Jeremy Keeshin

THE WEST – So What?
The ignorance and indifference of white Americans toward Indian culture was what led to the gradual deterioration of Native American civilization. The inhumane acts perpetrated by white settlers on the Indian tribes were based off of their unfair prejudice as well as their selfishness. The egotism and chauvinism of the settlers spurred directly from their ignorance and indifference about Indian society. The general attitude of white western expansionists concerning the Indians was that they didn’t know them and didn’t care about them, as long as they didn’t get in their way. When Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune called for expansionism, he was completely oblivious to the fact that Native Americans were living there. The Indian Intercourse Act of 1834, which said that all of Indian Country was off limits to the whites without a license, tried to make a resolution about Indian policy. However, white ignorance and indifference led them to leave this policy when it became convenient. This was in the 1850s when talk of the gold rush and transcontinental railroads was at its peak. Ruthless gold miners invaded the Indians in what became the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864. This was soon followed by the Fetterman Massacre when Sioux chief Red Cloud crushed the soldiers. These two events, among others, culminated in poor United States and Native American relations. The two parties had completely contrasting goals in regards the political and social spectrum. The United States government and much of the country wanted to expand and seek a fortune in the west and industrialize it. The Indians wanted to go about their business of herding buffalo and roaming unhindered. These two things could not coexist simultaneously, and the greed of the settlers won. Many whites in the United States did not care if the Indians were happy. Many even went out of their way to see that this was not the case. People like William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, who took it upon them as their job to hurt Indians, made their profession of killing buffalo needlessly and making a show of it. Many tribes, whose entire lifestyle was based of the buffalo was thrown off as their population slowly diminished. Ghost Dances were taken up in a desperate attempt to regain their land. Nothing seemed to work for the Indians. Many easterners and a majority of westerners thought the Indians were savages and took no time to learn their culture. Assimilationists, who had the goal to help the Indians, only succeeded in taking away their lifestyle and ruining them. The Dawes Severalty Act tried to give land to Native Americans in a non-reservation way, but all of these actions deterred from their customs and caused the decline of Indian culture. The blend of white expansionism and the immense loss off Indian territory, combined with the killing off of the buffalo and destroying Indian lifestyle, mixed with the many unneeded massacres

Jeremy Keeshin caused an age of tension that led to the evaporation of Native American culture into the mishmash of America.

SO WHAT NOTES SECTION THE WEST Settler indifference and ignorance to Indian culture Outside influence- Spanish explorers w/ horse, settlers, change from farming to mostly following buffalo Use all of buffalo Governed by council of elders and chief Indian Country 1834 Indian Intercourse Act –prohibits whites from entering Indian country w/out license ruthless gold miners invade Indians Sand Creek (Chivington) Massacre 1864 Fetterman Massacre, Sioux wipe out his command Wounded Knee Massacre Debate over Indian policy Some church humanitarian groups good Many whites in E. & W. think Indians are savages Sioux Wars Custards Last Stand, Sioux win, nation wants revenge Ghost Dances to get back land Assimilationists Educate to American ways of farming and machinery Dawes Severalty Act gives tribe members land Citizenship given Railroads and settlers kill off buffalo William “Buffalo Bill” Cody and his shows