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Westward Expansion DBQ

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Westward expansion disrupted native american lives after the civil war due to expansionist invading their lands and taking their freedom, while simultaneously destroying their culture and population. the issue of land was one of the largest controversies pertaining to westward expansion. In an era characterized by rapid population growth and economic depression, the pull to move west was strong in the white settlers hoping for a better life. The Homestead Act further encouraged settlers to migrate west. they were attracted to the idea of mining, ranching and lumbering. Mining for gold and silver, because the west was filled with mining regions (doc d). The completion of the transcontinental railroad required rail lines run through territories previously ceded to native american tribes (doc a). Due to the railroads indians would be moved to Oklahoma and the Dakota Territory, being forced from their homelands. The tribe that resisted the settlement the most was the Sioux tribe. they fought against railroads being built through their territory.

In an agreement to move to a reservation in the Black Hills of SOuth Dakota, the Sioux were appeased until gold-searching settlers appeared in the black hills, so they left. General custer was sent to round them up, and he and his force of 200 men were killed in the battle of little bighorn (doc B). Other indian wars happened, such as the massacre at wounded knee, where 200 indians were murdered including men women and children. a decline in the numbers of natives continued once white settlers began killing buffalo for food, clothing, and sport. Several tribes died out due to lack of food (doc G). Other tribes such as Nez Perce also initially resisted, only to be eventually driven to reservations, “we gave up some of our country to the white men, thinking then that we could have peace. We were mistaken.” (doc C). A fatal blow to the remaining land owned by the native american tribes was the Dawes Act (doc. F).

The act was passed to ‘civilize’ the native americans. From the second annual address to the public of the Lake mohonk conference in Philadelphia, 1884, “immediate efforts should be made to place the indian in the same position before the law as that held by the rest of the population.” (doc E). this included boarding schools for children, such as the one in Carlisle, where they were stripped of their culture and forced to succumb to ‘regular’ standards of american culture, such as cutting their hair and wearing normal shoes as opposed to moccasins (doc H).

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