In the latter half of the 19th century, the United States government was making efforts to limit Native American presence and culture in the Great Plains region, taking action in such steps as schooling, removal of cultural practices (Doc D), and civilization. (Doc H). Technological developments helped drive the Native Americans back, and government actions were manipulative in how they prompted mistreatment of the Plains Indians. Whether on purpose, or by accident, both technology and government led to the ultimate downfall of Native American culture and society in the plains.
Of the technological developments of the late 1800’s the Trans-Continental railroad was one of the most profitable to the US for it united the east and the west. Also the Trans-Continental, as well as other railroads were an important investment to the U.S. Government, for many land grants were given to railroad builders in the west. (Doc A)While this would make easier trade and communication possible, it was not good for the Native Americans. The railroad essentially changed the land. Its construction required the demolition of certain areas, the leveling of trees, and intruding tracks. This not only invaded Indian land, but also negatively affected the buffalo, who could not roam as they once could. Considering that it was a main food source for Native Americans, this took its toll on the tribes of the plains.
Not all technology was negative to the Native Americans of the plains. When the gun was introduced to the Native Americans, it enabled them to hunt better. In certain cases, physical resistance was necessary, and the rifle was an effective way for Native Americans to defend themselves. Advancements in agriculture also helped the Indians. Of course, they didn’t have the farm machinery like the cotton gin or the reaper, but they certainly utilized metal plows and corn planters.
The government was working hard in the 1800’s to eliminate Native American life. Sometimes the...