A World where the Buffalo no longer roam Blog Post #1

The topic of “Native Americans and the West” relates to the theme of “People, Places, and Power”.  In this theme, people shape events through their actions.  Individual people form conflict with others based on their social status culture, and goals.  People unite in groups based on the desire to achieve common goals.  A place is a specific country, region, city, or spot.  Places define economic situations and can attract or push away people.  Through the geography of places, individuals are given identity.  Power defines the ownership of places and resources.  People can gain power in religious groups, economics, military, or cultural superiority over other groups of people.  The Native Americans were a group of people that had lived in the place of the West for many centuries. The natives were affected by different groups of people who migrated to the West and tried to control them and gain power.

Key Terms:

Push-pull factors- events and conditions that either force (push) people to move elsewhere or strongly attract (pull) them to do so.

Push factors- eastern farmland was expensive for African Americans and impoverished immigrants.  Freedom in West.

Pull- Factors- Federal government promoted western migration by giving away public lands.

Pacific Railway Acts- government gave large land grants to Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads.  Act granted every alternate section of public land to amount of five alternate sections per mile on both sides of railroad.

Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862- gave state governments millions of acres of western lands; states could then sell to raise money for “land grant” colleges.

Land speculators- people who brought up large areas of land in the hope of selling it for later profit.

Homestead Act- was signed by Lincoln in 1862 and for a small fee; settlers could have 160 acres of land if they met certain conditions:  at least 21 or the head of their family, American citizens or immigrants filing for citizenship, built a house of certain minimum size and lived in it at least 6 months a year… Had to farm the land for five years in a row before claiming ownership.

Pull factor- private property- drawn by incentive to have property rights

Exodusters- what Black settlers called themselves

Great Plains- vast grassland between Mississippi River and Rocky Mountains

Nomads- people who travel from place to place usually following food sources, instead of living in one location.

Reservations- federal lands set aside for Native Americans

Battle of Little Bighorn- “Custer’s Last Stand”, 1876 Sioux victory over army troops led by George Custer

Ghost Dance- a ritual in which people joined hands and whirled in a circle.  An Indian claimed he was Christ that had returned to the earth.  Wovoka had a vision of a world without whites.

Massacre at Wounded Knee- last major episode of violence in the Indian wars

Assimilation- process by which one society becomes a part of another, more dominant society by adopting its culture

Dawes Act- divided reservation land into individual plots.

Boomers- settlers who ran in land races to claim land upon the 1889 opening of Indian Territory for settlement. (America Pathways to the Present, 497)

Sooners- in 1889, people who illegally claimed land by sneaking past government officials before the land races began.

Captain Richard H. Pratt- Opened the United States Indian Training and Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs- A part of the Interior Department that was meant to manage the delivery of supplies to reservations.


Pull and push factors of moving west:

Pull of cheap, new lands and job opportunities attracted people of many ethnic backgrounds.

“Indian Problem” conflict with Native Americans

Rise of warrior societies led      to decline in village life, nomadic native Americans raided more settled      groups

Clashes:  settlers viewed      land as resources and felt justified taking Indian land because they      thought it would be most productive.  To Native Americans, settlers      were invaders.


  • Treaties caused      misunderstanding, government designated tribes as groups, and signers of      treaties did not represent the majority of their people.


  • Kiowa wrote, in 1873, “I      have taken the white man by the hand, thinking him to be a friend, but he      is not a friend; government has deceived us….” (America Pathways      to the Present, 492).


Enduring Understanding 1:  The Native Americans viewed the land as their home and considered the settlers invaders whereas the settlers viewed the land as resources and felt justified taking Indian land because they thought it was beneficial to them and the natives.

  •  Kiowa wrote in 1873, “I      have taken the white man by the hand, thinking him to be a friend, but he      is not a friend; government has deceived us….” (America Pathways      to the Present, 492).
  • “We tried to run, but they shot      at us like we were buffalo.” said Louis Weasel Bear.  “I know there      must be some good white people, but the soldiers must be mean to shoot      children and women.” (A Different Mirror, 216).
  • “Many settlers’ views of land      and resource use contrasted sharply with Native American traditions.       Many settlers felt justified in taking Indian land because, in their      view, they would make it more productive.” (America Pathways to the      Present, 492).
  • “To Native Americans, the      settlers were simply invaders.  Increasing intrusions, especially      into sacred lands, angered even chiefs who had welcomed the newcomers.” (America      Pathways to the Present, 492).
  • “The treaties produced      misunderstandings and outright fraud… Acts of violence on both sides set      off cycles of revenge that occurred with increasing brutality.” (America      Pathways to the Present, 492).
  • “He portrayed the land’s      original people as “infesting” the plains, their “cruel and ferocious      nature” far exceeding that of any “wild beast.” (A Different Mirror,      217).


Enduring Understanding 2:  Many white settlers believed that the Native Americans needed to change their original way of life in order to fit into American society.

  •  “Most believed that Native      Americans still needed to be “civilized.”  That is, they should be      made to give up their traditions, become Christians, learn English, adopt      white dress and customs, and support themselves by farming and trade.”      (America Pathways to the Present, 496).
  • “General George Armstrong      Custer personified the advance of “civilization” against “savagery”.” (A      Different Mirror, 216).
  • “Tribal elders were ordered to      give up their religious beliefs and rituals.” (A Different Mirror,      216).
  • “Children as young as 5 years      old were taken from the reservations by coaxing, trickery, or force, and      sent to Carlisle and other such school to be educated “as Americans.”       The children were to be integrated into white society.” (America      Pathways to the Present, 496).
  • “To civilize Indians would be      to require them to abandon their way of life as warriors, and to sacrifice      their manhood by working for a living.” (A Different Mirror, 218).
  • Many whites “believed that the      reservations only served to segregate native peoples from white society      and postpone their assimilation.” (A Different Mirror, 221).
  • “To advance and civilize the      Indians, Senator Henry Dawes contended, the tribal system had to be      destroyed, for it was perpetuating “habits of nomadic barbarism” and      “savagery”.  As members of tribes, Indians would continue to live in      idleness, frivolity, and debauchery.” (A Different Mirror, 221).

The topic of Native Americans and the West relates to the theme of “People, Places, and Power” because it is focuses on the conflict between the Native Americans and settlers and how their interaction eventually led to the termination of the native’s culture and past way of life (America Pathways to the Present, 496).  The Indian Wars lasted from 1861-1890.  The topic of Native Americans and the West relates to the theme of Places because it is based upon the different perspectives of the natives and settlers on the Western lands.  The West attracted settlers, entrepreneurs seeking a fresh start, and people looking to freely practice their religion (America Pathways to the Present, 489).  The Western lands are important because they are the homeland of the Native Americans and setting of the conflict between the natives and settlers.  The topic also connects to the theme of power because the settler’s had superiority over the natives even though the natives considered the settler’s invaders of their sacred land.  The settler’s considered the Native Americans to be uncivilized savages and forced them to abide by the rules of “white” American society.  The violent conflict between the natives and settlers resulted in the deaths of 950 United States soldiers and death of millions of Native American men, women, and children who died in battles or the inhumane reservations (America Pathways to the Present, 497).

The South: Murderer of the Reconstruction

Freedom was granted to the Blacks of the United States only to then be destroyed by the South.  The Reconstruction was a time period from 1865-1877 in which Blacks were freed for a while and were able to enjoy their freedom but were then pushed back into “slavery” because their rights were removed.  The year 1876 was an ironic time in the history of the United States because the nation celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence despite the fact that African Americans were denied the right to participate in democracy and had no freedom.  The purpose of the Reconstruction was to allow Blacks more equality, this was soon tainted by the efforts of the North and South combined.  The North and the South both played roles in the downfall of the Reconstruction, but the South was the ultimate reason for this ending.  The South destroyed the Reconstruction because the violence of the Ku-Klux-Klan intimidated people from working for the benefit of Blacks rights, and the South manipulated freedoms that African Americans had earlier been given.


The North played a role in the downfall of the Reconstruction although it was not as significant as the actions of the South.  Northerners helped cause the termination of the Reconstruction because they did not consider Blacks eligible to serve in political positions and remained racist.  The Boston Evening Transcript argued that, “the blacks, as a people, are unfitted for the proper exercise of political duties…”.(D) Although the newspaper was “pro-freedman”, it still portrayed racist beliefs that degraded Blacks and their ability to participate in the government.(D) Many politicians remained racist towards Blacks and viewed them as inferior as well as having animal-like characteristics. In 1874, the cover of Harper’s Weekly provided a picture that depicted the South Carolina State Legislature and showed Blacks as uncivilized animals that were unfit to participate in the dignified white Government.(D) Columbia is shown in the back of the painting, ignored, the symbol of the United States as a whole.(D) Although the artist is from the North, he has a racist perspective in which Whites are shown as civilized members of the government and Blacks are wild nuisances that are unsuitable to perform as politicians.(D)  The North was not the primary reason for the ending of the Reconstruction, although it aided the South in the termination of the Reconstruction.  Despite the North’s anti-slavery beliefs, Blacks were not considered as equals and the North was not pro-equality.



The South was the ultimate reason for the conclusion of the Reconstruction because the violence of the Ku-Klux-Klan intimidated people from working for the benefit of Blacks rights, and the South manipulated freedoms that African Americans had earlier been granted.  The South caused the Reconstruction’s downfall because of the destructiveness and fear that the KKK established.  Albion Tourgee, a white Northern soldier who was a carpetbagger, wrote that his friend John W. Stephens, “was foully murdered by the Ku-Klux in the Grand Jury room of the Court House on Saturday…  He was stabbed five or six times, and then hanged on a hook in the Grand Jury room…”. (A). The KKK instituted a fear throughout the nation and killed Northern republicans and Blacks at night.  This fear ultimately caused people to stop working for Black rights.  Tourgee declared that, “any member of Congress who, especially from the South, does not support, advocate, and urge immediate active and thorough measures to put an end to these outrages…is a coward…”. (A)  Tourgee was a carpetbagger who went to the South to help the Freedmen and Reconstruction.  Despite Tourgee’s efforts, the KKK entrenched a fear throughout the nation that caused advocates of Reconstruction to value their life over their fight for Black equality.  The Independent Monitor displayed a picture that is symbolic of the threat of the KKK. (A)  The donkey, representing the KKK, is walking away from the two men hanging from the tree. (A) The man without a bag symbolizes a scalawag and the man with a bag represents a carpetbagger.  (A) The picture is a threat to scalawags and carpetbaggers and displays the power of the KKK and the violent impact that the cult caused in the South.  The South also killed the Reconstruction through its manipulation of Black rights.  Abram Colby delivered his testimony to the Senate Committee and shared of the KKK’s violent actions, “”Do you think you will ever vote another damned Radical ticker?” I said, “If there was an election tomorrow, I would vote the Radical ticket.” They set in and whipped me a thousand licks more…”. (B)  The KKK used violence to stop Blacks from voting for the Republicans.  In Harper’s Weekly, a painting was shown of two Whites holding guns to a Black man’s head.(B)  The caption is, “Of Course he wants to vote the Democratic ticket.”.(B)  The painting demonstrates the power of the KKK over African American voters.  The South was the primary reason for the killing of the Reconstruction because the KKK intimidated those who believed in Black equality and the violence of the KKK prohibited African American voters for voting for the Republicans.



“Of Course he wants to vote the Democratic ticket”

The North and the South both contributed to the downfall of the Reconstruction.  Despite the North’s actions, the South was the primary cause because the Ku-Klux-Klan intimidated people from working for the benefit of Blacks rights and the South manipulated freedoms that Blacks had earlier been granted.  The South killed the Reconstruction because the KKK instituted a powerful threat to those who supported African American equality, like the scalawags and carpetbaggers.  This fear ultimately caused people to not stand up to the KKK because then their lives would be at risk.  The North played a role in the downfall of the Reconstruction because many politicians viewed Blacks as animals and unfit to serve in the government.  The North was anti-slavery yet still was not pro-equality.  Overall, the South was the main reason why the Reconstruction ended because the violence of the KKK affected Black’s voting rights and instituted a fear in the lives of those that advocated Black equality.


A- Albion Tourgee, Letter on Ku Lux Klan Activities.  New York Tribune, May 1870.

Independent Monitor, September 1, 1868. Alabama Department of Archivs and History Montgomery, Alabama.

B- Abram Colby, testimony to a joint House and Senate Committee in 1872.

Harper’s Weekly, October 21, 1876.

D- Heather Cox Richardson, The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor and Politics in the Post-Civil War North, 1865-1901.  Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2001.

The cover of Harper’s Weekly, March 14, 1874.