The American west was dominated by a vast number of groups at the end of the 19th century. These included the plains Indians, the Chinese immigrants, homesteaders, railway constructors, miners etc. These groups interacted differently and in distinct regions of the west.
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Research provides evidence that the federal policies by the Western government impacted profoundly on each of the groups in the west at this period. Moreover, each of the above groups was influenced by rules, acts as well as policies laid down by their interaction colleagues. The federal Indian policy stated under the Dawes Act greatly influenced the Plains Indians setting and activities as well as the homesteaders.
The discussion in this paper provides an overview of a comparison of the experiences of the plains Indians and the homesteaders in the west America at the end of the19th century. Moreover, it will provide an insight of how the Dawes act influenced the lives of both groups.
A comparison of the experiences of the two groups
The changes and activities in the American west impacted differently on distinct groups that inhabited the west at the end of the 19th century.
This ended up causing great variations in the experiences of the different groups. These experiences are highly attributed to the European conquests of states as well as rampant imperialism that had dominated the west in the 19th century.
Both groups were faced with similar challenges, bearing in mind the conquest and land occupation by European colonizers. The pushing of other races to reserved areas greatly affected the two groups, since for the homesteaders, it was not easy fro them to acquire the land they needed. The process had to take six months for official reclamation that the land belonged to an individual. More over, it was not easy for the Indians to leave their original land for the settlers.
For the Indians, the period between 1870 and 1900 saw them face many challenges in the west. Their life was marked by oppression in all places, for instance school life. The students had an urge to wait anxiously on their yearly celebration day due to the massive oppression they were subjected to. Their items were plundered and stolen at school and had no peace at all.
On the other hand, homesteaders/ ranchers were enjoying the benefits of the education systems that had been enacted through the federal policies. Secondly, they had been desolately isolated and were living on tiny reservations that had been isolated from the Native Americans.
The error was marked by displacements of the native people that had originally occupied the lands, the Indians not being exempted from the scenario. The homesteaders n the other hand were enjoying as they acquired massive pieces of land that had been taken away from the Indians by the conquerors. The homesteaders had a right to own pieces of land up to six acres with a very little pay, which would even be on credit terms.
More over, the Indians were subjected conditions of hunger, chronic diseases, as well as massive death. As a result of land conquest, the Indians did not have an opportunity to cultivate any crops or even trade; hence, hunger dominated their community adversely.
On the other hand, the ranchers enjoyed benefits from stolen land, since they farmed on them and kept animals. The period before the 1870 had seen the Indians being very prosperous, but now things were following a reversed state. The sick ones could not even access the medical facilities, while the case was different for the homesteaders.
More over, the federal policy did not recognize Indians as part of the occupants of the west, thus strict laws had been passed. It was hard for the Indians to live under such oppressive and less peaceful conditions. On the other hand, the laws were favorable on the ranchers for they had a right to acquire the best land. Furthermore, poor interactions existed between the groups, since the Indians felt discriminated, while the homesteaders felt great.
Effects of the Dawe’s act on the two groups
The homesteader’s act had dominated over a long period since the conquest and replacement. However, towards the end of the 19th century, Dawe’s act was passed that gave a right for the Europeans to take more land from the Indians. The Europeans felt that the Indians reservations were fertile and could still be utilized in other forms. Therefore, the passing of this allotment act meant that each Indian family was to be given 160 acres of land.
This led to the reduction of the Indian land from 138 million acres to 48 acres, devastating the conditions. This oppressive act left the Indians with greater problems that before in the year 1982. The passing of the act was the cause of the prolonged resistance by the Indians due to land alienation and massive oppression.
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Moreover, Dawe’s act resulted in the Europeans becoming more proud of their achievements, and was now more aggressive to acquire more pieces of land.
The western American region had been occupied by European settlers who caused a devastated state to prevail in the lives of the original settlers. The federal policies were oppressive to the Indians, forcing them to tiny reservations on the plains. Poor interactions existed between the homesteaders and the Indians.
The conditions were tough for the Indians as compared to the ranchers. The end of the 19th century saw a lot of resistance arise from Indians and no group was peaceful anymore. However, more research should be conducted to explain better on the conditions that thrived for other communities in the west.
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Brown, Dee and Sides, Hampton. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: The Illustrated Edition: An Indian History of the American West. NY: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc, 2009.
Butler, James Davie. “British Convicts Shipped to American Colonies.” American Historical Review 2. 1896. Web.
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Woods, Thomas. The politically incorrect guide to American history. NY: Regnery Publishing, 2004.
- Abbott, Jacob. American history Volume 1, (NY: Sheldon & co. publishers, 1860).
- Blaustein, Arthur. The American promise: equal justice and economic opportunity, (NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1982).
- Butler, James Davie. “British Convicts Shipped to American Colonies.” American Historical Review 2. 1896.
- Blaustein, Arthur. The American promise: equal justice and economic opportunity, (NJ: Transaction Publisher, 1982).
- Brown, Dee and Sides, Hampton. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. (NY: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. 2009).
- Jordan, Don and Walsh, Michael. The forgotten history of Britain’s white slaves, 2007.
- Schlesinger, Arthur. The Cycles of American History. (NY: Houghton Miffli Harcourt, 1999).
- Tise, Larry. The American counterrevolution: a retreat from liberty, 1783-1800. (PA: Stackpole Books, 1988).
- Woods, Thomas. The politically incorrect guide to American history, (NY: Regnery Publishing, 2004).