Conflicts of the Indians and Settlers over land

Work on conflict between Indians and settlers, and reasons why they fought over land

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Ceire Kinsella Miss Coan History Year 10
Many of the conflicts between the Indians and the white Americans
were over Land
1a) Explain the attitude of white Americans towards the land on the Plains
The white Americans saw all the free land as an opportunity. They wanted the land but saw it occupied by the
Indians in which the whites thought it was a `waste'. Travellers, settlers, ranchers, miners and railroad companies
needed the opportunity to farm, mine gold and set up businesses. They felt as a white man it was their duty to
extend Americas reign and successfulness. The white man just wanted to make a fortune out of the prospects
they could see ahead. This was nothing more than a business opportunity to extend welfare of the white men.
Even Europeans wanted to move to America to occupy Land and trade to make money rather than admire Indian
culture which was soon recognised as the biggest white man's problem.
1b)Why did the Plains Indians have a different attitude towards land?
To the Indians land was part of the circle of life and death as the Indians came from earth, just like plants and
animals and when they died they returned to the earth. They believed their culture was part of the land and
nobody could own it. They lived and thought as a community and their land was the land of the whole nation. That
was the only way their lifestyle on the Plains could be successful and this particularly made it hard for them to
understand why non-Indians could buy and sell land. The earth belonged to no one so why could people buy and
sell it, this is what the Indians would think. The Indians were more on the moral high ground than the White men,
they used land when they needed it, they would never waste such a creation, so when the white men tried to
claim land that didn't belong to them, but the greater spirits there would be conflict. The Indians would try and
do anything to protect the earth, as from there bringing up they soon learnt earth was their reason for existence.
1c) Which was the more important in the final defeat of the Plains Indians: the slaughter of the buffalo or the
setting up of reservations? Explain your answer.
Some would say that the buffalo destruction defeated the Indians. The buffalo were the main source of the
Indians survival so without out it, it would be extremely difficult for the Indians to survive. The buffalo was
essential for the everyday lifestyle for the Plain Indians, they needed it for such things as; food, clothes, tipi
manufacture, warfare, everyday items and things like religion. So we can see without the buffalo the Indians
would slowly but surely be defeated unless they made a tremendous change lifestyle. The US Army knew that
Indian culture would die if the buffalo were wiped out, e.g. General Phillip H. Sheridan "These men (buffalo
hunters) have done more in the last two years... to settle the vexed Indian Question... they are destroying the
Indians food supply... but for the lasting peace, let them kill... until the buffalos are exterminated!" The army
knew to save a white man's life they had to kill a buffalo. The lack of buffalo would limit Indian resources and
demolish Indian culture.
However some would disagree and say by putting the Indians in reservations defeated the Indians. Some saw
this as an unproblematic way of keeping the Indians under control, by treating them like prisoners. The Indians
lost all rights to their culture and ethnicity they had in their previous life, so without their culture there really was

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Ceire Kinsella Miss Coan History Year 10
no single true Indian in the reservations. They were treated badly and were transformed into what the whites
saw best for them; farmers. The whites made the Indians designated land smaller, this meant the Indian bands
split making them much weaker. Politically Indians lost all rights they had before, they weren't even allowed to
punish their own people, it was now a white man's job. The Indians became worthless as their tribal structure was
becoming annihilated.…read more


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