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American pioneers are any of the people in American history who migrated west to join in settling and developing new areas. The term especially refers to those who were going to settle any territory which had previously not been settled or developed by European or American society, although the territory may have been inhabited by or utilized by native peoples.
The pioneer concept and ethos greatly predate the migration to parts of the United States now called Western, as many places now considered as East were also settled by pioneers from the coast. For example, Daniel Boone, a key figure in American history, settled in Kentucky, when that "Dark and Bloody Ground" was still undeveloped.
One important development in the Western settlement was the Homestead Act, which provided formal legislation which regulated the settlement process.
Popular culture and folklore
The figure of the pioneer has played a large role in American culture, literature and folklore. The pioneer is not the only iconic figure which figures in the settlement of the West. Much cultural note is given to other figures of a more transient nature, such as cowboys, trappers, prospectors, miners etc. However, the pioneer alone represents those who went into unexplored territory in search of a new life, looking to establish permanent settlement.
Various figures in American folklore and literature typify the pioneer. The Deerslayer was the most successful of an early series, the Leatherstocking Tales, about pioneer life in New York. Little House on the Prairie, a century later, typified a later series of novels describing a pioneer family. Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett are two real-life icons of pioneer history.