The Westward Movement of the American Pioneer, 1870

This video reenacts the experience of pioneers in 1870, following the Carter family from Illinois to the Midwestern plains. Each family member is described, linking them to the experiences of the other early white settlers in the region. They meet another family on their journey and hang around the fire together, talking and playing the fiddle. Next, they run into cattlemen who believe the Great Plains exist for grazing, not farming. The narrator describes the hard work needed to plant a crop of corn and settle into a sod house, which is built with help from a neighbor. Their new life revolves around planting, tending, and harvesting their crop. The scarcity of resources is described in order to show the deliberacy of each action taken by the family. Music is an important part of the lonely life on the Plains, and it unites neighbors and keeps up the spirits of the family in their hard life.

Although we have not included this video in any of our PowerPoints, if you interested in more about the western experience, please view our Westward Movement and The West: 1865-1900.

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