A New Nation Comes to the Indian Country
The Fur Trade New Settlers Miners Ranchers Missionaries and Teachers


Missionaries and Teachers

By 1900 Native Americans could no longer maintain their traditional lifeways. Surrounded by new states, new businesses, and new settlers, tribal communities faced constant disruption. Believing there was no alternative but to help tribes adapt to these new conditions, government agents, teachers, and state-subsidized missionaries set out to transform tribal communities. Instruction in the benefits of private property, conversion to Christianity, and the replacement of tribal languages with English were basic to this assimilation campaign.

While eager to maintain their traditional lifeways, Native Americans were also aware that changing conditions required new skills. Government-sponsored schools and missions provided much-needed food and clothing as well as instruction in the English language. Ironically, the Americans viewed Indian cooperation as a sign of weakness.