The arrival of Europeans in North America had a great impact on the Indian populations living in the country. The differences in cultures and the battle for control of the land and fur trade caused conflicts between these groups. Hostilities among European nations and their Indian allies in eastern North America forced many of the weaker Indian tribes to move further west into the Mississippi Valley region.
The Europeans also spread diseases, including cholera and smallpox, for which the Native Americans had no immunity. This caused a devastating number of deaths among the Native American population. As the number of white travelers and settlers increased in Kansas, these diseases also caused many deaths among the Indian tribes living there.
As the white population increased in the eastern part of the United States in the early 1800s, the demand for land also grew. The land occupied by many of the eastern Indian tribes became too valuable to white settlers and businessmen to remain in the Indians' possession. In 1825, the United States government negotiated treaties with the Osage and Kansa Indians. They gave up much of their land to resettle many Indian tribes living in the northeast and the upper Mississippi Valley region in Kansas.
The Indian Removal Act was passed in 1830 and forced all Indian Nations living east of the Mississippi River to move to areas west of Missouri and Arkansas. This removal of Indians from the east caused great hardship for the emigrant tribes. Many Indians died on the trip. Once they arrived, the Indians found land that was very different from their original lands east of the Mississippi.
Map of Indian Reservations in Kansas - 1846
The United States government attempted to civilize the Indians by having them attend Christian schools, such as the Shawnee Methodist Mission and the Kaw Methodist Mission. These Indian missions were generally not well received by the Indian tribes. Many Indians felt that the teachings at the missions were contrary to traditional Indian beliefs.
Some white men who came west, such as Jotham Meeker, truly believed he had the Indians well being at heart by converting them to Christianity. Others who followed would not be so concerned about the Indians, and only hoped to make money from the land. They found the presence of Indians to be a hindrance to the development of commerce in Kansas. As a result, it would not be long before the Indians would be forced to move once again to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.
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