As Americans flooded into tribes’ traditional homelands, many Native Americans lost their lands and were forced to move west.
One example were the Wyandot, a branch of the Huron tribe. In the early nineteenth century, they were living in Ohio and Michigan. In 1843 the United States moved them to present-day Kansas so their lands could be opened up to whites.
After only 14 years, they were on the move again, heading to present-day Oklahoma to escape from the non-Indians settling in their Kansas territory.
Some tribes, though, were able to stay in the lands of their ancestors. The Iroquois, for instance, held on to several reservations in New York State, although this land was only a fraction of their original territory. The Menominee and Potawatomi also retained much of their territory in the Great Lakes region, largely because their lands were so swampy that few white settlers and farmers wanted to live there.
While tribes struggled to hold on to their lands, they also found their traditional ways threatened. Increasingly, government officials and Christian missionaries pressured Native Americans to live more like whites.
Many Native Americans, even those on reservations, slowly abandoned some Native American ways and adopted some white customs. For example, the famous Mohawk poet Emily Pauline Johnson (1861-1913) grew up in a mansion and went to an English-run school for wealthy girls.
Even though her upbringing was more like that of a white upper-class lady than a traditional Mohawk woman, she retained her pride in her Indian heritage, which provided the subject for her best works.