1-27-14 Notes - Plains Conquest

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Robin Einhorn

• Failure to deploy federal power effectively • The freedman’s bureau o A govt that looks weak in one context, can look strong in a different context (native americans never saw the govt as weak. • Plains Conquest 1860s-1880s o Real goal was to get Indians out of the way of the expansion of the US o Before the civil war, the great plains was seen by white americans as worthless “the great American desert” o So the removal treaties of the 1830s said that the land would be permanent indian country, forever off limits to whites. This worked because whites weren’t interested o 1862 – Homestead Act  Any citizen or immigrant intending to become a citizen could get 160 acres of public domain land (for free or very cheaply) (except confederates) if they occupied it for 5 years and improved it with a house and some crops  Iowa and Nebraska, not yet important in plains because the whites still thought it was worthless because it got very little rain o Pacific Railroad Act  Starting in the 1840s, there was talk of building a cross country railroad.  It was impossible to decide on where to build it because congress was split btwn n and s  Transcontinental railroad 1862-1869 o Vast land grants made to many railroad companies in the 1860s and 70s – 8 transcontinentals were built (Huge boom in rr construction) o The railroads promoted settlement  Financed by land sold along the route  Also shipped crops & goods  Ranching – meat-packing • Cattle had replaced buffalo • The amazing part of this is that they got farmers th o 100 meridian  Rainfall drops off dramatically o Gilded age o 1878-1886  Way more rain than usual on the plains  “God is favoring American expansion”  Scientific (climate change caused by settlers) “rain follows the plow”  Railroads loved this! o Mid 1880s  Rain wasn’t so plentiful  Farmers learned how to farm in dry climates  Ranchers, the rrs and the farmers created white demand for indian land o The worst thing that could happen to indian group would be the discovery of gold  Sand Creek Massacre caused by the 1859 pikes peak gold rush • Cheyenne wanted to live in peace but the colo militia was ordered to kill all Indians  Sioux 1874 • Black hills gold rush • Sioux were guaranteed great reservation • Gets broken up  Little Big Horn • The Sioux annhialated Custer’s army  Ultimately, these gold rushes were the cause for Wounded Knee massacre • Ghost dance – revitalization movement • Dance meant to strengthen Indians against whites  Gold and silver rushes elsewhere • Miners had no patience for Indian encroachment or even their presence • Few white Americans had patience for Indians on their land or respected Indians owning land • Why? SEE ABOVE o Railroad route SEE ABOVE o Rain follows the plow (not really) SEE ABOVE o Mining SEE ABOVE • War patterns o Americans find that treaty was now inconvenient o Coerce Indians to agree to smaller reservation or just do it o Indians off reservation were automatically hostile o Americans would burn and destroy towns and herd survivors on to indian land o Indians utterly dependent on rations from federal govt  Whites looked at Indians as shiftless, dependent, lazy “why cant they just get jobs and support themselves” o Indians were weaker because the supply of American settlers and soldiers were essentially limitless o Northerners were shocked. Westerners said that the northerners only acted this way because they had gotten rid of their Indians a long time a ago • Citizenship o "Civilization"  Stran
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