americans

The trail of tears

1837 financial crisis in the eastern usa
1837 Financial Crisis in the Eastern USA.
  • In 1837 the economy of the Eastern USA collapsed.
  • Factories closed and people lost their jobs. Banks collapsed and people lost their savings.
  • Crime rose and the East no longer such a good place to live. Land in the East was scarce as the region was filling up with immigrants.
  • So there was a major PUSH factor for people moving out of the East to go to the West (California and Oregon).
  • The West became the promised land with lots of cheap land for settlers able to go there.

*not interested in the plains which they thought was not suitable to grow things on

  • On the Great Plains the white men drove off the buffalo and began to fence off the land to make cattleranches of their own. They raised huge numbers of cattle and the men they employed to look after them became known as cowboys.
  • Others moved to the Plains and set up homesteads.
  • On these farms, the homesteaders (farmers) ploughed up the Plains and grew crops.
  • They also protected their land with fences.
  • The Native Americans believed that the land belonged to everyone and they didn’t understand the idea of fences.
so white people started moving west
So, white people started moving west
  • First settler trails across Plains to the West –
    • Oregon Trail (1841) – to the West Coast
    • Mormon Trail (1846),
    • California Trail (to the goldfields, 1849).

The first treaty

  • In the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, the US government agreed that large areas of land should belong to Native American tribes 'for all time' (eg the Sioux were given the Black Hills of Dakota).
massacre of sand creek
Massacre of Sand Creek
  • Gold was discovered in the Rocky Mountains (1859).
  • There were many disputes between settlers and Natives
  • Some native Americans were prepared to negotiate, while others, known as dog soldiers, were not.
  • Some of those prepared to talk went to Sand Creek
massacre of sand creek14
Massacre of Sand Creek
  • Colonel Chivington with 800 troops marched to their campsite in order to attack the Indians.
  • On the morning of November 29, 1864, the army attacked the village and massacred most of its inhabitants.
  • Chivington proclaimed before the attack "Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice."
  • Between 150 and 184 Cheyennes were reported dead, and some were reportedly mutilated, and most were women, children, and elderly men.
  • Chivington and his men later displayed scalp and other body parts, in the Apollo Theatre and saloons in Denver.
massacre of sand creek15
Massacre of Sand Creek
  • After this event, many more Indian men joined the Dog Soldiers, and massacred settlers throughout the area, killing as many as 200 civilians.
  • The attack was initially reported in the press as a victory against a brave opponent.
  • Within weeks, witnesses came forward with a different story
  • Several investigations were conducted; two by the military, and one by the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.
  • While the colonel was widely condemned ,he was never punished.
the treaty modified 1866
But soon, the White settlers wanted to change things

At Fort Laramie, there was a council held where the settlers tried to negotiate a trail through Native American land

However before agreement had been reached, soldiers started to build a military road through, and this annoyed one of the chief Red Cloud, who walked out, promising resistance to any whites who sought to use the trail .

The treaty modified 1866
the first of many disputes
A coalition of various bands of Lakota, Northern Cheyennes and Arapahos under the leadership of Red Cloud effectively closed travel on the Bozeman Trail.

Wood parties, mail carriers, emigrants and traders became the regular targets of Indian resistance.

Colonel Fetterman arrived and boasted that, given "80 men," he "would ride through the Sioux nation."

The first of many disputes
the first of many disputes18
Fetterman and his troops followed a small band of Sioux over a ridge to find 3,000 natives awaiting him.

When the trap was sprung, there was no avenue of escape and no survivors.

The first of many disputes

Fetterman massacre

why was there conflict
Why was there conflict?
  • It is possible to see the conflict as a clash of cultures.
  • White Americans did not understand the Native Americans' way of life.
  • Consequently, they distrusted and feared them, and could believe anything (including torture and deceit) of a people they did not understand.
  • Conversely, the Native Americans felt that white Americans were devils who ruined the earth.
  • Differences of culture caused them to hate and despise each other, and led to war.
why was there conflict20
Why was there conflict?
  • The wars might be seen as the result of racism.
  • The white settlers believed that the Native Americans were inferior.
  • They felt justified in saying that 'complete extermination is our motto', and in slaughtering the buffalo to starve the Native Americans to death. By the 1880, there were only a few hundred left.
  • In 1864, Colonel Chivington justified the massacre at Sand Creek by saying: 'Kill them all, big and little: nits make lice'.
  • Faced by an attitude of genocide, Native Americans had nothing to lose - as the Sioux Chief Gall said: 'You fought me and I had to fight back'.
why was there conflict21
Why was there conflict?
  • It could be argued that war broke out simply because the white men wanted the Great Plains - firstly to cross, then for gold, then for cattle and then for farming.
  • Many white Americans believed that it was their manifest destiny to take over the Plains.
  • They took the land that Native Americans believed belonged to everyone.
however bad behaviour on both sides added to the confrontation
The US government regularly broke its treaty promises - as the Sioux Chief Gall said: 'If we make peace, you will not keep it'.  

Meanwhile, some Native Americans wanted war.

Early travellers on the Plains were robbed and murdered.

And when some Native Americans made peace with the US government, others would stay out on the warpath - white Americans could not understand that the chiefs had no power to make their warriors obey.

However, bad behaviour on both sides added to the confrontation.  
but white attitudes were a big part of the problem
But white attitudes were a big part of the problem
  • White Americans regarded Native (and black) Americans as subhuman.
  • Horace Greeley wrote that: '...their wars, treaties, habitations, crafts, comforts, all belong to the very lowest ages of human existence'.
  • President Jefferson wrote that they were: '...backward in civilisation like beasts'.
but white attitudes were a big part of the problem24
But white attitudes were a big part of the problem
  • White Americans demanded a settled, farming way of life.
  • They thought that tipis were: '...too full of smoke ... inconceivably filthy'.
  • Horace Greeley despised the Native Americans for: '...sitting around the doors of their lodges at the height of the planting season', and said they were '...squalid and conceited, proud and worthless, lazy and lousy'.
  • 'These people must die out,' he wrote, 'God has given this earth to those who will subdue and cultivate it.'
  • And this from a person who was known to fight for all sorts of other groups such as being antislavery and pro the vote for all!
native americans believed no one could own land
Native Americans believed no-one could own land
  • But White Americans believed that God had given them the right to 'subdue the earth', and they wanted to make money from it.
  • They thought land ownership, fences and cultivation were natural.
  • White Americans thought only they could make full use of the land.
  • They gave the Plains to the Native Americans when they thought they were 'wholly unfit for cultivation', but when they found this not to be true, they took the land for themselves.
native americans believed in the influence of chief community spirit and in horse stealing
Native Americans believed in the Influence of chief , Community spirit and in Horse stealing
  • White Americans could not understand why chiefs could not make their warriors obey them.
  • Government based on 'community spirit' was incomprehensible to white Americans, whose government was based on laws and compulsion.
  • They particularly hated horse stealing, because 'depriving a man of his horse could mean life itself on the Plains'.
  • White observers declared that the Native Americans were 'without government'.
Native Americans believes in Animistic religion (spirits), Medicine men, young marriage, Easy divorce, Polygamy, Exposure of old people
  • Christian preachers thought '...the Indians have no religion, only ignorant superstition'.
  • Native American customs of marriage, divorce and exposure of old people to the elements offended white Americans' religion and morality.
native american methods of war included preserve life ambush and stealth coups and scalping
Native American methods of war included Preserve life, Ambush and stealth, Coups and Scalping
  • White soldiers saw
    • ambush as treachery,
    • scalping as barbarous and
    • retreat as 'a total lack of courage'.
  • 'The first impulse of the Indian,' wrote Colonel Dodge, ' to scuttle away as fast as his legs will carry him ... there is one example of a fair stand-up fight.'


We have just heard a lot about how the white settlers thought the Native Americans were sub-human, lacking morals, bravery etc etc

so now what do you think the native americans thought about the settlers
So now what do you think the Native Americans thought about the settlers?
  • Using what you know about the Plains Indians and also what the white settlers had done and what they believed in,
  • If as a plains Native American, you had travelled north into Canada ( which many Native Americans did) and met up with a Native American group that had not come across the white settlers, what would you tell them about the white settlers?