Essay, Research Paper
“The long death? is an appropriate title for the book describing the slow death of the Plains Indian?s way of life. It took many years for the white man to alter and ruin the lives and homeland of the Plains Indians as the tribes suffered tremendously in the process. The Indians soon became warriors, to no avail, in hopes of defending their land against the settlers. These settlers began entering the west around the mid 1800?s. By the time 1900 came, the Plains Indians had shrunk by over half.
Buffalo was a huge part of the survival of the Plains Indians. The railroads came in and began slaughtering huge amounts of buffalo to feed the railway construction workers. Eastern sports hunters killed buffalo for sport and profit, sometimes called ?harvesting?. In addition, the Army slaughtered buffalo to control the tribes who were resistant to the encroaching settlers. By depleting the buffalo herds, the white farmers were then able seize the Indian land and use the former hunting grounds for crops.
Many Indians were slaughtered along with the buffalo. For example, the Sand Creek incident in 1864 was an attack on many innocent Indians. Furthermore, many Indians were driven onto reservations while giving up much of their land. This was done with much resistance from the Indians, which resulted in many conflicts and death.
Railroads took much of the land in the plains, which further reduced Indian land. When the railroads were completed, they assisted in bringing in farm equipment and more settlers to work the land and take much of the farming from the Indians. In 1869, Congress established the Board of Indian Commissioners to mold Indians into Christian farmers and better adapt them to their reservations. Indeed, a way of assimilating the Indians so they would be more controlled and unable to sustain their old way of life while their land and old traditions were being taken away. Because of many obstacles, this policy failed. Do-gooders watching these atrocities were instrumental in passing the Dawes act in 1887. The act provided that each family would receive 160 acres of land for farming or 320 acres for grazing in hopes of leading to the breakup of reservations and making Indians more civilized like the ?whites?. The Dawes act made Indians U.S. citizens and forced them to become farmers and landowners. This act was another devistating blow to the Indians because they ended up with poor farming or grazing land, it indeed broke up the large reservations, and reduced total Indian land by 65 percent. The American Indian way of life, indeed, had a long death. It took many years and much suffering for the settlers to take away what the Indians once had. Their language and culture were suppressed, land lost, families killed, everything they knew and loved was taken away from them by the settlers.