American History Industrial America
Westward Expansion

INDUSTRIAL AMERICA AND WESTWARD EXPANSION ~ Lesson 8 The Native American Way of Life Disappears

General Philip Sheridan was commander of the army forces in the west. He wrote that he did not blame the Native Americans for making war after the way they were treated. White men slaughtered the buffalo. Railroad crews killed many buffalo just for sport. By 1865 about 15 million animals lived on the plains. By 1883 the buffalo were all but wiped out.

In 1864 at Sand Creek in Colorado, Colonel Chivington and his soldiers called the Colorado Volunteers attacked the Native Americans. In return the Indians attacked  the white settlers. Colonel Chivington and his men pulled a surprise raid on the village. Chief Black Kettle, the chief of the tribe, raised the American flag and a white flag of truce. The soldiers did not pay any attention to this. More than 200 women and children and about 70 men were killed. The Cheyenne agreed to give up Sand Creek and move to a reservation.

George Armstrong Custer

General Armstrong Custer

In 1876 gold was found in the Black Hills. The Native Americans were ordered to leave. Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse refused. George Armstrong Custer and 265 men attacked against orders at a place called Little Big Horn. All the white men were killed. Finally Crazy Horse and his warriors gave up. Sitting Bull and his followers went to Canada. In 1881, they returned to the United States and surrendered to the army.


In 1889, a Paiute Indian named Wovoka said an Indians' god leader was coming to bring back the buffalo and the white men would disappear. Many Native Americans believed this. To show their belief, they did a certain dance called the Ghost Dance. On December 29, 1890, the army moved to stop the Ghost Dancers at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota. The Indians were waiting to surrender. The army never got the message, so they attacked. More than 300 men, women, and children were killed. This was the end of the Indian Wars.

Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota

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