History

Study Notes

Reservations

Level:
GCSE
Board:
Edexcel

Reservations were areas of land that were ‘reserved’ for Plains Indians. The US government wanted Plains Indians to move to reservations to free up more space for whites, and to encourage Plains Indians to live more like white settlers. 

Reservations were areas of land that were ‘reserved’ for Plains Indians. The US government wanted Plains Indians to move to reservations to free up more space for whites, and to encourage Plains Indians to live more like white settlers.

 

Plains Indians often agreed to move onto reservations because they were struggling to survive on the Great Plains due to the changes caused by gold prospecting, railroads, and the growth of the cattle industry. If Plains Indians agreed to move to reservations the US government promised they would protect them from whites, give them yearly payments of food and money, and that they would not lose any more land. However, the US government often broke these promises.

 

The reservations were problematic for many reasons. Firstly, the reservations were often far away from tribe’s sacred places, or very close to traditional enemy tribes. This meant individual Plains Indians would sometimes leave their reservations. Remember, chiefs usually did not have the authority to control all individual members of their tribe. Secondly, Plains Indians had no experience of farming and therefore struggled to grow crops. This meant the government had to supply them with huge amounts of food.  Lastly, white settlers were not happy with the amount of land Plains Indians were receiving and the government used this as an excuse to continually reduce the size of the reservations. This caused resentment towards the US government, and made it even more difficult for Plains Indians to survive.

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