How did Native American populations decline from the 16th to 19th centuries?
Numerous American Indians made the move to cities. They struggled to adjust to life in a metropolis and faced unemployment, low-end jobs, discrimination, homesickness and the loss the traditional cultural supports.
As whites settled the American West, Native Americans were pushed off of their ancestral lands and confined to reservations. It typically put the Native Americans on marginal lands that could not support them, particularly after the buffalo herds had been devastated by white hunters.
Daily living on the reservations was hard at best. Not only had tribes lost their native lands, but it was almost impossible to maintain their culture and traditions inside a confined area. Feuding tribes were often thrown together and Indians who were once hunters struggled to become farmers.
“ Indians on the reservations suffered from poverty, malnutrition, and very low standards of living and rates of economic development ”-Kahn Academy. Families were given plots of land and U.S. citizenship; however, in most cases, plots of land were miles apart from one another and housing was limited.
Pioneers and settlers moved out west for different reasons. Some of them wanted to claim free land for ranching and farming from the government through the Homestead Act. Others came to California during the gold rush to strike it rich. Even others, such as the Mormons, moved west to avoid persecution.
After siding with the French in numerous battles during the French and Indian War and eventually being forcibly removed from their homes under Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act, Native American populations were diminished in size and territory by the end of the 19th century.
The reservation system was a disaster for the Indians as the government failed to keep its promises. The nomadic tribes were unable to follow the buffalo, and conflict among the tribes increased, rather than decreased, as the tribes competed with each other for fewer resources.
The law authorized the president to negotiate with southern (including Mid-Atlantic) Native American tribes for their removal to federal territory west of the Mississippi River in exchange for white settlement of their ancestral lands.
Indians cultivated and developed many plants that are very important in the world today. Some of them are white and sweet potatoes, corn, beans, tobacco, chocolate, peanuts, cotton, rubber and gum. Plants were also used for dyes, medicines, soap, clothes, shelters and baskets.