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The Oregon Trail was a very important aspect in the history of our country s development. When Marcus and Narcissa Whitman made the first trip along the Oregon Trail, many Americans saw a window of opportunity. The Oregon Trail was the only practical way to pass through the Rockies. Pioneers crammed themselves into small wagons to try to make it to the unsettled land; however, 10% of these pioneers died on the way due to disease and accidents.
The journey along the Oregon Trail was a very long and rough experience. Stretching out to almost a whopping 2000 miles it usually took the pioneers 4-6 months travelling at 12 to 16 miles per hour. Throughout this journey the pioneers had to battle with cholera, poor sanitation, and accidental gunshots. The travelers had to gather all the resources that they had in order to survive. Usually the travelers traveled in large groups to help dealing with obstacles such as ravines, deep mud, snowstorms, thunderstorms, and rivers. Since there were no bridges or ferries crossing rivers and streams was a major hazard. Many supplies, animals, and travelers were lost attempting to cross rivers.
The men did the hunting, navigating, and most other dangerous or hard tasks. The women; however, did not have it easy. Women played very important roles taking care of children and cooking under very difficult conditions. When their husbands would become sick or die, women would take over the wagon entirely. Pregnant women, on the other hand, had especially difficult time s during the journey. Many pregnant women died because of child labor, but also because their extra needs as pregnant women could not be met due to the extreme conditions.
The role of the Native Americans during the time of the Oregon Trail was a very important one. The first section of the Oregon Trail bisected two major Native American tribes, these were the Cheyenne to the north and the Pawnee to the south. Many of the travelers feared attacks by these tribes but were surprised when they were allowed to pass unharmed. The Native Americans were the opposite of what was expected of them. They were very helpful to the travelers. They often helped travelers pull out stuck wagons, rescue drowning travelers, and even round up lost cattle. Native Americans also acted as guides, carried messages between wagon trains, traded with the travelers, and even helped some travelers cross Indian land.
Most of the encounters with the Native Americans were simple business transactions. Travelers traded clothing, rifles, and tobacco products in exchange for horses and food. However, many travelers complained that the Native Americans charged expensive tolls for crossing their lands. Conflicts between the Indians and the travelers were pretty rare. Out of the 500,000 people to travel along the Oregon Trail fewer than 400 pioneers lost their lives due to attacks. When the travelers had overgrazed the prairie grasses, burned all the available firewood, and killed all the herds of buffalo attacks were expected by the travelers. In order to prevent attacks a conference was held with the major Indian tribes. This conference led to the Treaty of Fort Laramie. In this treaty Native Americans accepted a defined territory, pledged not to attack travelers, and allowed the government to build roads and forts in their territory. In return the U.S. paid the Native Americans annual amounts and honored Indian boundaries.
As a conclusion we can clearly see that the Oregon Trail is a very important part of our history. If it weren t for the Oregon Trail Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California,
Idaho and Utah would not be a part of the U.S. We can also see that the relationship between the Native Americans and the travelers was rather beneficial for the travelers.
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