History GCSE (1) American west

From 1498-1892


Important Dates

  • 1492-Columbus arrives in America
  • 1700- Sioux forced onto the plains from great lakes region
  • 1766-American decleration of independence
  • 1830-Book of mormon first published
  • 1833-First mormon temple built in Kirtland, Ohio
  • 1847-Mormons settled in salt lake valley
  • 1848-Discovery of gold in california by james marshall
  • 1849- California gold rush
  • 1861-1865-US civil war
  • 1862-The homestead act
  • 1862-Little crows war
  • 1864-Nov 29-Sand creek Massacre
  • 1866-1868-Red clouds war
  • 1867-Medicine Lodge Treaty
  • 1869-First transcontinental railroad completed
  • 1873-Timber culture act
  • 1874-Introduction of barbed wire
  • 1876-june 25-26- battle of the little bighorn
  • 1876-1877-Sioux Campaign
  • 1877-Desert land act
  • 1881-shootout at the OK corral
  • 1886-1887-terrible winter which killed many cattle
  • 1887-Dawes act
  • 1890-Frontire declared closed by US census bureau
  • 1890-Dec 29- Massacre at wounded knee
  • 1892-Johnsons county war
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Lifestyle of the Native Americans

Buffalo used for:

  • meat
  • Skins-wool, clothing, shoes, harness, vessels & tents
  • Sinews for thread, ropes, bowstrings
  • Bones for implements
  • Dung for fuel

Before the mass slauter of the 1870's millions of buffalo graze on the plains.

Women played a seperate role in the community, there jobs:

  • Agriculture- if any was done
  • Finding food for the horses, and leading the packhorses when the tribe was on the move
  • Tanning buffalo hides
  • Making tipis(Buffalo hide lodges)
  • Pounding meat into pemmican- a long lasting foodstuff made from dried meat combined with fat and sometimes dried fruit
  • Making most of the finished good. Women owned the things they made- which gave them power
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Religion & Tradition

Native American religion was closely linked to nature:

  • They believed humans were part of nature and not masters over it
  • They believed in a life force called the Great Spirit that was present in nature, it was not a sentient ( conscious) in the way that the god of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths are.

Medicine men had contact wiyh the spiritual powers:

  • Medicine men is the enlgish term used to describe members of native american tribes who were important for their connection to the power of the spirit.
  • Medicine men had strength, courage and understanding of both the visible and invisible worlds.
  • Making medicine meant to appeal to spirits via prayer, ritual or ceremony 
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The Early settlers: Wagons Roll

People went west for many reasons:

Many factors influenced people to risk the journey across America. And there needed to be- as many as 10% would die on the journey. The factors can be divided into those pushing them out of the east and those pulling them into the west.

Pushing them out of the East

  • Poverty
  • Disease
  • Religions or social persectution
  • Taxation
  • Eastern overpopulation

Pulling them to the West:

  • A new start
  • Tall tales and newspaper reports
  • Fertile and cheap land
  • Government encouragment
  • Gold and Silver
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The journey west and the Manifest Destiny

The oregon and california trail took about 5 months by loaded travel. Rivers, mountains and deserts had to be crossed.

Many white Americans believed that they were destined to occupy and govern all of North America. They saw it as there god given right. They thought it was there manifest destiny to do so.

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Early plains settlers and womens roles

Life on the plains wasnt easy: people made do :

  • Houses were made of clods of turf (sod houses)
  • Farmers paid to borrow expensive steel ploughes (Sod Busters) for the first and hardest breaking of the praire soil
  • Dried buffalo dung and cow pats were used as fuel, and recycled produced an American icon- The patchwork quilt

Conditions were very difficult:

  • There was little or no wood for building or fuel
  • The land was too hard for light ploughs
  • On the high plains lack of water meant crops like maize failed, and wells had to be dug a hundred feet deep or more
  • Wind and extremes of climate battered, froze and baked the land in turn. Grasshopper plauges often destroyed crops
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The gold rush

Gold was found in California in 1848

Gold was found by James Marshall, the news was leaked out and people went crazy with 'Gold Fever'.

Soon there were tens of thousands of fortune seekers coming to california- they were known as the '49ers'. Many lived in makeshift camps some of which turned into 'mining towns'.

The first gold was found by panning the stream beds.                           Criminals were attracted to the gold rush.There were plenty of con men, violent thieves and claim-jumpers ( who stole other peoples claims to successful mines)

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