What major issues did the United States overcome on the western frontier during the second half of the 19th century?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The major issue faced by the U.S. on the western frontier was that of the Indian tribes who lived in the area. The West had at one time been considered the "Great American Desert," and no one was interested in settling there; in fact President Andrew Jackson had ordered the Cherokee Indians of Georgia forcibly removed to Oklahoma. Following the Civil War, however, new discoveries of gold and silver, burgeoning populations in the East, and the completion of the trans-continental railroad made the west increasingly attractive.

The U.S. Government had made a series of treaties with Indian tribes in earlier years. Now that land in the West was suddenly attractive, these treaties were broken with abandon. Additionally, the huge herds of buffalo upon which the Indians depended for survival were slaughtered wholesale, sometimes being shot from the front end of moving trains. Indians were consistently forced onto poorer and poorer lands, and ultimately revolted in the Great Sioux War of 1874-76. The Battle of Little Bighorn Creek at which Gen. George Armstrong Custer stupidly led his men into an Indian massacre was one battle of that war. Eventually, however, the uprising was crushed, Indians were forced on to lands "reserved" for them (hence "Indian Reservation" and in 1924 were made American citizens.


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