How the West was Won!!



What influences affected the westward expansion of America during the 1800’s?

Module #1 Wars for the West
 The Great Plains of America lies in the central part of the country and stretch from the Canadian border into parts of Texas. This land was home to the Great Plains Indians who were comprised of the Kiowa, Cherokee, Comanche, Arapahoe, Apache, Cheyenne, Pawnee, and the Sioux tribes. A formidable people, numbering around 75,000 by 1850, depended on two animals for survival. They depended on the Horse for transport and the buffalo to fashion tools, food, and shelter.
 Clashes between the native plains Indians were inevitable as the white settlers and miners crossed the plains. The government, in an effort to stop these clashes sent representatives to get the tribes to sign treaties. When a tribe refused, the government used military force to make the tribe sign and move to a reservation.

 The majesty of the Plains Indians can be found in the following website links:

 Write a chant or speech for your tribe warning of the white man coming.
Immersion Wall:
 Draw a picture to represent one of the tribes talked about. Use structures, symbols or animals associated with the Plains Indian Culture.
 Despite signed treaties, the American government sought to exploit the Native Americans. Often the land designated as a reservation was inhospitable and did not farm well, leading to starvation. When the government needed resources or the reservation land itself, they broke the treaty and forced the tribe to move to another reservation. Many tribes resisted only to be forced back to the reservation. The American government’s relentless charge was fueled by the discovery of a rare mineral and one major technological advancement talked about in the tomorrow’s module.


Module #2 Miners & Railroads
 GOLD!! Following the California gold rush, gold was discovered in Colorado and Nevada. Nevada’s strike became known as the Comstock Lode after the bonanza that it contained. As miners rushed to the mines boomtowns sprang up around the west. To supply this and other new industries, the government financed the railroad expansion from both coasts in an effort to connect east and west.
Find out more about the boom of the gold rush and the railroad in the following website links:

 Write a Journal entry about your day as if you were a crew member building a railroad.
Immersion Wall:
 Draw a picture of a railroad under construction. Elements that could be included are a steam locomotive, trestle bridge, and a tunnel.
 With the spread of the railroad the country was united. The railroad took Distances that would take a month of travel by wagon now, with the railroad, would only take four days. This paved the way for cattle men to get their cattle to market much faster through series of trails and train depots.

Module #3 The Cattle Kingdom
 The Texas Longhorn cattle were adapted perfectly for the western environment. It could with stand the harsh weather and arid climate of the west. The railroad provided the link that connected southern cattle rancher and the eastern market. To get their cattle to the rail depots, ranchers hired men to drive the cattle along miles of trails. These men earned the nickname of “Cowboys” and the legend was born.
 Find out more about the legendary cowboys and the trails the rode in the following website links:

 As a news reporter for a big city paper, write a report by choosing one trail (Chisholm, Goodnight-Loving, Western or Shawnee) to highlight. In your short article, describe the trail jobs, the route, dangers, and cities along the way.
Immersion Wall:
 Draw a picture of a railroad under construction. Elements that could be included are a steam locomotive, trestle bridge, and a tunnel.
 This cattle bonanza faltered as the nation struggled through a depression. Farmers began buying free range land that fed the massive cattle herds Then in 1885 and 1886, two harsh winters caused the Cattle Kingdom to come to a halt, never to rise again. With the cattle industry reeling, the railroad turned to another industry, the fledgling farm.

Module #4 Farming the Great Planes
 The once isolated plains farm now had a convenient transportation system in place. The spread of the small farmer was fueled by the Homestead Act of 1862. This gave government owned land to settlers willing to live on the land for five years.  With very little wood available, the settlers utilized bricks made from the thick, root filled sod, to build their homes. To even start farming the settlers had to break through the thick sod. Many plows at that time were made from wood and broke. John Deere invented the deep steel plow to break through this sod. This challenge earned the farmers the nickname sodbusters. In order to farm in this arid climate, settlers employed the dry farming technique that was dependant on rainfall.

Find out more about the sodbusters and their farms, explore the following website links:
 As an immigrant farmer, write a letter back to your family in your chosen homeland.  In your letter, describe what your farm is like including your farm house. Describe what a day’s work is like and the hardships of farm life.
Immersion Wall:
 Draw a picture of your sod house and farm to accompany the letter.
 Alone on the plain, the small farmer banded together to form communities for support. They build churches, schools, and stores. As families grew, so did the fledgling economy. The fabric of America west was sewn.

Module #5 Circle The Wagons
 Although we have explored the history of the American West, it is the stories of the people themselves. This is what makes the fabric shine and inspire us today. Read about the people and their experience in the following websites:

 Develop a travel brochure that shows the grandeur and excitement of the American West. Include two figures that represent the west and a small description of their accomplishments.
Immersion Wall:
 Using your computer develop a collage that represents all three modules and reflects the grandeur of the American west.
 Overcoming the challenges that faced the explorers and settlers of the American West showed the indomitable spirit of the people that came to call it home. Though many did not find the fortune of riches they sought, they did pass on to posterity the riches of the American West for all to enjoy.

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