A.P. U.S. History Notes
Chapter 27: “The Great West and the Agricultural
~ 1865 – 1890 ~
Indians Embattled in the West
After the Civil War, the Great West was still relatively untamed, wild, full of Indians,
bison, and wildlife, and sparsely populated by a few
As the White settlers began to populate the Great West, the Indians, caught in the middle,
were increasingly turned against each other, infected with White man’s diseases, and
stuck battling to hunt the few remaining bison that were still around.
, displaced by
from the their ancestral lands at the
headwaters of the Mississippi in the late 1700s, expanded at the expense of the
, and justified their actions through the excuse that
White men had done the same thing to them.
The Indians had become great riders and fighters ever since the Spanish
introduced the horse to them.
The federal government tried to pacify the Indians by signing treaties at
in 1853 with the chiefs of the tribes, but the U.S. failed to
understand that such “tribes” and “chiefs” didn’t exist in Indian culture, and that in most
cases, Native Americans didn’t recognize authorities outside of their families.
In the 1860s, the U.S. government intensified its effort into herding Indians into still
smaller and smaller reservations (like the
Indians were often promised that they wouldn’t be bothered further after moving
out of their ancestral lands, and often, Indian agents were corrupt and pawned off
shoddy food and products to their own fellow Indians.
White men often disregarded treaties, though, and they often “ripped off” Indians.
In frustration, many Native American tribes attack Whites, and slew of skirmishes from
1868 to 1890 called the “
” made up the bitterness of the Indians.
Many times, though, the Indians were better equipped than the federal troops sent
to quell their revolts.
all battled Indians.
Receding Native Population
Violence reigned supreme in Indian-White Man relations.
In 1864, at
, Colorado, Colonel
’s militia massacred
some four hundred Indians in cold blood—Indians who had thought they had been
promised immunity and Indians who were peaceful and harmless.
In 1866, a Sioux war party ambushed Captain
William J. Fetterman
of 81 soldiers and civilians who were constructing the Bozeman Trail to the
Montana goldfields, leaving no survivors.
This massacre was one of the few Indian victories, as another treaty at Fort
Laramie was signed two years later.