Chapter 5 – Section 2

Native Americans of the Great Plains fought to protect their way of life. 


Native American Life on the Plains; A Clash of Cultures    (p. 160-162)

  • Before 1500, the Native American tribes hunted buffalo as their main food in their diet.  They used almost every part of the buffalo for food, clothing, and shelter.  In the 1540's the Spanish brought horses to the Great Plains which allowed them to lead a nomadic way of life for buffalo hunting (move from place to place).
  • Native American tribes from the east were also living on the Plains by the mid 1800s because the federal government had forced them to move west onto reservations (land set aside for the Native American tribes).
  • However as the settlers moved west, there was a demand for land and the government tried to buy back the reservation land.  Some tribes agreed but some tribes refused.  Their refusal led to fighting between the whites and Native Americans.  In 1862, 1200 Colorado militia attacked a peaceful Cheyenne village and killed more than 150 Cheyenne - Sand Creek Massacre.


Battle of the Little Bighorn (p. 162 - 163)

   In 1874, white prospectors rushed onto Sioux land after discovering gold there.  The Sioux warier chiefs, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse tried to drive the settlers off of their land.  Fighting was fierce between the white settlers and the Sioux.  The Seventh Cavalry led by George A. Custer tried to get the Sioux to return to the reservation.  Several thousands of Sioux and Cheyenne killed Custer and his 211 men near the Little Bighorn River in Montana.  The Battle of Little Big Horn was the last major Native American victory because the government increased its military.  Native Americans of the Great Plains fought to protect their way of life.       


Resistance in the Northwest and Southwest (p. 163- 164)

  • Northwest - The white settlers tried to take over the land of the Nez Perce in eastern Oregon and Idaho.  They were forced to sell their land and move.  Chief Joseph refused and the army forced them to surrender.
  • Southwest - The Navajos and Apaches fought against being forced to move to reservations but they also surrendered to the U.S. army.



A Way of Life Ends (p. 164)

  • Millions of buffalo were killed by the white hunters and the herds disappeared.
  • Native American prophet, Wovoka, and his followers, the Ghost Dancers, believed his prediction that Native Americans would again roam free. 
  • The government feared that the Ghost Dancers were preparing for war and made them go to a temporary camp along Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota and hand over their weapons.  When a shot rang out, the U.S. troops responded with gunfire and killed 300 Sioux. The Wounded Knee Massacre.



The Dawes Act Fails (p. 165)

  • Reformers wanted to "Americanize" the Native Americans and make them more like whites.  Through assimilation the Native Americans were to adopt the culture of the people around them.
  • The Dawes Act in 1887 encouraged Native Americans to settle down as farmers.  The government divided the reservation land into individual plots of land for each family.  This failed because few Native Americans wanted to be farmers.

Native Americans Fight to Survive

Main Idea:  The Native Americans of the Great Plains fought to maintain their way of life as settlers poured into their lands.

  • Most Plains tribes lived in villages along rivers and streams. They ate buffalo and made clot5hing, shoes, and blankets from it.
  • In the 1830s the federal government forced Native American tribes of the Southeast to move west of the Mississippi to territory between the Missouri River and Oregon Territory.
  • The Dawes Act divided reservations into individual plots of land for each family.  The government sold leftover land to white settlers. 
  • Native Americans did not know how to farm and or lacked the tools, training, and money to be successful; therefore many Native Americans had to sell their land for a fraction of its value to white settlers.



The Last of the Sioux (3:48)

Resistant to government regulated reservations, the Sioux retreated into the Black Hills until a final massacre at Wounded Knee.


The Buffalo and Native Americans (1:52)

The buffalo was an essential part of Native American life, used in everything from religious rituals to teepee construction.


Sitting Bull (2:54)

The tragic, yet true tale of Sitting Bull, the leader of the Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux tribe who led his people's resistance against the United States, sung by musician and artist Jeffrey Lewis.