Glossary

American Frontier – The term used to describe the succession of America’s Westward Expansion. At the early stage of European settlement, where most arrived to the North east, the Frontier was defined as the area west of the Appalachian Mountains. The Frontier line steadily moved westward, marked by significant events including the Louisiana Purchase where the United States bought the territory of Louisiana from France in 1803. This large area encompassed parts of 15 present day states down Central America. As pioneers moved ever westward, Native American settlements were displaced along the way. In 1893 the Frontier was declared closed.

American Plains – A broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. The Great Plains were home to a range of the bison and the Plains Indians, whose tribes included the Blackfoot, Crow, Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and others. Native American lifestyle was severely affected during the time of Westward Expansion by European migrants. The Transcontinental Railroad was built through the Plains in the 19th Century and tribes were forcibly removed from their homelands to reservations. The bison was decimated and many generations of Native people had no resistance to diseases brought by the new immigrants.

The Battle of Little Big-Horn /Greasy Grass (25 June 1876) – The Lakota Sioux, led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse who refused to move and be restricted to reservations, were joined by the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes in order to resist the invasion of their tribal lands by the U.S. Government. Upon finding gold in the Black Hills, a sacred tribal land granted property of the Lakota in the Treaty of Fort Laramie, 1858, there was a rush of prospectors in 1874 that entered the tribal lands illegally. This provoked the Lakota to protect their land, and as they refused to sell the land to the Government, federal troops were sent to force dissenters into reservations. Lt. Col. General George Custer invaded the Little Bighorn Valley with his Seventh Cavalry and were met with a large force of 3,000 Native Americans – by the end of the battle, Custer and all his soldiers were dead.

Bison (North American) – By the time America’s earliest peoples had established villages about 20,000 years ago, the bison dominated the rolling grasslands and forested hillsides that stretched west from the Mississippi River west to the Rocky Mountains. The buffalo is important to the lives of Native American tribes, who adapted skills in hunting the buffalo, only killing the amount needed for food. Bones and skins were also utilised. The decline of the buffalo was a result of trappers and traders selling and exporting meat and hides, “Buffalo” Bill Cody who was hired to slaughter the animals (he killed more than 4,000 buffalo in just two years) and some U.S. government officials who promoted the destruction of the bison herds as a way to defeat Native American who resisted the takeover of their lands by settlers. Today, Native American leaders are working to rebuild the once-great bison herds.

Crazy Horse (1842-1877) – Crazy Horse was known as the Great Warrior of the Oglala Sioux. He battled against white settlement as it aimed to remove or assimilate the Indian into society. After the discovery of gold in the Black Hills ‘the sacred heart of everything that is’ (South Dakota), the government pressured the Sioux to revise the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868 (which set aside the Black Hills for the tribe) and sell the land. Crazy Horse refused to consider negotiations, stating “One does not sell the land in which people walk.” The main event that Crazy Horse was involved in which has projected him as a ‘the last great figure of resistance’ was the Battle of Little Big Horn 1876. Crazy Horse’s victory over Custer resulted in his own death a year later; he was bayoneted to death in 1877 while trying to escape.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and ‘On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection’ (1859) – Charles Darwin was a British scientist who laid the foundations of the theory of evolution and transformed the way we think about the natural world. ‘On the Origin of Species…’ sparked controversy when it was published in 1859 as the scientist’s theory stated that homo sapiens evolved, quite possibly from apes. Although not intended to make comments about human society at that time, his theories were nevertheless seized upon and used by those who argued that there were innate differences between the races in terms of biology, intelligence and even character. Social Darwinism suggested that races and culture battled with each other in an evolutionary contest in which the fittest would survive and the weakest would, inevitably, become extinct.

Exploration – Europeans began the colonisation of the United States in the 15th Century. In the 19th century alone over 50 million people left Europe for the Americas. Julius Brenchley travelled all over the world and visited North America and Canada in 1849. Brenchley recorded the fauna and flora as well as culture of the United States in journals and collected objects along the way, and it has been stated: “he was more interested in collecting material objects, illustrative and commemorative of his varied travels.”  

Fauna and Flora – Fauna is all of the animal life in any particular region or time. Flora is all of the plant life.

Forts – U.S. Army posts and trading posts across the United States. Forts were meant to provide for peaceful American settlement, yet it did so, in part, by battling and dispossessing the Native American Indian inhabitants. Julius Brenchley visited a number of Forts during his journey across North America. These included: Fort Laramie, a significant 19th Century trading post; Fort Hall, an important station for emigrants through the 1850s on the Oregon Trail; Fort Boise, A Hudson Bay Company Trading Post; and Fort Vancouver, the headquarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company for trading operations.

Frederick Jackson Turner (1861-1932) and the Frontier Thesis (1893) – Frederick Jackson Turner was an American historian who believed Westward expansion of the Frontier line defined American character, qualities of individualism and democracy that differentiated America from Europe. The Frontier line is described as “a meeting point between savagery and civilisation”, a wild place tamed by its pioneers. This belief is disputed today because Turner ignored the presence of the numerous Native peoples whose subjugation was required in order to reach the West. Turner declared the frontier closed because the United States, and the west, was effectively settled.

Geronimo (1829-1909) – A member of the Bedonkohe Apache tribe who was a war leader during the Apache Wars that fought against the Mexicans and the United States to protect Apache tribal lands.  When the Mexican army attacked an Apache village, killing women and children (including Geronimo’s mother, wife and children) Geronimo vowed to avenge their deaths and protect his Apache tribe. He lived as a prisoner of war for decades and in 1886 he surrendered to the U.S. Government and was sent to live with his tribe on at Fort Sill reservation, Oklahoma. Stories of Geronimo’s warrior ferocity made him into a legend that fascinated non-Indians and Indians alike, and he went on to become a public figure, participating in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West touring show and Theodore Roosevelt’s 1905 inauguration parade. His Chiricahua Apache name was Goyahkla, meaning ‘he who yawns’. He was given the name Geronimo during battle and this was misappropriated by U.S. military as a code word during a raid in 2011.

Ghost Dance –The Ghost Dance was introduced by Wovoka, a Paiute who was raised by a white Christian family after his father died. Merging elements of Indian and Christian beliefs, Wovoka preached non-violence and urged tribes to live in harmony with white settlers in order to find peace after-life. The Lakota Sioux and Pawnee adapted Wovoka’s teachings and believed by performing the ceremony the land would be rebirth, returning the buffalo and washing away all evil (referring to white settlers). The popular resurgence prompted suppression by the U.S. Government who feared the unification of tribes would result with more resistance similar to the defeat of Custer. This included the murder of Sitting Bull and led to the devastating Wounded Knee Massacre. The Ghost Dance was a non-violent, no member used guns and their belief was so prevalent many believed that by wearing Ghost Shirts during the ritual they would protected from attacking bullets.

Great-Salt-Lake – The Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah, is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere.

Hudson’s Bay Company – The oldest commercial corporation in North America, a fur trading business for much of its existence. From its long-time headquarters at York Factory on Hudson Bay, the company controlled the fur trade throughout much of British-controlled North America for several centuries. Undertaking early exploration, its traders and trappers forged early relationships with many groups of First Nations and Native Americans.

Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876) – Custer distinguished himself in the eyes of the military and public with his battles against Native Americans. In 1874 Custer was sent to explore the Black Hills with his 7th Cavalry and took along two gold miners. His account describes an abundance of gold in the Black Hills, but omits the fact that the Sioux legally hold the land. Upon news of the discovery thousands of hopeful miners travelled to the Black Hills, violating the 1858 Treaty of Fort Laramie. The Great Sioux War began and June 25th 1876 Lt. Col. Custer prepared to fight for the land; he underestimated the strength of native tribes and was defeated at the Battle of Little Bighorn. This has been mythologised in popular history as Custer’s heroic ‘last stand’.

Mormon Religion – Mormons self-identify as Christian, though some of their beliefs differ from mainstream Christianity. Mormons believe in the Bible, as well as other books of scripture, such as the Book of Mormon. The centre of Mormon cultural influence is in Utah, and North America has more Mormons than any other continent, though the majority of Mormons live outside the United States. Julius Brenchley and Jules Remy travelled from California to Salt Lake City, Utah and published their account of their journey in ‘A Journey to Great-Salt-Lake, with a sketch of the history, religion and customs of the Mormons and an introduction to the religious movement in the United States’ in 1861.

Oregon Trail – A 2,000 mile (3,200 km) historic east-west large wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. It was laid out by fur trappers and traders in the early 19th Century.

Rocky Mountains – Also known as the Rockies are a major mountain range in western North America. South Pass is the collective term for two mountain passes on the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains in south-western Wyoming and is the lowest point.

Sandwich Islands – The name given to the Hawaiian Islands by James Cook in the 1770s. Hawaii, in the Pacific Ocean, is the most recent of the 50 U.S. states, joined in 1959 and comprises of eight different islands, the only U.S. state to be made up entirely of islands. Native Hawaiians refers to the indigenous Polynesian people of the Hawaiian Islands or their descendants. Julius Brenchley joined a voyage on the Hudson Bay Company’s schooner (sailing vessel) the Mary Dare in 1851 to the Sandwich Islands, and while there met his future travel companion Jules Remy.

Sitting Bull (1831-1890) – Sitting Bull was a Hunkpapa Lakota Chief who, along with Crazy Horse and a band of tribal resisters, defeated federal troops at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. In Lakota his name Tatanka-Yotanka describes a buffalo bull sitting intractably on its haunches. The Sioux were able to win the battle but not the war – forced to live in exile in Canada, after four years Sitting Bull on the brink of starvation was forced to surrender to the U.S. government and forcibly moved with the Sioux onto reservations away from their sacred home on the Black Hills. He was a prisoner of war for two years and then moved to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota where he continued to influence his people to protect their tribal lands. Sitting Bull was arrested by Indian agents who were fearful of his involvement with the Ghost Dance, and in resistance of his arrest was shot and killed.

Wounded Knee Massacre (29 December 1890) – The Massacre at Wounded Knee occurred as a result of the U.S. Government’s suppression of Native American culture and the religious movement of the Ghost Dance.  Without their leader Sitting Bull, members of the Hunkpapa fled from the Standing Rock reservation to seek refuge at Pine Ridge with the Oglala Lakota Chief Red Cloud. Upon reaching Chief Spotted Elk’s Miniconjou Lakota Sioux camp, he also led his people to Red Cloud. While travelling to Pine Ridge the group were met with Seventh U.S. Cavalry (The same Cavalry that was defeated by Native resistors during the Battle of Little Bighorn fourteen years prior). Spotted Elk feared a revenge attack. There are a number of different interpretations of how the massacre ensued, but it is believed it occurred when the U.S. army disarmed the group by searching their tents and each person individually. Intensity built during the search and Yellow Bird began to perform the Ghost Dance chanting in Sioux, “The bullets will not go toward you“. It is believed in an attempt to disarm Black Coyote of his gun a shot was fired accidently leading the Calvary to shoot indiscriminately at the disarmed group. 150-300 men, women and children were killed, including Chief Black Elk. 25 Cavalry men fell to friendly fire, and the ones that survived gathered the Native survivors and continued on to Pine Ridge. Those killed were left lying in the snow where they had fallen at Wounded Knee Creek, and later thrown into a mass grave. Today the site is regarded as a U.S. Historical Landmark.