"Great American Desert"
The region's relative lack of water and wood affected the development of the United States. Settlers heading westward often attempted to pass through the region as quickly as possible en route to what was considered to be better land farther west. These early settlers gave telling names to the various streams of the region, such as "Sweetwater Creek" or "Poison Creek". Because it was not considered desirable, the area became one of the last strongholds of independent American Indians. Railroad interests seeking rights-of-way through the region also benefited from the popular belief that the land was commercially valueless.
The Plains Indians are the Indigenous peoples who live on the plains and rolling hills of the Great Plains of North America. Their equestrian culture and resistance to domination by Canada and the United States have made the Plains Indians an archetype in literature and art for American Indians everywhere. Plains Indians are usually divided into two broad classifications which overlap to some degree. The first group became fully nomadic and dependent upon the horse during the 18th and 19th centuries, following the vast herds of buffalo, although some tribes occasionally engaged in agriculture; growing tobacco and corn primarily. These include the Blackfoot, Arapaho, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Comanche, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa, Lakota Sioux, Lipan, Plains Apache (or Kiowa Apache), Plains Cree, Plains Ojibwe, Sarsi, Nakoda (Stoney), and Tonkawa.
The nomadic tribes of Plains Indians survived on hunting, and the American Buffalo was their main source of food. Some tribes are described as part of the Buffalo Culture (sometimes called, the American Bison). These animals were the chief source for items which Plains Indians made from their flesh, hide and bones, such as food, cups, decorations, crafting tools, knives, and clothing. The tribes followed the seasonal grazing and migration of buffalo. The Plains Indians lived in tipis because they were easily disassembled and allowed the nomadic life of following game. When Spanish horses were obtained, the Plains tribes rapidly integrated them into their daily lives. The Indians began to acquire horses in the 17th century by trading or stealing them from Spanish colonists in New Mexico. The Comanche were among the first to commit to a fully mounted nomadic lifestyle. This occurred by the 1730s, when they had acquired enough horses to put all their people on horseback.
Californio (historic and regional Spanish for "Californian") is a term used to identify a Spanish-speaking, mostly Roman Catholic people, or of Latin American descent, regardless of race, born in California from the first Spanish colonies established by the Portolá expedition in 1769 to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, in which Mexico ceded California to the United States. Descendants of Californios are also sometimes referred to as Californios. The much larger population of indigenous peoples of California were not Californios because they were not native Spanish-speakers. Neither were the significant numbers of non-Spanish-speaking California-born children of resident foreigners.
The Chinatown in San Francisco is one of the largest Chinatowns in North America and the oldest north of Mexico. Other cities in North America where Chinatowns were founded in the mid-nineteenth century include almost every major settlement along the West Coast from San Diego to Victoria. European Chinatowns, such as those in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, are for the most part smaller and of more recent history than their North American counterparts. In the United States, opportunity was usually the driver of the building of Chinatowns. The initial Chinatowns were built in the west in places such as California, Oregon, Washington state, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. As the transcontinental railroad was built, more Chinatowns started to appear in railroad towns such as St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Butte Montana, and many east coast cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Providence, and Baltimore. With the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation, many southern states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia began to hire Chinese for work in place of slave labor.
The Chinese Exclusion Act
The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law signed by Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882, following revisions made in 1880 to the Burlingame Treaty of 1868. Those revisions allowed the U.S. to suspend Chinese immigration, a ban that was intended to last 10 years. This law was repealed by the Magnuson Act on December 17, 1943.
The Chisholm Trail
The Chisholm Trail was a trail used in the late 19th century to drive cattle overland from ranches in Texas to Kansas railheads. The portion of the trail marked by Jesse Chisholm went from his southern trading post near the Red River, to his northern trading post near Kansas City, Kansas. Texas ranchers using the Chisholm Trail started on that route from either the Rio Grande or San Antonio, Texas, and went to the railhead of the Kansas Pacific Railway in Abilene, Kansas, where the cattle would be sold and shipped eastward. The trail is named for Jesse Chisholm, who had built several trading posts in what is now western Oklahoma before the American Civil War. Immediately after the war, he and the Lenape Black Beaver collected stray Texas cattle and drove them to railheads over the Chisholm Trail, shipping them back East to feed citizens, where beef commanded much higher prices than in the West.
A range war is a type of armed conflict, typically undeclared, which occurs within agrarian or stock-rearing societies. The subject of these conflicts were the control of "open range", or rangeland freely used for cattle grazing, which gave the conflict its name. Typically triggered by disputes over water rights or grazing rights for this land they would involve farmers and ranchers. Formal military involvement, other than to separate warring parties, is rare.
The culture of the western United States, which many consider the epitome of American-ness, is in origin a synthesis of Anglo and Hispanic cultures which was created in Texas in the days of the Texas Republic and spread with the trail herds to what is now the western United States (and Canada). Major elements of the clothing, food, language and most importantly the cultural values and attitudes derive from Mexican as well as Southern American sources. There were many sources for the population of the western North America but these disparate peoples assimilated the Anglo-Hispanic culture of Texas. Although this culture is perceived as American by the rest of the United States it is a cousin culture rather than a sibling culture and it is just as much a cousin culture for Mexicans as it is for Americans of the eastern and midwestern Unitied States. The ties of the Texan culture to the culture of the southern United States, particularly that of the Scot-Irish of the southern Appalachians, are closer than those to the rest of the United States.
Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner (November 14, 1861 - March 14, 1932) was an American historian in the early 20th century, based at the University of Wisconsin until 1910, and then at Harvard. He trained many PhDs who came to occupy prominent places in the history profession. He promoted interdisciplinary and quantitative methods, often with a focus on the Midwest. He is best known for his essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History", whose ideas formed the Frontier Thesis. He argued that the moving western frontier shaped American democracy and the American character from the colonial era until 1890. He is also known for his theories of geographical sectionalism. In recent years western history has seen pitched arguments over his Frontier Thesis, with the only point of agreement being his enormous impact on historical scholarship and the American mind.
The Frontier Thesis or Turner Thesis, is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893 that the origin of the distinctive egalitarian, democratic, aggressive, and innovative features of the American character has been the American frontier experience. He stressed the process—the moving frontier line—and the impact it had on pioneers going through the process. In the thesis, the frontier established liberty by releasing Americans from European mind-sets and ending prior customs of the 19th century. Turner first announced his thesis in a paper entitled "The Significance of the Frontier in American History", delivered to the American Historical Association in 1893 in Chicago. Turner elaborated on the theme in his advanced history lectures and in a series of essays published over the next 25 years, published along with his initial paper as The Frontier in American History. Other historians had begun to explore the meaning of the frontier, such as Theodore Roosevelt, who had a different theory. Roosevelt argued that the battles between the trans-Appalachian pioneers and the Indians in the "Winning of the West" had forged a new people, the American race. Turner's emphasis on the importance of the frontier in shaping American character influenced the interpretation found in thousands of scholarly histories. His model of sectionalism as a composite of social forces, such as ethnicity and land ownership, gave historians the tools to use social history as the foundation for all social, economic and political developments in American history. By the time Turner died in 1932, 60% of the leading history departments in the U.S. were teaching courses in frontier history along Turnerian lines.
Wild West Shows
Wild West Shows were traveling vaudeville performances in the United States and Europe. The first and prototypical wild west show was Buffalo Bill's, formed in 1883 and lasting until 1913. The shows introduced many western performers and personalities, and a romanticized version of the American Old West, to a wide audience. "Cowboys driving cattle over open range. Outlaws and lawmen facing one another on a dusty main street. Indian hunters racing through buffalo herds on horseback. These images, so familiar from books and movies, are what come to mind when many people think of the American West." Although these images are not entirely fictionalized, the real American West was a far less dramatic place. To European settlers, the west was unknown territory, almost like a debutante being first exposed to society. Not understanding the names and labels already given to the continent, Europeans thought it was calling out to be labeled, to be transformed from Native America into these dramatic images we envision when we think of the west. For many people of the 19th century, the west was the answer to their seeking for a promise of a new and better life. The claimed space of the region inspired this promise. The west was a place open for imagination and new starts.
In 1851, the United States government began to introduce a Concentration Policy. This strategy would provide white settlers with the most productive lands and relocate Indians to areas north and south of white settlements. Over the next decade, Indians were evicted from their land to make way for a white society. However, the settlers were not satisfied with the Concentration Policy, and they sought to restrict Indians to even smaller areas through relocation. For example, the Sioux tribe, which had previously spread across the northern United States, was relocated to an area in Dakota Territory known as the Black Hills. Present-day Oklahoma became known as "Indian Territory" as additional tribes were relocated to reservations there. The federal government relocated hundreds of thousands of Indians under the guise of protecting them, when in truth the government's primary goal was attaining the Indians' lands.
American Indian Wars is the name used in the United States to describe a series of conflicts between American settlers or the federal government and the native peoples of North America before and after the American Revolutionary War. The wars resulted from the arrival of European colonizers who continuously sought to expand their territory, pushing the indigenous populations westwards. The wars were spurred by ideologies such as Manifest Destiny, which held that the United States was destined to expand from coast to coast on the American continent, and which resulted in the policy of Indian removal, by which indigenous peoples were removed from the areas where Europeans were settling, either forcefully or by means of voluntary exchange of territory through treaties.
Sand Creek Massacre
The Sand Creek Massacre (also known as the Chivington Massacre, the Battle of Sand Creek or the Massacre of Cheyenne Indians) was an atrocity in the Indian Wars of the United States that occurred on November 29, 1864, when a 700-man force of Colorado Territory militia attacked and destroyed a village of friendly Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped in southeastern Colorado Territory, killing and mutilating an estimated 70-163 Indians, about two-thirds of whom were women and children. The location has been designated the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site and is administered by the National Park Service.
Battle of the Little Bighorn
The Battle of Little Bighorn was an armed engagement between combined forces of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle, which occurred on June 25 and 26, 1876 near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory, was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876. It was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Gall, inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake). The U.S. Seventh Cavalry, including the Custer Battalion, a force of 700 men led by George Armstrong Custer, suffered a severe defeat. Five of the Seventh Cavalry's companies were annihilated; Custer was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law. The total U.S. casualty count, including scouts, was 268 dead and 55 injured.
The Ghost Dance (Caddo: Nanissáanah, also called the Ghost Dance of 1890) was a new religious movement which was incorporated into numerous Native American belief systems. According to the prophet Jack Wilson (Wovoka)'s teachings, proper practice of the dance would reunite the living with the spirits of the dead and bring peace, prosperity, and unity to native peoples throughout the region. The basis for the Ghost Dance, the circle dance, is a traditional ritual which has been used by many Native Americans since prehistoric times, but this new form was first practiced among the Nevada Paiute in 1889. The practice swept throughout much of the Western United States, quickly reaching areas of California and Oklahoma. As the Ghost Dance spread from its original source, Native American tribes synthesized selective aspects of the ritual with their own beliefs. This process often created change in both the society that integrated it, and in the ritual itself.
Wounded Knee Massacre
The Wounded Knee Massacre occurred on December 29, 1890, near Wounded Knee Creek (Lakota: Čhaŋkpé Ópi Wakpála) on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, USA. It was the last battle of the American Indian Wars. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle, claiming he had paid a lot for it. A scuffle over Black Coyote's rifle escalated and a shot was fired which resulted in the 7th Cavalry's opening fire indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their own fellow troopers. Those few Lakota warriors who still had weapons began shooting back at the attacking troopers, who quickly suppressed the Lakota fire. The surviving Lakota fled, but U.S. cavalrymen pursued and killed many who were unarmed. By the time it was over, at least 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota Sioux had been killed and 51 wounded. Twenty-five troopers also died, and 39 were wounded (6 of the wounded would later die). It is believed that many were the victims of friendly fire, as the shooting took place at close range in chaotic conditions. At least twenty troopers were awarded the coveted Medal of Honor.
The Dawes Act
The Dawes Act of 1887 (also known as the General Allotment Act or the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887), adopted by Congress in 1887, authorized the President of the United States to survey Indian tribal land and divide it into allotments for individual Indians. Dawes Act was amended in 1891 and again in 1906 by the Burke Act.
Cultural assimilation is the process by which a subaltern group's native language and culture are lost under pressure to assimilate to those of a dominant cultural group. The term is used both to refer to colonized peoples when dominant colonial states expand into new territories or alternately, when diasporas of immigrants settle into a dominant state society. Colonized peoples or minority immigrant groups acquire new customs, language, and ideologies through contact and education in the dominant society. Assimilation may involve either a quick or gradual change depending on circumstances. Full assimilation occurs when new members of a society become indistinguishable from older members.
The Homestead Act
The Homestead Acts were several United States federal laws that gave an applicant ownership of land, typically called a "homestead", at little or no cost. In the United States, this originally consisted of grants totaling 160 acres (65 hectares, or one-fourth of a section) of unappropriated federal land within the boundaries of the public land states. An extension of the Homestead Principle in law, the United States Homestead Acts were initially proposed as an expression of the "Free Soil" policy of Northerners who wanted individual farmers to own and operate their own farms, as opposed to Southern slave-owners who could use groups of slaves to economic advantage.
Sodbusters are farmers who moved onto the Great Plains in the late 1800s, and are named for ploughing and working on the hard ground of the plains in order to plant their harvests.
The Comstock Lode
The Comstock Lode was the first major U.S. discovery of silver ore, located under what is now Virginia City, Nevada, on the eastern slope of Mount Davidson, a peak in the Virginia Range. After the discovery was made public in 1859, prospectors rushed to the area and scrambled to stake their claims. Mining camps soon thrived in the vicinity, which became bustling centers of fabulous wealth. It is notable not just for the immense fortunes it generated and the large role those fortunes had in the growth of Nevada and San Francisco, but also for the advances in mining technology that it spurred. The mines declined after 1874.
A boomtown is a community that experiences sudden and rapid population and economic growth. The growth is normally attributed to the nearby discovery of a precious resource such as gold, silver, or oil, although the term can also be applied to communities growing very rapidly for different reasons, such as a proximity to a major metropolitan area, huge construction project, attractive climate, or popular attraction. During westward expansion, many boomtowns shot up overnight in the California area from gold rushes and transportation from the newly established railroad system.
Is an individual or group who undertakes law enforcement without legal authority.
The cattle industry grew tremendously in the two decades after the Civil War, moving into western Kansas and Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas in the 1870s and 1880s with the expansion of the railroads. While motion pictures, television, and novels have helped make cowboys —the men who rounded up, branded, and drove the cattle to market — the most heroic and best known symbols of the West, cattle ranching was in fact a big business that attracted foreign investment and required considerable organization.