Topic: Railroad Expansion in Native American Territory

Purpose:  With the concept of “Manifest Destiny,” Americans were interested in expanding westward to the Pacific Ocean.  Traveling to the West was a long and arduous experience that railroads could shorten and simplify. 

Railroad construction in the American West by necessity infringed on Native American territory and created unrest and uneasy relations between the Native American peoples and the railroad builders.  In this discussion, you will explore and explain the argument either for or against this expansion/infringement by using both the information from Chapter 17 and your analysis of the maps listed below.


For this Discussion assignment you will use the following maps (use Google):

  • Railroads, 1870
  • Western Railroads, 1880
  • Western Railroads, 1930
  • Indian Cessions, 1750-1890
  • Indian Battles, 1846-1890
  • Indian Reservations, 1875

Adopt the position of either railroad magnate or Native American representative.  If you are the railroad magnate, explain why laying track through Native American territory in the American West is a good idea.  If you are the Native American representative, explain why railroad construction should not go through Native American territory in the American West.

  • Build a 3-5 slide presentation for your Discussion post that clearly states the case for your position.  Feel free to write in character as a person from the 19th century. 
  • For purposes of this assignment, the American West is defined as all territory west of the Mississippi River. 
  • Take screenshots of the maps (or parts of maps) that are relevant to your argument and include them in your presentation to better illustrate your point.

The following focus questions are intended to stimulate your thinking on the topic and do not need to be directly or specifically answered in your presentation:

  • What territory did Native Americans possess in the American West?
  • Was Native American territory necessarily in the path of railroads?
  • Where were Native American reservations in the West?
  • Where were railroads constructed in relation to Native American reservations?
  • Did railroad construction and Native American territory change over time?  If so, how?
  • Did railroad interests and Native American interests collide?  If so, when?
  • What conclusions do you draw about the reality of Native American territory and railroad construction?
  • Was railroad construction beneficial to Native Americans?

Type of service-Academic paper writing
Type of assignment-Term Paper
Pages / words-1 / 275
Academic level-Junior (College 3rd year)
Paper format-APA
Line spacing-Double
Language style-US English

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