The Fight for the West

The American West
Section Notes
The Fight for the West
Mining and Ranching
Farming the Plains
History Close-up
Major Battles and Native American
Territory in the West, 1890
Cattle Trails
Oklahoma Land Rush
Quick Facts
Challenges for Farmers
Visual Summary: The American
Hunting on the Plains
Lakota Boys
Family with Sod House
Land Poster
The Fight for the West
The Main Idea
Native Americans fought the movement of settlers westward,
but the U.S. military and the persistence of American
settlers proved too strong to resist.
Reading Focus
• How was the stage set for conflict between white settlers and
Native Americans in the West?
• What were the Indian Wars and their consequences?
• How did Native American resistance to white settlement end?
• What was life like on the Indian Reservation?
Stage Set for Conflict
• Culture of the Plains Indians
– Buffalo provided food, clothing, and shelter for the
nomadic lifestyle of the Indians. They did not believe
land should be bought and sold, and white farmers felt it
should be divided.
• Government policy
– Instead of continuing to move the Indians westward, the
government changed its policy. Indian land was seized,
and they were forced onto reservations.
• Destruction of the buffalo
– The buffalo-centered way of life was threatened, with
vast herds driven to extinction by reduced grazing lands
and hunting for sport and profit.
The Indian Wars
Sand Creek
Army troops attacked and massacred surrendering
Cheyenne. Congressional investigators condemned
the Army actions, but no one was punished in the
Sand Creek Massacre.
After the massacre, Cheyenne and Sioux stepped
up their raids. In return for closing a sacred trail,
the Sioux agreed to live on a reservation. Other
nations signed the Medicine Lodge Treaty and were
moved to reservation lands in western Oklahoma.
The Battle
of the Little
George Armstrong Custer led his troops in
headlong battle against Sitting Bull and lost. The
Battle of the Little Bighorn was a temporary
victory for the Sioux. The U.S. government was
determined to put down the threat to settlers.
The Indian Wars
Palo Duro
The Ghost
The Battle of Palo Duro Canyon ended the
Indian Wars on the southern Plains. With their
ponies killed and food stores destroyed, surviving
Comanches moved onto the reservation.
The Ghost Dance was a religious movement that
inspired hope among suffering Native Americans.
Newspapers began suggesting that this signaled a
planned uprising. The military killed Sitting Bull
while attempting to arrest him in a skirmish.
The Wounded Knee Massacre occurred the day
after the surrender. Shooting began after a gun
went off, and the fleeing Sioux were massacred.
This action marked the end of the bloody conflict
between the army and the Plains Indians.
Resistance Ends in the West
Resistance in the
• The government took back
nine-tenths of the Nez Percé
land when gold miners and
settlers came into the area.
• Fourteen years later they
were ordered to abandon the
last bit of that land to move
into Idaho.
• Chief Joseph tried to take
his people into Canada, but
the army forced their
surrender less than forty
miles from the Canadian
• Chief Joseph and many
others were eventually sent
to northern Washington.
Resistance in the
• The Apache people were
moved onto a reservation
near the Gila River in Arizona.
• Soldiers forcefully stopped a
religious gathering there, and
Geronimo and others fled
the reservation.
• They raided settlements
along the Arizona-Mexico
border for years before finally
being captured in 1886.
• Geronimo and his followers
were sent to Florida as
prisoners of war. His
surrender marked the end of
armed resistance in the area.
Life on the Reservation
The government wanted control over all the western
territories and wanted Indians to live like white Americans.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs began to erase the Indian
culture through a program of Americanization. Indian
students could speak only English and could not wear their
traditional clothing. They learned to live like Americans.
The Dawes Act of 1887 broke up many reservations and
turned Native Americans into individual property owners.
Ownership was designed to transform their relationship to
the land. The Indians received less productive land, and few
had the money to start farms. Most of the land given to the
Indians was unsuitable for farming.
Mining and Ranching
The Main Idea
Many people sought fortunes during the mining and cattle
booms of the American West.
Reading Focus
• How did mining lead to new settlements in the West?
• Why did mining become big business?
• How and why did the cattle boom come to an end?
Striking Gold and Silver
• Discovering gold and silver
– After the California gold rush, Colorado was next. Most
who went there were disappointed, but the silver in the
Comstock Lode in Nevada lasted for more than 20
• The Klondike gold rush
– The Yukon Territory was the site of a huge gold rush, but
getting there was treacherous. Canadians required
miners to bring a year’s worth of supplies with them, and
that was a difficult task. Reports of “gold for the taking”
were false.
Development of Communities
• Mining camps and towns
– Thousands of men poured into mining areas. Camps
were hastily built and had no law enforcement. Vigilante
justice was used to combat theft and violence.
• Camps become towns
– Some camps developed into towns, with hastily
constructed buildings of stores and saloons.
– As towns developed, women and children came to join
the men, making the towns more respectable.
Townspeople established churches, newspapers, and
Mining as Big Business
Placer mining allowed individuals to pan for gold, but soon
equipment was needed to dig deeper within the earth.
Large companies were formed to invest in hydraulic
mining and hard-rock mining. Prospectors became
employees, working dangerous jobs for these companies.
Miners began to organize unions to negotiate safer working
conditions and better pay. Mining companies resisted, and
violence broke out. At Cripple Creek, Colorado, the Western
Federation of Miners faced off against the corporate mining
interests. When it was over, 30 men were left dead and the
union was defeated.
The Cattle Boom
Origins of
for beef
as big
The Spanish were the first ranchers in the West,
raising cattle under dry and difficult conditions. They
bred the hardy Texas longhorn and started sheep
ranching. Grazing lands were needed for both.
Growing populations in the East needed food. The
age of the cattle drive had arrived. Cowboys drove
the cattle to towns with railroads to be shipped to
meatpacking centers such as Chicago. One of the
most famous cattle trails was the Chisholm Trail.
Joseph Glidden invented barbed wire, allowing
ranchers to enclose grazing lands. Privately owned
ranches spread quickly, and investors transformed
the cattle business into big business. Two years of
severe winters brought huge losses to the industry.
Farming the Plains
The Main Idea
The government promoted the settlement of the West,
offering free or cheap land to those willing to put in the
hard work of turning the land into productive farms.
Reading Focus
• What incentives encouraged farmers to settle in the West?
• Which groups of people moved into the West, and why did they
do so?
• What new ways of farming evolved in the West?
Incentives for Settlement
• New legislation
– In 1862, Congress passed three acts to turn public lands
into private property.
• The Homestead Act gave 160 acres of land to heads
of household.
• The Pacific Railway Act gave land to the railroad
companies to build lines.
• The Morrill Act gave lands to states for colleges for
agriculture and the mechanic arts.
Incentives for Settlement
• Railroads encourage settlement
– Railroads reaped profits by selling some of their land to
settlers. They placed ads to lure homesteaders to the
West. The Oklahoma Land Run of 1889 opened
unassigned Indian land to settlers. Over 50,000 people
took part in the rush to stake a claim on these 2 million
acres of land.
• Closing of the frontier
– In 1890 the Census Bureau issued a report, “there can
hardly be said to be a frontier line.” Historian Frederick
Jackson Turner stated in a famous essay that the
existence of the frontier made the United States
Migrating West
White settlers
European settlers
• Middle-class businesspeople
or farmers from the
Mississippi Valley moved
• Lured by economic
opportunity, they came from
Scandinavia, Ireland, Russia,
and Germany.
• They could afford money for
supplies and transportation.
• They brought their farming
experience with them.
African American
• Benjamin Singleton urged
his own people to build
• Some fled the violent South.
• Rumors of land in Kansas
brought 15,000 Exodusters
who also settled in Missouri,
Indiana, and Illinois.
Chinese settlers
• Initially came for the gold
rush or to build railroads
• They turned to farming,
especially in California,
establishing the fruit industry
• Most Chinese were farm
laborers because they were
not allowed to own land.
New Ways of Farming
New farmers faced harsh climate, scarce water, and lack of
lumber. Farmers installed windmill-driven pumps and used
irrigation techniques. They used the earth for shelter, first
building dugouts into hillsides, then making sod houses.
New farming equipment helped. James Oliver developed a
sharper plow edge. Combine harvesters used one operation
to cut wheat, separate grains, and remove the husks.
Giant bonanza farms operated like factories, and they
reaped great profits during good seasons. However, they
could not handle the boom-and-bust farming cycles well,
and by the 1890s, most bonanza farms had been broken