July 11th 2013
AMH2020 V2 / United States History 1865 to the Present
The Expansion of The West
The western expansion made a huge impact on the new settlers as well as the Natives. The experience for the natives was mostly unpleasant while the settlers were able to adapt to their new way of life in the west. The laying of the railroad opened new territory for the white settlers and changed the Native Americans’ way of living. People migrated west with the promise of gold, which made the long journey west inciting to all.
There were many impacts on the Native Americans during the expansion. While the west wanted to expand, there were natives living in areas where the railroad was going through that didn’t want to leave. The Native Americans had set their lives in the western reservations believing the land belong to everyone, not private property that others are not allowed to enter. The white settlers were doing everything they could to “subjugate the Indians, displace them from their land and strip them of their culture.” (Goldfield, et al, 545). Although the whites shared new tool and weapons, they did more damage to the Indians by forcing them off their land and trying to change their economy. Luckily, the Native Americans were strong enough to keep their culture in spite of all the turmoil.
Railroads were a big factor in the westward expansion, but they were also a problem for the Native Americans. The developments of the railroads were being laid right through the Indians homes/lands. The railroad workers hunted the buffalo and left only the rotting carcasses behind which was a totally against the Sioux’s belief that they should respect the buffalo’s soul by using all parts. It was imperative that the railroad workers remove the Native Americans in order for the transcontinental railroad to be completed across the plains. They also were killing the native buffalo that was their major food source, clothing, and tools to drive the Native Americans off the land. The railroad also brought new diseases that the white migrants brought as they traveled west. “Smallpox, cholera, measles, whooping cough, and scarlet fever, for which Indians had no natural immunity, swept through the trives, killing up to 40 percent of their population.” (Goldfield, et al, 547)
Another big impact to the Native Americans is the beginning of the gold rush in the west taking over land that was the Cheyenne and Arapahos reservation. The railroad transported