Western expansion affected the lives of Native Americans during the time period between 1860 and 1890 for many reasons such as Indian Reservations and restrictions, military conflicts, and assimilation. The federal government played a role in affecting the lives of Native Americans. Western expansion changed the lives for the whites living in America as well as the non-whites (Native Americans) living in America. Western expansion brought conflict to the Native Americans. The Wounded Knee Massacre and the Sand Creek Massacre were examples of this. Indians did not agree with the governments and White American’s way of life and the way they treated them.
The United States Government was beginning to take control of the lives of the Native Americans. The federal government forced Most Native American tribes to live in certain areas and manage the land. These areas are called Indian reservations. Some tribes were paid small portion money by the government for living in these areas as requested. The amount of pay was usually a small amount and the Native Americans almost always ended up using and spending the money on buying food and supplies from White American traders. The Indians did not agree with the governments and White American’s way of life and the way they treated them. The Wounded Knee Massacre was the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment intercepting the Spotted Elk’s band of Miniconjou Lakota and 38 Hunkpapa Lakota near Porcupine Butte and took them to camps where they revolted and many deaths happened. Bison or buffalo were a main source of food and clothing on the Great Plains for the Native Americans. The U.S. Army, railroad companies and white settlers, not knowingly accidently set up systematically a killing of all the bison. The Indians had a better understanding of the natural life and hunted what they needed for just themselves, not to make money off of it which was the white settler’s intention.
Many Native Americans hated living on reservations and were usually poor and close to starving. Because of this uprisings and battles took place. The Dakota Sioux Uprising was when people took revenge against traders who wouldn’t give them food on credit and the U.S. troops had to get involved with the revolt. Some Indian tribes ended up joining forces after being pried from their land and of human rights. The Sand Creek Massacre, also known as the Chivington Massacre, involved primarily Cheyenne Indians. A 700-man force of Colorado territory militia attacked a village of friendly Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. The Indians were slaughtered but the counter attack did not end well for the American militia. The goal now was to get Native Americans to live and act like white Americans and to blend them into society. Ideas and attempts to blend them were boarding schools for Native Children, Killing all the buffalo, and introduce religion; Christianity. The Dawes Act in 1887 was initiated to get Native Americans to behave like white Americans. It broke the reservations into “allotments”. Each allotment was giving out to individual families, and the families were supposed to farm and build homes on their allotment.
The Homestead Act states that any citizen of the U.S., that is at least 21 years of age can receive 160 acres of land in the west from the government. It states, “AN ACT to secure homesteads to actual settlers on public domain. Be it enacted, that any person who is the head of a family, or who has arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and is a citizen of the United States, or who shall have filed his declaration of intention to become such, as required by the naturalization laws of the United States, and who has never borne arms against the United States government of given aid and comfort to its enemies, shall, from and after the first of January, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, be entitled to enter one quarter section or a less quantity of unappropriated lands, upon which said person may have filed a pre-emption claim.”(Doc D)
It had earlier been proposed by Northern Republicans but blocked for passage in Congress by Southern Democrats who wanted western lands for slave owners. Also from Santana Chief of the Kiowas, 1867, “A long time ago this land belonged to our fathers; but when I go up to the river I see camps of soldiers here on its bank. These soldiers cut down my timber; they kill my buffalos; and when I see that, my heart feels like bursting; I feel sorry.”(Doc A) The buffalo were a main source of food and clothing on the Great Plains for the Native Americans. The U.S. Army, railroad companies and white settlers, not knowingly accidently set up systematically a killing of all the bison. This quote explains how The United States Government was to taking control of the lives of the Native Americans.
Whittaker, David J. “UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT POLICIES TOWARD NATIVE AMERICANS, 1787-1990: A GUIDE TO MATERIALS IN THE BRITISH LIBRARY.” THE BRITISH LIBRARY, n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2012. <http://www.bl.uk/eccles/pdf/nativeamericans.pdf>.
“Westward Expansion.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2012. <http://www.history.com/topics/westward-expansion>.