When white people began to settle the Plains, conflict developed with Native American groups. In 1867 the federal government appointed the Indian Peace Commission to develop a policy toward Native Americans. The commission recommended moving the Native Americans to a few large reservations, land set aside for them. The army was given authority to deal with any groups that would not move. Moving Native Americans to reservations was not a new policy, but the government increased its efforts in that direction.
8. How do the Native Americans and Dunbar communicate?
Following the Buffalo
The Great Plains had been home to many Native American nations for centuries. Some, like the Omaha and the Osage nations, lived in communities as farmers and hunters. Most of the Plains Indians, however, including the Sioux, the Comanche, and the Blackfeet, lived a nomadic life. They traveled vast distances following their main source of food-great herds of buffalo.
For most of their history, the Plains Native Americans had millions of buffalo to supply their needs. After the Civil War, however, American hunters hired by the railroad began slaughtering the animals to feed the crews building the railroads. The railroad companies also wanted to prevent the giant herds of buffalo from blocking the trains. Starting in 1872, hunters targeted buffalo to sell the hides back east.
11. How did Native American use of the buffalo compare to white Americans?
12. How do the Native Americans react when they see the hideless buffalo? Who is responsible?
Government agents often used trickery to persuade Native American nations to move to the reservations. Many reservations were located on poor land. In addition, the government often failed to deliver promised food and supplies, and the goods that were delivered were of poor quality.
A great many Native Americans accepted the reservation policy at first, and they agreed to move to the lands that had been set aside for them. However, some Native Americans refused to move, while others who tried reservation life eventually abandoned it.
Westward migration of white settlers in the mid-1800s caused conflicts with Native Americans on the Great Plains. White settlers fought with any groups, including the Sioux, Cheyenne, Apache, and Navajo. After the Civil War, the US government implemented a reservation policy. Some Native Americans agreed to move to reservations; others resisted.
18. Put the battles in chronological order on the timeline below
A Changing Culture
Many factors changed Native American life-the movement of whites onto their lands, the slaughter of the buffalo, US army attacks, and the reservation policy. Change also came from reformers who wanted to absorb Native Americans into the white culture.
In 1887 Congress passed the Dawes Act. It aimed to Americanize Native Americans by removing what whites regarded as two weaknesses of Native American life: the lack of private property, and the nomadic tradition. The act called for the break up of reservations and an end to identification with tribal groups. Each Native American would receive a plot of reservation land. The government sold the remainder of the land to white settlers.
Another way to Americanize Native Americans into American culture was by sending Native Americans to places such as the Carlisle School, or Hampton Institute. There they would be forbidden to speak traditional languages, given Americanized haircuts and clothing, American names, and would be taught to become devout Catholics.
19. Explain the two ways the US government tried to assimilate (Americanize) Native Americans.