Plains Indians Essay, Research Paper
During the 1800s, the Plains Indians were finally overcome by the white man. Several factors contributed to their downfall. In descending order, these included the near extinction of the buffalo, disease, tribal wars, and their naivete.
The buffalo was the backbone of the Plains Indians because it was their main source for food, fuel, clothing, and shelter. When transcontinental railroad construction began, the buffalo was nearly exterminated. Whites hunted the buffalo for sport, their hides, or for a few select cuts while leaving the rest of the animal to rot. By 1885, fewer than 1,000 creatures were left, leaving many Indians to starve to death.
One of the deadliest weapons the whites had against the Indians was used unknowingly. The diseases smallpox, cholera, and typhoid ravaged the Indian population. Their immune systems had no defense against these foreign invaders. Whole families and villages were killed by this invisible enemy.
As white settlers moved west past the Mississippi River, they needed more land. The government obliged to their demands and took the Indians land to give to the settlers. The Indians who had been displaced were forced to relocate. They fought amongst themselves for land. The Sioux were especially aggressive and attacked the Crows, Kiowas, and Pawnees. The Indians slowly killed each other off when they should have united against the whites.
The federal government signed several land treaties with the Indians. They broke nearly every single one. The Indians were na ve and kept acquiescing to the government s
demands. They kept believing that the government would never break their promise, a dire mistake. Washington gained more and more control over the Indians.
In the end, the Native Americans lost their spirit after years of starving and fighting.
The proud people of the plains were doomed to eke out a miserable existence on reservations, also known as human zoos. Never again would life be the same.