Tensions in the West

The tensions between the Native Americans and the United States government, Ranchers, Farmers, Miners, Railroaders, and African Americans began to increase. The Natives were given land to settle by the government and then the land was taken over by all those groups of people moving West. -Taylor Lemke

The Apache Indian tribe consisted of six sub-tribes. Each sub-tribe was from a different area of the United States specifically the Great Plains. The Apache are most famously known for their impressive endurance and warfare skills.
The Nez Perce Indians were the friendliest western Indians to whites. They saved Louis and Clark from starvation in their expedition. They were also very friendly to the first fur trappers and missionaries. Americans' broke that friendship when they set out for the land and riches in the west.
During the 1860's, miners surrounded the Nez Perce land and started searching for gold. People who wanted to settle their land followed the miners. Some of the Nez Perce signed treaties giving their land up and said that they would move to reservations. Others said that they would never sign treaties giving up their land.
In the Wallowa Valley of eastern Oregon lived a group of the Nez Perce Indians who would not sign a treaty giving up their land. It was lead by who the settlers called, Chief Joseph. The U.S Government gave him two choices, give up his land peacefully and move to a reservation, or they will sent an army to force relocation. Chief Joseph agreed to move his people because he feared that he could not win a war against the Whites.
The Nez Perce prepare to leave the Wallowa Valley with hate filled hearts. A group of young resentful warriors left the camp and murdered whites. Chief Joseph knew that by doing this the warriors have crossed the whites and soldiers would come to punish his people. The Nez Perce and the Whites woulds now be at war for the first time.
As soldiers came, the Indians, still hoping for peace, carried a white flag. The soldiers opened fire on them anyway. Within minutes 34 soldiers were dead and one soldier even said that he had fought many types of people, but had never met anything like the Nez Perce. The Nez Perce headed for Canada where they hoped to be safe. Chief Joseph lead the U.S army on a three month hunt of more than 1,000 miles of rough mountain country. Though they were severely outnumbered, the Nez Perce and Chief joseph won many battles. The wild hunt ended about 40 miles from the Canadian boarder. Chief Joseph surrendered in 1877, and him and his followers were sent to a barren reservation in Oklahoma. Here many of them got sick and died, others were moved from reservation to reservation. They never returned to their homeland. Chief Joseph died in 1904.
The Pacific Railway Act called for the construction of a transcontinental railroad. This railway would link the Atlantic to the Pacific. This Pacific Railway Act started the greatest period of railroad construction in the nation's history. The railroads had laid 170,000 miles of track in the West by 1900. The Railways lead to a huge burst of new settlers want to move West.
The Union Pacific Railroad company would start in Nebraska and build the tracks westward. While the Central Pacific Railroad company would start in California and lay the tracks eastward. The two lines would meet somewhere between their starting points and the company that lays the most track would get more land, loans, and profit. The Union Pacific railroad had a stagnant start. Former Civil War general, Grenville Dodge took control of the construction in 1866, and by 1867 his crew was laying almost 7 miles of track each day. His crew consisted of Irish immigrants, ex-soldiers, Mexicans, and freed slaves. All of these people were young men looking for jobs and a new life. The Indians that lived on the plains felt that the railways was an invasion of their homes. The Indians watched as the railroad crew slaughtered the buffalo that was their main source of food. Some Indian warriors got so rattled by the intrusion of the crew that they attacked them and derailed supply trains and even pried up sections of the tracks. Dodge demanded military coverage, and soon he had troops safeguarded and slowly moved west.
The Central Pacific Railroad that started in California, and soon after the firsts tracks were laid, many of the crew members ran off to Nevada where silver mines were newly discovered. Because of this, constructions came to a rapid halt. Charles Crocker, the head of construction, hired 50 Chinese workers out of desperation. Crocker didn't think that they would be able to do much heavy work, however they surprised him. They could just as much and sometimes more than any other crew. He was so impressed that he sent agents to China to recruit more young men capable of hard work. When the agents arrived, the Chinese were in poverty and debt and were looking for a way out, and jumped on the offer to go to America to build railroads. Most wanted to return to China as wealthy men. More than 12,000 Chinese laborers worked for the Central Pacific. Many of the Chinese lost their live to explosions, and many other accidents. Although the Central Pacific lost many crew members they laid up to 10 miles of track per day. On May 10, 1869, the two lines came together in Utah Territory at the Promontory Summit. The Chinese were not recognized for the years of hard work they put in on the railroads. Most lost their jobs and then stayed in the United States to work on farms and start new businesses in the West. The networks of railroads would bring new settlers, encourage the construction of new towns and cities, and allow for mail and supplies to be shipped clear across the country.
Miners were pioneers who dreamed of striking it rich with gold. They went on "treasure hunts" throughout the west searching for gold. Some of the miners were immigrants, but most were young white men. Mining in the West was a very predictable process. First gold or silver was discovered. Then fortune seekers rushed to the sight. Almost instantly mining camps grew into boomtowns. These boomtowns had no government and no law or rules. Robbery and murder were very common. When all of the easy to find gold was gone, the miners went to the next spot gold was discovered and the boomtown turned into a ghost town. Mining was very destructive in the way that it damaged the land and displaced many Indians.
Under the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Indians were promised land to the west in exchange for their eastern homeland. By the mid-1800s whites were pushing deep into this territory. A few small wars broke out when the Indians resisted white settlement. The government was beginning to think that Indians were standing in the way of agricultural and industrial development in the West. In 1867, Congress tried to move Indians into reservations. In exchange for giving up their land the Indians were promised food, tools for farming, and good education for their children. The U.S. Army forced the Indians to stay on reservations. In 1870, the Indians fought the efforts by the Army to make them stay and practice something that they didn't want to. The Indians that lived on the plains hated the thought of being locked up in a reservation. Chief Sitting Bull was chief of the Sioux Indians and he was very wise and spoke for many Indians. Despite the promise of food, it rarely arrived. The government was more focused on feeding the settlers that feeding the Indians on the reservations. Many Indians left the reservations to attack the settlers or hunt for food. They themselves were almost always hunted down by the U.S. Army.
In the long struggle, the most famous battle was the Battle of Little Big Horn, also known as Custer's Last Stand. It was fought near the Little Big Horn River in present day Montana. The dispute began when soldiers lead by a former Civil War officer, George Custer, found gold in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory. With in months thousands of gold hungry whites were surrounding the Sioux Territory. Instead of removing the miners the government insisted that the Sioux sell the Black Hills. The Sioux of course refused. The army was arranged to force the Indians out. InJune 1876, many of the Sioux and Cheyenne camped beside the Little Big Horn River. Custer was ordered to arrive at the indian camp and then wait for reinforcements. However, once he spotted the camp he ordered an attack at once. This attack left Custer and all of his 260 men dead. Whites called this a massacre, and soon the sioux and Cheyenne were forced onto reservations. By 1887, almost all American Indians had been moved on to reservation land. And the Dawes Acts were created that said, all tribes could no longer own reservation land as a group and instead would be given a small plot of land that wasn't very good for farming.
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