The prefix trans- comes from a word that means across. A transcontinental railroad goes across a continent.
Predict Outcome Think about who will use the transcontinental railroad when it is finished. Write your predictions and look for the outcome.
Build on What You Know Have you ever had to wait for news from friends or family? In the early 1800s, people often waited weeks to receive messages from far away.
The Telegraph Helps Communication
Main Idea The telegraph made it much faster to send messages over long distances.
In the early 1800s, letters and news traveled by horse, stagecoach, or steamboat. It could take days or weeks to send a message from one city to another. Newspaper stories might be weeks old by the time they were printed.
In 1844, Samuel Morse amazed people by sending a message from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Maryland, in seconds. Morse used a telegraph to send his message. A telegraph is a machine that sends electric signals over wire telegraph lines. Morse invented a code of dots and dashes to send such messages.
Samuel Morse Morse is shown here holding an early version of his telegraph. The chart shows Morse Code, which uses electric signals to stand for letters of the alphabet.
At that time, the telegraph was the quickest way to send a message over long distances. Many companies built telegraph lines throughout the country. By October 1861, over 20,000 miles of telegraph wires carried messages from the East Coast to the West Coast.
Few inventions had changed people's lives as greatly as the telegraph. People could tell each other about important events soon after they took place.
Reporters used the telegraph to send stories to their newspapers. Other people used it to send messages to family and friends. Bankers used it to get business information. During the Civil War, generals sent battle plans by telegraph.
Transcontinental Travel, 1869
Method of Travel
Railroad and wagon
A Transcontinental Railroad
Main Idea Transcontinental railroads made traveling and shipping easier and faster.
Remember that many pioneers were heading west by the 1840s. Some were searching for gold. Others were looking for new places to settle. To get to the West, many people sailed around South America. Others traveled as far as they could on railroads and then continued overland in wagons pulled by horses, mules, or oxen. When people go overland they travel on land. Either way, the trip was slow, unsafe, and expensive.
REVIEW How did people travel west in the 1840s?
Transcontinental Railroad This railroad linked California to places east of the Mississippi River. SKILL Reading Charts About how many weeks longer did it take to travel from coast to coast by ship than by the first transcontinental railroad?
Two Railroad Companies
A group of entrepreneurs in California planned to earn money by building a transcontinental railroad. A transcontinental railroad is a railroad that crosses a continent. This railroad would make travel easier from California to the East. The group asked Congress to help by giving them money and land.
In 1862, Congress passed the Pacific Railway Act. This law said the government could loan money to the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroad companies. Congress told the Union Pacific to build a railroad from east to west, starting in Nebraska. The Central Pacific was to build a railroad from west to east, starting in California. Rails built by the two companies would meet to create a transcontinental railroad.
After the Civil War, the Union Pacific hired thousands of former soldiers and freed African Americans. Irish immigrants also moved west to work on the railroad.
The Central Pacific hired many Chinese workers. Thousands of Chinese had come to California to search for gold. The Chinese faced prejudice from other railroad workers. Prejudice is an unfair, negative opinion that can lead to unjust treatment. The Chinese were paid less than other workers. Sometimes they were given dangerous jobs such as using explosives to blast away rock.
On May 10, 1869, both tracks were joined at Promontory Point, Utah. Railroad officials tapped spikes of gold and silver into the last piece of track. Then two railroad locomotives, one traveling west, the other traveling east, slowly moved forward until they met.
Completing the Railroad Locomotives for the Central Pacific (left) and Union Pacific meet at Promontory Point, Utah.
The Effects of the Railroads
Telegraph wires instantly carried the exciting news from Promontony Point throughout the United States. People around the country held parades and gave speeches to celebrate. The 1,800-mile transcontinental railroad was finally finished.
This railroad was the first of several transcontinental railroads that would be built in the United States. These railroads made it easier to move people and goods across the country.
Transcontinental railroads helped settlers in the West earn money by shipping their goods to markets. Trains carried cattle and wheat and other western crops to eastern cities. Western farmers and ranchers could sell their products for more money in the East, where there were more people and fewer farms.
In the East, businesses and factories used the railroads to ship clothing, tools, and other goods to western towns and mining camps.
REVIEW What kinds of goods were shipped on transcontinental railroads?
Why It Matters …
Improvements in communication and transportation helped unite the country and made the economy of the West grow.
VOCABULARY Use the words prejudice and transcontinental in a paragraph about Chinese railroad workers.
READING SKILL Review the predictions you made. Who used the new railroad?
MAIN IDEA: Technology List three ways people used the telegraph in the 1800s.
MAIN IDEA: Economics In what ways did the transcontinental railroad make it easier for settlers in the West to earn money?
PLACES TO KNOW Where did the Central Pacific and Union Pacific meet to finish the first transcontinental railroad?
TIMELINE SKILL How many years after Congress passed the Pacific Railway Act was the first transcontinental railroad finished?
CRITICAL THINKING: Decision Making What were some short-term effects of the decision to build the transcontinental railroad? What were some long-term effects?
MATH ACTIVITY If two people left the East on June 1, 1869, one traveling by ship and the other by transcontinental railroad, when would each arrive in California? Use the chart on page 499 to find the answer. Ask a partner two more math questions using information from this chart.
Extend Lesson 1 History Railroad Workers
Why did people travel thousands of miles from their homelands? Some came from China, crossing the Pacific in the hope of finding gold to send back home. Others came from Ireland, driven across the Atlantic by famine.
Once they arrived, they faced prejudice and discrimination. Discrimination means unfair treatment. For these immigrants it meant they could not live in the neighborhoods where others lived. It meant they could not buy land, or mine gold, or work in certain jobs. Men from China and Ireland did hard and dangerous work, such as building the railroads that would someday link every corner of the United States.
As Irish workers built the Union Pacific Railroad, they sang this song. “Tay?? means tea, and the U.P. railway is the Union Pacific.
Drill, my heroes, drill Drill all day, no sugar in your tay Workin' on the U.P. railway.
Transcontinental railroad workers
By 1867, 90 percent of the workers on the Central Pacific Railroad were Chinese immigrants. The company paid thousands of Chinese workers much less than they paid other workers. When the Chinese refused to work unless they were treated fairly, the company cut off food to their camp. After the railroads were built, many Chinese worked in factories in San Francisco. They still faced unfair treatment.
Skillbuilder Read a Time Zone Map
International Date Line
Before railroads became widespread, every town decided on its own time. When trains made fast, long-distance travel possible, people needed a way to handle time differences. A system of 24 time zones was set up around the globe. A time zone is a region that shares the same time. By understanding time zones on a map, you can figure out the day and time in any part of the world.
Learn the Skill
Step 1: Find the time zones on the map. The legend tells you the name of each one.
Step 2: Note the time difference for each zone. For example, when you move one time zone to the west, the time is one hour earlier.
Step 3: Find the International Date Line. It is an imaginary line that marks where the date changes. For example, if it is noon on Friday in the time zone on the west side of the Line, it is noon on Thursday in the time zone on the east side of the Line.
Practice the Skill
Use the time zone map to answer these questions.
In what time zone is Chicago, Illinois?
If it is 3 P.M. in Houston, Texas, what time is it in San Francisco, California, and in Atlanta, Georgia?
If it is Tuesday and you cross the International Date Line traveling east, what day does it become?
Apply the Skill
Suppose you live in San Francisco, California, and your cousin lives in Boston, Massachusetts. By what time would you need to call your cousin if she goes to bed at 9 P.M.?
Core Lesson 2 Life on the Great Plains
Drought rhymes with the word out. When there is a drought, you are out of water.
Problem and Solution
Note the problems settlers faced because of the climate. What solutions did they find?
Build on What You Know Have you ever seen
people rush to buy something because the price has been lowered? During the late 1800s, settlers rushed to the Great Plains because land was inexpensive.
Settling the Great Plains
Main Idea During the late 1800s, large numbers of settlers moved onto the Great Plains and started farming.
The Great Plains are in the middle of the United States. They stretch from Texas to Canada and from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. This vast area is mostly flat and covered by grasses. It has few trees and gets less than 20 inches a year of rain. At first, most settlers moving west passed through the Great Plains without stopping. They thought the dry land would be bad for farming and that they would have trouble building homes or fences because wood was hard to find.
Land for Sale This railroad company pamphlet was used to sell millions of acres of land. SKILL Primary Source Read the advertisement. Where is the land located?
Moving West Large areas of the United States were still unsettled after 1870. SKILL Reading Maps By what year was most of the land east of the Mississippi river settled?
The Homestead Act
Farmers began to settle the Great Plains after Congress passed a law called the Homestead Act in 1862. A homestead is a settler's home and land. The Homestead Act offered 160 acres of land to adults who were citizens or who wanted to become United States citizens. To claim land, settlers had to pay a small amount of money and farm the land for five years. After that, it was theirs.
Many settlers came from the eastern United States, where good farmland was expensive. People who couldn't afford to buy good land in the East moved to the Great Plains.
Europeans also wanted to farm on the Great Plains. Most farms in Europe were only a few acres, much smaller than farms on the Great Plains. Land was much easier to buy in the United States.
European settlers came to the Great Plains from Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands. For a time, some parts of the Great Plains had more European-born people than people born in the United States. Between 1860 and 1890, the population of Nebraska alone had increased by over a million.
REVIEW Why did settlers from Europe and the East move to the Great Plains?
African Americans in the South also wanted to start farms on the Great Plains. After Reconstruction ended in the 1870s, life was difficult for African Americans in the South. Most were very poor and did not own any land. They faced prejudice and violence. Some African Americans were attacked or killed for trying to vote or start businesses.
Benjamin “Pap?? Singleton was an African American who visited Kansas in 1873. Singleton liked Kansas very much. He printed advertisements for Kansas land. He said that African Americans needed to leave the South because
“starvation is staring us in the face.??
Tens of thousands of African Ameri-cans moved to Kansas and other parts of the Great Plains between 1877 and 1879. They started towns where they made their own laws and felt safe from injustice.
These African American settlers called themselves Exodusters, after Exodus, a book of the Bible. Exodus tells the story of how the people of ancient Israel left Egypt to escape slavery. Many African Americans felt that they were like the people of Israel. They, too, were trying to find a place to be free.
New Settlers The Speese family was among the thousands of Exodusters who settled on the Great Plains. This photo was taken in Nebraska in 1888.
Settlers Face Hardships
Main Idea Settlers had to learn new ways of farming on the Great Plains.
Settlers had different reasons for moving to the Great Plains, but once there, they all shared the same hardships. The area's harsh climate made life difficult.
Winters were long and bitterly cold. Temperatures could sink as low as 40 degrees below zero. Blizzards of snow and wind could last for days. Spring often brought violent thunderstorms, heavy rains, floods, tornados, and hailstones as big as baseballs.
Summers were hot and dry and droughts were common. A drought is a long period with little or no rain. This extreme dry weather could destroy crops for many years in a row because plants did not get the water they needed.
During dry weather, farmers had to watch out for prairie fires. Flames from campfires or lightning strikes could quickly spread across miles of prairie grasslands. Settlers even had to worry about grasshoppers. Millions of the insects appeared on the Great Plains in the 1870s. They ate crops, clothing, and even the wood handles of farm tools.
Some homesteaders thought that life on the Great Plains was too difficult and moved away. One Kansas settler said that he did not want to stay in a land
“fire, and destruction. where it rains grasshoppers,??
Other settlers stayed and adapted to the Great Plains. They found ways to adjust to the environment.
REVIEW Why was life on the Great Plains so difficult?
Precipitation This graph shows average precipitation in Omaha, Nebraska, and in Boston, Massachusetts. The man on the right is using a seeding plow to plant corn. SKILL Reading Graphs Compare the precipitation in each city. Why would crops from Massachusetts not grow well on the Great Plains?
Homesteaders Settlers used natural resources and new machines to adapt to the Great Plains.
Settlers Adapt to the Great Plains
The first problem settlers faced was how to build a house. Wood was very scarce on the Great Plains, so most settlers made their first homes out of sod. Sod is grass-covered dirt held together by a thick mass of roots. Settlers cut pieces of sod from the prairie and used them like bricks. Sod kept the settlers' homes cool in summer and warm in winter. Unfortunately, sod also leaked during rainstorms. Sometimes snakes and other small animals dug through the sod walls.
Sod was much harder to plow than the soil of the eastern United States or Europe. Farmers had to slice through the thick sod before they could plant seeds. They used iron or steel plows to slowly push into the ground. Some plows broke. Great Plains farmers became known as sodbusters because they had to break through so much thick soil.
Life in a sod house could get lonely. If a sodbuster family needed help from a neighbor, or just wanted some company, they might have to travel for miles.
Another challenge sodbusters faced was finding crops that would grow in such a dry climate. The wheat that grew in the eastern United States grew poorly on the Great Plains. Farmers tried seeds brought to the United States by European settlers. These seeds came from the dry grasslands of Eastern Europe. The wheat grown with these seeds was even better than wheat grown in the East.
Because there was little rainfall, farmers carried water from streams or springs. Settlers who lived far from streams dug deep wells and pumped water by hand. Both ways of getting water were difficult and took a lot of time. Settlers who could afford windmills attached them to the pumps in their wells. Wind power operated the water pumps and made getting water easier.
Farmers could not hire extra workers because few people lived on the Great Plains. Nearly all the early settlers were part of homesteading families.
New and improved farming machines replaced extra workers. Machines such as plows, planters, reapers, and threshers made it faster and easier to grow crops.
In 1840, it took 35 hours of work to produce an acre of wheat.In1880, after better farm machines had been invented, producing an acre of wheat took only 20 hours. These machines made farmers more productive. They could farm more land and grow more wheat.
REVIEW How did settlers adapt to the lack of extra workers on the Great Plains?
Large numbers of farmers settled the Great Plains in the late 1800s. Most came from Europe and the eastern and southern United States. The climate of the Great Plains was harsh, but many settlers adapted.
Why It Matters …
Farmers turned the Great Plains into vast fields of wheat.
VOCABULARY Write a paragraph about the Great Plains using homestead , drought, and sodbuster.
READING SKILL How did settlers solve the problem of getting water for their crops? Describe their solutions.
MAIN IDEA: Geography Describe the climate of the Great Plains.
MAIN IDEA: History In what ways did settlers adapt to the Great Plains?
PEOPLE TO KNOW Who were the Exodusters, and why did they move to Kansas?
CRITICAL THINKING: Draw Conclusions Do you think Congress wanted people to settle on the Great Plains? Why or why not?
CRITICAL THINKING: Generalize Settlers had to adapt to life on the Great Plains. Why is learning to adapt to new and difficult situations an important skill?
WRITING ACTIVITY Many settlers on the Great Plains wrote to relatives in other parts of the United States and Europe. Write a description that a settler might have sent to a relative about life on the Great Plains.
Extend Lesson 2 Geography Sod Houses
Without trees or stones, what did homesteaders use to build their houses? One resource they used was the prairie soil, or sod, around them. They cut sod into blocks and stacked them like bricks. Houses were small, sometimes one room with a hanging quilt to divide it.
Settlers might live in their “soddy?? for six or seven years. When they had enough money to buy lumber, they built a wooden house. Then the old soddy became a home for farm animals.
Walls Thick sod walls, two rows thick, kept soddies cool in summer and warm in winter. Prairie grass and roots helped hold the sod together. Sometimes bugs fell into the house.
Roof Builders put woven sticks under hay or grass. On top of that was a layer of sod. The roof couldn't be as thick as the walls; it would be too heavy. So when the rains came, it leaked.
A barb is a sharp point. Barbed wire is wire with sharp points attached to it.
Cause and Effect Note the reasons why cattle drives began and ended.
Build on What You Know You may have seen exciting movies or paintings about cowhands. A cowhand's work, however, was mostly hard, dirty, and boring.
Main Idea In the 1800s, ranchers in Texas raised and sold longhorn cattle.
In the 1860s, millions of wild longhorn cattle lived on the Texas plains. Longhorns were tough, strong animals that were first brought to North America by Spanish settlers. The cattle could live far from water and shelter, eating nothing but grass.
Remember that Texas had been part of Mexico, which was once ruled by Spain. After Texas became part of the United States in 1845, Mexicans in Texas became U.S. citizens. Many Mexican Americans faced prejudice from other Americans. Some had their lands taken away. But vaqueros (vah KEH rohs), or Mexican cowhands, were respected for their skill at herding cattle. Vaqueros taught their methods of herding on horseback to other cowhands and ranchers in the Southwest.
Vaqueros at Work This painting shows vaqueros leading a herd of cattle. These cowhands often took care of thousands of cattle.
Demand and Supply The point on this graph where the demand and supply lines meet shows where the amount of cattle that sellers are willing to supply equals the amount that buyers demand. This point is what the price would be. SKILL Reading Graphs What would be the price of cattle if the supply were at 30,000?
Demand and Supply for Cattle
There were many cattle in Texas but few people to buy them. Cattle sold in Texas for only about $4 each. People in the eastern and northern United States wanted cattle products such as beef and leather. Cattle sold in those regions for about $40 each.
The price of cattle was partly set by demand and supply. Demand is the amount of something that people want to buy at certain prices. When the price of something is low, people usually want to buy more of it.
Supply is the amount of something that people want to sell at certain prices. When the price of something is high, people want to produce and sell more of it. Demand and supply affect the price of nearly everything that is bought and sold—not just cattle.
The Cattle Drives
Main Idea Cowhands led cattle to railroads, where the cattle were shipped to eastern and northern cities.
Texas ranchers wanted to sell their cattle in the regions where they could get the highest prices. They shipped their cattle to eastern and northern cities. To get to these cities, the cattle first had to be led to railheads. A railhead is a town where railroad tracks begin or end. At the railheads, cattle were loaded onto trains.
Railheads were often hundreds of miles away from the cattle ranches. Beginning in the 1860s, cowhands led cattle to the railheads. These cattle drives took weeks or months to complete. Cattle drives followed trails where water and grass were available.
REVIEW Why did Texas cattle ranchers want to sell their animals in the East and North?
Cattle Trails Five major cattle trails led from Texas to Great Plains railheads. SKILL Reading Maps Which major rivers did the cattle trails cross?
Life on the Drives
Life on the cattle drives was hard. The work was sometimes dangerous, often boring, and always dirty. A dozen cowhands had to care for about 3,000 longhorns. Cowhands spent 10 to 14 hours a day on horseback. They rode slowly next to the herd to keep the cattle together. Usually nothing much happened. When cattle were startled by lightning or sudden noises, however, they might stampede, or run away. A cattle stampede was dangerous. Riders had to race after the cattle to round them up again. Lost cattle meant lost money.
Nat Love was a cowhand who wrote about a stampede at night. He asked readers to imagine
“chasing an immense [big] herd of maddened [upset] cattle which we could hear but could not see … It was the worst night's ride I ever experienced.??
Cowhands slept on the ground, wrapped in blankets. At night, they took turns guarding the herd from animals and thieves. By the end of a cattle drive, the cowhands were exhausted. They were happy to reach the railheads where their journey ended.
Nat Love Many cowhands were African American or Mexican. Love wrote a book about his cowhand adventures.
The End of the Drives
The cattle drives lasted for only about 20 years, from the late 1860s to the late 1880s. They ended for several reasons.
The first reason was the invention of barbed wire. Barbed wire is twisted wire with a sharp barb, or point, every few inches. Barbed wire fences, put up by new settlers, blocked the cattle trails that crossed the Great Plains.
The next reason was the growth of railroads. After railroads were built in Texas in the 1870s, ranchers used nearby railheads to ship cattle to eastern cities. They no longer had to drive their cattle hundreds of miles to reach a railhead.
Another reason was that by the mid-1880s, too many cattle grazed on crowded ranges. There was not enough grass to feed all the cattle. Sheepranchers also wanted this scarce land for their flocks.
Finally, during the terrible winter of 1886–1887, freezing cold temperatures killed thousands of cattle. Cattle were still very important in Texas, but by the 1890s, the days of the long cattle drives were over.
REVIEW What led to the end of the big cattle drives?
Cattle ranchers sent their herds on long cattle drives to railheads so that the cattle could be shipped to the East and North.
The price of cattle was affected by demand and supply.
By the 1890s, big cattle drives had mostly ended.
Why It Matters …
Cattle drives lasted for only about 20 years, a short time in U.S. history. Yet people still think of cattle drives when they think of the West.
VOCABULARY Choose the correct word to complete each sentence. demand supply
The price of milk was so low that the fell.
The for cheap land was high.
READING SKILL What effect did railroads have on the beginning and ending of cattle drives?
MAIN IDEA: Geography Why did the cattle business develop in Texas?
MAIN IDEA: Economics Use demand and supply to explain why Texas ranchers sent their longhorns on cattle drives.
CRITICAL THINKING: Summarize What was the life of a cowhand like?
CRITICAL THINKING: Infer When the supply of a product is large, people often have to sell it for a low price. What would probably happen to that product's price if the supply decreased?
MUSIC ACTIVITY Cowhands sang songs about life on the cattle drives. Using library resources, find a cowhand song. Act out the song and describe what it is about.
Extend Lesson 3 Literature IN THE DAYS OF THE VAQUEROS
by Russell Freedman
Mexican vaqueros are known as the first cowhands of America. They rode across the open range looking for stray cattle. Their work was often hard. Sometimes they went without food, and they often slept on the ground. The vaqueros developed a style of dress that fit their rugged way of life.
In the early days, the vaquero wore any clothes he happened to own, but as the years passed, he developed a distinct and practical way of dressing. While his clothing varied from one region to the next, according to the terrain he rode, and changed appearance over the years, it always singled him out as a working cowhand.
To shield his head and eyes from the Mexican sun, he wore a sombrero, from the word sombrear, “to shade??—a wide-brimmed hat made of straw, leather, or felt. Held in place with a barbiquejo, a chin strap, it often was decorated with a colorful band. A sombrero might have a low flat crown with a straight stiff brim, or a tall crown, several inches high, with a soft floppy brim. Whatever its shape, it was always impressively large, with a brim wide enough to shade the wearer's face.
Because of its practicality, the big wide-brimmed hat became a familiar cowboy trademark.
Under his sombrero, the vaquero wore a kerchief tied over his head. His hair was parted in the middle and brushed back into a long braid that might hang down his back, or be folded up and tucked under his hat.
A vaquero usually carried a brightly colored sarape, or poncho, which was thrown over his shoulder like a shawl or carried on the back of his saddle. A sarape offered protection when it rained and warmth when it was cold. It served as a bed at night when the vaquero slept under the stars. Waved wildly in the air, it was used to haze cattle during roundups and stampedes.
When the gold rush ended, cattle raising in California began a slow decline as ranches gradually gave way to farms. But on the sparsely settled Texas prairie, cattle were multiplying faster than anyone could count. These animals had descended from herds left behind by missionaries who had gone back to Spain, and from herds abandoned by Mexican ranch owners who had fled across the Rio Grande when Texas broke away from Mexico, leaving both their cattle and their vaqueros behind.
Texas cattle were not at all like the tame and docile animals that Anglo settlers in Texas were accustomed to raising back East. These cattle were as wild as buffalo and antelope, and now millions of them were wandering around loose. They clustered together in bunches, hiding in thickets by day and running by night. They could go days without water. Their sense of smell was keener than a deer's. And they had long, sharp, dangerous horns.
If a man tried to approach on foot, a bull would paw the earth, toss his head in anger, lower his horns, and charge. The animals could be approached only on horseback. And even then, bulls often tried to attack both man and horse.
American settlers considered the wild cattle they found in Texas fair game, free for the taking. Yet they had little idea how to manage large numbers of fierce, far-ranging longhorns. Most of the early Texas settlers were farmers who raised a few cattle on the side. They had never practiced large-scale ranching, as the Spaniards and Mexicans had on their ranchos and haciendas.
A Mexican vaquero, photographed around 1900 in Berino, New Mexico
Handling wild cattle on the open range was new to the Americans but old to the Mexican vaqueros. And so the Americans turned to the vaqueros for help. “They are universally acknowledged to be the best hands that can be [found] for the management of cattle, horses, and other livestock,?? a Texas settler reported.
Mexican vaqueros still living in Texas began to capture mustangs for the newcomers and round up wild steers. As the Americans watched the vaqueros work, they too became skilled at taming mustangs and roping steers. In this way, the North American cowboy learned his trade from the Mexican vaquero.
Core Lesson 4 Conflicts on the Plains
To assimilate a group is to make it fit in or be similar. Think of “similar?? when you read the word assimilate.
Sequence As you read, list the main events in order. Think about the connection between the events.
Build on What You Know You have learned that there were many conflicts as settlers moved onto American Indian lands in the eastern United States. The same thing happened years later as settlers moved onto the Great Plains.
War on the Plains
Main Idea American Indians and soldiers fought on the Great Plains during the late 1800s.
Beginning in the 1840s, more and more settlers moved west in search of land or gold. They built towns and dug mines. They divided land where American Indians already lived into farms and ranches.
The U.S. government built roads and railroads to help these settlers. Officials tried to convince Plains Indians to sell land and move to reservations. A reservation is land that the government set aside for American Indians. Congress promised that reservations would remain Indian land.
Plains Indians did not want to live on reservations. They felt the reservations were too small. Some reservations were far from the lands American Indians hunted on and called home.
Plains Buffalo Indians used the meat, skin, bones, and other parts of bison, or buffalo, to provide most of what they needed.
Sand Creek This painting shows the Colorado militia attacking a Cheyenne village near Sand Creek. SKILL Reading Visuals What details does the artist show about this battle?
Government officials hoped that Plains Indians would move to reservations and become farmers. People of Indian nations such as the Lakota and Arapaho did not want to farm. They were nomads, which means they moved from place to place to find food and water. They rode horses over miles of open prairie to hunt bison. Bison, also known as buffalo, provided Plains Indians with most of what they needed, such as food and clothing. Without large areas of land, Plains Indians would not be able to find the resources they needed to live.
Plains Indians fought soldiers who tried to force them onto reservations. Sometimes they attacked settlers and miners to make them leave Indian territory. Most of this fighting on the Great Plains happened in the 1860s and 1870s.
In 1864, volunteer fighters of the Colorado militia attacked a Cheyenne village near Sand Creek, Colorado. The Cheyenne were asleep when the attack began. Chief Black Kettle raised a white flag and an American flag to surrender. The soldiers ignored him and killed almost half of the men, women, and children in the village.
After the Sand Creek Massacre, many Plains Indians thought that peace with the U.S. government was impossible.
Fighting among Indians, soldiers, and settlers increased after Sand Creek. By the 1870s, however, most Indian nations had been forced onto reservations. Only a few nations, including the Lakota and the Cheyenne, were still fighting for their land and traditions.
REVIEW Why did Plains Indians need large areas of land?
Battle of the Little Bighorn
The Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming are sacred, or holy, to the Lakota. In the early 1870s, a lieutenant colonel named George Custer led soldiers to the Black Hills and found gold. Thousands of Lakota and Cheyenne gathered to protect the Black Hills.
In June 1876, Custer and his soldiers tried to force the Lakota and Cheyenne onto a reservation. The soldiers attacked them at their village on the Little Bighorn River in Montana. Led by Crazy Horse, Gall, and Sitting Bull, the Lakota and Cheyenne won what became known as the Battle of the Little Bighorn. All of the U.S. soldiers were killed.
Little Bighorn was one example of how American Indians fought efforts to move them to reservations. The Nez Perce of Oregon resisted being moved to Idaho.
Chief Joseph was among those who tried to lead the Nez Perce to Canada. The Nez Perce fought several battles with the soldiers before they surrendered, 30 miles from the Canadian border in 1877.
Within a few years, almost all Plains Indian nations were on reservations.
In the late 1880s, Plains Indians hoped for some way to improve their lives. Many of them began to follow a religion called the Ghost Dance. This religion taught that the buffalo would return and dead Indians would come back to life. As more and more Plains Indians turned to the Ghost Dance, government officials worried that the Ghost Dancers would start another war.
Chief Joseph (right) Government soldiers chased Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce for 1600 miles, through Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. The photograph below shows a Plains Indian village in the late 1800s.
Indian Lands By 1870, American Indians had already lost most of their lands to the U.S. government. SKILL Reading Maps What color is used on this map to show reservation lands in 1890?
When Sitting Bull became a Ghost Dancer, government officials sent police to arrest him. During the struggle, Sitting Bull was killed.
Sitting Bull's death frightened the Ghost Dancers. They were afraid that they would be killed as well. Led by Chief Big Foot, many Ghost Dancers went to hide in the Badlands of South Dakota.
U.S. soldiers captured Big Foot and his followers near Wounded Knee Creek. On the morning of December 29,1890, the soldiers tried to take the Indians' guns. In the fighting that followed, the soldiers killed women and children, as well as men. This event became known as the Massacre at Wounded Knee.
Destruction of the Buffalo
Reservations changed Indian life. So did the destruction of the buffalo. At one time, millions of buffalo lived on the Great Plains. As more people crossed the Great Plains, wagon trails and railroad tracks cut across buffalo habitat. A habitat is the area where an animal or plant normally lives or grows.
The settlers killed buffalo for meat. Their cattle carried diseases that were deadly to the buffalo. Hunters shot buffalo for sport or for the skins, which were made into coats or leather products.
As more and more settlers moved onto the Great Plains, buffalo herds kept shrinking. Soon the buffalo were nearly extinct. When a certain type of plant or animal becomes extinct it no longer exists. By 1889, only about 1,000 buffalo were left.
REVIEW Why did the buffalo herds shrink?
Indian Schools The children above were students at an Indian school in Pennsylvania around 1900.
Before and After At Indian schools, students had to cut their hair and could not wear their traditional clothing. These photos show the same three Navajo children before and after they entered an Indian school.
Main Idea Government officials tried to force American Indians to change their way of life.
Even though Plains Indians were on reservations, government officials were afraid of more fighting. They hoped Indians would be less likely to fight if they gave up their old ways. Reformers and lawmakers tried to make American Indians assimilate into American life. Assimilate means changing a group's culture and traditions so that it blends with a larger group.
One way the government tried to force American Indians to change was to make religious practices such as the Ghost Dance illegal. Another way was to send children to schools where they were not allowed to speak American Indian languages or wear traditional clothing.
In 1887, Congress passed the Dawes Act to make American Indians become farmers. This law took reservation land away from Indian nations and split it into smaller pieces. Some of this land was given to individual American Indians to farm. The rest was sold to settlers.
People of a few Indian nations knew how to farm, but most did not. Farming was not a part of their culture. Even American Indians who knew how to farm had little success with the poor farmland on reservations. The only way many American Indians could survive was to accept food from the federal government.
Assimilation did not work well. Most Plains Indians were unhappy on reservations. Crazy Horse said,
“We preferred hunting to a life of idleness [laziness] on the reservation, where we were driven against our will. … All we wanted was peace and to be left alone.??
REVIEW What did the Dawes Act do to reservation land?
The federal government gave settlers the lands promised to Plains Indians.
American Indians fought with U.S. soldiers, but they were defeated and forced onto reservations.
Plains Indians depended on the buffalo for food, but settlement of the Great Plains destroyed buffalo herds.
Government officials made laws to force American Indians to change their way of life.
Why It Matters …
Decisions made by the U.S. government in the late 1800s changed American Indian cultures. Today, however, on many reservations, American Indians work to preserve their traditions.
VOCABULARY Use reservation and assimilate in a short paragraph that summarizes what government officials wanted American Indians to do.
READING SKILL Choose one event from your sequence chart. Write a paragraph showing the event's influence on later events.
MAIN IDEA: History Why did the federal government try to force American Indians to move onto reservations?
MAIN IDEA: Culture What did the government and reformers do to try to assimilate American Indians?
EVENTS TO KNOW What happened when soldiers found gold in the Black Hills?
TIMELINE SKILL In what year did the Battle of the Little Bighorn take place?
CRITICAL THINKING: Draw a Conclusion Use details and facts to draw a conclusion about why efforts to assimilate American Indians failed.
WRITING ACTIVITY Write a letter that an American Indian or a settler might have written to a newspaper to express an opinion about the Dawes Act.
Extend Lesson 4 Primary Source Battle of the Little Bighorn
How do we know what happened at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876? Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians who survived the battle told stories about it. These stories were later recorded by historians. Some survivors drew pictures to tell about the battle.
Red Horse, a Lakota who was at the Little Bighorn, drew what he saw. He used colored pencils and ink to create a series of 41 pictures on large sheets of paper. These drawings are an important primary source.
Red Horse's pictures show how valuable horses were to the Plains Indians. This drawing shows warriors leading cavalry horses away after the battle. Warriors received special honors for capturing an enemy's horse. Often a warrior gave a captured horse to people in his village.
Crazy Horse was a Lakota leader who refused to accept life on a reservation. Crazy Horse led a charge against Custer during the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
After Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull led his followers to Canada. He returned to the United States, where he was forced to live on a reservation, but he kept working for justice for the Lakota.
George Armstrong Custer
Custer fought in the Civil War. He began fighting American Indians in 1867. He had such confidence in his abilities as an Indian fighter that he thought he would win at the Little Bighorn.
Chapter 14 Review and Test Prep
1–4. Write a description of the four items in the web below.
Facts and Main Ideas
TEST PREP Answer each question with information from the chapter.
Technology Why was the invention of the telegraph important to the United States?
Economics What were two effects of the transcontinental railroad on the United States?
History Why did Exodusters move to the Great Plains?
History What brought about the end of the cattle drives?
TEST PREP Choose the correct word to complete each sentence.
prejudice, p. 500
drought, p. 509
demand, p. 515
Some railroad workers who felt toward Chinese workers treated them unfairly.
Ranchers wanted to sell their cattle where the and price for beef were high.
The hot and dry weather on the Plains often created a .
CHAPTER SUMMARY TIMELINE
TEST PREP Map Skill Use the time zone map below to answer each question.
If the Central Pacific Railroad workers started working at 8 A.M. in Nevada, what time was it in California?
If golden spikes were tapped into the track at Promontory Point, Utah, around 11:45 A.M., what time was it in Seattle, Washington?
around 12:45 P.M.
around 5:45 P.M.
around 8:45 A.M.
around 10:45 A.M.
TEST PREP Write a short paragraph to answer each question.
Decision Making What would be the costs and benefits of a European immigrant's decision to settle on the Great Plains?
Draw Conclusions Which event in this chapter do you think caused the biggest changes on the Great Plains? Explain your conclusions.
Use the Chapter Summary Timeline above to answer the question.
How many years after the Homestead Act was the Dawes Act passed?