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The American West – Revision. Settlers in America. America was settled 30,000 years ago by Asian people. They are now known as ‘Indians’, ‘indigenous people’ or ‘first nations’ Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ America in 1492
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Settlers in America • America was settled 30,000 years ago by Asian people. They are now known as ‘Indians’, ‘indigenous people’ or ‘first nations’ • Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ America in 1492 • From C15th Europeans started to move to the East Coast of America – many were trying to escape religious persecution.
Areas Settled • Initially people only settled on the East Coast • 13 colonies grew up and these were controlled by England (and later Britain) • America gained its independence from GB in 1776 following the War of Independence • People started to move west around this time
Indigenous people • Originally called Indians because explorers who landed on American soil thought they were in India. • There were hundreds of tribes each with their own languages and customs although they had a shared belief about the land • We concentrated on the Sioux, Nez Perce, and the Apache • Buffalo was the main source of food for many Indians once they were forced to live on the Great Plains
Indian Lifestyle • Most Indians were nomadic hunter-gatherers • Houses included tepees, wickiups and long houses • Family was very important to the Indians • Indians were initially friendly to the white settlers but were badly treated, forced off their land and killed in disputes over land, war or by new European diseases
Europeans Move West • There were a number of reasons for the exodus: • Religious persecution, e.g. Mormons • Adventure • The promise of farmland • Gold
The Mormons • The Mormons were a new religious group who wanted to settle together • Their way of life was resented by many, particularly the practice of polygamy • Other groups thought the Mormons were too friendly to Indians and against slavery • Mormons were persecuted and forced to move to Utah (Salt Lake City)
Prospectors • The Prospectors were also known as fortyniners • Prospectors’ main aim was to find gold in California and get rich • Used various methods such as panning, cradling, dry washing and hydraulic mining • Not everyone was successful and many found misery in a very over-crowded California
California • Gold was found here in 1849 • The population rose from 14,000 in 1847 to 380,000 in 1860 • Disease and over-crowding were commonplace • The city struggled to provide clean water and shelter for its new inhabitants • California was very isolated until the railroad was built
Homesteaders • Homesteaders were farmers who settled on the Great Plains along the railway line • Many were encouraged to move there to protect the railway and keep Indians away • The Homestead Act of 1862 said that anyone living on the Great Plains had to use their land for farming and that the family living there had to have been there for 5 years in order to lay claim to it. • The land on the Great Plains was notoriously difficult to farm.
Travelling West • Wagon Trains • Railroads • Ship
Wagon Trains • Around 30 wagons would travel together • The journey was dangerous: deep rivers; steep mountains; wild animals; disease; Indian attacks • Journey took around four months to complete
Railroads • The Union Pacific started at the town of Omaha and built westwards • The Central Pacific started at the town of Sacramento and built eastwards • Railways were faster than wagon trains • People had sleeping carriages and buffet cars • Helped the East trade/communicate with the west • Caused disruption to the buffalo and the Indians
Travelling by Sea • Some felt the wagon trail was too dangerous • You could travel from New York in a clipper ship around Cape Horn in South America and reach San Francisco in 90 days • You could go through the Panama canal but this was expensive and contained the risk of disease