The Homestead Act of 1862 offered a wide range of people the opportunity to own land. But the land that settlers hoped to claim was not uninhabited. Native Americans had lived throughout North America for centuries. First, early European settlers along the East Coast displaced them. Then, as the colonists increased in number and the individual colonies formed a nation, the U.S. government grew more aggressive in its ways to make room for European settlers. The government used removal, treaties, and armed conflicts to push Native Americans off the land and restrict their movements.

In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the

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