Native Americans 1865-1900

  • During the beginning of the period there was a drastic shift in attitudes towards nomadic Native Americans through the policy of Westward Expansion. For example, government policy sought to impant white settlers on the Great Plains Via the Homesteads Act 1862. 
  • There was a General white attitutude of 'Manifest Destiny', that land completely belonged to them and that NA's were for servitude, which was a clear reflection of the one-sided attitude by the federal government during this time. 
  • Many tribes like the Sioux and Cheyenne were hostile to these white enroachers during the civil war especially during the plains wars 1862-7. However, as noted by the brutality of the Army in the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, traditional NA's were powerless against them. 
  • Since 1851 many NA's relinquished their tribal lands following treaties in exchange for trust. For example, with the medicine lodge treaty 1867. However, as noted by the brutality of the Army in the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, traditional NA's were powerless against them. 
  • During the Civil War the government created federal territories governed by officials The government had previously collapsed the Plains via the Homesteads Act of 1862 which made settlers populate homesteads or farms with up to 20'000 covering an area of 280 million acres of land. 
  • The creation of homesteads on the Plains forced NA's like the Navajo and Apache onto reservations (government made land specifically for NA's) for the government's intent for making NA's American citizens. 
  • NA's represented a threat to the government because they had self determination and were outside US governance. Hence, the government tried to 'Americanise' these people.
  • 'Americanising' the NA's meant the removal of tribal customs and beliefs via education, conversion and learning to farm. For example, men had to give up polygamy and the matriarchal system of NA culture was effectivley removed. Tribal laws were also replaced with state laws and authority over reservations lay under an Indian agent, often corrupt, appointed by the Indian Bureau. 
  • Many reservations were created as a result of treaties. The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty created the Sioux Reserve for example. The government allowed a degree of self-determination. via these treaty-made reservations. However, after the 1871 Indian Appropriations Act, congress took full control.
  • There was growing discontent from NA tribes with the government as seen by the battle of Little Bighorn of 1876. However this simply eroded the Great Sioux reserve into 6 smaller reserves, hindering the NA land rights further. 
  • Life…


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