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GCSE History ­ American West Revision Notes
In the 1840s the Great Plains were sparsely inhabited by the Plains Indians. The Indians depended upon
huge herds of buffalo that roamed the grasslands. To the few non-Indians who travelled across them, the
Great Plains was seen as a useless desert.

By…

Page 2

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GCSE History ­ American West Revision Notes
Religion ­ Spirits

Believed in Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit. He created the world and everything that lives.
They believed all things had spirits and that spirits could influence their lives.

Religion ­ Land

The Plains Indians came from the land and would…

Page 3

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GCSE History ­ American West Revision Notes
Children ­ highly valued as they were the future of the band. They learned useful skills from their
parents and other relatives. Boys were taught to hunt whilst girls were taught to maintain a home.
Old people ­ important as they were able…

Page 4

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GCSE History ­ American West Revision Notes
The Great American Desert

Between the East and the fertile land in Oregon and California were The Great Plains.
The extremes of climate, sparse rainfall and hard ground meant they were at first thought sustainable
for agriculture. They were called the Great American…

Page 5

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GCSE History ­ American West Revision Notes
Not everyone made a fortune

The first gold was found by panning the stream beds. Most people only came equipped for this
method, but the streams were soon exhausted and expensive underground mining took over.
Prices for everything were huge, including transport home.…

Page 6

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GCSE History ­ American West Revision Notes
Why did the Mormons have to keep moving in the east?

Kirtland, Ohio

The Mormons were hardworking and successful. They founded a bank in Kirtland. Many non-Mormons
invested in the bank for religious reasons.
In a financial crisis the bank went bankrupt and…

Page 7

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GCSE History ­ American West Revision Notes
The Mormon journey west across the Great Plains

Brigham Young was a brilliant organiser. He was practical and more down-to-earth than Smith. He was
also a determined man and very considerate too.
Preparations went on all winter. This included the building of wagons,…

Page 8

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GCSE History ­ American West Revision Notes
TOPIC 4 ­ THE HOMESTEADERS
Why did so many people want to become homesteaders and settle on the Plains?

Homestead Act 1862 ­ families were given 160 acres of land for free, providing that they lived on it and
farmed it for five…

Page 9

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GCSE History ­ American West Revision Notes
How did homesteaders survive on the Plains?

Problem Solution
Water was scarce. It was difficult to grow Windmills were used to pump water from
Water
crops without water and homesteaders underground. Methods of dry farming were
Shortages
couldn't keep themselves clean. also used.…

Page 10

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GCSE History ­ American West Revision Notes
TOPIC 5 ­ THE CATTLE INDUSTRY AND RANCHERS
How did the cattle industry develop?

Background Information

Cattle had been first introduced to America by European invaders
By 1850s Southern Texas was the major centre of cattle ranching
Texas Longhorn was the traditional breed…

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