Monday, September 14, 2009

Native Americans

How did the railroad make the lives of the Indians life hard?

Note: The hostilities with the plains Indians was with the Union Pacific Railroad. (The Indians and the Central Pacific Railroad got along together very well.)

3 Comments:

Anonymous Bob Harris said...

The railroad brought white development, which brought environmental derogation and habitat destruction. To make room for agricultural development and stock ranging the buffalo were removed. That denied these Aboriginal Americans the ability to feed and clothe themselves. Understandably that was a concern for them (not to mention the regular hostility directed at them). By the time of the Transcontinental Railroad was built The Native Americans who confronted the Union Pacific were well acquainted with the pattern of white man’s western development and rightly saw the coming of the railroad as “the end of the world” so to speak. The Native Americans of California who dealt with the Central Pacific had already been victimized by continental settlers for over 200 years before California became U.S. property. For them the railroad was just another strike at the wound.

Bob Harris

9/23/2009 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following information about the CPRR is excerpted from a webpage that is no longer online:

Native Americans and the Transcontinental Railroad

Kerry Brinkerhoff
Park Ranger, Golden Spike National Historic Site
President, The Friends of the Native Americans of Northern Utah

" ... The Central Pacific railroad was offered Army support for protection but turned it down. They had their own ideas on how to deal with the Native Americans. When the railroad came out of the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the Nevada flat land they started running into Paiute tribes. Central Pacific Dignitaries would meet with the Chiefs and offer them treaties. They were offered free passage on the trains, and jobs. They were also told if they gave the railroad problems that the railroad had a great army of men and would defeat them. The Central Pacific at that time started using Paiutes to work on the railroad. As they moved into Shoshone territory they began to use Shoshone workers. The Central Pacific used both their men and women. It was written by an observer of that day that those Native American women were stronger than the men in back breaking work. The C.P. also hired Chief Winnemucca and his tribe to be tourist attractions. People traveling on the rails could see a traditional Native American tribe. Many travelers later would write about Native Americans working and riding the railroad in the Nevada area. They either criticized the practice or talked about how it added to the romanticism they felt they would see in the west.

The Paiute and Shoshone would work along side the Chinese workers. One of the most interesting stories of this association was a trick played on the Chinese by the Native Americans. The Native American workers told the Chinese that in the Nevada Desert were great Lizards large enough to swallow a man whole. The next day when the foremen got up the Chinese were gone. They had left in the night. The foremen had to chase down the Chinese on their horses. It took the foremen some time to convince the Chinese there were no dragons in North America before they could get them back to work. The Native Americans also tell stories of the Chinese. Leland Pubigee, Shoshone Elder, told me of stories about gambling and bronco busting meetings with the Chinese. Also the Shoshone of this area talk about grandparents who worked on the railroad and at Corrine, calling the Chinese the "Yellow Ant People" and most impressed with their industry. The Chinese also have stories to tell. Bill Chew and Johnny Yee have told me about a young Lee Sing orphaned, when his father was killed while working on the Central Pacific railroad. He was adopted into a Shoshone tribe and became known as "Sharp eyes". Murry Lee wrote of his grandfather Lee Yik-Gim, who was nick named "The Elephant" because of his size. He was captured by an Native American tribe and became a part of the tribe living with them for two years and becoming a minor chief of the tribe. ... "

9/23/2009 2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see, Indian treaties and railroads.

3/25/2014 8:55 PM  

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