When we talk of the Transcontinental Railroad, we often discuss the positives. The sheer ingenuity of the railroad lines, how it benefited the US Economically, Socially and Politically. While it allowed some groups to grow and prosper, it led to the destruction of another, Native Americans.
The Government had already forcibly relocated most Native American groups west of the Mississippi River. The tribes living along the Great Plains were severely impacted by Westward Expansion and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Railroad workers hunted the Buffalo. For Native Americans, the Buffalo was a sacred animal. They of course ate the meat of the animal, but the hides were used to make dwellings known as tipis, clothing and shoes. Bones were used to make weapons or even children’s toys. If you go to up.com, there is a wonderful interactive map showing where the railroad went through Native Lands. The sight also has the story of its impact on the individual tribes written by Tribal Members. In preparing for this episode, I reached out to the Cheyenne Nation. I spoke with their Tribal Historic Preservation Office, and was quickly pet on the phone with the woman who wrote an article I read on up.com. Teanna Limby, who then recommended I speak with Wallace Bearchum who agreed to send us some recordings where he talks about the impact that Westward Expansion and The Transcontinental Railroad had on his Tribe.
21 minutes of recordings.
The relationship between the Federal Government and Native American tribes has been a difficult one. Many treaties broken or never even ratified. The Bureau of Indian Affairs or BIA is the federal department that is responsible for navigating the relationship between Native American Tribal Governments and the United States. You can learn more about the BIA by visiting BIA.gov. *I would also recommend visiting Native American tribal websites to learn more from the perspective of the Indigenous People of the United States. We are very grateful to Mr. Wallace Bearchum for sharing those incredible stories with us today. Please take the time to learn about the histories and cultures of the indigenous people of the United States. History is incomplete without doing so.