American Indians and Buffalo Soldiers



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American Indians and Buffalo Soldiers

From ABC CLIO’s American History: The West, 1850-1900 Eras



soldiers who fought on horseback; foot soldiers




As American settlement pushed across the Appalachian Mountains in the late 18th century, hostilities increased between Native Americans and the United States. After Andrew Jackson became president in 1828, he oversaw the forced removal of Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes west across the Mississippi River, but pushing the Indians further west turned out to be a temporary solution.

Americans were pushing west as well. The California gold rush in 1848, the Homestead Act passed in 1862, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 all encouraged westward migration. Between 1862 and 1890, approximately 2 million people settled on nearly 375,000 farms claimed through the Homestead Act. These white settlers encountered resistance from Native Americans, who were being forced off of the land they had inhabited for centuries. The government’s solution was to confine the Native Americans to reservations in areas deemed unsuitable for white settlement.

A New Type of Soldier

Indian resistance to the removals resulted in the American Indian wars of the mid- and late 19th century. These conflicts, in addition to the security needs of white settlers, required a permanent military force to be placed on the frontier. After the Civil War, many of these soldiers were African Americans

In 1866, President Andrew Johnson signed an act of Congress that resulted in the formation of six regiments of African-American troops. Most of the recruits to newly authorized cavalry and infantry regiments were experienced soldiers who had served in the Civil War. They were eager to enlist in these new regiments because they saw an opportunity for social and economic betterment. The U.S. Army provided a means for food, clothing, shelter, and equally important, the chance for an education to overcome the mandated illiteracy of the slavery system. The $13 a month offered as pay wasn’t much, but it was more than many of the recruits would probably have been able to earn as civilians in the post-Civil War years.

When the Cheyenne and Kiowa first saw these dark soldiers with their textured black hair, they were reminded of the buffalo that was such an important part of their lives, so they called these men buffalo soldiers. Soon, the Indians attributed other buffalo-like

qualities to the soldiers as well. This new type of soldier was uncommonly tough, demonstration of heroism in one conflict after another.

Ferocious Fighting

religious

to give away

housing for soldiers

entrance

Until the early 1890s, the buffalo soldiers made up 20% of all American cavalry forces on the Western frontier and quickly won a reputation as a force to be reckoned with. Two of these regiments, the Ninth and 10th Cavalries, were involved in some of the most ferocious Indian battles that took place in the West.

One main source of conflict was U.S. fear of the Ghost Dance movement, a messianic movement among the western tribes. Led by a Paiute named Wovoka, the movement promised a new order in which the Indians would be forever free from white aggression and intervention. At the time, most Western tribes were discouraged over their status in life and the loss of their traditional culture. The movement made the U.S. government nervous. Though Wovoka preached nonviolence, some Sioux leaders urged that whites be driven out of the West.

In the late fall of 1890, the conflict between whites and Native American came to a disastrous head. The War Department ordered an army buildup at the Pine Ridge Reservation (in present-day South Dakota), and 500 to 600 hostile ghost dancers gathered. Tension between the two groups, which included the buffalo soldiers of the Ninth Cavalry, resulted in the Wounded Knee Massacre on December 28. More than 150 Sioux were killed. After that, the Ghost Dance movement waned.

Differing Perspectives

Waning Indian resistance meant more freedom for westward expansion. The Dawes Act broke up Indian tribal lands and authorized the president to distribute reservation lands to Indians. The act aimed to make Indians into independent farmers; instead, it made it easy for whites to buy or lease Indian lands…

Americans streamed onto the lands previously held by Native Americans. They were aided in the settlement of the West by the very soldiers who had helped end the Indian presence. As formidable as they were, the buffalo soldiers did much more than fight. They were largely responsible for the miles of telegraph lines that permitted communication through the southwest frontier. They built and repaired forts and barracks, explored and mapped unknown territory, and built roads that would eventually give land-hungry settlers across the frontier. The buffalo soldiers protected miners from Indian raids and sometimes even the Indians themselves from unlawful incursions onto reservation property.

The buffalo soldiers and the Native Americans were two unique groups existing together on the frontier. Both groups faced oppression at the hands of whites. Many buffalo soldiers joined the army after the Civil War to escape the South… They were proud of their uniforms and their roles as U.S. military professionals. Native Americans, on the other hand, were left with little pride. Forced to live on reservations, they watched as whites gradually took over the entire North American continent.

Teacher’s Guide

Name of Text: American Indians and Buffalo Soldiers


Question Composers: Temoca Dixon and Marcia Motter
Standards:

Nevada State:

H2. [6-8].3 Describe how compromise and conflict among peoples contributed to political, economic, and cultural divisions.

H2. [6-8].17 Discuss and analyze the interactions between pioneers and Native Americans during westward expansion.

CCSS:

R17.1, .2, .3, .5, .6, .8, .10

RH 6-8.1, .2, .5, .6, .10

WHST. 8.9
Teacher Tip: Listen to “Buffalo Soldier” by Bob Marley. In the song, Marley recounts the experience of these Black Soldiers.


Text Dependent Questions

Teacher Notes and Possible Textual Evidence

for Student Answers

What events motivated the development of the West?



Lines 6-7: the forced removal of Cherokee…tribes west across the Mississippi

Lines 11-14: The California gold rush, the Homestead Act, the completion of the transcontinental railroad…all encouraged westward migration.

Reason: Students identify the motivations for westward expansion.

This orients students to the text. Establishes it as a speech.


Compare and contrast the reasons for and effects of Westward movement for Native Americans and white Americans.




Lines4-16:




Reasons For WM

Effects of WM

Native

Americans



Forced under Jackson Administraion, unwanted


Increased hostilities, NA Confined to Reservations of otherwise “unsuitable land”,

The Ghost Dance, The Massacre at Wounded Knee




White

Americans



CA Gold Rush 1849, Homestead Act 1862, Transcontinental Railroad 1869,

375,000 new Farms for white Americans, Increased hostilities,

Reason: by comparing and contrasting these qualities, students see the relationship between the two.

Why did African Americans want to become soldiers?



Lines 28-33: They were eager to enlist in these new regiments because they saw an opportunity for social and economic betterment. The U.S. Army provided a means for food, clothing, shelter, and equally important, the chance for an education to overcome the mandated illiteracy of the slavery system.

Reason: Students identify the opportunities for freed African Americans post-Civil War.


Why were the African American soldiers called Buffalo Soldiers by Native Americans?



Lines 35-39: When the Cheyenne and Kiowa first saw these dark soldiers with their textured black hair, they were reminded of the buffalo that was such an important part of their lives, so they called these men buffalo soldiers. Soon, the Indians attributed other buffalo-like qualities to the soldiers as well. This new type of soldier was uncommonly tough, demonstration of heroism in one conflict after another.

Reason: Students identify the first encounters between Native Americans and African Americans.





Text Dependent Questions

Teacher Notes and Possible Textual Evidence for Student Answers

In line 48 the text states, “One main source of conflict was U. S. fear of the Ghost Dance movement…” Why would the U.S. Government fear this movement?


Lines 49-50: the movement promised a new order in which the Indians would forever be free from white aggression and intervention.

Lines 54-55: Though Wovoka preached nonviolence, some Sioux leaders urged that whites be driven out of the West.

Reason: Students identify the relationship between Native Americans and the U.S. Government.


In lines 51-52 the text states, “…most Western tribes were discouraged over their status in life…” What was the Indians status in life? Why would they feel discouraged?



Possible answers of the Indians’ status: not important, a burden or obstacle

Lines 5-8: hostilities increased between Native Americans and the United States; the forced removal of (tribes)…but pushing the Indians further west turned out to be a temporary solution

Lines 14-15: …Native Americans, who were being forced off the land they had inhabited for centuries.

Lines 83-84: Native Americans…were left with little pride.

Reason: Students will identify the treatment of Native Americans and analyze the attitudes towards them.

What impact did the buffalo soldiers have on the development of the western frontier?



Lines 73-78: They were largely responsible for the miles of telegraph lines that permitted communication through the southwest frontier. They built and repaired forts and barracks, explored and mapped unknown territory, and built roads that would eventually give land-hungry settlers across the frontier. The buffalo soldiers protected miners from Indian raids and sometimes even the Indians themselves from unlawful incursions onto reservation property.

Reason: Students identify the impact African Americans had in westward expansion.


How did white Americans impact both the Native Americans and the buffalo soldiers?



Line 20: Indian resistance to the removals resulted in the Indian wars

Line 50-51: Indians would forever be free from white aggression and intervention.

Line 65: Waning Indian resistance meant more freedom for westward expansion.

Lines 21-23: These conflicts, in addition to the security needs of white settlers, required a permanent military force…After the Civil War, many of these soldiers were African Americans.

Lines 28-31: They were eager to enlist in these new regiments because they saw an opportunity for social and economic betterment. The U.S. Army provided a means for…the chance for an education to overcome the mandated illiteracy of the slavery system.

Reason: Students analyze the relationships and impact of a dominant culture on other groups.


Writing Prompt:


Native Americans and African Americans were both oppressed groups in American history. How did the era of westward expansion affect the lives of these peoples?
Use 2 pieces of evidence and reasoning from the text to support your answer for both the Native Americans and the buffalo soldiers. Cite the evidence correctly by using line numbers (Lines3-4) at the end of the sentence. Connect the evidence to the claim with reasoning that explains the evidence.
Some possible answers to this question are:

  • Native Americans were forced off their lands

  • Native Americans lost their culture and way of life

  • Native Americans were forced to change or abandon their religious practices

  • Native Americans and African Americans fought

  • African Americans used their military experience to support westward expansion

  • African Americans developed much of the west by putting up telegraph lines, built roads, mapped unknown territory

Checklist identifying key points that will assist in measuring student success and/or difficulty with the close reading and/or writing prompt.
- Hostilities increased between Native Americans and the United States

- American settlers were taking over Native Americans’ land

- African Americans looked for opportunities for a better life

- Native Americans treated unfairly



- African Americans treated unfairly

- Some fear, disappointment, resentment


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