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Week Four: Empires Enter the West

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September 23: Lewis and Clark with the Mandan

 

Readings

 

  • Lewis and Clark: Rivers, Edens, and Empires. As you read through this wiki make certain to read the transcripts of Jefferson's secret message to congress, Jefferson's instructions to Lewis, Jefferson's Speech to the Delegation of Indians, and the Indians response to Jefferson.
  • Rivers of Words: Exploring Lewis and Clark. Click on the numbers 9 and 10.  Make certain to read the journal entries and letters highlighted for Lewis and Clark's winter at Fort Mandan, Council and their journal entry for their council with the Sioux.

 

Study Questions 

 

1. Explain how kinship and hierarchy influenced Native and American diplomacy as Lewis and Clark made their way through the west.

 

2. What is the core idea behind Thomas Jefferson's Indian policy?  How was this related to the Lewis and Clark expedition?  How was it related to American political power in the west?

 

3. What is the back-story regarding trade in Jefferson's secret message to congress?  How would you interpret Jefferson's speech to the Indians?  How are the speech and message to congress related?

 

4. Describe the importance of trade for Jefferson's Indian policy and for the mission of the corps of Discovery.  What are the implications of trade with the U.S. for the Sioux and the Mandan and Hidatsas?

 

5. What was the diplomatic goal of the Lewis and Clark expedition in Jefferson's instructions?  How well did Lewis and Clark implement Jefferson's diplomatic goals?  What was the diplomatic goal of the Sioux?  How would you describe the encounter with Lewis and Clark from a Sioux perspective?  From a Mandan perspective? (Be sure to read the full journal entries for September 25-28, 1804).

 

6. Why were there so many Native villagers at the Mandan-Hidatsa villages?  What were the significance of these villages for trade and diplomacy among Native peoples in the Upper Missouri Basin?

 

7. How were trade and sovereignty linked in the Upper Missouri from an American perspective?  How would they be viewed from a Native perspective?

 

 


September 25: The Santa Fe Trail and the Republic of Texas

 

Readings

 

 

Study Questions 

 

1. Texas in 1840 is one of many nineteenth-century guides for people emigrating to the West. Guides ranged from detailed descriptions of the region to guidebooks with step-by-step maps and instructions on how to get to the new region, such as emigrant guides to Utah. Keeping this genre in mind, who was the authors' ideal audience? Think about specific examples from the text that demonstrate the authors' motivations.

 

2. What image of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846) does this text create? If you were looking for a new country to emigrate to, would Texas appeal to you? Why or why not? Consider specific examples and think about variables based on sex, age, occupation, marital status etc., that would help determine the appeal of Texas.

 

3. The letters of the Mexican general Manuel de Mier y Teran (1789-1832) were written during his 1828 inspection of Texas. During this inspection Teran was the head of a Boundary Commission that was supposed to do several things: to ascertain the boundary between the US and Mexico; to gather information about both the hostile and friendly Indian tribes in Texas; and to assess the situation of the rapid influx of Anglo-American immigrants to Texas. (For more information on this, see Jack Jackson's introduction to the volume). How does Teran report on these three issues in his letters? What conclusions does he come to?

 

4. Along what lines does Teran distinguish between different Indian nations? How does he differently assess, for example, the Cherokees, the Shawnees, Delawares, and Comanches?

 

5. Who does Teran mean by "Don Esteban Austin," and what was his colony? And why was this colony "the only one where they try to understand and obey the laws of the country and where [. . .] they have a notion of our republic and its government" (pp. 96)?

 

6. What different "classes" of settlers does Teran describe? What does this tell you about how he perceived the political issue of Anglo-American immigration? And how does Teran deal with the criticism that "Tejas is a burden and not a productive country" (pp. 100)?

 

7. What sense do you get of Teran's views on slavery and slaveowners?

 

8. The images above were created by Jean Louis Berlandier (1805-1851), a French antrhopologist and naturalist. Berlandier was part of Teran's expedition of 1827-28 and gathered information and made drawings of the Texas plantlife and wildlife, as well as various Native American tribes. What do these images tell you about the kind of work the Boundary Commission was supposed to do in 1828? How do you explain the ethnographic interest in Native American people?

 

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