A History of the American West 1800's

A few bitesize chunks of the different parts of the american west to help you remember the important dates and events.

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The Great Plains


The barren Great Plains are in the center of the USA.

They were first named by the Whites, The Great American Desert.

The obvious reasoning for the name is because the had no trees and/or vegitation.

Because of this the Plain's were first considered useless to the whites for Farming.

Therefore leaving them for the Native Americans who had arrived at America from Siberia.


The Natives depended on hunting as thier main resource.

They depended heavily on the Buffalo and therefore they lead a nomadic lifestyle. 

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Native American Life 1


In early times the Nomadic Indians hunted on foot.

This was unsuccessful in thier lifestyle and food supply was consistantly low.

Consiquently the number of Indians on the Great Plains remained low.


Hunting became easier as the Whites came to America.

They brought Horses and sold guns to the Natives.

By 1840 there were about 2 million Natives in settled groups of up to 50.

They were still dependant on the Buffalo.

The main difference between the Whites and the Natives is that the Natives Chief did not have laws but gave advice to his people on what to do and what not to.

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Native American Way of Life


Buffalo was very precious to the natives as it was essencial to their way of life. 

Obviously, it was used for food purposes.

The skin was also dried out (pemmican) and used for clothing and Tipis.

As they were nomadic they moved from place to place on a travois.

Buffalo bones were used for arrowheads and needles.


Men looked after horses and hunted buffalo.

Women prepared food, looked after children and made clothing.

The elderly were respected by if ill or dying would be left behind sometimes.

If you're having trouble remembering this then just think about the stereotypes of Men and Women now.

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Native Traditions


Because of the small groups the natives live in there were no laws.

They relied on tradition and word of mouth.

Decsions were taken by the whole group/tribe is there were changes to be made.


The Plains Indians believed that everything had a spirit.

The circle to them was a very important symbol of life and death, hence the 'Circle of Life'.

They believed the could contact the Spirit World through visions and the way of sundance.

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Early Whites and the West 1


Mountain men were the first to explore the west.

The hunted animals for their fur.

The most precious of these was beaver.

Mountain Men and Native Americans got along and were not in conflict at first.

Therefore, they did live together.

But in the 1840's that changed because they became guides to wagon trails.

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Early Whites and the West 2


Wagon trails began in the 1840's and they were headed for California and Oregon.

But they disrupted the buffalo herds and interupeted the Indian way of Life.

Wagon trails were also long and hard lasting for 3,800km and 18 months.

They had to cross the hazardous Rockies (Mountains) between April and November.

Many Wagoners did not survive the journey and thousands of people died on the way.

This was partly the weather's fault but the lack of fresh water caused disease.

In 1848 Wagoners increased because of the founding of Gold in California.

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The Mormons


The Mormons was founded by Joseph Smith.

He was told by the angel Gabriel to find buried goldern plates.

He was then told to found a new church using the plates.

The church as that Later day saints.

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