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Societies of the Far West

Societies of the Far West

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Societies of the Far West

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  1. The Conquest of the Far West Societies of the Far West

  2. Plains Indians • Nomadic hunters • The bison provided the economic basis for their way of life • Food, clothing, shelter, fuel • The Sioux were the most powerful tribe in the Plains • However, Plains tribes found it difficult to band together against white aggression • Tribes were vulnerable to diseases, such as smallpox • Economic and industrial advances of the U.S. put the Plains Indians at a distinct disadvantage

  3. Taos Indian Rebellion & Hispanic Resistance • After the Mexican War, the new governor of New Mexico tried to establish a government that excluded Hispanics • Hispanics and Indians in New Mexico feared that their land and their society would be taken from them • In 1847, the Taos Indians rebelled, killed the governor and several government officials before being subdued by the U.S. Army

  4. Hispanic California & Texas • Californios – Hispanic residents of California; Mexican landowners after the decline of mission society • Californios were systematically excluded from mines during the gold rush, and many were cheated out of their land • In the span of only a couple of decades, the Mexican aristocracy all but disappeared from California, and Mexicans became part of the lower end of California’s working class • Mexicans in Texas met a similar fate

  5. Chinese Immigration • Looking for better lives than they could live in poverty-stricken China, especially during and after the gold rush • Many white settlers started to see Chinese immigrants as an economic threat • “Foreign miners” taxes

  6. Building the Transcontinental Railroad • Chinese formed 90% of the Central Pacific’s labor force • Railroads often preferred Chinese laborers because they had little or no experience with unions. However, there were instances of strikes for higher wages, safer conditions, and shorter work days • After the completion of the railroad, thousands of Chinese immigrants were suddenly unemployed

  7. Chinatowns • After the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, many Chinese flocked to cities • Prominent merchants formed powerful organizations in Chinatowns, similar to the political machines of the eastern cities • The organizations served the community as: • Employment brokers • Unions • Arbitrators of disputes • Defenders against outside persecution • Dispensers of social services

  8. Anti-Chinese Sentiments • Anti-Coolie Clubs • Boycotted anything made by Chinese labor • Sometimes attacked Chinese laborers or set fire to factories where they worked • Resented Chinese workers for accepting low wages, thereby weakening unions • Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) • Banned Chinese immigration for 10 years • Prevented Chinese immigrants in the U.S. from becoming citizens

  9. Homestead Act (1862) • Settlers could by 160 acres of land for a small fee • Settlers had to occupy and improve the land for 5 years • Provided relief to those who could not find work • Extend American commercial agriculture into the West • The hardships of homesteading in the Great Plains caused many to abandon their farmers before the 5 year requirement