Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Native Courage from the West

In class we learned about westward expansion in America and its impact on Native Americans and buffalo soldiers. We discussed if the impact of federal policy matched the intent of the American government.
Line of buffalo soldiers
Buffalo soldiers were African-Americans who started out in the Union army and continued on in the U.S. army as "colored troops". The army would provide food and shelter for the soldiers with steady jobs that allowed them to leave the south. These soldiers would often fight Native American tribes that were resisting the advancements of the government. They also held a significant role in the Indian wars. Many soldiers won medals of honor for fighting in the Indian wars, which showed that they were given more respect with their jobs being of higher social status and importance. Along with fighting, the buffalo soldiers would help the U.S. by traveling and mapping unknown territory and creating a path for immigrants to move west.
Many Native American tribes occupying the west faced numerous challenges from the U.S. government. There was a group called the Sioux who lived in the Great Plains in the center of America. The major Sioux tribes were the Dakota, Lakota, and the Nakota. In the 1830s, President Andrew Jackson enacted the policy of Indian removal which made the tribes in the south move west of the Mississippi river. The transcontinental railroad allowed many Americans to flood into the plains in the west after the civil war and in the 1840s the gold rush in California brought even more. Even though the Second Treaty of Fort Laramie had promised possession of the western Dakota Territory to the Native Americans, western immigrants invaded because gold was discovered there. Soon, the government tried to force the Native American tribes to designated reservations to make sure they wouldn't get in their way, but many tribes refused or did not get the message. This led to the Battle of Little Bighorn between the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians and the United States. The Sioux and Cheyenne fought hard and defeated the U.S. troops. However, this caused even more troops to be sent to the area to suppress the Native Americans. Eventually the tension between the tribes and the U.S. troops caused the Wounded Knee Massacre, which killed more than 150 Sioux. This basically ended the resistance of the Native American tribes against the U.S.
I do not think that the impact matched the intent of the American government. This is mainly true for the Native American tribes. They believed that they would be helping the Native Americans with many of their policies. By forcing them into reservations, the government thought they would be protecting them by giving them their own land away from the western settlers so it wouldn't cause conflict and fighting. In reality it was not fair for the tribes seeing as they already had their own land and it was the U.S. troops who were the ones invading and causing trouble. Many immigrants were moving westward for the gold so they were just thinking about themselves when they were trying to "help" the Native American tribes by controlling them. The buffalo soldiers, however, were given respect and the government benefited from their service.

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