Smithsonian

Questions


Question

How did westward expansion affect Native Americans after the Civil War?

Part 1: Brainstorm what you know about the question.

Part 2: The following documents address the impact of westward expansion on Native Americans after the Civil War. Examine each document carefully. Answer the question or questions about each.

Document A

1. What does industry mean as used in this passage?

(Answer: The Indians’ desire and ability to work.)

2. What does idleness mean in this passage?

(Answer: Laziness and reluctance to learn new trades.)

3. How is Swan changing the Native Americans he comes in contact with?

(Answer: Swan is teaching the Indians new job skills in shops and mills to take them off the farms.)

3. What judgments are being made about Native Americans ways of life?

(Answer: That Native Americans are lazy. They must be taught skills to work or they will remain a burden on American society.)
Document B

1. What does the word “assimilation” mean?

(Answer: Assimilation means blending into a new environment.)

2. What does the Mohonk Conference want to do to the tribes in their area?

(Answer: Break them apart to help them become Americanized.)

3. Why was it important that the Indians be “in the same position before the law”?

(Answer: So that they are treated the same as all other Americans, which means they are Americanized or assimilated.)
Document C

1. What has occurred to change this woman between the time of the picture on the left and the time of the picture on the right?

(Answer: Assimilation, attending a Native American boarding school.)

2. What is responsible for the change?

(Answer: The American government and social ideals.)

3. Why was she changed in this way?

(Answer: To make her American and civilize her.)
Document D

1. Who are the people sitting in the picture and who are the people standing?

(Answer: Those standing are members of the U.S. military; those sitting are Native Americans.)

2. How and why are the sitting people relying on the standing people?

(Answer: The Native Americans are relying on the soldiers for food rations because they have been moved off their land and have lost their way of life.)
Document E

1. What was the buffalo population in 1800?

(Answer: Thirty million.)

2. What was the buffalo population in 1889?

(Answer: Nearly zero.)

3. What was the cause of this decline?

(Answer: Westward expansion, the transcontinental railroad, gold rush, etc.)

4. What effect did this have on the Plains Indians?

(Answer: They were moved off their land; many died; westward expansion altered their culture and way of getting food.)

Part 3: Formulate an essay based on your knowledge and the documents above.

Part 4: Create an outline to organize your essay.

Part 5 (Essay):

How did westward expansion affect Native Americans after the Civil War?