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West to Freedom - African American Pioneers



West to Freedom - African American Pioneers
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.34

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    cowhand, mines, mining, wranglers, tended, violent, gain, public, during, western, therefore, slavery, however, skilled, traveled, early
     content words:    Old West, United States, New Mexico, African American, African Americans, Native Americans, Gold Rush, Alvin Coffey, Daniel Rogers, United States Homestead Act


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West to Freedom - African American Pioneers
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     The voice of the Old West had many faces. During the 1840's through the early 1900's cowboys and pioneers settled the western United States. Our country was almost 100 years old. Settlers were leaving their homes to search for open land and a new life in the west. Slavery was coming to an end in the south and other territories. Our country was growing, moving, and changing.
 
2     Cowboys were men who worked on cattle ranches. They tended the cattle and horses. They herded cattle along the dusty trails of the west to other states and territories. These trails stretched through Wyoming, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Montana. Imagine trying to guide hundreds of cows and horses through five states. A cowboy or cowhand had to keep large herds of cattle together. These are the cowboys you hear about in books and movies. However, we hear very little about African American cowboys.
 
3     African Americans moved west during the 1830's and 1840's. These pioneers came as slave laborers and free men and women laborers. They traveled west with their masters to herd cattle and clear land. In the south, these slaves took care of expensive horses. Therefore, they would break wild horses in the west. This allowed their masters to ride the horses without getting hurt. Slaves also built log cabins and grew crops. They knew how to talk to Native Americans in the area. This skill was very important. Often, there were violent fights between slave owners and the Indians. The slaves would help their masters survive these fights. Some slaves gained their freedom after saving their masters' lives. There were also slaves who escaped into Indian territories. They would stay with the tribes. They married and raised children within these communities.

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