With the path wide open for cattle’s entry into Nebraska, three new markets for beef increased demand beyond the needs created by the Civil War.
Towns sprang up around the swarm of miners with businessmen eager to help them spend their new-found wealth. These trespassers onto Native American land disrupted the fragile peace established between the United States government and the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Lakota in the Treaty of 1868.
These tribes defended their land from the wave of invaders, resulting in a military response by the U.S. Soon a permanent military post, Fort Robinson, stood in Nebraska, just south of the Great Sioux Reservation.
With no natural meat resource left, the U.S. government had to supply cattle to the people on the reservations. Cow towns like Valentine, Rushville, Gordon, and Chadron burst onto the scene to meet that demand.Now, nearly overnight, there were new demands for beef to feed hungry miners, the soldiers, and the Indians on the reservations.
Why were Native Americans on reservations?
Before living on reservations, where and how did they live?
How did their food supply change when they moved to a reservation?
Why was the change in food supply important? Was it simply about food?
What else was involved?
Cattle would be turned loose on the prairie, and then chased by mounted hunters, much like the days of the bison hunts. When an animal had been killed, families would dress out the animals where they fell. The Indians would load the meat onto wagons where it was then dried for storage.
Read more about it:
"About 3,000 mounted Indians surrounded the corral where the cattle were confined; as the names of the Indians were called out, the gate of the corral was swung open and the requisite number of beef were let loose, and then commenced a most savagely exciting scene that pen or picture could depict."
By 1875, cattle had become a permanent part of Nebraska’s landscape. Some wanted them here, but some clearly did not.
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Define the “Beef Issue.”
- Who was involved?
- What took place?
- Where did it happen?
- Why did it happen?
For more advanced students
When the “beef issue” started and Native Americans were “hunting” cattle, how was it reported in the newspaper? Why was this news?
Were the opinions of Native Americans included in this article? Why or why not?
Were the opinions of the author included in this article? Why or why not?
Why is it important to look at the food supply of Native Americans on reservations?
Did they have control over the food they ate, how it was given to them, how much they could eat, etc.?