At the dawn of the nineteenth century, North America was home to diverse Native American, European, and African groups. These groups and individuals experienced U.S. expansion in very different ways. Groups betrayed and fought each other, but they also worked to understand each other across a chasm of cultural difference. In later years, people in the United States would tell a story of westward expansion that left out the violence and racism, as well as the mutual adaptation, that accompanied this conquest. In many senses the very term "westward expansion" conveys an overly benign and incomplete sense of what actually transpired.
In recent years, scholars have worked to reexamine the history of the West by focusing on Native American groups. With limited sources, they have struggled to piece together histories that do not generalize the experiences of Native Americans, and that accurately portray the complicated interactions that occurred in the West.