The white settlers arrive
First we will look at some of the conflicts
between the Native Americans and the
White Settlers
Then we will look at why some of the
causes and effect of these incidents.
One of the underlying problems was that
each group believed in different things
The settlers
The settlers thought they were (a) superior
and (b) that their beliefs were the correct
Which is odd as many people had come to
America to get away from groups at home
who tried to tell them what to do!
And it was not just the Native Americans
that they tried to order about, but groups
like the Mormons, a Christian Sect, who
believed in polygamy.
Who were they?
In 1492 Columbus set
sail and, rather
discovered America.
He was the first of
many. To Central
America came the
Spanish looking for
gold and other
Who were they?
To the north came
the French who were
mainly interested in
trading for furs and
other valuable
things. To the east
coast came the
British looking for
land to settle on.
Who were they?
Millions more came
from Europe looking
for land they could
own, or a place where
they practice their
religion in peace
without anyone else
giving them trouble, or
to make their fortune
in this new land of
So …
America was a rich country. There was
fertile land, plentiful animals and minerals
like gold were found in great quantities.
This led to the taking over of the land by the
more powerful white men. They had some
big advantages. They outnumbered the
Native Americans many times over. They
had more effective and powerful weapons
and a fierce determination to take what they
To begin with ….
…. the whites settled close to the coast.
However, gradually they started to move further
The first white people to do this were known as
They traveled into the wilderness and began to
make the land their own.
This westward expansion led to more and more
conflict with the Native Americans who felt their
land and way of life was being threatened.
The first removal of Native Americans
In 1803, the US government
purchased Louisiana (in
Central North America) from
the French, so that the Native
Americans could be sent there.
But it was not until the Indian
Removal Act of 1830 which
forced all Native Americans in
the eastern United States (eg
Cherokee, Seminole) to go
there (the Trail of Tears), as
land became scarce in the East
Many thousands lost their
The trail of tears
1837 Financial Crisis in the Eastern USA.
In 1837 the economy of the Eastern USA
Factories closed and people lost their jobs. Banks
collapsed and people lost their savings.
Crime rose and the East no longer such a good
place to live. Land in the East was scarce as the
region was filling up with immigrants.
So there was a major PUSH factor for people
moving out of the East to go to the West (California
and Oregon).
The West became the promised land with lots of
cheap land for settlers able to go there.
*not interested in the plains which they thought was not suitable to grow things on 10
On the Great Plains the white men drove off the
buffalo and began to fence off the land to make
cattle ranches of their own. They raised huge
numbers of cattle and the men they employed to
look after them became known as cowboys.
Others moved to the Plains and set up
On these farms, the homesteaders (farmers)
ploughed up the Plains and grew crops.
They also protected their land with fences.
The Native Americans believed that the land
belonged to everyone and they didn’t understand
the idea of fences.
So, white people started moving west
First settler trails across Plains to the West –
– Oregon Trail (1841) – to the West Coast
– Mormon Trail (1846),
– California Trail (to the goldfields, 1849).
The first treaty
In the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, the US
government agreed that large areas of land should
belong to Native American tribes 'for all time' (eg
the Sioux were given the Black Hills of Dakota).
Massacre of Sand Creek
Gold was discovered in the Rocky
Mountains (1859).
There were many disputes between settlers
and Natives
Some native Americans were prepared to
negotiate, while others, known as dog
soldiers, were not.
Some of those prepared to talk went to Sand
Massacre of Sand Creek
Colonel Chivington with 800 troops marched to
their campsite in order to attack the Indians.
On the morning of November 29, 1864, the army
attacked the village and massacred most of its
Chivington proclaimed before the attack "Kill and
scalp all, big and little; nits make lice."
Between 150 and 184 Cheyennes were reported
dead, and some were reportedly mutilated, and
most were women, children, and elderly men.
Chivington and his men later displayed scalp and
other body parts, in the Apollo Theatre and
saloons in Denver.
Massacre of Sand Creek
After this event, many more Indian men joined the
Dog Soldiers, and massacred settlers throughout
the area, killing as many as 200 civilians.
The attack was initially reported in the press as a
victory against a brave opponent.
Within weeks, witnesses came forward with a
different story
Several investigations were conducted; two by the
military, and one by the Joint Committee on the
Conduct of the War.
While the colonel was widely condemned ,he was
never punished.
The treaty modified 1866
But soon, the White settlers wanted to change
At Fort Laramie, there was a council held where
the settlers tried to negotiate a trail through
Native American land
However before agreement had been reached,
soldiers started to build a military road through,
and this annoyed one of the chief Red Cloud,
who walked out, promising resistance to any
whites who sought to use the trail .
The first of many disputes
A coalition of various bands of Lakota,
Northern Cheyennes and Arapahos under the
leadership of Red Cloud effectively closed
travel on the Bozeman Trail.
Wood parties, mail carriers, emigrants and
traders became the regular targets of Indian
Colonel Fetterman arrived and boasted that,
given "80 men," he "would ride through the
Sioux nation."
The first of many disputes
Fetterman and his troops
followed a small band of
Sioux over a ridge to find
3,000 natives awaiting
When the trap was
sprung, there was no
avenue of escape and no
Fetterman massacre
Why was there conflict?
It is possible to see the conflict as a clash of
White Americans did not understand the Native
Americans' way of life.
Consequently, they distrusted and feared them,
and could believe anything (including torture and
deceit) of a people they did not understand.
Conversely, the Native Americans felt that white
Americans were devils who ruined the earth.
Differences of culture caused them to hate and
despise each other, and led to war.
Why was there conflict?
The wars might be seen as the result of racism.
The white settlers believed that the Native Americans were
They felt justified in saying that 'complete extermination is
our motto', and in slaughtering the buffalo to starve the
Native Americans to death. By the 1880, there were only a
few hundred left.
In 1864, Colonel Chivington justified the massacre at Sand
Creek by saying: 'Kill them all, big and little: nits make
Faced by an attitude of genocide, Native Americans had
nothing to lose - as the Sioux Chief Gall said: 'You fought
me and I had to fight back'.
Why was there conflict?
It could be argued that war broke out simply
because the white men wanted the Great
Plains - firstly to cross, then for gold, then
for cattle and then for farming.
Many white Americans believed that it was
their manifest destiny to take over the
They took the land that Native Americans
believed belonged to everyone.
However, bad behaviour on both sides
added to the confrontation.
The US government
regularly broke its
treaty promises as the Sioux Chief
Gall said: 'If we
peace, you will not
keep it'.
Meanwhile, some Native Americans wanted war.
Early travellers on the Plains were robbed and
And when some Native Americans made peace with
the US government, others would stay out on the
warpath - white Americans could not understand that
the chiefs had no power to make their warriors obey.
But white attitudes were a big part of the
White Americans regarded Native (and
black) Americans as subhuman.
Horace Greeley wrote that: '...their wars,
treaties, habitations, crafts, comforts, all
belong to the very lowest ages of human
President Jefferson wrote that they were:
'...backward in civilisation like beasts'.
But white attitudes were a big part of the
White Americans demanded a settled, farming way of life.
They thought that tipis were: '...too full of smoke ...
inconceivably filthy'.
Horace Greeley despised the Native Americans for:
'...sitting around the doors of their lodges at the height of
the planting season', and said they were '...squalid and
conceited, proud and worthless, lazy and lousy'.
'These people must die out,' he wrote, 'God has given this
earth to those who will subdue and cultivate it.'
And this from a person who was known to fight for all
sorts of other groups such as being antislavery and pro the
vote for all!
Native Americans believed no-one could
own land
But White Americans believed that God had given
them the right to 'subdue the earth', and they
wanted to make money from it.
They thought land ownership, fences and
cultivation were natural.
White Americans thought only they could make
full use of the land.
They gave the Plains to the Native Americans
when they thought they were 'wholly unfit for
cultivation', but when they found this not to be
true, they took the land for themselves.
Native Americans believed in the
Influence of chief , Community spirit and
in Horse stealing
White Americans could not understand why chiefs
could not make their warriors obey them.
Government based on 'community spirit' was
incomprehensible to white Americans, whose
government was based on laws and compulsion.
They particularly hated horse stealing, because
'depriving a man of his horse could mean life itself
on the Plains'.
White observers declared that the Native
Americans were 'without government'.
Native Americans believes in Animistic
religion (spirits), Medicine men, young
marriage, Easy divorce, Polygamy,
Exposure of old people
Christian preachers thought '...the Indians
have no religion, only ignorant superstition'.
Native American customs of marriage,
divorce and exposure of old people to the
elements offended white Americans'
religion and morality.
Native American methods of war
included Preserve life, Ambush and
stealth, Coups and Scalping
White soldiers saw
– ambush as treachery,
– scalping as barbarous and
– retreat as 'a total lack of courage'.
'The first impulse of the Indian,' wrote
Colonel Dodge, '...is to scuttle away as fast
as his legs will carry him ... there is one
example of a fair stand-up fight.'
We have just heard a lot about how
the white settlers thought the Native
Americans were sub-human, lacking
morals, bravery etc etc
So now what do you think the Native
Americans thought about the settlers?
Using what you know about the Plains
Indians and also what the white settlers had
done and what they believed in,
If as a plains Native American, you had
travelled north into Canada ( which many
Native Americans did) and met up with a
Native American group that had not come
across the white settlers, what would you
tell them about the white settlers?