Introduction to The Indian Wars

Introduction to The Indian Wars
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In the late 1800s, many Americans ethnocentrically viewed the Native Americans of the West as savages. Yet, the Great Plains consisted of complex, intricate civilizations. Many were organized into agrarian societies. However, others were nomadic tribes, such as the Sioux and Cheyenne. This meant they traveled constantly following animals, like buffalo.

From the era of Exploration to the late 1800s, European interaction with the Native Americans had drastically changed their way of life. The Spanish brought horses at the end of the 16th century. Native Americans did not invent the wheel or use horses before this era. Horse riding, guns, other inventions and innovations changed life forever. Many agrarian cultures became nomads. Buffalo provided clothing, food, shelter for the Native Americans and the expansion of whites westward depleted the buffalo population. This caused conflict in the west.

There were unique cultural traits with the Native Americans that lived in the West. Extended families of Native Americans cohabitated. Men hunted and women prepared the food. Women sometimes chose their husband in matriarchal societies. Shamans were religious leaders for animistic religions. Most tribes were ruled by counsels with multiple leaders.

These economic, social, and religious differences between the Native Americans of the West and the American citizens of European descent lead to culture clash. Many Native Americans did not believe one could “own” land. Some Americans felt God wanted America to expand west and own the land. This religious belief was called “Manifest Destiny.” There were many Westward Expansion motivations such as gold, natural resources, space, and railroads motivated others to come to the area.

In Colorado, in 1858, gold rushes pushed people to the West. Many felt that, if they went to the West, they could strike it rich quickly. Others wanted to profit by providing goods and services to those relocating to the West. German, Polish, Irish, Chinese, and African American peoples tried to profit from Westward Expansion and these groups intermingled in the region. There was no extreme push for assimilation in the government’s initial interaction with the Native Americans in the West. The western Great Plains were intended to be reservations for the Native Americans. Yet, in the1850s, the railroads proved to be efficient means of travel. This led to many white Americans traveling to the West and increased hostilities between American citizens and Native Americans.

US History Lesson Plans Include
1) Bell ringer / opening activity
2) PowerPoint presentation
3) Guided notes worksheet for PowerPoint presentation
4) Bonus worksheet (vocabulary, crosswords, word search, etc.)
5) Daily quiz / assessment - exit slip!
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8) Answer keys for all worksheets, handouts, & assessments
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Most of our plans include the contents of this list. Please see the photo above for actual contents.
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Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 days
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