The Homestead Act of 1862 gave
each head of a family 160 acres of farm land for only $10. The family had
to live on the land or grow crops for five years and the land would be
his. This ended the way of life for the Native Americans.
After passing the Homestead Act,
the government opened up large areas of land for settlers. On specific
days, the land would be opened to anyone who wanted to rush in and stake a
claim. One great land rush took place in 1889.
On April 22, 1889, 25,000 men,
women, and children lined up at the edge of the territory. At noon a gun
signaled for everyone to rush in and stake out a piece of land. By
nightfall 2,000,000 acres which had previously been Indian territory was
claimed by settlers.
By 1890 the west was heavily
populated by white settlers. Some of the problems they faced were:
Summer on the plains stayed at
around 100 degrees.
Winters were often below zero
The dry season brought fires.
Swarms of grasshoppers could come
through and destroy crops.