North American Indian Timeline (1800-1900)

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(from Legends of America).

North American Indian Timeline (1800-1900)

1802

Federal law prohibits the sale of liquor to Indians.

1803

The Louisiana Purchase adds to the United States French territory from the Gulf of Mexico to the Northwest.

The Lewis and Clark expedition begins its exploration of the West.

1804 to 1806

Lewis and Clark expedition with Sacagawea. Under direction of President Jefferson, Lewis and Clark charted the western territory with the help of Sacagawea, a Shoshone Indian.

1804

The Sioux meet the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Trading posts begin to be established in the west.

Fur trading becomes an important part of Oglala life.

Oglala and other Lakota tribes expand their region of influence and control to cover most of the current regions known as North and South Dakota, westward to the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming and 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.

1808

The Osage, a Sioux tribe, sign the Osage Treaty ceding their lands in what is now Missouri and Arkansas to the U. S.

1808 to 1812

Tecumseh, Chief of the Shawnees, and his brother known as The Prophet, founded Prophetstown for the settlement of other Indian peoples who believed that signing treaties with the U.S. 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 and Indian land. Meanwhile, William Henry Harrison, governor or Ohio, began enacting treaties with various tribes. At a meeting between Tecumseh and Harrison at Vincennes in 1810, Tecumseh declared that he and the confederacy would never recognize any treaties signed with the U.S. government. When Tecumseh was away from Prophetstown in November 1811, Harrison led troops to the town and after the ferocious Battle of Tippicanoe, destroyed the town as well as the remnants of Tecumseh's Indian confederacy.

1809

On February 8, Russians who built a blockhouse on the Hoh River (Olympic Penninsula, Washington) were taken captive by Hoh Indians, and were held as slaves for two years.

1810

This Treaty of Fort Wayne brought the Delawares, Potawatomi, Miami, and 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.

1811

On August 31, Fort Okanogan was established at the confluence of the Columbia and Okanogan Rivers; Indians met the Astorians with pledges of friendship and 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

The Creek War was instigated by General Andrew Jackson who sought to end Creek resistance to ceding their land to the U.S. government. The Creek Nation was defeated and 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.

1815

Blacks and Creek Indians captured Fort Blount, Florida from Seminoles and used it as a haven for escaped slaves and as a base for attacks on slave owners. An American army detachment eventually recaptured the fort.

On July 27, the Seminole Wars began.

1816

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 and 20 Indians, was taken after a siege of several days. The fort was destroyed, punishing the Seminoles for harboring runaway slaves.

1817

Congress passed the Indian Country Crimes Act which provided for federal jurisdiction over crimes between non-Indians and Indians, and maintained exclusive tribal jurisdiction of all Indian crimes.

1818

On April 18, Andrew Jackson defeated a force of Indians and African Americans at the Battle of Suwanee, ending the First Seminole War.

1820

By this year, more than 20,000 Indians lived in virtual slavery on the California missions.

1821

South Carolina settlers and their Cherokee allies attack and defeat the Yamassee.

The U.S. government began moving what it called the "Five Civilized Tribes" of southeast America (Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, and Chickasaw) to lands west of the Mississippi River.

1823

Johnson v. McIntosh Supreme Court decision - This case involved the validity of land sold by tribal chiefs to private persons in 1773 and 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, and 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."

1824

The Indian Office federal agency was established by the Secretary of War and operated under the administration of the War Department. The Office becomes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in 1849.

1825

Creek chief William McIntosh signs treaty ceding Creek lands to the U.S. and agrees to vacate by 1826; other Creeks repudiate the treaty and kill him.

1827

Creek Indians sign a second treaty ceding lands in western Georgia

1828

Elias Boudinot and Sequoyah begin publishing the Cherokee Phoenix, the first American newspaper published in a Native American language.

1829

Creek Indians receive orders to relocate across the Mississippi River

1830

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, and from 1830 to 1840 thousands of Native Americans were forcibly removed.

On September 15, the Choctaws 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.

1831

Black Hawk of the Sauk and Fox tribes agrees to move west of Mississippi.

Cherokee Nation v. Georgia - The Cherokee Nation sued the State of Georgia for passing laws and enacting policies that not only limited their sovereignty, but which were forbidden in the Constitution. The Court's decision proclaimed that Indians were neither U.S. citizens, nor independent nations, but rather were "domestic dependent nations" whose relationship to the U.S. "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 and 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.

1832

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 and the Cherokees refused to negotiate unless the federal government honored previous treaty promises.

On August 2, some 150 Sac and Fox men, women and children, under a flag of truce, were massacred at Bad Axe River by the Illinois militia.

1833

On January 12, a law was passed making it unlawful for any Indian to remain within the boundaries of the state of Florida.

1834

Indian Intercourse Act - Congress created Indian Territory in the west that included the land area in all of present-day Kansas, most of Oklahoma, and parts of what later became Nebraska, Colorado, and 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 and rest following Chief Smoke. This was a change from their previous more loosely governed bands with many leaders of comparable influence.

1835

Treaty of New Echota - A portion of the Cherokee nation agreed to give up Cherokee lands in the Southeast in exchange for land in and removal to Indian Territory. A larger group of the Cherokee did not accept the terms of this treaty and refused to move westward.

1835-42

Seminole War - The second and most terrible of three wars between the U.S. government and the Seminole people was also one of the longest and most expensive wars in which the U.S. army was ever engaged. Thousands of troops were sent, 1,500 men died, and between 40-60 million dollars were spent to force most of the Seminoles to move to Indian Territory—more than the entire U.S. government's budget for Indian Removal.

1836

In five groups, over 14,000 Creeks were forcibly removed by the U.S. Army from Alabama to Oklahoma.

1837

Two thirds of the 6,000 Blackfeet died of smallpox

1838

Trail of Tears - Despite the Supreme Court's rulings in 1831 and 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) and had remained in Georgia. In May, American soldiers herded most into camps where they remained imprisoned throughout the summer and 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 Seminoles were forcibly relocated.

1841

Forty-eight wagons arrive in Sacramento by way of the Oregon Trail, one of the earliest large groups to make this journey.

1842

Seminole Nation v. United States. The Court held officials of the United States were to be held to the "most exacting fiduciary standards" in performing their duties toward American Indians. Thus, it "has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust" towards American Indian Nations; i.e., upholding the trust responsibility.

1843

Second Seminole War ends.

1847

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

1849

The U.S. Government purchases Fort Laramie from the American Fur Company and 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.

1850

There are 20,000,000 buffalo on the plains between Montana and Texas.

On September 9, California entered the Union. With miners flooding the hillsides and devastating the land, California's Indians found themselves deprived of their traditional food sources and forced by hunger to raid the mining towns and other white settlements. Miners retaliated by hunting Indians down and 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 and 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."

1850-1875

Extermination of buffalo herds by sports and hide hunters severely limits Plains Indians food supply and ability to survive.

1851

A series of Fort Laramie treaties were signed with the Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other Plains tribes delineating the extent of their territories and 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 and wagon trains on the Oregon and later the Bozeman trails, 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 and 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.

1853

California began confining its remaining Indian population on harsh military reservations, but the combination of legal enslavement and 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.

1855

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.

1856

January 26, 1856: 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.

1857

In September, the Fancher party, a group of California-bound emigrants from Arkansas and Missouri, arrived in Salt Lake City. According to Brigham Young's edict, the townspeople refused to sell supplies to the group. They headed south and camped in Mountain Meadows.
On September 7, the Fancher party suffered a coordinated joint attack by Paiute Indians and 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 Doyle Lee, and 54 Mormon militiamen approached the Fancher party and offered to provide safe passage through the territory. The surviving members of the Fancher party would hand over their livestock to the Paiutes and their guns to the Mormons. In return, the pioneers were guaranteed safe passage from the area. Once the emigrants accepted the Mormon offer and laid down their weapons, the Mormons opened fire on them. The Paiute, allies of the Mormons, stormed the wagon train, and slaughtered the women and 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 and settled in Lee's Ferry, Arizona.
In 1877, Lee was arrested and tried for his part in the massacre. He was convicted and 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 and was executed by a firing squad.

1858

On May 17, 1,200 Coeur d'Alene, Palouse, Spokane, and 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 and Spokane tribes were shot or hanged.

1860

On February 26, white settlers from Eureka, California attacked and 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 and 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 Navajos and American military forces in the area. During a final standoff in January 1864 at Canyon de Chelly, fears of harsh winter conditions and starvation forced the Navajo to surrender to Kit Carson and his troops. Carson ordered the destruction of Navajo property and organized the Navajo Long Walk to Bosque Redondo reservation at Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

1861

On February 13, the first military action to result in the Congressional Medal of Honor occurred. Colonel Bernard Irwin attacked and defeated hostile Chiricahua Indians in Arizona.

On February 18, Arapaho and 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 and children during a horse race at Fort Wingate, New Mexico.

On September 22, 500 Apaches led by Cochise attacked the town of Pinos Altos, New Mexico. Three miners and 14 Indians were killed.

1862

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 U.S. 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, and 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 Lincoln intervened and 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 and 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 hung.

1863

July 3, 1863: After the end of the Santee Sioux uprising, Little Crow leaves the area. Eventually he returns to steal horses and supplies so he, and his followers can survive. On this day, near Hutchinson, Minnesota, Little Crow and 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, and 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.

1864

The Long Walk to Bosque Redondo - Under the military leadership of Kit Carson, the federal government forced 8,000 Navajo men, women, and 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, and 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, and to become ranchers and farmers. In 1868, the government finally returned the Navajo to their homeland.

On June 11, rancher Nathan Hungate, his wife and two little girls were slaughtered in Chivington, Colorado by Indians.

On November 29, 750 Colorado volunteers of the 3rd Colorado Calvary, under the command of Colonel John Chivington (a Methodist pastor), attacked a Cheyenne and 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 squaws in relays, and used baby toddlers as target practice. 163 Indians were killed; 110 of them were women and children. The dead were left to be eaten by coyotes and vultures. On the way back to Fort Lyon, the soldiers wore the sliced breasts and 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, and Colorado Governor John Evans was removed from office.

1865

July: 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 and 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.

July 24-26, 1865: Battle of Platte Bridge - The Cheyenne and Lakota besiege the most northerly outpost of the U.S. army and succeed in killing all members of a platoon of cavalrymen sent out to meet a wagon train as well as the wagon drivers and their escorts.

Late August, 1865: Battle of Tongue River - Connor's column destroys an Arapaho village, including all the winter's food supply, tents and 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 and Walker columns of exhausted and starving soldiers who were attempting to return to Fort Laramie. Because they were armed only with bows, lances and 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.

October, 1865: Connor returns to Fort Laramie leaving 2 companies of soldiers at the fort they had constructed at the fork of the Crazy Woman Creek and the Powder River. Red Cloud and his warriors kept these men isolated and without supplies all winter. Many died of scurvy, malnutrition and 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 Brulés, Hunkpapas, Oglalas and Minneconjous. 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.

1866

The Sioux Nations are angered as the U.S. Army begins building forts along the Bozeman Trail, an important route to the gold fields of Virginia City; Captain Fetterman and 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 and 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 and 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 Kearney He halts his column between the forks of the Little Piney and the Big Piney Creeks, in the best hunting grounds of the Plains Indians, and pitches camp. The Cheyenne visit and decide that the camp is too strong for them to attack directly and begin plans for harassing the soldiers who leave the camp and for drawing out soldiers by using decoys. All summer they harasses the soldiers and make alliances with other Plains groups, forming a coalition of Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho and Crow groups.

December 21, 1866: Fetterman Massacre - Early in December the young Lakota warriors, including Crazy Horse, executed an elaborate decoy manuever to draw soldiers out of the fort. They were very successful and killed several officers and severely wounded several other soldiers. In the next weeks an ambush was carefully planned and a location for a trap was chosen. Two thousand warriors moved south and set up camp two miles north of the chosen trap location. Ten young warriors were selected from the different tribal groups represented for the most dangerous job of decoying the soldiers. These decoys performed elaborate manuevers to lure the soldiers into the trap. When they were all inside the trap, the decoys signaled to the concealed warriors who rose up and killed all 80 of the soldiers. Nonetheless, casualties among the Indians were great because they were poorly armed to compete with the new repeating rifles of the soldiers. The Indians named this battle The Battle of the Hundred Slain. The whites knew it as the Fetterman Massacre because the soldiers were led by Captain Fetterman, who had boasted that he could defeat the entire Sioux Nation with a single company of cavalrymen. Colonel Carrington was appalled by the mutilation of the bodies they found. Had he seen the bodies of the Indians slain at Sand Creek, the condition of these bodies would have come as no surprise.

1866 to 1867

Red Cloud's fight to close off the Bozeman Trail - The Oglala Sioux Chief Red Cloud successfully fought the U.S. 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.

Summer, 1867: Treaty of Medicine Lodge - After Congress passed a law to confine the Plains tribes to small reservations where they could be supervised and "civilized," U.S. representatives organized the largest treaty-making gathering in U.S. history. Members from the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Apaches, Comanches, and Kiowas met at Medicine Lodge in Kansas. The Grand Council of 6,000 tribes was attended by Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and 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 and to "bring in" any tribes that refused to live on reservations.

1868

Nez Perce Treaty - This was the last Indian treaty ratified by the U.S. government.

Second Treaty of Fort Laramie - This treaty guaranteed the Sioux Indians' rights to the Black Hills of Dakota and gave the Sioux hunting permission beyond reservation boundaries. The treaty also creates the Great Sioux Reservation and agrees that the Sioux do not cede their hunting grounds in Montana and Wyoming territories. The Army agrees to abandon the forts on the Bozeman Trail and 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 and all of its inhabitants were killed.

In June, Navajos signed a treaty after the Long Walk when Kit Carson rounded up 8,000 Navajos and 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 and exiled Navajos it was a prison camp.

1869

First Sioux War ends with the Treaty of Fort Laramie; the U.S. agrees to abandon Forts Smith, Kearney, and Reno.

Board of Indian Commissioners - Congress created the Board to investigate and report alleged BIA mismanagement and conditions on reservations where corruption was widespread. The Board continued to operate as an investigative and oversight commission that also helped shape and direct American Indian policy.

Federally-sponsored Sac and Fox and Iowa tribes in Nebraska.

1870

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 and attacked them, killing ten Mescalero Apaches and taking 25 ponies.

On January 23, in the Massacre on the Marias, 173 Blackfeet men, women and children were slaughtered by U.S. soldiers on the Marias River in Montana in response for the killing of Malcolm Clarke and the wounding of his son by a small party of young Blackfeet 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 and colonial governments, and from 1778 to 1868, 371 treaties were ratified the U.S. 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 and 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 and 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.

July 5, 1871: Kiowas, Santana and Big Tree are arrested for murdering wagon drivers in the raid on May 18th. The trail for the two is held in Jacksboro, Texas near Fort Richardson. 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 and Satanta are freed.

1872

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 and had no land or load claim rights, something that took many years to change.

1873

Custer and 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 and 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 and killed by a guard two days after arriving. It's unknown today what he was convicted of or why he was killed.

1874

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" and 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, and answer periodic roll calls.

On September 10, a group of Kiowa and 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.

1875

The U.S. government attempts to purchase Paha Sapa (the Black Hills) and 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 and independent in their attitudes, and are a threat to the reservation system."

1876

January, 1876: 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 and 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 and Cheyenne Indian families to abandon their villages and 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 and 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 and many were killed. The lodges and all the winter supplies were burned and the horse herd captured.

Spring 1876: George Armstrong Custer and 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 and 250 soldiers attack the forces of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse at the Little Bighorn. George Armstrong Custer and 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 and forcing most onto the reservation. On July 6, The New York Times referred to those American people as "red devils."

October 1876: 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, and 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.

1877

Nez Perce War - This war occurred when the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 and 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 and chanting songs of war.

May 7, 1877: A small band of Minneconjou Sioux is defeated by General Miles, thus ending the Great Sioux Wars.

June, 1877: 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 and 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, and on September 5 he was arrested and brought back to Fort Robinson, where, when he resisted being jailed, he was held by an Indian guard and 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 and 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."

1877-1888

Buffalo have disappeared and Lakota now live on handouts from the Federal Government.

1878

The Northern Cheyenne escape from their reservation in Oklahoma in an attempt to reach their lands in Montana Territory.

January, 1878: A Commission finds the Indian Bureau permeated with "cupidity, inefficiency, and 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 and began a reorganization of the Indian agents.

1879

The first students, a group of 84 Lakota children, arrived at the newly established United States Indian Training and 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 and 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 and 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 Paiutes 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.

1880

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, and leaving the reservation without permission. These regulations were in place until 1936.

1881

A Century of Dishonor publication. - Helen Hunt Jackson released her book detailing the plight of American Indians and criticizing the U.S. government's treatment of Indians.

January 18, 1881: The Spokane Indian Reservation was established.

July 19, 1881: Sitting Bull and 186 of his remaining followers surrender at Fort Buford. He is sent to Fort Randall 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.

1882

Congressional Act - Congress provided funds for the mandatory education of 100 Indian pupils in industrial schools and for the appointment of an Inspector or Superintendent of Indian schools.

Indian Rights Association - This organization was created to protect the interests and rights of Indians. The association was composed of white reformers who wanted to help Indians abandon their cultural and spiritual beliefs and 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.

1883

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, and sentenced to death. On appeal it was argued that the federal government's prosecution had infringed upon tribal sovereignty. The Court ruled that the U.S. did not have jurisdiction and that Crow Dog must be released. The decision was a reaffirmation of tribal sovereignty and 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 and 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 and 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 and private religious activities by Indians on their reservations, including ceremonial dances, like the Sun Dance, and the practices of "so-called medicine men."

In 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, and army, the listeners thought he was welcoming and praising them. While giving the speech, Sitting Bull paused for applause periodically, bowed, smiled, and 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 and a dependent."

1885

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 Apaches near Pleasanton, New Mexico, the Indians caught the soldiers in a triple cross-fire trap and killed them all.

1886

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 and 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 and absolute (plenary) power of the Congress to pass the Major Crimes Act and 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, and 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 and helplessness, so largely due to the course of dealing of the federal government with them, and the treaties in which it has been promised, there arises the duty of protection, and with it the power." Thus, the case challenged the major crime act and 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 and resourceful . . most vigorous and 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 and Mexican settlers in the Southwest. The terms of surrender required Geronimo and his tribe to settle in Florida, where the Army hoped he could be contained.

1887

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 and 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 and civilization of Indians.

1888

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 and make much of their land available for non-Indian settlement.

1889

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; and the Indian Territory in eastern Oklahoma was retained for continued Indian settlement.

Two Zuni Indians were hung 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 and 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 and 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, and an estimated 50,000 settlers race across the land; by sunset, all 1.92 million acres have been claimed.

1890

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 and he was shot in the back of the head and 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 and 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 and 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 and submitting to a forced search of tents and 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 and 230 women and children were counted by Major Samuel Whitside at sundown on December 28, 1890. The next day an unidentified shot rang out and the well-armed 487 U.S. soldiers ringing the defenseless people opened fire. Afterwards, 256 Sioux lay dead and were buried in mass graves. Twenty (20) Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded the soldiers.

1891

Indian Education - A Congressional Act authorized the Commissioner of Indian Affairs "to make and enforce by proper means" rules and regulations to ensure that Indian children attended schools designed and administered by non-Indians.

Amendment to the Dawes Act - This amendment modified the amount of land to be allotted and set conditions for leasing allotments.

1893

Indian Education - This Congressional Act made school attendance for Indian children compulsory and authorized the BIA to withhold rations and 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.

1894

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.

Jan-August, 1895: Chief Lomahongyoma and 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 and for refusing to send their children to government boarding schools.

1898

Curtis Act - This Congressional Act ended tribal governments practice of refusing allotments and mandated the allotment of tribal lands in Indian Territory - including the lands of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole nations.

1899

On March 2, Congress allowed railroad companies blanket approval for rights-of-way through Indian lands.