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Impact of Westward Expansion Upon Native Americans

by valthewriter on 23/02/11 at 9:14 am

Native Americans in the United States can be defined as the indigenous peoples from the North American region. These natives comprise of a large number of tribes, ethnic groups and states that are distinct. The native americans are sometimes known as American Indians, Amerindians, Indians,Amerinds, Indigenous or Aboriginal.

Westward expansion caused the endangerment and even extinction of native species of flora and fauna. It altered the entire ecosystems, for example the  Great Plains, and impacted the watersheds and  aquifers all over the entire nation.

It also changed the cultural lives of the Native Americans. Their populations was  ravaged by displacement, diseases, and also by warfare with migrating groups that also enslaved them. The

The use of horses as a mode of travel made it possible for native tribes to exchange goods with neighboring tribes and easily capture game.

Native Americans were infected by diseases from foreigners that had no immunity.These diseases were like Chicken pox and measles which were fatal to Native Americans.

Mining of gold and silver through use of Native American labor, led to faster economic development and trade expansion because of Industrial Revolution. This is because Natural resources such as oil, water, ore and were found on lands occupied by Native Americans.

Quinine was provided by Native Americans provided as the first ever effective treatment of malaria. They also used many plants and bark extracts as painkillers and antibacterial medicines.

Physical, social, and economic impact of events on West development. 

Westward Expansion happened at a time people envisioned the western side of United States as a land of opportunity, prosperity and with a lot of  gold deposits. This was a time of  heroism, adventure, and also outlaws.

Westward Expansion also led to great losses for American Indians, they were driven from their ancestral land and forced to live on parcels of land called reservations that were designated for them.

motivating factors for Westward Expansion were wealth, land, and adventure.

Ranchers, merchants, farmers and miners made the move west.  As more whites settled in the West, the government of the U.S. demanded that for the American Indians to reserved areas, so that they could be able to access land rich in oil, gold, timber, silverand farmland. On the reserved lands, Native Americans were forced to live and abide by the whites’ laws and customs, and to communicate in English. Some tribes  such as the Apache ,Comanche and Kiowa fought fiercely  to maintain their tribal independence and integrity.They resisted being forced to live on reservation land.  

Business in the sub-regions

Following the Civil War, there was a lot of economic benefits through

settlement of the West . publicland  was liberalized and disposal policies encouraged the population to migrate to the west .

In 1862, The first railroad construction began. This ensured that supplies were more easily available.

Indians were moved from land that was ready to be settled  and taken to land specially designated for them so as to make the land more attractive to settlers.

Westward migration was largely due to the economic situation of the East which had  hardships and depression .

The wave of migration resulted in the addition of States such as  Louisiana in 1812, Indiana -1816 , Mississippi-1817, Illinois-1818 and Alabama in1819 to the United States union.

Great Plains 

These are the broad expanse of prairie and grassland that  lie  east of the Rocky Mountains  and west of the Mississippi River in the US and Canada. Much of the great plains  region was the habitat to the  American Bison herds,that were later hunted to near extinction .

Rocky Mountains

These are a major mountain ranges  in western North America. They stretch to more than 4,800 kilometres. The highest peak is Mount Elbert .

Water  and glaciers erosion have made dramatic scenery of sculptures on the mountain range and it’s peaks.

The mountain range is currently protected a popular tourist destination, especially for snowboarding and skiing.


This comprises of states that are southwestern of the United States.They  include California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona, Utah, Nevada,Colorado, and Texas.


These comprise the  northwestern states of the United States .These  states include Oregon , Southeast Alaska,Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming,  and parts of Northern California .

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

This is United States most populous state . California has a varied geography and climate, and a very diverse population.40% of California is forested and also has a high amount of arid land.The 19th century  California Gold Rush caused  California to have socioeconomic and demographic . This was largely occasioned by the large influx of people. 


Agnew, Brad .Fort Gibson: Terminal on the Trail of Tears .Norman: University of Oklahoma   

        Press, 1980.

Billington, Ray and Ridge,Martin. Westward Expansion: A History of the American

      Frontier .1949; rev. ed., Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001.

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