American expansionism on Native Americans

American expansionism on Native Americans between 1800-1850. American expansionism in the mid-19th century was driven by the spirit of nationalism where the Americans thought they had an obligation in expanding as far as the Pacific Ocean. The notion of manifest destiny came up and this entailed the concept that settlers were bringing about civilization to replace ignorance and light in place of darkness. Such therefore became the spirit of American expansionism. For Americans, they perceived that any uncultivated land was wasted and hence sought to possess this land for farming, mining, and ranching. On the other hand, the American Indians wanted to remain in their uncultivated land where they would engage in hunting and gathering. The effect of this clash of ideals led to various conflicts between the settlers and the American Indians.

American expansionism

As American settlers took land by force from American Indians, there were constant conflicts between the military and American Indians as they fought the displacement from their own homes. The settlers often killed the bison herds which were the main source of food for Indians to displace them from their land.[1] To the Indian nations, there were sharp divisions between themselves with much of this coming from the fact that some accommodated the settlers while others wanted to retain their traditions and maintain purity. The constant conflicts between themselves equally contributed to their continued displacement.

      Beyond conflicts and loss of land for American Indians, another impact is that they were forced to live in reservations where the government would offer them annuity. The reservation land was not the best land and the government sought to ensure increased control over the American Indians. The annuities offered were not enough for daily sustenance and this rendered the Indians poor and always on the verge of starvation. Another impact as a result of starvation and control by the government, the Indians attacked white traders who would not offer food on credit but this led to retaliation where hundreds were killed. As such, the Indians lost life, land, and property.


[1] Maria Montoya, Laura Belmonte, Carl Guaneri, and Steven Hackel. Global Americans: A history of the United States (NY: Cengage, 2016), 313.