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Flashcards in The struggle for the plains Deck (10)
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Overview of the struggles

The struggle for the Plains was an unequal one, with the US government putting great pressure on Native Americans. They put up a vigorous resistance, but their way of life was doomed.


Describe the Indian Removal Act

n 1803, the US government purchased Louisiana from the French. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 forced all Native Americans in the eastern United States (eg Cherokee, Seminole) to go there (the Trail of Tears).


Describe the Fort Laramie 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).


Describe the Indian Wars of 1860 - 1867

ndian wars of 1860-1867
Little Crow's war (1860-61)
Massacre of Sand Creek by Chivington's 3rd Colorado Volunteers (1864)
Red Cloud led the Sioux in a successful war against the US (1866-7). During this war the Fetterman massacre (1866) occurred, in which 80 US cavalry troopers died.


Describe the Treaty of Medicine Lodge

In the Treaty of Medicine Lodge (1867) the southern plains tribes agreed to move to Oklahoma. In the Second Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) Red Cloud realised he could never defeat the US permanently, and the Sioux agreed to move onto a small reservation. The US government promised to supply food and medicine.


Describe the Indian wars of 1860-1867

Little Crow's war (1860-61)
Massacre of Sand Creek by Chivington's 3rd Colorado Volunteers (1864)
Red Cloud led the Sioux in a successful war against the US (1866-7). During this war the Fetterman massacre (1866) occurred, in which 80 US cavalry troopers died.


Describe the Oklahoma Land Run

The US government made Native American territory available to white settlers (eg the Oklahoma Land Run, 1889). Homesteaders arrived. The Native Americans' own law courts were abolished. The Native Americans had to seek justice in the white man's court.
This ended the Native American way of life.


Describe the conflicts.

here a number of ways you can look at the conflict on the Plains.
It is possible to see the conflict as a clash of cultures. 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.
The wars might be seen as the result of racism. The white settlers believed that the Native Americans were inferior. They felt justified in saying that 'complete extermination is our motto', and in slaughtering the buffalo to starve the Native Americans to death. In 1864, Colonel Chivington justified the massacre at Sand Creek by saying: Kill them all, big and little: nits make lice. 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.
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 Plains. They took the land that Native Americans believed belonged to everyone.


How did the bad behaviour on both sides add to the confrontation.

The US government regularly broke its treaty promises - as the Sioux Chief Gall said: If we make peace, you will not keep it.
Meanwhile, some Native Americans wanted war. Early travellers on the Plains were robbed and murdered. 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.
In 1866, a group of Native Americans wiped out a unit of US cavalry (the Fetterman Massacre), and events like this, and the defeat at Little Bighorn (1876), made the white Americans determined to win the war.


Describe the differences between the Native American Way and the attitudes of the white americans

Native American way of life
The attitudes of White Americans
Race - Red Skin
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 existence". President Jefferson wrote that they were: "...backward in civilisation like beasts".
Adapted to the Plains - Nomadic, Tipis, Leisure, Crafts, Acceptance
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,... God has given this earth to those who will subdue and cultivate it."
Loved the land - Land cannot be owned or sold
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.
Government and laws - Influence of chief, Community spirit, 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'.
Religion and morality - Animistic (spirits), Medicine men, Young marriage, Easy divorce, Polygamy, Exposure of old people to the elements to die
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.
War - Preserve life, Ambush and stealth, Coups, 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, " to scuttle away as fast as his legs will carry him ... there is one example of a fair stand-up fight."