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The cattle industry rose in importance as the railroad provided a practical means for getting the cattle to market. The loss of the bison and growth of white settlement drastically affected the lives of the Native Americans living in the West. In the conflicts that resulted, the American Indians, despite occasional victories, seemed doomed to defeat by the greater numbers of settlers and the military force of the U.

By the s, most American Indians had been confined to reservations, often in areas of the West that appeared least desirable to white settlers. The cowboy became the symbol for the West of the late 19th century, often depicted in popular culture as a glamorous or heroic figure. The stereotype of the heroic white cowboy is far from true, however. The first cowboys were Spanish vaqueros, who had introduced cattle to Mexico centuries earlier. Black cowboys also rode the range.

Furthermore, the life of the cowboy was far from glamorous, involving long, hard hours of labor, poor living conditions, and economic hardship. The myth of the cowboy is only one of many myths that have shaped our views of the West in the late 19th century. They have begun writing about the West as a crossroads of cultures, where various groups struggled for property, profit, and cultural dominance.

Think about these differing views of the history of the West as you examine the documents in this collection.

A Plains Journey

Tents and possibly a lean-to shelter stand on the canyon floor, near trees and talus. View from the plaza in Shoshone Falls, Snake River, Idaho. A view across top of the falls in A wooden balanced incline used for gold mining, at the Illinois Mine in the Pahranagat Mining District, Nevada in An ore car would ride on parallel tracks connected to a pulley wheel at the top of tracks.


The head of Canyon de Chelly, looking past walls that rise some 1, feet above the canyon floor, in Arizona in Native American Paiute men, women and children sit or stand and pose in rows under a tree near probably Cottonwood Springs Washoe County , Nevada, in Aboriginal life among the Navajo Indians. Near old Fort Defiance, New Mexico, in The cliff dwellings were built by the Anasazi more than years earlier.

At bottom, men stand and pose on cliff dwellings in a niche and on ruins on the canyon floor.

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Climbing ropes connect the groups of men. Maiman, a Mojave Indian, guide and interpreter during a portion of the season in the Colorado country, in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, in The tree rows that divide this field were planted as part a cost-share program through the Soil Conservation Service. The trees serve to reduce wind erosion, help catch snow in order to provide more moisture, and provide wind protection for livestock grazing the wheat stubble.

First Light, Cherry County, Nebraska, Cattle and a heron share a drink at the tank in the residual morning fog. Much of the success of cattle ranching in the Sandhills is due to the shallow reach down to the Ogallala Aquifer. There are many sub-irrigated meadows that provide hay at the driest of times.

America’s 100th Meridian

The hilly landscape provides the herd with protection from the wind and snow. It was the only ordnance depot built specifically to store chemical weapons, which included nerve gas, mustard gas and sarin gas, as well as conventional weapons including bombs up to 10, pounds.

The layout of igloos and the open air pads between them was designed to prevent an explosion in one from spreading to others. Presently the base is owned by several ranching outfits. This tree originally stood in the yard of a two-story log house owned by Del Hatten. He was originally buried just outside the little cemetery just down the road from this tree, although the unmarked grave is now inside the fence. Before it was the chicken coop for the Great Plains Buffalo Ranch, this old house served as a post office in a town to the west.

Extraordinary Images Capture the Spirit of America's 'Dirt Meridian' - Feature Shoot

Often it was just a box or a crate in the corner of a small room, but nonetheless, for the homesteaders it was a prominent status symbol to be designated as such. Much of the land in western Nebraska and North and South Dakota is very well suited for cattle ranches because grass and water are plentiful most years. When both are in short supply, stocking rates can be cut back. Ranching itself is closely tied to the condition and character of the land, which not only keeps ranchers highly attuned to the health of their property but also leads to families owning and operating ranches for generations.

Still, the economics of ranching have dramatically changed over the years; where once a family could be supported on the income of two-hundred cows, now it requires almost a thousand head. Toward the end of the nineteenth-century, the range-cattle industry, which had flourished as long as the price of beef was high and the grass was free, began to decline as the country gradually filled up with homesteaders.

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However the sheep business was getting a good start. In Otto built this nondenominational cemetery because of the many deaths in the community from the Spanish Influenza. Caretakers recently set fire to the cemetery because it was completely engulfed by tumbleweeds.

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A herd of brood mares, used to raise bucking horses for Native American rodeos, traverses open ground on the Pine Ridge Reservation. This meant that they were hardy and tough, could live on scant food, on forage and grass, and did not depend entirely on grain. The overwhelming increase in traffic, especially that of heavy trucks, in the Bakken oil fields has created issues with airborne dust from the gravel roads and an accelerated deterioration of roads in general in western North Dakota.

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