Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Government Killed the Buffalo :(

Last week I learned about Native Americans and Buffalo Soldiers. My class came up with the essential question of “Was the discrimination that the Buffalo Soldiers and the Native Americans faced intentional or did the white settlers and federal government actually believe what they were doing was just.” Buffalo Soldiers were composed of African American troops who continued to be soldiers after fighting as a part of the Union army in the civil war. There are differing opinions on how these men got the name Buffalo Soldiers, one of which is that their name came from their wooly hair and their supreme courage and fighting skills. In order to further learn about Buffalo Soldiers and Native Americans my class studied several primary source documents, watched videos, and looked at a visual representation about the two groups. We read about how both groups were subjected to horrible treatment even though they hadn’t done anything to deserve it. Both the Buffalo Soldiers and the Native Americans were intentionally discriminated against by the federal government.

Buffalo Soldiers
Buffalo Soldiers were treated horribly by the government. Theses brave men were given orders to do extremely difficult tasks in poor conditions. The Buffalo Soldiers would patrol 90 miles a day on horses that were old and unfit to ride any longer. Buffalo Soldiers were used in many battles against Native Americans who were also being unfairly by the government. These soldiers would also get into conflicts the people they were trying to protect because some white people would not obey a command from an African American man. The government gave Buffalo Soldiers the very worst jobs in the worst conditions with horses that could barely carry them.

Members of the Sioux tribe
Native Americans were treated just as poorly if not worse than the Buffalo Soldiers. The Native Americans in the Great Planes were many different tribes of Sioux Indians. These Native Americans followed many traditions and religious ceremonies. They also depended greatly on buffalo for everything from food to bone tools and clothing. As Americans moved into the Great Plains after the Civil War, the government decided to use the policy of total war in order to wipe out Native Americans. Total war tactics have soldiers destroy anything and everything that sustains life in an area. The government began by killing tens of millions of buffalo that the Native Americans needed to survive. Soldiers would sweep across the plains on horseback destroying any Native American tribes that they encountered. 

The discovery of gold in the Great Plains led to a large immigration of white settlers to the region. These immigrants would get into conflicts and would disturb Native Americans. When the government declined to help the Native Americans the Sioux retaliated. In the Battle of Little Big Horn that followed these immigrant and Native American
Wounded American soldiers in the Battle of Little Big Horn
conflicts General Custer led troops into battle against 5,000 Sioux. Although the Native Americans won the battle they were quickly subdued as the government flooded the area with troops. The Native Americans were then forcibly relocated into smaller and smaller reservations in order to accommodate American setters.

The American government knowingly treated Native Americans and Buffalo Soldiers unfairly as more and more immigrants moved west. I believe that the government purposely discriminated against these people. The Sioux Native Americans had their entire tribes uprooted, and they received no positive help from the government when people started immigrating into their territories. The Buffalo Soldiers were given nearly impossible jobs with poor equipment and were tasked with protecting people who were racist. It is horrible to think about what people from the two different groups had to go through. Hopefully with this knowledge about how unfairly these people were treated I can help prevent anything as unjust as what the Sioux and Buffalo Soldiers had to go through from ever happening again.


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