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8th Grade Social Studies Homework Assignments

Due Friday, January 5, 2007


I.  The Plains Indians Timeline – Introduction

Native Americans lost their lands on the eastern seaboard in colonial times.  From the time of the first European explorers and settlers, Native Americans have been forcibly moved from their homes to the west.  Eventually there was no more “west” for Native American tribes to occupy.  Traditional ways of life were lost and changed to accommodate the realities of European immigration.  The history of the United States bears witness to a complicated and often brutal relationship between the native peoples and the Europeans.  As we watch Dances with Wolves, it is important to reflect on the history of the relationship between these often clashing cultures.


II.  The Plains Indians Timeline – 1640-1839


1640-1658 - First recorded contact with the Dakota tribes of the Sioux by Jesuits in the area of present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin, and in the forests in southern Minnesota.

1775 - The Continental Congress establishes a Committee on Indian Affairs, appointing commissioners to create peace treaties with the Indians.

1803 - Louisiana Purchase brings a greater number of trading posts into Indian Territory. As a result, fur trading becomes an important part of Oglala Indian life, expanding the Lakota influence as far west as the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming and south to the Platte River in Nebraska.

1804 - The Sioux and other tribes encounter the Lewis and Clark expedition.

1817 - American traders began to compete with Native American tribes for the buffalo fur business.

1824 - The U.S. Secretary of War establishes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which does not receive congressional authorization until 1934.

1830 - The Indian Removal Act forces Native Americans living east of
the Mississippi River to abandon their homes and move into the newly established Indian Territory to the west. The Cherokee tribe resists and sues the U.S. They are granted the right to stay on their land in two key Supreme Court cases, however, President Andrew Jackson ignores the court order and sends troops in to force Cherokee removal.

1838 - Over 18,000 Cherokees are forcibly removed from their land and resettled west of the Mississippi, in what is referred to as the "Trail of Tears."


Use the timeline above to answer the following questions on a separate sheet of loose-leaf paper.

1.  When and where did the first recorded contact between Europeans and Dakota Native Americans occur?

2.  How did Oglala Indian life change when the Louisiana Purchase was completed?

3.  What “expedition” encountered the Sioux and other Native American tribes?

4.  Which member of the presidential cabinet established the Bureau of Indian Affairs?

5.  What did President Andrew Jackson do when the Cherokee tribe wins their Supreme Court cases?

6.  Why do you think that the removal of Cherokees was called the “Trail of Tears?”

III.  The Plains Indians Timeline – 1840-1859


1840s - An increasing flow of emigrants to Oregon and California bring cholera, smallpox, and measles to the Indians as well as accelerated buffalo hunting for the fur trade.


1848 - The California Gold Rush begins, increasing Western expansion across former Native American lands. As a result of the white migration, the number of California Indians is reduced from 120,000 in 1850 to 20,000 in 1880. Changes brought on by gold miners affects the way Indians had traditionally gotten their food, thus they begin raiding mining camps for food, and the miners retaliate with violence. By 1851, the California governor supports a policy of Indian extermination in response to problems caused to miners.

1851 - Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 between the U.S. and various Indian tribes describes the tribes' territories and allows U.S. passage across the land in exchange for payment. The U.S. establishes Fort Defiance in Arizona on lands considered sacred by the Navajo. Violent confrontations begin between the U.S. and the Navajo.

1855 - On September 3, Colonel William Harney leads 1,300 soldiers in the massacre of an entire Brulé village in response to Indians killing 30 soldiers, who were killed in retribution for the murder of Chief Conquering Bear in a dispute over a cow.

Use the timeline above to answer the following questions on a separate sheet of loose-leaf paper.

1.  What serious problems did the emigration of European Americans bring to the Plains Indians?

2.  Why did the hunting of buffalo increase during the 1840s?

3.  Why did Indians begin to steal food from mining camps?

4.  Define the following words: emigrant, extermination, and sacred.