The Western Frontier

Impact on the Native Americans

Native Americans Impacted

Native Americans Affected by Western Expansion

Have you ever been looked at differently than everyone else and as if you were not important? The Native Americans who lived in the west before anyone else, were not cared about. Their lives did not seem important to the whites who were looking to settle in the west. They began being pushed out of their lands in the 1840's during Manifest Destiny and continued through the Western Frontier in the late 1800's. Native Americans were driven out of their land which was then taken over by whites, this is shown through the white’s actions and their lack of caring about what happened to the them.


There are many reasons why the Native Americans were driven out of their land. Whites thought of themselves as superior to the Native Americans. They did not see the importance of their lives, and they punished them unfairly. They were fighting for the land while Native Americans were trying to preserve their civilizations. Miners, railroads, farmers, and cattle drivers moved to the plains in the mid-1850's. This caused a lot more trouble for the Native Americans. The Black Hills were very popular during the time. The whites wanted to take it from the Sioux Indians so they could mine for gold. They were planning on breaking up the Native Americans into six reservations. Once the Native Americans were split into six reservations, they would give each Native American 160 acres of land. Then, extra land would be sold to whites. Finally, railroads would be created to access the Black Hills. The Native Americans main food source, the buffalo, were also being threatened by the whites. After the Civil War the buffalo were beginning to be killed off. Their meat was used to feed the railroad crews and they were killed so they would not get in the way of trains. Also, William Cody, known as Buffalo Bill, killed over four thousand buffalo in less than eighteen months. Whenever the buffalo began to flee, the Native Americans had to follow. Buffalo played a big role in the success of the Native Americans.


Later, Native American Reservations were made. In the late 1860's the Indian Peace commission recommended moving Native Americans to a few large reservations. The government tricked many of the Native Americans to move into the reservations. The conditions in the reservations were not good. Many people got sick and they were not taken care of properly. At one of the reservations, Sitting Rock, Native Americans were dying from a sickness that was spreading. They were not being examined correctly, allowing the virus to continue to spread. The reservations also forced the Native Americans to change their culture. Later on, reformers wanted to abolish the reservations. The Dawes Act of 1887 broke up reservations, encouraged the Native Americans to become citizens or farmers, and it weakened cultural traditions. If a Native American wanted to be accepted as a citizen, they would be forced to cut their hair, choose a christian name, study American history, and change their religion.


Native Americans are still impacted today. 40% of the 5.2 million American Indians live on Reservations today in the United States (“Living”). The living, economic, and health conditions are not good. There are about three hundred American Indian Reservations in the country (“Americans”). The living conditions can be considered “comparable to a third World” (“Living”). There are about ninety thousand homeless or under housed American Indian families (“Living”). 30% of the families are overcrowded in their homes, and 50% of the houses are not connected to a sewer (“Living”). This shows just how unhealthy the living conditions are for many. 40% of the on-reservation housing is considered inadequate (“Living”). Also, many of the houses have an absence of utilities such as running water, telephones, and electricity (“Living”). This reveals how much we take what we have for advantage. This also puts the families in anger of health problems. The waiting list to live in tribal housing is extremely long and the wait can last anywhere around three years (“Living”). Living in an overcrowded area is inevitable. Another issue for many Native Americans today are economics. Many families do not have anyone who is employed because of the lack of jobs. Tribal and federal governments are the largest employers on the reservations for Native Americans (“Living”). Four to eight out of ten adults are unemployed, many of which earning poverty wages (“Living”). 28.2% of the American Indians are below the federal poverty line and 38% - 68% of the American Indians living in the reservations are also below the federal poverty line (“Living”). Many parents are not able to have a good relationship with their children because they need to seek for work, so the grandparents raise their children for them (“Living”). This proves that families not only struggle with money, but their relationship with their family and culture. The last main issue the American Indians have to deal with today are health issues. 55% of American Indians rely on Indian Health Service for medical care (“Living”). However, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act only meets about 60% of their health needs (“Living”). This shows how desperate they are to be able to have any kind of medical care. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, tuberculosis, and cancer are very common in Indian reservations (“Living”). Although, heart disease is the leading cause of death for American Indians (“Living”). A statistic from an article says, “36% of Natives with heart disease will die before age 65 compared to 15% of Caucasians” (“Living”). The article also states that, “American Indians are 177% more likely to die from diabetes” (“Living”). Many more statistics show just how bad the health issues are for American Indians and what they have to go through. Native Americans were not treated fairly in the past, and the situation is not much better today.


Native Americans were negatively impacted by the whites in many ways. They were driven out of their land, forced to change their religion and culture, and forced to completely change who they are. It is unfair how we treated them. We did not care about their lives and what happened to them, and that is not right. There lives were not important to the whites. The whites were cruel and unfair. This is considered one of America’s darkest points in history. Native Americans are still impacted today in a negative way and I hope that changes sometime in the future.

Native Americans Changing Culture

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Native Americans Impacted During Westward Expansion

How did Westward Expansion affect the Native Americans

Works Cited

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