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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
Wild, Wild West
Voices of the West - African American Pioneers



Voices of the West - African American Pioneers
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.8

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    cattle-driving, rails, wranglers, mines, all-black, frequently, slavery, ex-slaves, tended, violent, bosses, ending, tribe, traveled, alongside, jobs
     content words:    Old West, American West, African American, African Americans, Native Americans, Many Indian, Other African American, Gold Rush, Alvin Coffey, Daniel Rogers


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Voices of the West - African American Pioneers
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     The Old West was a magical time in America. Gold was discovered in California. More land was available for our growing country. Iron horses were built to travel the rails coast to coast. Slavery was ending in the South. Pioneers traveled to the West during the 1830's and early 1900's. They were searching for open land. These pioneers helped to settle the American West. Their voices helped to write the history of the West. Some of these voices were from African American pioneers.
 
2     African Americans came west during the 1830's through the early 1900's. Some were slave laborers. Others were free men and women laborers. Only a small number of pioneers who moved west had slaves. Masters or owners brought their slaves west to help with their homesteads. Slaves would herd cattle and clear land. They would also grow crops and build log cabins. In the South, some of the slaves cared for expensive horses. In the West, these same slaves would break wild horses for their masters. Breaking a horse meant to train the horse for riding.
 
3     Slaves also communicated with Native Americans. Many Indian tribes lived in the West. Frequently, there were arguments and fights between the pioneers and the Indians. Black slaves would try to talk with their Indian neighbors. Slaves would also help their masters escape violent fights. Some slaves gained their freedom after helping their masters. Other African American slaves escaped to Indian territories. They became part of a tribe and raised families.

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