Social Studies - 2017-18

USII.4a - Reasons for Westward Expansion

The student will demonstrate knowledge of how life changed after the Civil War by

a)  identifying the reasons for westward expansion, including its impact on American Indians.

Blooms Level: Remember

Adopted: 2008


Big Themes/Concepts: Movement, Migration, Assimilation, Needs vs. Wants, Resources, Scarcity, Culture, Technology, Freedom

People move when presented with new opportunities. 

People migrate to meet basic needs. 

Successful pioneers rely on courage, ingenuity, and collaboration to overcome hardships and challenges.

The settlement of the West threatened the lifestyle and culture of Native American tribes living on the plains.

New cultures can have a big impact on existing cultures. 


New opportunities and technological advances led to westward migration following the Civil War.

Why did westward expansion occur after the Civil War?

How did the lives of American Indians change with western expansion?


Reasons for increase westward expansion

·  Opportunities for land ownership

·  Technological advances, including the Transcontinental Railroad

·  Possibility of obtaining wealth, created by the discovery of gold and silver

·  Desire for adventure

·  Desire for a new beginning for former enslaved African Americans

Impact on American Indians

·  Opposition by American Indians to westward expansion (Battle of Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull, Geronimo)

·  Forced relocation from traditional lands to reservations (Chief Joseph, Nez Percé)

·  Reduced population through warfare and disease (Battle of Wounded Knee)

·  Assimilation attempts and lifestyle changes (e.g., reduction of buffalo population)

Reduced their homelands through treaties that were broken

Analyze and interpret primary and secondary source documents to increase understanding of events and life in United States history. (USII.1a)

Interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives. (USII.1d)


physical features, climate, flatlands, eroded, dry farming, natural resources, westward expansion, American Indians, Transcontinental Railroad, Battle of Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, Battle of Wounded Knee, assimilation, homelands. 

Updated: Aug 17, 2017