American West Notes

Here the notes I have made for GCSE History American West :)

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History Notes, The American West
The West and its Climate
Central America is dominated by the Great Planes
The Plains are mostly an expanse of grassland
-The high Plains have short grass whereas the low Plains have long grass
The Great Plains become drier the further south you go.
The weather across the Plains varied severely (droughts in the summer and severe snow in
the winter)
Tornadoes are quite common
The west beyond the Sierra Nevada (the Pacific coastlands) is mainly fertile- it has a pleasant
climate because it is close to the sea
The Lifestyle of the Native Americans
Most of the Plain Indians were nomadic hunters
They relied heavily on the buffalo- for food, clothing, tepees, tools and fuel.
Most Indians travelled from place to place to follow wild animals
They mostly travelled in small bands of one or two extended families
Tribal warfare was part of the culture of many Indians; men were expected to be hunters and
Symbolic acts of bravery reduced the need to kill or be killed (counting stick)- this allowed
warfare to be sustainable
The style of warfare that the Indians did (small scale raids, with few casualties) was opposite
to how the white settlers fought (Large scale "Total war").
Religion and Traditions of the Indians
Summary Of beliefs
Human are part of Nature and not masters over it
The Great Spirit is not a sentient (conscious); the God of the Christian faith is on the other
The Great Spirit cannot be given human characteristics; the God of the Christian faith can
be given human characteristics
Plain Indians see all living things as interconnected; this is why circles are important to them.
They believe that all things have spirits; even non-living things like rocks and mountains have
spirits; this is why activities like mining would offend the Plain Indians.
Indians did not write history books, important ideas were passed on from generation to
generation by word of mouth
Religion and Traditions of the Whites
Christianity is a proselytising faith- it tries to convert people. Other faiths and cultures were
regarded as inferior.
Most of the Whites coming to America thought of the Indians religions as just savage

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The Whites tried to impose their culture on the Indians, they saw teaching the Indians English
and how to wear a shirt and tie as a great kindness.
European culture had generated massive economic growth, this led to the need for new land
and resources- the American west accommodated this economical growth.…read more

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Criminals were also attracted to the Gold Rush. These included con-men, violent thieves and
claim jumpers.
Many mining towns had their own "miner's courts". These courts had no permanent prisons,
so death sentences were often carried out.
The Mormons
The faith of Mormonism was started by Joseph Smith, who claimed he had seen a vision of an
angel called Moroni in 1823 (Moroni told Joseph Smith to find some gold plates hidden on a
hillside.…read more

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Utah wasn't allowed to become a state while it still practised polygamy. Utah finally
abandoned the practise in 1890, and in 1896 Utah became a state.…read more

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Dried buffalo dung and cow-pats were used as fuel
A small number of Indians also took up homesteading.…read more

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Large numbers of cowboys were Mexican or African Americans. Some were ex-soldiers from
the Civil War, some were outlaws. Most were young and single; they had little time for a
family life.…read more

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The US Army used Indian Scouts, this helped them learn invaluable information about the
The Civil War meant that the regular soldiers were sent to fight and the remaining
volunteers were often poorly trained
The US Army used new strategies like Total War and winter campaingns…read more


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