Native & African Americans on the Oregon Trail

Native & African Americans on the Oregon Trail


The first section of the Oregon Trail bisected two major Native American tribes--the Cheyenne to the north and the Pawnee to the south. The emigrants worried about both. But the expected attacks did not come. In fact, there were many instances of Native American kindness--helping pull out stuck wagons; rescuing drowning emigrants; even rounding up lost cattle

First Encounters

    Most of the encounters with Native Americans were simple business transactions. The emigrants offered clothes, tobacco or rifles, in exchange for Native American horses or food.

    Within a few years, the emigrants had overgrazed the prairie grasses, burned all the available firewood, and depleted the buffalo. Soon many tribes along the Platte were impoverished.

    The emigrants worried a great deal about possible Native American attacks, but very few were ever actually killed by the native tribes.

    Moving Westward was hard for all settlers. The first wave of emigrants traveled Westward via the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails. From 1850 to end of 1869, the first Transcontinental Railroad was completed, joining the Central Pacific Railroad with the Union Pacific Railroad at Promontory Point in the state of Utah.

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