African-Americans in the Old West (Cornerstones of Freedom)

What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer the Following Questions:
1. In 1865, how many western states were part of the United States?

Five. The western states were Texas, Kansas, Nevada, Oregon, and California. The rest of the territory was owned by the United States. The territories were called the Nebraska Territory, the Utah Territory, the New Mexico Territory, and the Washington Territory. There were a few established towns, and the rest of the land was open area.

The Indian Wars were fought from 1865 to 1900 in the West. By 1900, nine new states had been admitted to the United States. They were Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Washington. By 1912, three more states were added: Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Did you know by the 1900's, the "Old West" was also coming to a close? Farms, towns, cities, and the railroad stretched across the once open prairies of the west.

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2. True or False: African-Americans were cattle ranchers in Texas.
True. Some of the African-American cattle ranchers were former slaves in Texas, and some moved from the South to Texas to become cattle ranchers. The road used to travel from the South to Texas was called the "Freedom Road" because it led to new opportunities for African-Americans.

Cattle ranchers herded cattle hundreds of miles north to towns connected to the East by the railroad. They used several trails on the cattle drive, including the Chisholm Trail, the Kansas Trail, and the Shawnee Trail.

Although African-Americans worked with white Americans as cattle ranchers, African-Americans were often paid less and mistreated.

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3. Name and describe ONE of the jobs African-Americans performed in the Old West.
Cattle Rancher or Cowboy. Cattle ranchers or cowboys herded cattle hundreds of miles across plains, up and down hills, and through rivers. It was sometimes dangerous when a stampede occurred or Native Americans attacked the cattle drive. Did you know one out of every five cowboys was African-American from the 1870's to 1890's?

Settler or Farmer. Settlers moved west and settled on a piece of land. They turned this land into a farm. Settlers often faced many hardships in the Old West.

Railroad Worker. As the railroads expanded in the Old West, some African-Americans worked laying railroad tracks.

Teamster. A teamster in the Old West is like a truck driver today -- they drove wagon loads of goods from one town to another. Did you know they were called "teamsters" because the wagons were pulled by a team of horses?

Stagecoach Driver. A stagecoach driver drove people or mail from one town to another.

Homesteader. Under the Homestead Act (1862), if an American citizen lived on and farmed a track of land up to 160 acres (65 hectares) for five years, they could own this land without paying for it. Many African-Americans traveled to Kansas, Nebraska, and the territories to become a Homesteader.

Soldier. African-Americans joined the U.S. Army and were transferred to the Old West. The army protected the settlements and towns in the Old West from outlaws, bandits, cattle rustlers, and Native Americans.

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4. What year did President Abraham Lincoln sign the Homestead Act?
1862. The Homestead Act encouraged western expansion by giving up to 160 acres (65 hectares) of land to any American citizen who improved this land for five years. Many African-American took advantage of this Act. They moved west, settled upon a track of government-owned land, and started farming.

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5. Who gave the 10th Cavalry the nickname Buffalo Soldiers?
The Cheyenne. Before the Civil War, African-Americans were not allowed to join the U.S. Army. During the Civil War, some African-Americans fought as volunteers with the U.S. Army. After the Civil War, African-Americans were allowed to join the U.S. Army as a soldier.

In 1866, four African-American regiments were created in the U.S. Army. They were the 9th and 10th Cavalry (soldiers who fought on horseback) and the 24th and 25th Infantry (soldiers who marched and fought on foot). The regiments were all African-American, and the officers were white. These four regiments were stationed in the West for almost 30 years.

In 1867, the 9th Cavalry was stationed in Texas, and 10th Cavalry was stationed in Kansas. Just four months after arriving in the west, the 10th Cavalry fought against the Cheyenne and Arapaho. The 10th Cavalry fought bravely, and they were given the nickname of Buffalo Soldiers by the Cheyenne. The nickname Buffalo Soldiers was a compliment; the Cheyenne regarded the buffalo as noble and sacred. Soon the other African-American regiments were also known as Buffalo Soldiers.

In 1878, Second Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper was assigned to the 10th Cavalry in Texas. He was the first African-American graduate of West Point and the only African-American officer in the entire U.S. Army at the time.

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What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the following words:
Barracks: Building where soldiers live

Scout: Someone sent to find out and bring back information

Stampede: Sudden scattering of cattle or horses in fright

Territory: Part of the United States not yet admitted as a state

Tracker: Person who follows the marks or prints left behind by a moving person or animal

Treason: The crime of betraying your country by spying for another country or by helping an enemy during war

Veteran: Someone who has served in the armed forces, especially during a war

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Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the Following Questions for Your FREE Bookmark):
a. Name an African-American mentioned in this book and describe one of his or her accomplishments.
York, a slave, was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806). The Lewis and Clark Expedition was the first American expedition to explore the territory from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. It was led by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. After the expedition, York became a free man.

James Beckwourth explored the West after escaping slavery in Missouri in 1820. In 1850, he discovered a mountain pass between California and Nevada. This pass became a main route, and it is now known as Beckwourth Pass. There is also a town in California named after Beckwourth.

Al Jones was a trail boss in the Old West. A trail boss is in charge of cattle roundups, the cattle drive, and other cowboys.

Nat Love, a former slave from Kansas, was a cowboy. He also wrote an autobiography titled, The Life and Adventures of Nat Love by Himself.

Bill Pickett, a former slave, was a cowboy and rodeo star. He invented "bulldogging" and first performed it at a rodeo in 1903. Bulldogging is a stunt where a person jumps from a horse onto a running steer.

Toby and Govie were settlers in Texas in 1869. They built a log hut from trees they chopped down. They planted corn by poking holes in the ground with sticks. Toby hunted wild animals, and Govie made clothes out of the animal skins.

Mary Fields became a mail stagecoach driver in 1895, when she was sixty-three years old. She was known as "Stagecoach Mary."

Henry O. Flipper was the first African-American graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. In 1878, he was assigned to the 10th Cavalry in Texas, and was the only African-American officer in the U.S. Army at the time. He was also a mining engineer and served in a high position in the United States government.

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b. Describe how African-Americans were treated in the Old West.
Prior to 1865, slavery was allowed in the United States. The issue of slavery divided the U.S. and was one of the factors leading up to the Civil War (1861-1865). The North wanted to abolish (end) slavery, and the South wanted slavery to continue.

In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued which freed approximately 4 million African-Americans held as slaves in the South. In 1865, the North won the Civil War, and the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed which abolishes slavery in the United States.

Although all slaves had been freed, they still faced difficult times. African-Americans were exposed to anger, hatred, and prejudice in the South. They had few job opportunities and little food. They were cheated, beaten, and murdered.

Many African-Americans headed west to start a new life. Although they were hired as cowboys and railroad workers, African-Americans were paid less and mistreated.

Some laws discriminated against African-Americans. They were not allowed to live near white people, attend the same schools as white children, or be buried in the same cemeteries as white people. In 1896, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson, it was constitutional to allow "separate but equal" accommodations for white and African-American citizens.

The African-American soldiers fighting in the West (or Buffalo Soldiers) were sometimes mistreated by the U.S. Army. Their equipment was old, their horses were lame, their barracks were falling apart, and their food was not very good. However, the Buffalo Soldiers fought bravely in the West. Fourteen Buffalo Soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for extreme bravery in battle. It is the highest award given by the U.S. Army.

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c. Use five of the words in Section 2 in a sentence.
Answers will vary. Here are sample sentences from our young readers:
My home is to me as barracks are to soldiers.

My older brother is the scout when we go to the movies because he always finds the best seats in the theater.

"Watch out for the cattle, there's a STAMPEDE," yelled the trail boss.

Utah was part of the Utah Territory before it became a state.

My mom teaches me to be a tracker of small animals when we go camping.

Treason is a very serious crime.

My great-grandfathers are veterans from World War II.

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d. Have a parent or friend give you a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.

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More Valuable Information about African-Americans in the Old West:
African-American Mosaic: Migrations (Library of Congress)
African-Americans & the Old West (Long Island University)
Buffalo Soldiers on the Western Frontier
The African-American World (PBS)
Encyclopedia Britannica Guide to Black History
World Book Encyclopedia: The African American Journey

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