Chapter 30 Summary The Census Bureau in 1890 announced that the frontier was gone. Except for a few outposts, the vast territory west of a line from Brownsville, Texas, to the Minnesota-Dakota border was still Indian country. Most Americans were content to leave it that way. Most people assumed that the land there was impossible for agriculture. During the 1860s, however, an estimated 350,000 Indians lived on these lands. The Indians who most fascinated easterners were the tribes of the Great Plains, a culture that revolved around the bison and the horse. While the Plains Indians fought one another frequently, they had few skirmishes with whites before 1865. The construction of transcontinental railroads led, in a roundabout way, to the destruction of the bison as their hides caused a fashion sensation back east. America's final Indian wars were often brutal. There were few big battles on the plains; it was a war of many small skirmishes such as the Sand Creek and Fetterman Massacres. In 1876, the army devised a plan to find and defeat the Sioux and Cheyenne by closing on them in southern Montana from three directions. The resulting battle was an American loss in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Chief Joseph led his Nez Perce tribe to the Canadian border but was forced to surrender to U.S. troops. Helen Hunt Jackson's A Century of Dishonor and the ensuing uproar pressured Congress into passing the Dawes Severalty Act in 1887. While their intentions were the best, but it was disastrous for the tribes. The culmination of the Indian wars came in 1890 at Wounded Knee. In the post-Civil War period, demands for cheap beef in the East led to the cattle industry boom. Cowboys became central to American folklore almost as soon as they rode onto the scene, much of their dress and equipment of Mexican design. They drove cattle from Texas to the Kansas railroad in Abilene, which were then shipped to Chicago. Profits were immense. However, the era of the long drive came to an end because of greed and natural disaster and was replaced by ranching. The myths of the "Wild West" were embraced not only by easterners, but by cowboys and other westerners too. Dime novels popularized the era and its figures. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show was extraordinarily popular. The folklore of the precious-metal mining frontier is second only to the legend of the cowboy in American popular culture. For more than a generation, prospectors discovered new deposits almost annually and very rich ones every few years. Mining, though, required a great deal of capital and technical expertise. Mining became an integral part of the national economy.