Railroads and Conflict in the West Questions and Answers

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What was the government's role in the economic and social transformation of the west during the Gilded Age?

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During the Gilded Age, the federal government took significant action to transform the West's social and economic landscape. Much of this had to do with the government's relationship with native peoples. Previously, most tribes were treated with some level of respect. As more white settlers moved West and more valuable resources were found in the region, Native Americans came to be viewed as obstacles. The government responded by confining Native Americans to reservations and treating any who refused as enemies of the state. This led to the subjugation of many natives peoples and opened up the region to further white settlement. In 1887, the government passed the Dawes Act which sought to end communal living arrangements among Native Americans and force them to adopt American culture.

Furthermore, although Mexicans in the western United States had been US citizens since the end of the Mexican-American War, the government deliberately refused to intervene when their land was taken from...

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