The Great Plains and its inhabitants.
The Great Plains are in the centre of North America. They were known by the whites as the "Great American Desert" as the plains was flat with no trees growing.
The only inhabitants of the Plains were the Native Americans. These had come from Siberia and lived on the plains. They were nomadic. This meant that they spent their life moving form place to place. The plains I centre of life was the buffalo. They relied on it for everything. Different tribes included the Sioux, the Cheyenne and the Cherokees.
Bones were used for arrowheads and needles. The buffalo's tongue was used for a brush. They dried the buffalo meat, also known as pemmican, as their source of food. Buffalo hide (buffalo skins) were used for clothing and to make teepee's. Teepee's are the Indians homes. These were cone-shaped and circular at the bottom. The circle was very important to the buffalo and was a symbol of life and death. It also meant that everyone was equal. The travois was used to carry the Indians belongings.
Gold was discovered in California in 1848. This lead to the gold rush in 1849, where many came seeking for gold to claim. Mining towns were violent, as they had no women. Gold miners could only use what little tools they could find on the surface. There was violence because of claim-jumping. The towns consisted of camps, and when the gold ran out, many just packed up and left. California became a state as there was over 60,000 staying there at one point during the gold rush.
Gold was also discovered in the Indians sacred Black Hills, and also the Great Plains. This caused conflict with the Indians.
Cowboys and homesteaders.
Cowboys were often single, unmarried men or blacks who had escaped slavery. The were also known as ranchers. They moved herds to cow towns like Abilene, to sell the herd for a profit. They wore stetsons (cowboy hats) to keep out of the sun, bandanna's to prevent inhaling dust and chaps. They rode together, each having different jobs. The trail boss was in charge of the whole thing. Riding point was leading the herds. Riding swing was out to the side and riding drag was at the back.
Homesteaders were farmers who lived on the Great Plains. They tried to plough but the hard, infertile ground often broke them. Russians brought in the Turkey Red Wheat, which was a type of plough. The combine-harvester was also introduced. Their houses were made from an acre of sod, and hence this is why some call them sod-busters. They used dung for fuel. They often had disease as it was impossible to sanitize their homes.
There was conflict between the ranchers and homesteaders when barbed wire was introduced in 1874. Ranchers liked the open range and not want parts of it fenced off.