Chapter 18 Study Guide
This chapter covers the changes in transportation and technology that enabled white settlers
to move into the trans-Mississippi West, an area previously labeled the “Great American
Desert” and was occupied almost exclusively by Indians and Mexicans. Mining, commercial
farming, and ranching brought in more settlers as homestead laws and railroad land
advertising promoted the settlement of the Great Plains. Indian communities were under siege
and the Indians were generally pushed onto reservations. As the primitive West disappeared,
parts of it were preserved in national parks, paintings, written works, and photography, as
well as in a stereotyped “Wild West.” Indian cultures were seriously affected by federal
legislation such as the Dawes Severalty Act, but many tribes managed to endure and even
rejuvenate themselves.
Learning Goals:
After reading this chapter you should be able to:
Explain how the Oklahoma Land Rush illustrated the effects of settlement on old and new
communities in the trans-Mississippi West.
Describe the impact on and transformation of the Indian communities in the trans-Mississippi
Discuss the West as an internal empire, including the role of the federal government in its
Summarize the impact of settlement on existing communities as well as the creation of new
Outline various agricultural changes in the region, from the plains cattle industry to California
truck farming, including effects on regions east of the Mississippi River.
Summarize the efforts to create images of the “primitive West” in writings, paintings,
photography, natural parks, and in stereotyped images of the Wild West.
Key Terms:
Treaty of Fort Laramie
Dawes Severalty Act
Caminetti Act
Edmunds-Tucker Act
Homestead Act of 1862
National Reclamation Act
Omaha Act of 1882
Sand Creek Massacre
Chief Joseph
Henry Comstock
Joseph McCoy
Frederick Remington
Short Answer Questions
Questions: Respond to the following questions in at least two sentences.
1. How did the slaughter of the buffalo affect the plains Indians?
2. How did the mining industry develop in the United States?
3. What was life like for a cowboy in the late nineteenth century?
4. Who took advantage of the Homestead Act?
5. How did agribusiness differ from more traditional forms of farming?
6. What place did the West hold in the national imagination?
7. What kind of society did reformers envision?
8. Discuss the role of federal legislation in accelerating and shaping the course of
westward expansion.
9. How did the incorporation of Western territories into the United States affect Indian
nations such as the Sioux or the Nez Percé? Discuss the causes and consequences of the
Indian Wars. Discuss the significance of reservation policy and the Dawes Severalty Act
for tribal life.
10. What were some of the major technological advances in mining and in agriculture
that promoted the development of the Western economy?
11. Describe the unique features of Mexicano communities in the Southwest before and
after the mass immigration of Anglos. How did changes in the economy affect the
patterns of labor and the status of women in these communities?
12. What role did the Homestead Act play in western expansion? How did farm families
on the Great Plains divide chores among their members? What factors determined the
likelihood of economic success or failure?
13. Describe the responses of artists, naturalists, and conservationists to the Western
landscape. How did their photographs, paintings, and stories shape perceptions of the
West in the East?