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American Indian Removal and Mistreatment (1830-1890)


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A brief overview of American Indian removal and mistreatment. Based on an 8th grade social studies textbook section, with additional primary and secondary sources added.

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American Indian Removal and Mistreatment (1830-1890)

  1. 1. Grade 8: Ch. 19, Sec. 3 With additional primary and secondary sources added for enhanced learning.
  2. 2.  “The one thing I've always maintained is that I'm an American Indian. I'm not politically correct. Everyone who's born in the Western Hemisphere is a Native American. We are all Native Americans.”
  3. 3.     For hundreds of years, Indian tribes had lived on the great plains in villages along rivers and streams They grew crops of corn, beans, and quash, while hunting deer, elk, and buffalo Lifestyle changed in the 1500’s when the Spanish brought horses They became nomadic, meaning they moved from place to place, mainly to follow the traveling herds of buffalo
  4. 4.    Since the 1830’s and earlier, the American government constantly broke promises to Indian tribes Thousands of Indians were forced from their homes in the east to the plains One journey was known as the “Trail of Tears”
  5. 5.     The action that followed the Indian Removal Act, which was a law signed by President Andrew Jackson in 1830 Americans in the east desperately wanted more land, so the Indians became their target It took many years, but they were finally removed to lands in the west 46,000 Indians were “removed” from more than 25 million acres. 2,000 would die on the way
  6. 6.  “In the whole scene there was an air of ruin and destruction, something which betrayed a final and irrevocable [goodbye]; one couldn't watch without feeling one's heart wrung. The Indians were tranquil, but somber and taciturn. There was one who could speak English and of whom I asked why the Chactas were leaving their country. "To be free," he answered, could never get any other reason out of him. We watch the expulsion of one of the most celebrated and ancient American peoples.”  Alexis de Toqueville
  7. 7.   "I fought through the Civil War and have seen men shot to pieces and slaughtered by thousands, but the Cherokee removal was the cruelest and most unbelievable work I ever knew. Now you fight or die.”- A Georgia soldier “If America had been twice the size it is, there still would not have been enough; the Indian would still have been dispossessed”-Sioux Chief Sitting Bull
  8. 8.   “The love of possession is a disease with them; they take tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own and fence their neighbors away.” -Sioux Chief Sitting Bull “School children of today do not know that we are living on lands that were taken from a helpless race, to satisfy the white men’s greed..Murder is murder and somebody must answer, somebody must explain the streams of blood that flowed in the Indian country. Somebody must explain the four thousand silent graves that mark the trail of the Cherokees to their exile.” -John G. Burnett
  9. 9.     By the 1860’s, the Indians were no longer willing to quietly be mistreated American government cruelty towards them, however, became even worse There was a series of battles and massacres where innocent Indians were killed Sand Creek Massacre (1864): 200 innocent men, women, and children were killed by soldiers
  10. 10.    As the Indians went to an American fort to establish peace, they left many of their weaker members at Sand Creek with an American flag flying above the village to show they wanted peace with America The soldiers, knowing the warriors were gone, took this as an insult, and massacred the people of the village. They also mutilated many of the bodies Led by Col. John Chivington  Dissent in the ranks: two of Chivington’s co-officers, Silas Soule and Joseph Cramer refused to follow his orders
  11. 11.   “I saw the bodies of those lying there cut all to pieces, worse mutilated than any I ever saw before; the women cut all to pieces. With knives; scalped; their brains knocked out; children two or three months old; all ages lying there, from sucking infants up to warriors. By whom were they mutilated? By the United States troops.”- John S. Smith “Fingers and ears were cut off the bodies for the jewelry they carried. The body of White Antelope, lying solitarily in the creek bed, was a prime target. Besides scalping him the soldiers cut off his nose, ears, and [deleted].”- Stan Hoig
  12. 12.   Two Indian chiefs who led resistance in the 1870’s “We did not give our country to you; you stole it. You come here to tell lies; when you go home, take them with you.”- Sitting Bull
  13. 13.    Fought on June 25-26, 1876 in Montana between American soldiers led by George A. Custer against Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse American army made several mistakes and underestimated the fighting force of the Indians Custer and most of his men were killed in the battle
  14. 14.      US Army again increases hostility Crazy Horse surrenders three years later, while Sitting Bull flees to Canada for several years Other Indian tribes are moved further and further west; more lands are stolen from them in “treaties” set up by the government Chief Joseph’s famous quote after surrendering: “I will fight no more forever.” Some tribes continued to fight by attacking forts and settlements
  15. 15.   Full quote: “I am tired of fighting, our chiefs are all killed, the old men are all dead, the little children are freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children to see how many of them I can find, maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me my chiefs, I am tired, my heart is sick and sad from where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” “If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian he can live in peace. There need be no trouble. Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.”  “It does not require many words to speak the truth.”  “I am tired of talk that comes to nothing.”
  16. 16.  American settlers contributed to near extinction of buffalo, which the Indians relied on for food  Buffalo population:  Before the white man’s arrival: 60 million  By 1890: 750   White settlers were shooting 1 million buffalo a year, mostly for sport, in the 1870’s Dawes Act (1887): Encouraged Indians to farm with settlers. Tribal lands were divided and given to each family
  17. 17.   Designed by Generals Philip Sheridan and William Sherman Encouraged buffalo hunters to kill as many buffalo as they could in order to hurt Indian survival  “[The buffalo hunters] have done more to settle the vexed Indian question than the entire regular army has done in the last thirty years. They are destroying the Indians’ commissary. Send them powder and lead it you will, but for the sake of a lasting peace let them kill, skin and sell until the buffalo are exterminated. Then your prairies can be covered with speckled cattle and the festive cowboy who follows the hunter as the second forerunner of an advanced civilization.”- Philip Sheridan
  18. 18.   “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” -Philip Sheridan “The more Indians we can kill this year the fewer we will need to kill the next, because the more I see of the Indians the more convinced I become that they must either all be killed or be maintained as a species of pauper. Their attempts at civilization are ridiculous.”- Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
  19. 19.  While the intention may have been kind, the dividing and designating of land was against the Indian way of life     “The land was given to us by the Great Spirit, and we cannot sell it to you because we do not own it.” Reservations had a very poor quality of life Indians were not a farming people, and they were not given the tools so they could work their farmland Many ended up selling their land, ignoring their heritage by dressing up as white people, and moving away
  20. 20.    Wounded Knee Massacre (1890): last armed conflict between US army and Indians in the west US soldiers were worried that a prayer rally (The “Ghost Dance”) was actually a war ceremony, so they opened fire on Wounded Knee village, killing more than 200 men, women, and children “Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.”
  21. 21. Discussion Question: