Portal:American Old West

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The American Old West Portal

The Cow Boy 1888.jpg
The American Old West, or American Frontier comprises the geography, history, folklore, and cultural expression of life in the forward wave of American expansion that began with English colonial settlements in the early 18th century and ended with the admission of the last mainland territories as states in 1912. "Frontier" refers to a contrasting region at the edge of a European-American line of settlement.

American historians cover multiple frontiers but the folklore is focused primarily on the 19th century west of the Mississippi River. Enormous popular attention in the media focuses on the Western United States in the second half of the 19th century, a period sometimes called the Old West, or the Wild West, frequently exaggerating the romance and violence of the period.

As defined by Hine and Faragher, "frontier history tells the story of the creation and defense of communities, the use of the land, the development of markets, and the formation of states." They explain, "It is a tale of conquest, but also one of survival, persistence, and the merging of peoples and cultures that gave birth and continuing life to America." Through treaties with foreign nations and native tribes; political compromise; military conquest; establishment of law and order; the building of farms, ranches, and towns; the marking of trails and digging of mines; and the pulling in of great migrations of foreigners, the United States expanded from coast to coast, fulfilling the dreams of Manifest Destiny.

Selected article

The Custer Fight by Charles Marion Russell (1903)
The Battle of the Little Bighorn, known to the Lakota and other Plains Indians as the Battle of the Greasy Grass and commonly referred to as Custer's Last Stand, was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes and the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle, which occurred June 25–26, 1876, near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory, was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876.

The fight was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake). The U.S. 7th Cavalry, including the Custer Battalion, a force of 700 men led by George Armstrong Custer, suffered a major defeat. Five of the 7th Cavalry's twelve companies were annihilated; Custer was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law. The total U.S. casualty count included 268 dead and 55 severely wounded (six died from their injuries later), including four Crow Indian scouts and two Pawnee Indian scouts.

Selected picture

Bierstadt Albert Oregon Trail.jpg
Credit: Albert Bierstadt

The Oregon Trail Campfire (1863)


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Fur trading at Fort Nez Percés in 1841 by Joseph Drayton.



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