Westward Expansion Mini-dbq historical Context

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Westward Expansion Mini-DBQ

Historical Context

Since the first English settlers arrived at Jamestown in 1607, the story of America has been one of movement westward. As more and more Europeans came to our shores, colonists spread further and further into what was called the frontier, which is defined as an area of unsettled land. We know, however, that America was already inhabited by Natives whose ancestors had arrived thousands of years earlier.

Conflicts over land ownership, religion, and culture, combined with broken promises by the U.S. government, moved the Indian population away from their homeland. The presidency of Andrew Jackson forced the removal of the tribes of the Southeast on the “Trail of Tears” to what is now Oklahoma.
In the period following the Civil War, many people moved west for new opportunities and a new life. This would mean more clashes—this time with Plains Indians. Although America had changed much in the 250 years since the first settlers arrived, the attitude toward Native Americans had not. The building of the transcontinental railroad was the beginning of the end for many proud tribes of the West.

The following question is based on the accompanying documents (A–D). As you analyze the documents, take into account both the source of the document and the author’s point of view. Be sure to:

1. Carefully read the document-based question. Consider what you already know about this topic. How would you answer the question if you had no documents to examine?
2. Carefully read each document, underlining key phrases and words that address the document-based question. You may wish to use the margin to make brief notes. Answer the question that follows each document.
3. On the basis of your own knowledge and the information found in the documents, formulate a thesis statement that directly answers the question.
4. Organize supportive and relevant information into a brief outline.
5. Write a well-organized essay proving your thesis. The essay should be logically presented and should include information from the documents and from your own knowledge outside of the documents.

How did westward expansion affect Native Americans after the Civil War?

Westward Expansion Mini-DBQ

Part 1: Brainstorm what you know about the question.

Part 2: The following documents address the impact of westward expansion on Native Americans after the Civil War. Examine each document carefully. Answer the question or questions about each.

Document A

This is an excerpt from a report by E.A. Swan, U.S. Indian agent, to commissioner, August 28, 1882. Source: United States, Interior Department, Report of the Secretary of the Interior, vol. 2 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1882), 199–202, NADP Document D 54.

Indian Industry

The Indians here I find are not very unlike white people, some are willing to labor for what they have and others think they ought to be supported in their idleness. It has been my aim from the first to put a premium on industry, and condemn indolence in any and all. I find the complaining and fault-finding usually belong to this class. The Indians here as a rule learn the trades easily, perhaps more readily even than farming. There are goodly numbers who can perform service in the shops or mills, and show evidence of rapid advancement in mechanism.

  1. What does industry mean as used in this passage?

  1. What does idleness mean in this passage?

  1. How is Swan changing the Native Americans he comes in contact with?

  1. What judgments are being made about Native Americans ways of life?

Document B

This is an excerpt from the Second Annual Address to the Public of the Lake Mohonk Conference in Philadelphia, 1884, 3–7, 13–22.

1st. Resolved, That the organization of the Indians in tribes is, and has been, one of the most serious hindrances to the advancement of the Indian toward civilization, and that every effort should be made to secure the disintegration of all tribal organizations; that to accomplish this result the Government should . . . cease to recognize the Indians as political bodies or organized tribes. . . .

4th. Resolved, That all adult male Indians should be admitted to the full privileges of citizenship by a process analogous to naturalization, upon evidence presented before the proper court of record of adequate intellectual and moral qualifications. . . .

6th. Resolved, That . . . our conviction has been strengthened as to the importance of taking Indian youth from the reservations to be trained in industrial schools placed among communities of white citizens. . . .

14th. Resolved, That immediate efforts should be made to place the Indian in the same position before the law as that held by the rest of the population. . . .

  1. What does the word “assimilation” mean?

  1. What does the Mohonk Conference want to do to the tribes in their area?

  1. Why was it important that the Indians be “in the same position before the law”?

Document C

1. What has occurred to change this between the time of the picture on the left and the time of the picture on the right?

2. What is responsible for the change?
3. Why has he changed in this way?

Document D

This is a graph taken from National Geographic, November 1994.

1. What was the buffalo population in 1800?

2. What was the buffalo population in 1889?
3. What was the cause of this decline?
4. What effect did this have on the Plains Indians?

Part 5 (Essay):

Writing About Related Sources

Directions: Write a paragraph in response to The Big Question below. Be sure to include in your answer at least two details from the documents on the previous pages. Reviewing your responses to the scaffolding questions will help you to answer The Big Question well.
The Big Question: Based on these documents, in your opinion, how did westward expansion affect Native Americans after the Civil War?


Rubric and Scoring Guide


(adapted for Mini- DBQ)


8–9 (93–100)

1. Contains a clear, well-developed thesis that includes the three topics that have to do with impact on Native Americans (PERSIA).

2. Supports thesis with relevant information.

3. Uses most documents effectively.

4. Understands the complexity of the question.

5. Analyzes more than describes.

6. May contain insignificant errors.

5–7 (84–92)

1. Contains a clear thesis that only discusses one of the effects on Native Americans.

2. Uses some factual information.

3. Uses few of the documents.

4. Does not show understanding of the complexity of the question.

5. Contains limited analysis that is mostly description.

6. May contain minor errors.

2–4 (70–83)

1. Lacks a thesis, simply restates the question.

2. Lacks supporting information or contains only superficial support.

3. Quotes or briefly cites documents.

4. Contains no analysis.

5. May contain major errors.


1. Contains incomplete, incompetent, or inappropriate response.

2. May paraphrase the question, shows little understanding.

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