Native Americans in the Western Expansion By: Morgan Patriarca & Miranda Corbo

Native Americans and Land Loss

The Dawes Severaltly Act

In 1887, President Grover Cleveland signed the Dawes Act into law. This act split up the Native American reservations and split the tribes into smaller individuals within the tribe. It also changed the legal status of the Native Americans from tribal to individual members of the federal government. Due to the Dawes Act, many of the Native American tribes were dissolved.

The government gave the head of each family 160 acres of land and encouraged them to farm. The government wanted them to become farmers so they would be considered "more American".

The Dawes act offered land to the Native Americans so that they could farm and be considered "more American".

Spiritual Beliefs

The Native Americans had many spiritual beliefs and various rituals they performed based on where they lived. However, all tribes shared a common similarity by making spirituality the main focus of their lives.

Native American spirituality was based around nature. Native Americans and their culture had a close bond with the earth. One of their major beliefs was that one cannot own the land, but live along with it. Unfortunately, this caused many misunderstandings with the European settlers that began to take their land. The Native Americans also believed that the earth was their "sacred mother" so they respected it and taught their children to do so as well.

Despite the fact that mainstream Western Christianity preached earth as our temporary home, Native Americans believed that earth is our permanent home. They did not believe in heaven or division from God or other gods or goddesses.

The Native Americans' world view was centered around the "Sacred Mystery" which can also be known as the "Great Spirit". They believed it was present everywhere and that it gave life to the land, animals, and people.

Part of Native American Spirituality was the belief that the Great Spirit was always present.

Indian Boarding Schools

The schools were built on Native American reservations. The main goal of these schools was to educate the Native Americans and to show and teach them the "American way of life". The plans for the schools were organized by Herbert Welsh and Henry Pancoast. They forced the children to go to boarding school and tried to make them "more American" by taking away their names and by taking them away from their families.

There was a phrase used to describe some of these schools, "Kill the Indian, save the man".

These Indian boarding schools taught the Native American children American concepts and language.

Indian Reservations

The U.S. government forced Native American tribes to live in designated areas of the country called Reservations. These reservations were not usually on the best land.

The government paid the Native Americans money called an annuity for living on these reservations. But, it was a very small amount of money and it was sometimes paid late. While they were earning this money, it was often used for buying supplies from American traders.

Native American tribes were forced off the land the resided on and were taken to Reservations.

Native Americans and the Bison

Part of the Native American way of life was to follow the bison or buffalo. They were the main source of food and clothing for many of the Native American tribes of the Great Plains. Over time, Native Americans had learned how to use every part of the bison as to not put any part to waste.

Native American tribes would hunt bison to provide many of the resources needed to survive.

Native Americans in the U.S. Today

Today there are approximately 567 Native American tribes living in the United States, many of which still live on reservations. Unfortunately they face many problems on these reservations such as poverty and lack of jobs, good education, healthcare, etc.

Sadly, still today the federal government is taking away the Native Americans' land, and using what little land is legally still theirs. They exploit the natural resources on the land which threatens these Native American communities.

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