Page:The Indian Dispossessed.pdf/266

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DIVIDING THE SPOILS

IN the pioneer days of fifty, forty, and even thirty years ago, when settlement on the frontier meant something of hardship and privation, the homestead law, with its provision for a small fixed charge upon every homesteader without regard to differences in land values, served to reward the hardy pioneer for pushing out beyond his neighbors by bestowing upon him the first choice of soil and location. Not only was he rewarded in direct proportion to his hardihood by this system of "first come, first served," but the Government and the country at large gained as well, in the development of new territory.

In preparation for this great westward movement, the Indians of the plains and mountains were from time to time gathered upon reservations; those east of the Rocky Mountains were located, in the main, along the Missouri River on the north, and within the Indian Territory on the south. The advancing civilization of the white man came up with these reservations, established itself alongside them, and pushed on westward to the natural limit.

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