Westward Expansion Effects Essay

The Effects of Westward Expansion on Native Americans In the westward expansion of the united states caused a lot of disruption to the Native Americans. The Native Americans had all of the land in the U. S. for centuries, but when gold was found in the west, the whites wanted to travel west no matter what it took. This impacted the Native Americans in both positive and negative ways. The Native Americans had their land taken from them and adapted to the white culture as the Westward expansion was happening. Also, the Native Americans most reliable source for food and other materials was the buffalo.

With the white settlers coming into their land, the buffalo would start to get scarce. The health and well being of the Native Americans was therefore hurt by westward expansion too. Westward expansion is where America grew, but the Indians fell. One way the Native Americans land and ways of life were affected was by the forcefulness of the white settlers. The indian land was taken from them with no compromises. The Indians were nothing to the power of the white settlers which made the white settlers use aggression and force. In document one, there is a map that shows the indian land loss from the 1850’s to the 1890’s.

Basically all of the land west of minnesota was the Indians land before the 1850’s but that land was reduced to little reservations for them by the 1890’s. The Native Americans went from owning half of America to owning little reservations they didn’t chose. The Lakota Indians were a tribe of Indians similar to the sioux tribe. The Lakota tribe lived in Minnesota in the early 1800’s. On document 3 where it shows the reservations for the Lakota tribe after the 1850’s, it clearly shows that the reservation is more in South Dakota.

This means that the Lakota were forced west from Minnesota, all the way to the western parts of South Dakota. All of this land was not just given up by the Indians. There were wars and battles between the white people and the Indians. The Sandy Creek massacre is a perfect example of the white settlers forcing the Indians west. The Sandy Creek massacre occurred in Pikes Peak Colorado on November 29th, 1864. (Doc 2) Pike’s Peak was home to hundreds on Cheyenne people. Pike’s peak brought attention to white settlers soon after gold was discovered around the area.

The Cheyenne were very peaceful and trustworthy Native Americans that have never done any actual harm to the white settlers. The U. S. Army had even told them that if they were ever under attack, to walk out with a white flag. Soon enough, the tribe was attacked because of the greedy white settlers wanted the gold that was discovered there. Black Kettle, the tribe leader at the time, walked out into the open holding the white flag that the army had instructed him to do. The army shot him and he was one of the first to die.

Around 200 Cheyenne women and children were killed that day. The U. S. brutally massacred all of those innocent Cheyenne people just because it would be a good economic move for them. They could get more gold to sell and they wouldn’t let anything stop them. With their land, they were stripped from their culture too. The Native Americans celebrated their culture very much. They believed in gods, spirits, and a lot more. In document four, Chief Joseph, trying to defend the Native Americans rights, said that god made him an indian.

He continued by saying that if god wanted him to be white, he would be white showing how much power they believe their gods have on their lives. White Settlers did not care about their culture and their beliefs. They would take whatever they wanted from them without sorrow or feeling sorry. With the pure power of the white people, the Native Americans started to change their culture more to fit the white people’s. Something the Indians took a lot of pride in was their appearance. Document 6 shows pictures before westward expansion had its full effect and after.

The differences between the pictures are stunning. Their long hair that was only cut for special events like the mourning of a deceased loved one, was cut to the average white settler haircut. Their clothes that represented different meaning for every tribe was stripped from them and turned into an everyday pair of long pants and a button down shirt. Their whole way of life was being completely flipped around in the matter of years due to westward expansion. Losing their culture was definitely bad for the Native Americans, but the white people did impact their lives in positive ways also.

In the second transformation picture in document six it shows how the way they prepare and eat meals was changed. They went from using bowls of stone, sitting around outside to preparing a meal inside and eating at a table. They even used real tableware. All of this impacted the Native Americans a lot and made the Native Americans way of life easier and more hygienic. Although this definitely helped the Native Americans, they had a lot more taken away than given to them. One of the most important and valuable resource to the Native Americans were the buffalo.

The Buffalo were the Native Americans main resource. They were used in just about every way possible. Buffalo were used for food, clothing, shelter, tableware, weapons, and even ceremonially. (Doc5) Without the buffalo, the Native Americans would not have any of those items listed. When the white settlers came into their land, exactly that happened. The population of the buffalo was always decreasing because of the Native Americans killing them, but when the settlers arrived where the buffalo were, the population went from 15 million buffalo to basically zero in nineteen years.

Now with the buffalo extinct and their food source gone, the Native Americans had nothing they could do. They could not buy food either because they would sell buffalo to get money. The white settlers that killed the buffalo would sell their skins for around three dollars a kill. The caused many people to become very rich off of buffalo hunting. The problem with the white settlers killing them were they never used the whole buffalo. They would kill them, skin them, and then leave the corpses to rot. This was a gigantic waste of food that the Native American could have eaten. This caused many of Native Americans to die of starvation.

During Westward expansion, something as simple as killing the animal near the Native Americans would have the effect of hundreds and thousands of Native Americans dying of starvation. Westward expansion started the downfall of Native Americans. Although it had so positive effects on them such as their way of preparing meals and more, it overall had a negative effect on them. White settlers forced them out of their land, killed them, made them change their culture and way of life, and killing their main food source making Westward expansion a very bad time for the Native Americans.

They were treated as if they were nothing and they were nothing to the U. S. and the white people. The white people overpowered them and took advantage of them. Everything the Native American people were known for disappeared, not completely, but it severely hurt them. In the end, the westward expansion and the white people had beaten the Native Americans. Even though it was not just a gigantic war, it was clear that the white settlers had won by taking what they needed and weakening the Native Americans.