When Christopher Columbus first came in contact with native people, he wrote: "They all go around as naked as their mothers bore them; & also the women." He also noted that "they could easily be commanded & made to work, to sow & to do whatever might be needed, to build towns & be taught to wear clothes & adopt our ways," &, "they are the best people in the world & above all the gentlest."
Juan Ponce de Leon encountered Calusa Indians while exploring the Gulf Coast of Florida near Charlotte Harbor. In a fight with the Calusa, Juan Ponce de Leon captured four warriors.
Juan Ponce de Leon
Hernan Cortes invades Mexico, completing his conquest of the Aztec empire in 1521 & establishes the colony of New Spain.
July 8, 1524
The first kidnapping in America took place when Italian explorers kidnapped an Indian child to bring to France.
After living six years among the Indians of the Texas coast, Cabeza de Vaca & his three fellow survivors began their travels across Texas & the Southwest into northern Mexico.
April 16, 1528
The the first significant exploration of Florida occurred when Spanish soldier, explorer, & Indian fighter, Panfilo de Narvaez saw Indian houses near what is now Tampa Bay. Narvaez claimed Spanish royal title to the land. By fall, the Narvaez Expedition had been reduced to only four survivors, including Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, who had been shipwrecked on Galveston Island off the Texas coast. The men were enslaved for a few years by various Native American tribes of the upper Gulf Coast.
Cabeza de Vaca & his companions meet a band of Spanish slave hunters near Culiacan on the Mexican west coast & make their way to Mexico City, where their adventure sparks interest in the mysterious lands to the north.
Fray Marcos de Niza, a Franciscan friar, is sent to explore the lands north of Mexico, guided by Esteban, the African-American who had accompanied Cabeza de Vaca. Within a year, Marcos returns with news of a great city called Cibola, where Esteban was killed, which from a distance appeared to him "bigger than the city of Mexico."
Hernando De Soto lands at Tampa Bay, Florida & begins an expedition across the southeast. After defeating resisting Timucuan warriors, Hernando De Soto executed 100 of them, in the first large-scale massacre by Europeans on what would become American soil. The event is known as the Napituca Massacre.
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led Mexico's invasion of the north with an expeditionary force of 300 conquistadors & more than one thousand Indian "allies." When they reached Cibola, they found not the promised metropolis but "a little, crowded village, looking as if it had been crumpled all up together." This was the Zuni Pueblo of Hawikuh, whose warriors answered with arrows when Coronado demanded that they swear loyalty to his King. Within an hour, the Spaniards overran the pueblo, & over the next few weeks, they conquered the other Zuni in the region. Coronado moved his camp to the upper Rio Grande River, where his soldiers confiscated one pueblo for winter quarters & looted the surrounding pueblos for supplies. During this operation, a Spaniard raped an Indian woman, & when Coronado refused to punish him, the Indians retaliated by stealing horses. Lopez de Cardenas attacked the thieves' pueblo, captured 200 men & methodically burned them all at the stake.
October 18, 1540
Hernando De Soto's expedition was ambushed by Choctaw tribe in Alabama who killed their livestock & 200 Spaniards. The remaining Spaniards then burned down the Mabila compound, killing some 2,500 people who were inside.
The Tiguex War was was fought in the winter of 1540-41 by the army of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado against the 12 pueblos of Tiwa Indians along both sides of the Rio Grande River in New Mexico. It was the first war between Europeans & Native Americans in the American West.
Faced with an incipient uprising, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado ordered an attack on the Moho Pueblo, a center of Indian resistance. His men were repulsed when they tried to scale the walls, so they settled in for a siege that lasted from January through March. When the Moho tried to slip away, the Spaniards killed more than 200 men, women & children.
Under pressure from religious leaders, especially the Dominican friar Bartolome de Las Casas, Spanish Emperor Carlos V attempted to impose "New Laws" on the Spanish colonies, ending the encomienda system that gave settlers the right to Indian slave labor.
The "New Laws" barring Indian enslavement were repealed at the insistence of New World colonists, who developed a society & economy dependent on slave labor.
Bartolome de Las Casa, the first priest ordained in the Western hemisphere & chief architect of the now-defunct "New Laws" against Indian enslavement, published Brief Relations of the Destruction of the Indies, which provided many gruesome examples of the colonists' treatment of Indians.
Florida Timucua Indians at a shrine they set up around a column erected by the French in 1562
November 15, 1598
Juan de Onate declared possession of Hopi land (in what is now northern Arizona) in the name of the Spanish crown. Four hundred years later, the Hopi have still never signed any treaty with any non-Indian nation.
Europeans of the time held steadfastly to the belief that their introduced diseases were acts of God being done in their behalf. One settler proclaimed while speaking about the deaths of Native Americans, "Their enterprise failed, for it pleased God to effect these Indians with such a deadly sickness, that out of every 1000, over 950 of them had died, & many of them lay rotting above the ground for lack of burial."
May 14, 1607
Jamestown is founded in Virginia by the colonists of the London Company. By the end of the year, starvation & disease reduce the original 105 settlers to just 32 survivors. Captain John Smith is captured by Native American Chief Powhatan & saved from death by the chief's daughter, Pocahontas.
July 3, 1607
On July 3, Indians brought maize, beans, squash, & fresh & smoked meat to the Jamestown colony. As at Plymouth years later, the colonists & their diseases would eventually exterminate them.
July 29, 1609
Samuel de Champlain, accompanied by two other Frenchmen & 60 Algonquin & Huron Indians, defeated a band of Iroquois near the future Ticonderoga, beginning a long period of French/Iroquois hostilities.
Former Dutch lawyer Adrian Block explored Manhattan Island in the ship Tiger. He returned to Europe with a cargo of furs & two kidnapped Indians, whom he named Orson & Valentine.
May 13, 1614
The Viceroy of Mexico found Spanish Explorer Juan de Onate guilty of atrocities against the Indians of New Mexico. As part of his punishment, he was banned from entering New Mexico again.
A smallpox epidemic decimates the Native American population in New England.
Virginia's Deputy Governor George Yeardley & a group of men killed 20 - 40 Chickahominy Indians. It was under Yeardley’s leadership that friendly relations between the Chickahominy & the colony ended.
One of the first treaties between colonists & Native Americans is signed as the Plymouth Pilgrims enact a peace pact with the Wampanoag Tribe, with the aid of Squanto, an English speaking Native American.
Powhatan Wars - Following an initial period of peaceful relations in Virginia, a twelve year conflict left many natives & colonists dead.
Peter Minuit, a Dutch colonist, buys Manhattan island from Native Americans for 60 guilders (about $24) & names the island New Amsterdam.
Pequot War - Taking place in Connecticut & Rhode Island, the death of a colonist eventually led to the destruction of 600-700 natives. The remainder were sold into slavery in Bermuda.
May 26, 1637
Captains John Mason & John Underhill attacked & burned Pequot forts at Mystic, Connecticut, massacring 600 Indians & starting the Pequot War.
June 5, 1637
English settlers in New England massacred a Pequot Indian village.
Captain William Pierce of Salem, Massachusetts sailed to the West Indies & exchanged Indian slaves for black slaves.
King Philip's War - Sometimes called Metacom's War, was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day southern New England & English colonists & their Native American allies.
July 30, 1676
Bacon's Rebellion - Tobacco planters led by Nathaniel Bacon ask for & are denied permission to attack the Susquehannock Indians, who have been conducting raids on colonists' settlement. Enraged at Governor Berkeley's refusal, the colonists burn Jamestown & kill many Indians before order is restored in October.
The Pueblo Revolt occurs in Arizona & New Mexico, when Pueblo Indians led by Popé, rebelled against the Spanish. They then lived independently for 12 years until the Spanish re-conquered in them in 1692.
King William's War - The first of the French & Indian Wars, this conflict was fought between England, France, & their respective American Indian allies in the colonies of Canada (New France), Acadia, & New England. It was also known as the Second Indian War (the first having been King Philip's War).
The French & Indian War, a conflict between France & Britain for possession of North America, rages for decades. For various motivations, most Algonquian tribes allied with the French; the Iroquois with the British.
French explorer Pierre Liette had a four-year sojourn in the Chicago area during which he noticed that "the sin of sodomy" prevailed among the Miami Indians, & that some men were bred from childhood for this purpose.
June 23, 1704
Former Governor of South Carolina, James Moore, led a force of 50 British, & 1,000 Creek Indians against Spanish settlements. They attacked a Mission in Northwestern Florida. They took many Indians as slaves & killed Father Manuel de Mendoza.
A slave market was erected at the foot of Wall Street in New York City. Here African-Americans & Indians -- men, women & children were daily declared the property of the highest cash bidder.
Hostilities break out between Native Americans & settlers in North Carolina after the massacre of settlers there. The conflict, known as the Tuscarora War, under the leadership of Chief Hancock, attacked several settlements, killing settlers & destroying farms for the next two years. In 1713, James Moore & Yamasee warriors defeated the raiders.
The Yamasee War occurs in southern Carolina, which came close to exterminating white settlements in their region.
South Carolina settlers & their Cherokee allies attack & defeat the Yamassee.
Jesuit explorer Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix recorded effeminacy & widespread homosexuality & lesbianism among the "Indian” tribes in what is now Louisiana. The most prominent tribes in the area at the time were the Iroquois & Illinois.
Ten sleeping Indians were scalped by whites in New Hampshire for a bounty.
Upon hearing of an impending French & Indian attack upon the Ulster county frontiers, Europeans massacred several Indian families in their wigwams at Walden in the Hudson River Valley.
November 28, 1745
French military forces out of Canada, accompanied by 220 Caughnawaga Mohawk & Abenaki Indians, attacked & burned the English settlement at Saratoga. The 101 inhabitants were either killed or taken prisoner.
In the 1752 census, 147 "Indian" slaves -- 87 females & 60 males -- were listed as living in French households in what would later be called Illinois. These people were from different cultural groups than the local Native American population & were often captives of war.
April 9, 1754
An Indian slave trader sent a letter to South Carolina Governor J. Glenn asking for permission to use one group of Indians to fight another: "We want no pay, only what we can take & plunder, & what slaves we take to be our own."
April 8, 1756
Governor Robert Morris declared war on the Delaware & Shawnee Indians. Included in his war declaration was "The Scalp Act,” which put a bounty on the scalps of Indian men, women & boys.
August 1, 1758
The first Indian reservation in North America was established by the New Jersey Colonial Assembly.
Comanche Indian Attack Responding to a Comanche attack that destroyed two missions on the San Saba River in central Texas, a Spanish force of 600 marched north to the Red River where they engaged several thousand Comanche & other Plains Indians fighting behind breastworks & armed with French rifles. The Spaniards were routed, losing a cannon in their retreat, & Comanche raids became a constant threat to settlers throughout Texas.
Cherokee Uprising - A breakdown in relations between the British & the Cherokee leads to a general uprising in present-day Tennessee, Virginia & the Carolinas.
Governor Thomas Velez Cachupin had a number of Indians living at Albiquiú [La Cañada, New Mexico ] tried for witchcraft sometime after 1762. They were conveniently condemned into servitude.
The Proclamation of 1763, signed by King George III of England, prohibits any English settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains & requires those already settled in those regions to return east in an attempt to ease tensions with Native Americans.
The Ottawa Indians under Chief Pontiac begin all-out warfare against the British west of Niagara, New York, destroying several British forts & conducting a siege against the British at Detroit, Michigan. In August, Pontiac's forces are defeated by the British near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The siege of Detroit ends in November, but hostilities between the British & Chief Pontiac continue for several years.
December 8, 1763
An organization compensating settlers for losses resulting from Indian raids was created by Indian Commissioner Sir William Johnson.
December 14, 1763
A vigilante group called the Paxton Boys in Pennsylvania kill 20 peaceful Susquehannock in response to Pontiac's Rebellion.
December 27, 1763
A troop of 50 armed men entered the Workhouse at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, & hacked to death the only 14 surviving Conestoga Indians (the rest of the tribe having been similarly dispensed with, 13 days earlier).
Forced to labor in the mission fields & to worship according to the missionaries' teachings, the Indians at San Diego rebelled against the Spanish, burning every building & killing most of the inhabitants, including the mission's head priest. Thanks to a Spanish sharpshooter, the Indians were finally driven off & the Spanish retained control of their outpost.
May 25, 1776
The Continental Congress resolved that it was "highly expedient to engage Indians in service of the United Colonies," & authorized recruiting 2,000 paid auxiliaries. The program was a dismal failure, as virtually every tribe refused to fight for the colonists.
July 21, 1776
Cherokee Indians attacked a settlement in western North Carolina. Militia forces retaliated by destroying a nearby Cherokee village.
Eighty percent of the Arikara died of smallpox, measles, etc.
Chickamauga Wars - A series of conflicts that were a continuation of the Cherokee struggle against white encroachment. Led by Dragging Canoe, who was called the Chickamauga by colonials, the Cherokee fought white settlers in Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolinaa, & Georgia.
Smallpox wiped out more than half the Piegan Blackfoot.
March 8, 1782
Captain David Williamson & about 90 volunteer militiamen slaughtered 62 adults & 34 children of the neutral, pacifist, & Christian Delaware people at Gnadenhutten, Ohio in retaliation for raids by other Indian tribes.
April 21, 1782
The Presidio, overlooking San Francisco, was erected by the Spanish to subdue Indians interfering with mail transmissions along El Camino Real.
Old Northwest War - Fighting occurred in Ohio & Indiana. Following two humiliating defeats at the hands of native warriors, the Americans won a decisive victory under "Mad Anthony" Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.
July 13, 1786
The Northwest Ordinance was enacted, stating "the utmost good faith shall always be observed toward the Indians . . . in their property, rights, & liberty they shall never be disturbed."
First federal treaty enacted with the Delaware Indians.
Indian Commerce Clause of the Constitution is added stating "The Congress shall have Power...to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, & among the several States, & with the Indian tribes." This clause is generally seen as the principal basis for the federal government's broad power over Indians. Indian affairs assignation. Indian agents, who were appointed as the federal government's liaison with tribes, fell under jurisdiction of the War Department. The Indian agents were empowered to negotiate treaties with the tribes.
The Indian Trade & Intercourse Act is passed, placing nearly all interaction between Indians & non-Indians under federal, rather than state control, established the boundaries of Indian country, protected Indian lands against non-Indian aggression, subjected trading with Indians to federal regulation, & stipulated that injuries against Indians by non-Indians was a federal crime. The conduct of Indians among themselves, while in Indian country, was left entirely to the tribes. These Acts were renewed periodically until 1834. Military battle between US Army & Shawnee. The army, some 1,500 strong, invaded Shawnee territory, in what is now western Ohio. The Americans were defeated in 1791 after suffering 900 casualties, 600 of whom died.
March 1, 1790
The first U.S. Census count included slaves & free African-Americans, but Indians were not included.
Trading begins between Native Americans & French & Spanish merchants from St. Louis, Missouri.
On November 6, George Washington, in his fourth annual address to Congress, expressed dissatisfaction that "Indian hostilities” had not stopped in the young country’s frontier, north of the Ohio River.
Treaty of Greenville, Ohio - This treaty marked the end of an undeclared & multi-tribal war begun in the late 1770s & led by the Shawnee who fought to resist American expansion into Ohio. In 1795, over a thousand Indian delegates ceded two-thirds of present-day Ohio, part of Indiana, & the sites where the modern cities of Detroit, Toledo, & Chicago are currently situated. The Indians, in return, were promised a permanent boundary between their lands & American territory.
Federal law prohibits the sale of liquor to Indians.
The Louisiana Purchase adds to the United States French territory from the Gulf of Mexico to the Northwest.
The Lewis & Clark expedition begins its exploration of the West.
1804 to 1806
Lewis & Clark expedition with Sacagawea. Under direction of President Jefferson, Lewis & Clark charted the western territory with the help of Sacagawea, a Shoshone Indian.
The Sioux meet the Lewis & Clark Expedition
Trading posts begin to be established in the west.
Fur trading becomes an important part of Oglala life.
Oglala & other Lakota tribes expand their region of influence & control to cover most of the current regions known as North & South Dakota, westward to the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming & south to the Platte River in Nebraska.
On March 26, the U.S. government gave first official notice to Indians to move west of the Mississippi River.
The Osage, a Sioux tribe, sign the Osage Treaty ceding their lands in what is now Missouri & Arkansas to the U. S.
1808 to 1812
Tecumseh, Chief of the Shawnee, & his brother, known as The Prophet, founded Prophetstown for the settlement of other Indian peoples who believed that signing treaties with the US government would culminate in the loss of the Indian way of life. At the same time, Tecumseh organized a defensive confederacy of Indian tribes of the Northwestern frontier who shared a common goal - making the Ohio River the permanent boundary between the United States & Indian land. Meanwhile, William Henry Harrison, governor or Ohio, began enacting treaties with various tribes. At a meeting between Tecumseh & Harrison at Vincennes in 1810, Tecumseh declared that he & the confederacy would never recognize any treaties signed with the US government. When Tecumseh was away from Prophetstown in November 1811, Harrison led troops to the town & after the ferocious Battle of Tippicanoe, destroyed the town as well as the remnants of Tecumseh's Indian confederacy.
On February 8, Russians who built a blockhouse on the Hoh River (Olympic Penninsula, Washington) were taken captive by Hoh Indians, & were held as slaves for two years.
This Treaty of Fort Wayne brought the Delaware, Potawatomi, Miami, & Eel River Miami nations together to cede 3 million acres of their land along the Wabash River to the United States.
Nicholas Biddle of the Lewis & Clark expedition noted that among the Minitaree Indians the effeminate boys were raised as females. Upon reaching puberty, the boys were then married to older men. The French called them Birdashes.
On August 31, Fort Okanogan was established at the confluence of the Columbia & Okanogan Rivers; Indians met the Astorians with pledges of friendship & gifts of beaver.
On November 7, Shawnee leader Tecumseh's dream of a pan-Indian confederation was squashed when his brother Tenskwatawa led an attack against Indiana Territory militia forces in the Battle of Tippecanoe. Tenskwatawa was defeated.
1813 to 1814
Creek Inian WarriorThe Creek War was instigated by General Andrew Jackson who sought to end Creek resistance to ceding their land to the US government. The Creek Nation was defeated & at the Treaty of Fort Jackson, the Creek lost 14 million acres, or two-thirds of their tribal lands. To count the Creek dead, whites cut off their noses, piling 557 of them. They also skinned their bodies to tan as souvenirs. This was the single largest cession of territory ever made in the southeast.
Blacks & Creek Indians captured Fort Blount, Florida from Seminole & used it as a haven for escaped slaves & as a base for attacks on slave owners. An American army detachment eventually recaptured the fort.
On July 27, the Seminole Wars began.
On July 27, Fort Blount, a Seminole fort on Apalachicola Bay, Florida, was attacked by U.S. troops. The fort, held by 300 fugitive slaves & 20 Indians, was taken after a siege of several days. The fort was destroyed, punishing the Seminole for harboring runaway slaves.
Congress passed the Indian Country Crimes Act which provided for federal jurisdiction over crimes between non-Indians & Indians, & maintained exclusive tribal jurisdiction of all Indian crimes.
On April 18, Andrew Jackson defeated a force of Indians & African Americans at the Battle of Suwanee, ending the First Seminole War.
By this year, more than 20,000 Indians lived in virtual slavery in the California missions.
South Carolina settlers & their Cherokee allies attack & defeat the Yamassee.
The U.S. government began moving what it called the "Five Civilized Tribes" of southeast America (Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, & Chickasaw) to lands west of the Mississippi River.
Johnson v. McIntosh Supreme Court decision - This case involved the validity of land sold by tribal chiefs to private persons in 1773 & 1775. The Court held that that Indian tribes had no power to grant lands to anyone other than the federal government. The government, in turn, held title to all Indian lands based upon the "doctrine of discovery" - the belief that initial "discovery" of lands gave title to the government responsible for the discovery. Thus, Indian "...rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations, were necessarily diminished, & their power to dispose of the soil, at their own will, to whomsoever they pleased, was denied by the original fundamental principle, that discovery gave exclusive title to those who made it."
The Indian Office federal agency was established by the Secretary of War & operated under the administration of the War Department. The Office becomes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in 1849.
Creek Chief William McIntosh signs treaty ceding Creek lands to the U.S. & agrees to vacate by 1826; other Creek repudiate the treaty & kill him.
Creek Indians sign a second treaty ceding lands in western Georgia
Elias Boudinot & Sequoyah begin publishing the Cherokee Phoenix, the first American newspaper published in a Native American language.
Creek Indians receive orders to relocate across the Mississippi River.
On April 7, President Andrew Jackson submitted a bill to Congress calling for the removal of tribes in the east to lands west of the Mississippi. On May 28th, the Indian Removal Act was passed, & from 1830 to 1840 thousands of Native Americans were forcibly removed.
On September 15, the Choctaw sign a treaty exchanging 8 million acres of land east of the Mississippi for land in Oklahoma.
On December 22, the State of Georgia made it unlawful for Cherokee to meet in council, unless it is for the purpose of giving land to whites.
1831 to 1832
Two U.S. Supreme Court cases change the nature of tribal sovereignty by ruling that Indian tribes were not foreign nations, but rather were "domestic dependent nations." As such, both cases provided the basis for the federal protection of Indian tribes, or the federal trust relationship or responsibility.
Black Hawk of the Sac & Fox tribes agrees to move west of Mississippi.
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia - The Cherokee Nation sued the State of Georgia for passing laws & enacting policies that not only limited their sovereignty, but which were forbidden in the Constitution. The Court's decision proclaimed that Indians were neither US citizens, nor independent nations, but rather were "domestic dependent nations" whose relationship to the US "resembles that of a ward to his guardian." In this case, the federal trust responsibility was discussed for the first time.
On December 6, President Andrew Jackson, in his Third Annual Message to Congress, praised the beneficial results of Indian Removal for the States directly affected & the Union as a whole, as well as being "equally advantageous to the Indians.”
On December 25, a force of Black Seminole Indians defeated U.S. troops at Okeechobee during the Second Seminole War.
Worcester v. Georgia - A missionary from Vermont who was working on Cherokee territory sued the State of Georgia which had arrested him, claiming that the state had no authority over him within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. The Court, which ruled in Worchester's favor, held that state laws did not extend to Indian country. Such a ruling clarified that Indian tribes were under protection of the federal government, as in Cherokee v. Georgia.
On July 23, Eastern Cherokees met in Red Clay, Tennessee to discuss President Jackson's proposals for their removal to Indian Territory in present day Oklahoma. The proposal was rejected & the Cherokees refused to negotiate unless the federal government honored previous treaty promises.
August 2, 1832 - Some 150 Sac & Fox men, women & children, under a flag of truce, were massacred at Bad Axe River by the Illinois militia.
On January 12, a law was passed making it unlawful for any Indian to remain within the boundaries of the state of Florida.
Indian Intercourse Act - Congress created Indian Territory in the west that included the land area in all of present-day Kansas, most of Oklahoma, & parts of what later became Nebraska, Colorado, & Wyoming. The area was set aside for Indians who would be removed from their ancestral lands which, in turn, would be settled by non-Indians. The area steadily decreased in size until the 1870s when Indian Territory had been reduced to what is now Oklahoma, excluding the panhandle.
The Oglala Tribe becomes more centrally organized with most bands following Chief Bull Bear & rest following Chief Smoke. This was a change from their previous more loosely governed bands with many leaders of comparable influence.
Treaty of New Echota - A portion of the Cherokee nation agreed to give up Cherokee lands in the Southeast in exchange for land in & removal to Indian Territory. A larger group of the Cherokee did not accept the terms of this treaty & refused to move westward.
Seminole War - The second & most terrible of three wars between the US government & the Seminole people was also one of the longest & most expensive wars in which the US army was ever engaged. Thousands of troops were sent, 1,500 men died, & between 40-60 million dollars were spent to force most of the Seminole to move to Indian Territory - more than the entire US government's budget for Indian Removal.
In five groups, over 14,000 Creek Indians were forcibly removed by the US Army from Alabama to Oklahoma .
Two thirds of the 6,000 Blackfoot died of smallpox.
Trail of Tears - Despite the Supreme Court's rulings in 1831 & 1832 that the Cherokee had a right to stay on their lands, President Jackson sent federal troops to forcibly remove almost 16,000 Cherokee who had refused to move westward under the unrecognized Treaty of New Echota (1835) & had remained in Georgia. In May, American soldiers herded most into camps where they remained imprisoned throughout the summer & where at least 1,500 perished. The remainder began an 800-mile forced march to Oklahoma that fall. In all some, 4,000 Cherokee died during the removal process.
On January 30, Seminole leader Osceola died from complications of malaria at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. He led a valiant fight against removal of his people to Indian Territory, but eventually the Seminole were forcibly relocated.
Forty-eight wagons arrive in Sacramento by way of the Oregon Trail, one of the earliest large groups to make this journey.
Second Seminole War ends.
Westward migration begins along the Oregon Trail through Plains Indian country.
Thomas H. Hardy, Superintendant of Indian Affairs in St. Louis warns of trouble from declining buffalo herds
The U.S. Government purchases Fort Laramie from the American Fur Company & begins to bring in troops.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (formerly The Indian Office) is transferred from the War Department to the newly-created Department of the Interior.
Physician services were extended to Indians with the establishment of a corps of civilian field employees.
January 24, 1849
James Marshall discovers gold near Sutter's Fort, California. News of the find begins the California Gold Rush of 1849.
There are 20,000,000 buffalo on the plains between Montana & Texas.
On September 9, California entered the Union. With miners flooding the hillsides & devastating the land, California's Indians found themselves deprived of their traditional food sources & forced by hunger to raid the mining towns & other white settlements. Miners retaliated by hunting Indians down & brutally abusing them. The California legislature responded to the situation with an Indenture Act which established a form of legal slavery for the native peoples of the state by allowing whites to declare them vagrant & auction off their services for up to four months. The law also permitted whites to indenture Indian children, with the permission of a parent or friend, which led to widespread kidnapping of Indian children, who were then sold as "apprentices."
Extermination of buffalo herds by sports & hide hunters severely limits Plains Indians food supply & ability to survive.
Fort Laramie, Wyoming post hospitalA series of Fort Laramie treaties were signed with the Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho & other Plains tribes delineating the extent of their territories & allowing passage across these territories in exchange for payments to the tribes. The extent of Lakota territories were clearly described. Thus began the incursions of miners & wagon trains on the Oregon & later the Bozeman Trail, few at first but an onslaught after the end of the Civil War.
Federal commissioners attempting to halt the brutal treatment of Indians in California negotiated eighteen treaties with various tribes & village groups, promising them 8.5 million acres of reservation lands. California politicians succeeded in having the treaties secretly rejected by Congress in 1852, leaving the native peoples of the state homeless within a hostile white society.
On August 5, 1851, Santee Sioux Chief Little Crow signed a treaty with the federal government, ceding nearly all his people's territory in Minnesota. Though not happy with the agreement, he abided by it for many years.
California began confining its remaining Indian population on harsh military reservations, but the combination of legal enslavement & near genocide has already made California the site of the worst slaughter of Native Americans in United States history. As many as 150,000 Indians lived in the state before 1849; by 1870, fewer than 30,000 will remain.
September 3, 1855
Ash Hollow Massacre - Colonel William Harney uses 1,300 soldiers to massacre an entire Brulé village in retribution for the killing of 30 soldiers, who were killed in retribution for the killing of the Brulé chief, Conquering Bear, in a dispute over a cow.
January 26, 1956
In the first Battle of Seattle, settlers drove Indians from their land so that a little town of white folks could prosper. The sloop Decatur fired its cannon, routing the "Indians.” Two settlers were killed.
In September, the Fancher Party, a group of California-bound emigrants from Arkansas & Missouri, arrived in Salt Lake City. According to Brigham Young's edict, the townspeople refused to sell supplies to the group. They headed south & camped in Mountain Meadows.
On September 7, the Fancher Party suffered a coordinated joint attack by Paiute Indians & Mormon militiamen. Many were killed on both sides before the pioneers could gain a tenable defensive position. Then followed five days of siege.
On September 12, the Mormons negotiated a surrender. The local Mormon leader, John D. Lee, & 54 Mormon militiamen approached the Fancher Party & offered to provide safe passage through the territory. The surviving members of the Fancher Party would hand over their livestock to the Paiute & their guns to the Mormons. In return, the pioneers were guaranteed safe passage from the area. Once the emigrants accepted the Mormon offer & laid down their weapons, the Mormons opened fire on them. The Paiute, allies of the Mormons, stormed the wagon train, & slaughtered the women & all the older children. When the bloodbath ended, 123 were dead; only 17 young children were left alive. Lee fled the area with his 17 wives & settled in Lee's Ferry, Arizona.
In 1877, Lee was arrested & tried for his part in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. He was convicted & sentenced to die. On March 23, Lee was brought to Mountain Meadows, where he sat blindfolded on the coffin that was to hold his remains & was executed by a firing squad.
On May 17, 1,200 Coeur d'Alene, Palouse, Spokan, & Skitswich Indians defeated a strong force of Colonel Steptoe near Colfax, Washington, at the village of To-ho-to-nim-me.
On September 17, Colonel Wright dictated terms of surrender to Indians at Coeur d'Alene mission. 24 chiefs of the Yakama, Cayuse, Wallawalla, Palouse & Spokan tribes were shot or hanged.
On February 26, white settlers from Eureka, California attacked & killed 188 members of the Wiyot Tribe on Indian Island in Humboldt Bay. Only one Wiyot member survived — a child named Jerry James, who was the son of chief Captain Jim.
On April 29, Navajo Chief Manuelito & his warriors attacked Fort Defiance in northeastern Arizona. The fort, the first built in Navajo country, was near livestock grazing land used by the Navajo. Conflict began when the army claimed the grazing land for their horses.
1860 to 1864
The Navajo War broke out in the New Mexico Territory as a result of tensions between the Navajo & American military forces in the area. During a final standoff in January 1864 at Canyon de Chelly, fears of harsh winter conditions & starvation forced the Navajo to surrender to Kit Carson & his troops. Carson ordered the destruction of Navajo property & organized the Navajo Long Walk to Bosque Redondo reservation at Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
On February 13, the first military action to result in the Congressional Medal of Honor occurred. Colonel Bernard Irwin attacked & defeated hostile Chiricahua Indians in Arizona.
On February 18, Arapaho & Cheyenne ceded most of eastern Colorado, which had been guaranteed to them forever in an 1851 treaty.
On September 22, in an unprovoked peacetime attack, U.S. Army soldiers massacred visiting Navajo men, women & children during a horse race at Fort Wingate, New Mexico.
On September 22, 500 Apache led by Cochise attacked the town of Pinos Altos, New Mexico. Three miners & 14 Indians were killed.
Congress passes the Homestead Act making western lands belonging to many Indian Nations available to non-Indian American settlers. This marked the beginning of mass migrations to Indian lands for non-Indian settlement.
August 18, 1862
Beginning of the Sioux Uprising (or Santee War) in Minnesota. The Sioux declared war on the white settlers, killing more than 1,000. They were eventually defeated by the US army, which marched 1,700 survivors to Fort Snelling. Others escaped to the safety of their western relatives. Over 400 Indians were tried for murder, 38 of whom were publicly executed. By 1864 90% of the Santee, & many of the Teton who sheltered them were dead or in prison.
December 26, 1862
The mass execution of 38 Sioux men in Mankato, Minnesota for crimes during the Sioux Uprising. The trials of almost every adult male who had voluntarily surrendered to General Sibley, at a rate of up to 40 a day, were conducted under the premise of guilty until proven innocent. Originally 303 men were condemned to death. President Abraham Lincoln intervened & ordered a complete review of the records. This resulted in a reduced list of 40 to be executed. One was reprieved by the military because he had supplied testimony against many of the others. A last minute reprieve removed one more from the list. A mix-up in properly recording the names of the men & in associating the records with the proper men resulted in one man being ordered released for saving a woman's life, a day after he was hanged.
July 3, 1863
After the end of the Santee Sioux uprising, Little Crow leaves the area. Eventually he returns to steal horses & supplies so he, & his followers can survive. On this day, near Hutchinson, Minnesota, Little Crow & his son stop to pick some berries. Minnesota has recently enacted a law which pays a bounty of $25 for every Sioux scalp. Some settlers see Little Crow, & they open fire. Little Crow will be mortally wounded. His killer would get a bonus bounty of 500 dollars. Little Crow's scalp would go on public display in St.Paul. Little Crow's son, Wowinapa, escapes, but is later captured in Dakota Territory.
The Long Walk to Bosque Redondo - Under the military leadership of Kit Carson, the federal government forced 8,000 Navajo men, women, & children to walk more than 300 miles from their ancestral homeland in northeastern Arizona to a newly-designated reservation at Bosque Redondo in northwestern New Mexico. The march ended in confinement on barren lands, as well as malnutrition, disease, & hunger. For four years they endured life in this desolate area under virtual prison camp circumstances. In 1866, the Navajo signed a treaty allowing them to return to their traditional homes to begin rebuilding their communities. In return, the Navajo were forced to promise to remain on the reservation, to stop raiding white communities, & to become ranchers & farmers. In 1868, the government finally returned the Navajo to their homeland.
On June 11, rancher Nathan Hungate, his wife & two little girls were slaughtered in Chivington, Colorado by Indians.
On November 29, 750 Colorado volunteers of the 3rd Colorado Cavalry, under the command of Colonel John Chivington (a Methodist pastor), attacked a Cheyenne & Arapaho village at Arapaho in retaliation for the Hungate's. The soldiers scalped the victims, then sliced off women's breasts, cut out their vaginas, cut the testicles from the men, cut off fingers, raped dead women in relays, & used baby toddlers as target practice. 163 Indians were killed; 110 of them were women & children. The dead were left to be eaten by coyotes & vultures. On the way back to Fort Lyon, the soldiers wore the sliced breasts & vaginas atop their hats or stretched over saddlebows. Weeks later, soldiers paraded through Denver, waving body parts of the dead. After two congressional hearings, Colonel Chivington was driven into exile, & Colorado Governor John Evans was removed from office.
General Patrick Conner organizes 3 columns of soldiers to begin an invasion of the Powder River Basin, from the Black Hills, Paha Sapa, to the Big Horn Mountains. They had one order: "Attack & kill every male Indian over twelve years of age." Conner builds a fort on the Powder River. Wagon trains begin to cross the Powder River Basin on their way to the Montana gold fields.
"I am poor & naked, but I am the chief of the nation. We do not want riches but we do want to train our children right. Riches would do us no good. We could not take them with us to the other world. We do not want riches. We want peace & love.” - Chief Red Cloud (Makhipiya-Luta) Sioux Chief
"When a child my mother taught me the legends of our people; taught me of the sun & sky, the moon & stars, the clouds & storms. She also taught me to kneel & pray to Usen for strength, health, wisdom, & protection. We never prayed against any person, but if we had aught against any individual we ourselves took vengeance. We were taught that Usen does not care for the petty quarrels of men." - Geronimo [Goyathlay], Chiracahua Apache
"Whenever the white man treats the Indian as they treat each other, then we will have no more wars. We shall all be alike--brothers of one father & one another, with one sky above us & one country around us, & one governmnet for all.” - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
"We are now about to take our leave & kind farewell to our native land, the country the Great Spirit gave our Fathers, we are on the eve of leaving that country that gave us birth, it is with sorrow we are forced by the white man to quit the scenes of our childhood...we bid farewell to it & all we hold dear." - Charles Hicks, Tsalagi (Cherokee) Vice Chief speaking of The Trail of Tears, November 4, 1838
July 24-26, 1865
Battle of Platte Bridge - The Cheyenne & Lakota besiege the most northerly outpost of the U.S. army & succeed in killing all members of a platoon of cavalrymen sent out to meet a wagon train as well as the wagon drivers & their escorts.
Late August, 1865
Battle of Tongue River - Connor's column destroys an Arapaho village, including all the winter's food supply, tents & clothes. They kill over 50 of the Arapaho villagers.
Late September, 1865
Roman Nose's Fight - The Cheyenne Chief, Roman Nose, in revenge for the Sand Creek Massacre, led several hundred Cheyenne warriors in a siege of the Cole & Walker columns of exhausted & starving soldiers who were attempting to return to Fort Laramie. Because they were armed only with bows, lances & a few old trade guns, they were unable to overrun the soldiers, but they harasses them for several days, until Connor's returning column rescued them.
October 14, 1865
The Southern Cheyenne chiefs sign a treaty agreeing to cede all the land they formerly claimed as their own, most of Colorado Territory, to the U.S. government. This was the desired end of the Sand Creek Massacre.
Connor returns to Fort Laramie leaving two companies of soldiers at the fort they had constructed at the fork of the Crazy Woman Creek & the Powder River. Red Cloud & his warriors kept these men isolated & without supplies all winter. Many died of scurvy, malnutrition & pneumonia before winter's end. They were not relieved until June 28th by Colonel Carrington's company.
Late Fall, 1865
Nine treaties signed with the Sioux including the Brulé, Hunkpapa, Oglala & Minneconjou. These were widely advertised as signifying the end of the Plains wars although none of the war chiefs had signed any of these treaties.
December 21, 1865
An illegal Executive Order removed lands from the Oregon Coast Indian Reservation, cutting the territory in half.
The Sioux Nations are angered as the US Army begins building forts along the Bozeman Trail, an important route to the gold fields of Virginia City; Captain Fetterman & 80 soldiers are killed.
April 1, 1866
Congress overrides President Johnson's veto of the Civil Rights Bill, giving equal rights to all persons born in the U.S. (except Indians). The President is empowered to use the Army to enforce the law.
Late Spring 1866
War chiefs Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, Standing Elk, Dull Knife & others come to Fort Laramie to negotiate a treaty concerning access to the Powder River Basin. Shortly after the beginning of the talks, on June 13, Colonel Henry Carrington & several hundred infantry men reached Fort Laramie to build forts along the Bozeman Trail. It was clear to the chiefs that the treaty was a mere formality; the road would be opened whether they agreed or not. This was the beginning Red Cloud's War.
July 13, 1866
Colonel Carrington begins building Fort Phil Kearny He halts his column between the forks of the Little Piney & the Big Piney Creeks, in the best hunting grounds of the Plains Indians, & pitches camp. The Cheyenne visit & decide that the camp is too strong for them to attack directly & begin plans for harassing the soldiers who leave the camp & for drawing out soldiers by using decoys. All summer they harasses the soldiers & make alliances with other Plains groups, forming a coalition of Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho & Crow groups.
December 21, 1866
The Fetterman Massacre was fought near Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming Territory on December 21, 1866. Angered at white interlopers traveling through their country, Sioux & Cheyenne forces continually harassed the soldiers at Fort Phil Kearny, constructed to provide emigrant protection along the newly opened Bozeman Trail. Out maneuvering the soldiers, the Indians killed all 80 of them.
1866 to 1867
Red Cloud's fight to close off the Bozeman Trail - The Oglala Sioux Chief Red Cloud successfully fought the US army in an effort to protect Sioux lands against American construction of the Bozeman Trail which was to run from Fort Laramie to the Montana gold fields.
Treaty of Medicine Lodge - After Congress passed a law to confine the Plains tribes to small reservations where they could be supervised & "civilized," US representatives organized the largest treaty-making gathering in US history. Over 6,000 members from the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Apache, Comanche, & Kiowa met at Medicine Lodge in Kansas. The Grand Council of tribes was attended by Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, & Sitting Bull, among other great leaders, & pledged to end further encroachment by the whites. The treaty ensured that all tribes would move onto reservation lands. Thereafter, the army was instructed to punish Indian raids & to "bring in" any tribes that refused to live on reservations.
Nez Perce Treaty - This was the last Indian treaty ratified by the US government.
Second Treaty of Fort Laramie - This treaty guaranteed the Sioux Indians' rights to the Black Hills of Dakota & gave the Sioux hunting permission beyond reservation boundaries. The treaty also creates the Great Sioux Reservation & agrees that the Sioux do not cede their hunting grounds in Montana & Wyoming territories. The Army agrees to abandon the forts on the Bozeman Trail & the Indians agree to become "civilized."
George Armstrong Custer established himself as a great Indian fighter by leading the Massacre on the Washita in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in which Black Kettle is killed. The entire village was destroyed & all of its inhabitants were killed.
In June, Navajos signed a treaty after the Long Walk when Kit Carson rounded up 8,000 Navajos & forced them to walk more than 300 miles to the Bosque Redondo reservation in southern New Mexico . English officials called it a reservation, but to the conquered & exiled Navajos it was a prison camp.
First Sioux War ends with the Treaty of Fort Laramie; the US agrees to abandon Forts Smith, Kearney, & Reno.
Board of Indian Commissioners - Congress created the Board to investigate & report alleged BIA mismanagement & conditions on reservations where corruption was widespread. The Board continued to operate as an investigative & oversight commission that also helped shape & direct American Indian policy.
Federally-sponsored Sac & Fox & Iowa tribes in Nebraska.
Buffalo herds are diminished to a crisis point for Plains Indians.
On January 20, Buffalo Soldiers, under the command of Captain Francis Dodge, came upon a settlement of Mescalero Apaches in the most remote region of New Mexico’s Guadalupe Mountains & attacked them, killing ten Mescalero Apaches & taking 25 ponies.
On January 23, in the Massacre on the Marias, 173 Blackfoot men, women & children were slaughtered by U.S. soldiers on the Marias River in Montana in response for the killing of Malcolm Clarke & the wounding of his son by a small party of young Blackfoot men.
On March 30, the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified. It finally recognized the natural right of all men to vote, including Indians. Women continued to be second-class citizens.
March 3, 1871
Indian Appropriation Act - This Congressional Act specified that no tribe thereafter would be recognized as an independent nation with which the federal government could make a treaty. (From 1607 to 1776, at least 175 treaties had been signed with the British & colonial governments, & from 1778 to 1868, 371 treaties were ratified the US government.) All future Indian policies would not negotiated with Indian tribes through treaties, but rather would be determined by passing Congressional statutes or executive orders. Marking a significant step backwards, the act made tribal members wards of the state rather than preserving their rights as members of sovereign nations.
April 30, 1871
One Hundred Forty-Four Apaches, most of them women & children, were murdered outside Camp Grant, Arizona, where they had been given asylum, when members of the Tucson Committee of Public Safety arrived with a force of Papago Indians, the Apaches' long-time enemies. All but 8 of the 144 dead were women & children. They were clubbed to death, hacked to pieces or brained by rocks. The committee members claimed they acted in retaliation for raids by various Apache bands at distant points across the region, but public opinion, particularly in the East, linked the event to the recently investigated Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 as further evidence of Westerners' deep-seated hatred for Indians.
May 17, 1871
Kiowa war leaders Satanta, Big Tree & Satank lead an attack on a freight train known as Warren Wagon Train Raid in Texas, in which 7 white men lost their lives.
July 5, 1871
Kiowa warriors, Satanta, Big Tree & Satank for the Warren Wagon Train Raid in Texas. Satank is killed while trying to escape. After three days of testimony they are found guilty. Satanta tells the court, "If you let me go, I will withdrawn my warriors from Tehanna, but if you kill me, it will be a spark on the prairie. Make big fire-burn heap." Although sentenced to be hanged, the Texas Governor, fearing a Kiowa uprising, decides to commute the sentences to life in a Texas prison. Eventually, Big Tree & Satanta are freed.
The Mining Act of 1872 was passed by the U.S. Congress. Alaskan natives were excluded from claiming ownership to their own land. During this period of history natives were not accepted as citizens of the nation & had no land or load claim rights, something that took many years to change.
Custer & the Seventh Cavalry come to the northern plains to guard the surveyers for the Northern Pacific Railroad. He has a chance encounter with Sitting Bull & Crazy Horse. On June 5, Alcatraz’s first Indian prisoner known as Paiute Tom started his prison term at the infamous facility. Tom’s stay at the prison was short. He was shot & killed by a guard two days after arriving. It’s unknown today what he was convicted of or why he was killed.
George Armstrong Custer announced the discovery of gold in the Black Hills of Dakota, setting off a stampede of fortune-hunters into this most sacred part of Lakota territory. Although the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty required the government to protect Lakota lands from white intruders, federal authorities worked instead to protect the miners already crowding along the path Custer blazed for them, which they called "Freedom's Trail" & the Lakota called "Thieves’ Road."
On February 25, the Skokomish reservation was established, near Shelton, Washington .
On July 26, the order was given that friendly Indians were to remain in fixed camps at the Wichita Agency, Indian Territory, & answer periodic roll calls.
On September 10, a group of Kiowa & Comanche attacked a military supply caravan along the Washita River, Indian Territory, in present day Oklahoma. The soldiers barricaded themselves for several days until others came to help. One soldier was killed.
On September 28, 1874, Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie at the head of the Fourth U.S. Cavalry attacked & destroyed a large Indian encampment in Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle.
The U.S. government attempts to purchase Paha Sapa (the Black Hills) & fails. Second Sioux War erupts after the Sioux refuse to sell the lands north of the Platte to the federal government.
On November 9, the Indian Bureau reported that Plains Indians outside reservations were "well-fed . . . lofty & independent in their attitudes, & are a threat to the reservation system."
The U.S. government issues an ultimatum that all Sioux who are not on the Great Sioux Reservation by January 31 will be considered hostile. The winter is bitter & most Sioux do not even hear of the ultimatum until after the deadline.
February 1, 1876
The Secretary of the Interior notified the Secretary Of War that time given to "hostile" Sioux & Cheyenne Indian families to abandon their villages & come into U.S. agencies had expired; it was now a military matter.
February 7, 1876
The War Department authorized General Philip Sheridan to commence operations against "hostile" Lakota, including bands of Sitting Bull & Crazy Horse.
March 17, 1876
General George Crook's advance column attacked a Sioux/Cheyenne camp on the Powder River in South Dakota, mistakenly believing it to be the encampment of Lakota warrior Crazy Horse. The people were driven from their lodges & many were killed. The lodges & all the winter supplies were burned & the horse herd captured.
George Armstrong Custer & the Seventh Cavalry begin to forcibly place the Lakota Sioux onto reservations. Sitting Bull organizes the greatest gathering of Indians on the northern plains.
May 15, 1876
President Ulysses S. Grant issued an executive order creating the Cabazon Reservation for the Cahuilla Indians. Prior to the order, the Cahuilla moved many times due to Southern Pacific Railroad’s claim to local water rights.
June 17, 1876
In the Battle of the Rosebud, General Crook is forced to retire from the "pincers" campaign.
June 25, 1876
The Battle of the Little Bighorn - Ignoring warnings of a massed Sioux army of 2,000-4,000 men, Custer & 250 soldiers attack the forces of Sitting Bull & Crazy Horse at the Little Bighorn. George Armstrong Custer & 210 men under his command are killed. The news reaches the east for the Independence Day Centennial celebrations. In response, the federal government spent the next two years tracking down the Lakota, killing some & forcing most onto the reservation. On July 6, The New York Times referred to those American people as "red devils.”
Colonel Nelson "Bear Coat" Miles arrived on the Yellowstone River to take command of the campaign against the northern plains Indians. The Manypenny Commission demands that the Sioux give up Paha Sapa or starve. Having no choice, Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, & the other reservation chiefs signed over Paha Sapa.
November 25, 1876
The U.S. took retaliatory action for the Battle of the Little Bighorn against the Cheyenne. U.S. troops under General Ronald Mackenzie burned Chief Dull Knife's village, even though Dull Knife himself didn’t fight at the Little Bighorn.
Nez Perce War - This war occurred when the US army responded to some American deaths along the Salmon River, said to have been committed by the Nez Perce. To avoid a battle that would have resulted in being forced onto a reservation, about 800 Nez Perce fled 1,500 miles. They were caught 30 miles south of the Canadian border. Survivors were sent to Indian Territory in Oklahoma, despite the promise of the US government to allow them to return to their homeland.
January 15, 1877
Standing Bear, a Ponca chief, refused to move to a reservation because it was within lands already given to the Lakota.
February 28, 1877
The U.S. Government seized the Black Hills from Lakota Sioux in violation of a treaty.
March 23, 1877
John D. Lee was brought to trial for his part in the Fancher Party Massacre of 1857. He was convicted by an all Mormon jury. On March 23 he was executed by firing squad at the site of the massacre, after denouncing Brigham Young for abandoning him. His last words are for his executioners: "Center my heart, boys. Don't mangle my body."
Early May -1877
Sitting Bull escapes to Canada with about 300 followers.
May 6, 1877
Crazy Horse finally surrendered to General George Crook at Fort Robinson, Nebraska on May 6, having received assurances that he & his followers will be permitted to settle in the Powder River country of Montana. Defiant even in defeat, Crazy Horse arrived with a band of 800 warriors, all brandishing weapons & chanting songs of war.
May 7, 1877
A small band of Minneconjou Sioux is defeated by General Nelson A. Miles, thus ending the Great Sioux Wars.
The Ponca arrived at the Otto reservation. They were forcibly marched from their old reservation to Indian Territory. The Otto took pity on the Ponca & gave them some horses to help carry their people.
September 6, 1877
By late summer, there were rumors that Crazy Horse was planning a return to battle, & on September 5 he was arrested & brought back to Fort Robinson, where, when he resisted being jailed, he was held by an Indian guard & killed by a bayonet thrust from a soldier on September 6. He was 36.
Congress passed the Manypenny Agreement, a law taking the Black Hills & ending Sioux rights outside the Great Sioux Reservation. The Sioux land - 134 million acres guaranteed by treaty in 1868 was reduced to less than 15 million acres.
October 5, 1877
Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph surrendered his rifle at Eagle Creek in the Bear Paw Mountains in Montana after months in which his starving band eluded pursuing federal troops: "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."
Buffalo have disappeared & Lakota now live on handouts from the Federal Government.
The Northern Cheyenne escape from their reservation in Oklahoma in an attempt to reach their lands in Montana Territory.
A Commission finds the Indian Bureau permeated with "cupidity, inefficiency, & the most barefaced dishonesty." The department's affairs were "a reproach to the whole nation." Carl Schurz had already dismissed the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, John Q. Smith on September 27, 1877. He now discharged many more Bureau employees & began a reorganization of the Indian agents.
The first students, a group of 84 Lakota children, arrived at the newly established United States Indian Training & Industrial School at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a boarding school founded by former Indian-fighter Captain Richard Henry Pratt to remove young Indians from their native culture & refashion them as members of mainstream American society. Over the next two decades, twenty-four more schools on the Carlisle model will be established outside the reservations, along with 81 boarding schools & nearly 150 day schools on the Indians’ own land.
On January 14, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Tribe addressed Congress about tribal lands stolen through treaties. He gave the analogy that it was like having horses that he doesn’t want to sell being sold by his neighbor, with the neighbor then letting the buyer take the horses.
In January, the U.S. Army rounded up 540 Paiute in Oregon and, in what’s known as the Paiute Trail of Tears, forcibly took them to the Yakima Reservation in Washington. On February 2, they arrived at the reservation after a forced march through winter snows.
Civilization Regulations - Congress set up a series of offenses that only Indians could commit. These regulations outlawed Indian religions, the practices of "so-called" medicine men, ceremonies like the Sun Dance, & leaving the reservation without permission. These regulations were in place until 1936.
A Century of Dishonor publication. - Helen Hunt Jackson released her book detailing the plight of American Indians & criticizing the US government's treatment of Indians.
January 18, 1881
The Spokan Indian Reservation was established.
July 19, 1881
Sitting Bull & 186 of his remaining followers surrender at Fort Buford, North Dakota. He is sent to Fort Randall, South Dakota for two years as a prisoner of war instead of being pardoned, as promised.
Late Summer, 1881
Spotted Tail, is assassinated by Crow Dog - White officials dismiss the killing as a simple quarrel, but the Sioux feel that it was the result of a plot to wrest control from a strong Indian leader.
Congressional Act - Congress provided funds for the mandatory education of 100 Indian pupils in industrial schools & for the appointment of an Inspector or Superintendent of Indian schools.
Indian Rights Association - This organization was created to protect the interests & rights of Indians. The association was composed of white reformers who wanted to help Indians abandon their cultural & spiritual beliefs & assimilate into American society.
On October 24, a federal Grand Jury in Arizona charged civil authorities with mismanagement of Indian Affairs on the San Carlos Reservation.
Ex Parte Crow Dog Supreme Court decision. - Crow Dog, a Sioux Indian who shot an killed an Indian on the Rosebud Reservation, was prosecuted in federal court, found guilty, & sentenced to death. On appeal it was argued that the federal government's prosecution had infringed upon tribal sovereignty. The Court ruled that the US did not have jurisdiction & that Crow Dog must be released. The decision was a reaffirmation of tribal sovereignty & led to the passage of the 1885 Major Crimes Act which identified seven major crimes, that if committed by an Indian on Indian land, were placed within federal jurisdiction.
A group of clergymen, government officials & social reformers calling itself "The Friends of the Indian” met in upstate New York to develop a strategy for bringing Native Americans into the mainstream of American life. Their decisions set the course for U.S. policy toward Native Americans over the next generation & resulted in the near destruction of native American cultures.
Courts of Indian Offenses - The Secretary of the Interior established these courts to uphold the 1880 Civilization Regulations to eliminate "heathenish practices" among the Indians. The rules of the courts forbade the practice of all public & private religious activities by Indians on their reservations, including ceremonial dances, like the Sun Dance, & the practices of "so-called medicine men."
Chief Sitting BullIn May, Lakota Chief Sitting Bull was released from prison. He rejoined his tribe in Standing Rock where he was forced to work the fields. He spoke forcefully against plans to open part of the reservation to White settlers. Despite the old chief's objections, the land transfer proceeded as planned. He lived the rest of his life across the Grand River from his birthplace.
On September 8, Sitting Bull delivered a speech, at the celebration of the driving of the last spike in the transcontinental railroad system, to great applause. He delivered the speech in his Sioux language, departing from a speech originally prepared by an army translator. Denouncing the U.S. government, settlers, & army, the listeners thought he was welcoming & praising them. While giving the speech, Sitting Bull paused for applause periodically, bowed, smiled, & continued insulting his audience as the translator delivered the original address.
On November 3, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an Indian is by birth "an alien & a dependent."
Sitting Bull tours with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
Major Crimes Act - This Congressional Act gave federal courts jurisdiction over Indians accused of rape, manslaughter, murder, assault with intent to kill, arson, or larceny against another Indian on a reservation. The list was eventually expanded to include 14 crimes. When U.S. troops pursued a band of Apache near Pleasanton, New Mexico, the Indians caught the soldiers in a triple cross-fire trap & killed them all.
United States v. Kagama Supreme Court decision. Two Indians on the Hoopa Valley Reservation in northern California killed another Indian on the reservation. They were prosecuted & found guilty by the federal government. The Indians argued that Congress did not have constitutional authority to pass the Major Crimes Act (1885). The Court, however, upheld the full & absolute (plenary) power of the Congress to pass the Major Crimes Act & of the federal government - not state governments - exclusively to deal with Indian tribes. "These Indian tribes are the wards of the nation. They are communities dependent on the United States - dependent largely for their daily food; dependent for their political rights. They owe no allegiance to the states, & receive from them no protection. Because of the local ill feeling, the people of the states where they are found are often their deadliest enemies. From their very weakness & helplessness, so largely due to the course of dealing of the federal government Geronimo, 1886 with them, & the treaties in which it has been promised, there arises the duty of protection, & with it the power." Thus, the case challenged the major crime act & its ruling upheld it by implying that because Indian tribes were wards of the US, Congress had the power to regulate tribes, even if it interfered with their sovereign power to deal with criminal offenders on tribal lands.
Geronimo, described by one follower as "the most intelligent & resourceful . . most vigorous & farsighted” of the Apache leaders, surrendered to General Nelson A. Miles in Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, after more than a decade of guerilla warfare against American & Mexican settlers in the Southwest. The terms of surrender required Geronimo & his tribe to settle in Florida, where the Army hoped he could be contained.
The Dawes Severalty Act, otherwise known as the General Allotment Act, gives the President power to reduce the landholdings of the Indian nations across the country by allotting 160 acres to the heads of Indian families & 80 acres to individuals. The "surplus lands" on the reservations were opened up to settlement.
On July 16, J. D. C. Atkins, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, wrote in his annual report that English would be the exclusive language used at all Indian schools. He argued that native languages were not only of no use, but were detrimental to the education & civilization of Indians.
Oglala Lakota move to Pine Ridge Agency on South Dakota /Nebraska border.
The Sioux Act - This Congressional Act divided the Great Sioux Reservation into six separate reservations in an effort to dilute their power & make much of their land available for non-Indian settlement.
The Sioux sign an agreement with the U.S. government breaking up the great Sioux Reservation. The Sioux will get six separate small reservations. The major part of their land was thrown open to settlers.
Oklahoma Organic Act - This Congressional Act divided Indian land into two territories in what is currently the state of Oklahoma : the Territory of Oklahoma in western Oklahoma was opened up to non-Indian settlement; & the Indian Territory in eastern Oklahoma was retained for continued Indian settlement.
Two Zuni Indians were hanged over the wall of a Spanish church in Arizona on the charge of using witchcraft to chase away rain clouds.
January 1, 1889
A Paiute rancher named Wovoka announced that he had dreamed a vision of a new world set aside for native people & that white people would vanish en masse. It was the birth of the short-lived Ghost Dance religion.
February 19, 1889
The Quileut Indian reservation at La Push, Washington was established.
April 22, 1889
In the first "Oklahoma Land Rush," the U.S. government bows to pressure & opens for settlement land that it had previously promised would be a permanent refuge for Native Americans moved from their eastern territories. Native American tribes are paid about $4 million for the parcel of land. The starting gun sounds at noon, & an estimated 50,000 settlers race across the land; by sunset, all 1.92 million acres have been claimed.
Congress established the Oklahoma Territory on unoccupied lands in the Indian Territory , breaking a 60-year-old pledge to preserve this area exclusively for Native Americans forced from their lands in the east.
May 29, 1890
Charles L. Hyde, a Pierre, South Dakota citizen, wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Interior saying the Ghost Dance was leading to a possible uprising by the Sioux. Prior to the letter, federal agents were not concerned about the Ghost Dance, but soon after, they feared the ceremony.
October 16, 1890
Reservation Police forcibly removed Kicking Bear from Standing Rock Agency, South Dakota , for teaching the Ghost Dance, a visionary ceremony foretelling the disappearance of white people.
December 15, 1890
When Federal troops tried to arrest Sioux Indians in Little Eagle, South Dakota on December 15, Chief Sitting Bull ordered his warriors to resist & he was shot in the back of the head & killed. The aftermath of his death led to the massacre of the Sioux at Wounded Knee.
December 29, 1890
Big Foot's band of Minneconjous try to reach Pine Ridge & the protection of Red Cloud after hearing of Sitting Bull's death. Also present were members of the Sioux band led by Chief Spotted Elk. Hungry & exhausted, they had assembled under armed guard as requested to receive the protection of the Government of the United States of America, surrendering their arms & submitting to a forced search of tents & teepees that yielded but two remaining rifles. Marched to Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota, they were disarmed by the U.S. Army. A group of 120 men & 230 women & children were counted by Major Samuel Whitside at sundown on December 28, 1890. The next day an unidentified shot rang out & the well-armed 487 U.S. soldiers ringing the defenseless people opened fire. Afterwards, 256 Sioux lay dead & were buried in mass graves. Twenty (20) Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded the soldiers.
Indian Education - A Congressional Act authorized the Commissioner of Indian Affairs "to make & enforce by proper means" rules & regulations to ensure that Indian children attended schools designed & administered by non-Indians.
Amendment to the Dawes Act - This amendment modified the amount of land to be allotted & set conditions for leasing allotments.
Indian Education - This Congressional Act made school attendance for Indian children compulsory & authorized the BIA to withhold rations & government annuities to parents who did not send their children to school.
Experts estimated that fewer that 2,000 buffalo remained of the more than 20 million that once roamed the Western plains.
More than 100,000 white settlers rushed into Oklahoma's Cherokee Outlet to claim six million acres of former Cherokee land.
On February 10, the Campo Indian Reservation near San Diego was established for the Campo band of Kumeyaay Indians. The tribe that had dwindled down to 200 members, from 2000 forty years earlier, was given one acre of land.
On January 8, the Yakama signed away 23,000 acres of timberland formerly inhabited by the Wenatchee tribe to the U.S. for $20,000.
Chief Lomahongyoma & eighteen other Hopi Indians were placed in Alcatraz for their resistance to government attempts to erase the Hopi culture. The nineteen Hopi were jailed for their resistance to farm on individual plots away from the mesas & for refusing to send their children to government boarding schools.
Curtis Act - This Congressional Act ended tribal governments practice of refusing allotments & mandated the allotment of tribal lands in Indian Territory - including the lands of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, & Seminole nations.
On March 2, Congress allowed railroad companies blanket approval for rights-of-way through Indian lands.