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The indian problem in the last half of the century

By way of recapitulation we should mention that many Indian problems began after the United States acquired Florida through the treaty ratified in 1821. Then Monroe's bowing to the demands of land craving "westerners" and Jackson's follow-up policies resulted in the attempt to remove all Indians to regions west of the Mississippi. This began in the old "Northwest" and the lower South. We have seen that the Seminoles of Florida refused to move and under the leadership of Osceola, retreated to the fastness of the everglades, where they remain in some 200,000 acres of swampland today. The only "western" statesman to denounce these shabby activities was Henry Clay. From 1853 to 1856 there were 52 treaties signed, mostly with Indian nations west of the Mississippi, resulting in the addition of 174,000,000 acres to the national domain. There were 200,000 Indians between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains at the beginning of the century.

The Indian story of the second half of the century, however, is that of the Great Plains tribes and their attempts to prevent white settlements. The Sioux, Blackfoot, Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Nez Perce

The French-Canadians named these Indians Nez Perce because they pierced their noses for wearing shell ornaments. (Ref. 294 )
, Comanche, Apache, Ute and Kiowa were all well armed and had swift horses. The universal Indian sign language only became manifest at that time on the Great Plains, when tribes speaking different languages had to communicate and collaborate, although it had actually originated at an earlier date among the Westos, Shawnees and other Southern Indians. (Ref. 267 ) The wanton destruction of the buffalo, the Colt six-shooter and the white man's diseases were all fatal to the plains Indians. United, these Indians might have been invincible, but they were themselves divided and were defeated piecemeal, although at times the Indians seemed to be winning. When 60,000 Texans went to the Confederate army, it left scarcely 27,000 men behind to defend the entire state and the Comanches and Kiowas, among others, turned central Texas into a disaster area. This occurred even after prospectors in the 1849 gold rush had brought cholera to those tribes as they poured through their territories. Some of the tribes lost 50% of their people. The Comanches, who had gone south from Wyoming about 1700, were excellent horsemen, led by Quanah Parker in the late 1860s. Parker was never actually defeated in battle, but in 1875 he gave up his wars and accepted reservation life, leading the last of his Kwahadie clan and their 1,500 horses to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He later became a business man, leasing land to Burk Burnett, Dan Waggoner and others in north Texas. But he also proselytized the peyote cult, which became known as the focus of the native American church. (Ref. 294 )

The various tribes occupied and roamed over large territories at times and it will be easier to discuss them by tribes, rather than narrowly by regions. The Shoshones of Wyoming territory were linguistically and culturally related to the Utes and Paiutes and were actually great warriors against their Indian enemies (Sioux, Crows, Blackfoot, Cheyenne and Arapahos), but they made friends with the whites of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and later helped the Mormons to make safe passage. Fort Washakie was named after the great Shoshone chief. The Blackfoot occupied part of Wyoming and Montana territory, while the Nes Percel were primarily in Idaho. The Utes, some of whom were also friendly to whites, were primarily in Colorado, where there were no U.S. forts.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, A comprehensive outline of world history. OpenStax CNX. Nov 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10595/1.3
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