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Native American Wars


POWHATAN WARS (1610-1614, 1622-1626, 1644-1646), Virginia


  • Powhatan Confederacy were natives of Chesapeake tidewater led by Chief Wahunsunacawh (Chief Powhatan)

  • First war 1610-1614

  • 1607 Virginia Company of London landed in Jamestown and clashed with Indians

  • In 1608 Powhatan destroyed an Indian village that agreed to plant extra corn for the British settlers

  • In 1610, Lord de la Warr arrived in Jamestown and decided to conquer the Indians

  • Relations improved in 1614 when John Rolfe (who brought tobacco to Virginia) marry Chief Powhatan's favorite daughter, Pocahontas.

  • Second War 1622 - 1626

  • Powhatan died 1618, his brother, Opechancanough, became the new chief

  • Opechancough was concerned about English pushing into hunting grounds to plant tobacco

  • More than 500 Powhatan warriors killed 347 colonists (including John Rolfe)

  • Result: King James I revoked the Virginia Company’s charter and took direct control.

  • Third War 1644-1646

  • Within two years Virginian Company gained upper hand. 200 Powhatans were invited to a peace parley and were poisoned.

  • 1644 Powhatans launched another offensive, killed 500 (1 in 12 Virginians)

  • The war ended when Opechancanough was captured and killed.

  • 1677 After Bacon's Rebellion, Indian reservations were established.

  • By 1685 the Powhatans were extinct.

PEQUOT WARS (1637) Massachusetts


  • New England Indians didn't have a single chief (like Powhatan)

  • So sought alliances with newcomers to enhance their position against rivals.

  • To west = rival Mohawks (one of Iroquois tribes)

  • As population of Massachusetts grew, colonists looked for new places to live

  • 1636, Thomas Hooker led some Puritans to Connecticut Valley (fertile land, access to sea, many beavers)

  • The region was at the heart of Pequot hunting grounds

  • Pequots had controlled southern New England fur trade and exacted tribute from other Indians

  • In 1637, Pequots killed John Oldham, a well-known fur trader

  • Mystic River Massacre, May 26, 1637

  • Connecticut soldiers and Narragansett allies surrounded main Pequot fort at Mystic River

  • 600 Pequot men, women and children were inside.

  • Soldiers set the fort on fire killing those who tried to escape

  • More than 500 men, women children died

  • Some who had escaped west were killed by Mohawk Indians

  • Pilgrim leader William Bradford (see Mayflower Compact) was shocked.

  • "It was a fearfull sight to see them thus frying in the fyer, and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stinck and sente ther of"

  • ​Most Puritans believed defeat of "barbarous" Indians was sign that God didn't want them there

KING PHILIP'S WAR (1675-78), Massachusetts


  • Good relations

  • Wampanoag's were based in Plymouth region of Massachusetts

  • In 1620, Squanto (Tisquantum), a member of the Patuxet branch of the Wampanoag, taught Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, squash and beans and worked as a translator.

  • He and the Wampanoag's chief, Massasoit, celebrated America's first "Thanksgiving" with the new colonists.

  • Good relations ended

  • Massasoit's son/successor, Metacom (named "King Philip" by British)

  • Metacom/Philip tried to stop expansion of English settlements and European culture

  • And planned to unite New England tribes in a league like Iroquois.

  • Conflict with British

  • 1675, ​Philip's men killed Sassamon, a "praying Indian" (Christian convert) who had informed English of Philip's activities

  • British in Plymouth hanged three Wampanoags for killing Sassamon,

  • Attack on colonists

  • Metacom/Philip tried to organize pan-Indian attack on colonists

  • The Wampanoags and their allies attacked more than 1/2 of English settlements

  • ​1000 settlers (out of population of 52,000) and 3,000 Indians (out of 20,000) died

  • Then the Indians began quarreling among themselves

  • Iroquois and most of the "praying Indians" had sided with the British

  • The war ended when Philip was captured and beheaded in August 1676.

  • ​His head was displayed on a pole at Plymouth for 20 years.

  • Consequence

  • The Wampanoags were nearly exterminated

  • War marks end of formidable Native American presence among New England colonists

  • New Englanders were now free to expand into their land.

PUEBLO REVOLT (aka Popé's Rebellion) (1680), New Mexico

  • In 1609 the Spanish founded Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  • Franciscan missionaries immediately set out to convert the Indians to Catholicism, baptizing more than 80,000 Native Americans by 1630

  • In the 1670s the Pueblo Indians were ravaged by disease and hunger. Some began to revert to their old religions in desperation.

  • To set an example, the Spanish began to hang some of the Pueblos for giving up the Christian faith

  • This triggered a rebellion

  • In 1680, the Pueblos led by Chief Popé killed half the priests in New Mexico

  • It took ten years for the Spanish to regain power in Santa Fe.

  • When the Spanish returned, they no longer tried to change the Pueblo culture.

FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR

  • Iroquois Confederacy

  • Five Nations of Iroquois joined in 1142 in a "Great League of Peace"

  • Each has its own language, territory and function in the League

  • Governed by a Grand Council

  • Made up of 50 chiefs (sachems) each representing a clan

  • Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca (Tuscarora in 1722)

  • Iroquois were the first tribes to get guns (from Dutch on Hudson R)

  • Iroquois fought other Indians (especially the Huron) to dominate fur trade.

  • Iroquois were allied with English who bought their furs at Albany, NY

  • Huron

  • From southeastern Canada

  • Friends and allies of the French

  • First battles

  • Iroquois attacked France's forts and Indian allies

  • In revenge, French burned towns of Onandagas and Senecas

  • Ohio Valley

  • Indians knew direct confrontation with Europeans meant suicide

  • So they played British and French empires off one another

  • 1750 not many white settlers in Ohio Valley

  • But Scots-Irish, German immigrants, Virginia planter and speculators interested in region because of fertile soil.

  • 1749 government of Virginia gave half a million acres to Ohio Company

  • Members included VA's royal governor and George Washington.

  • French then tried to increase presence in region.

  • Sparked war

  • French and Indian War

  • 1754 British tried to kick French out of their forts in western Penn - land claimed by Ohio Company.

  • Soldiers led by Washington were forced to surrender to French

  • Br. General Edward Braddock sent to French Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh)

  • Braddock's troops ambushed by French and Indian forces.

  • Indians killed 100s of colonists in western Pennsylvania

  • 1759, British captured French forts: Duquesne, Ticonderoga, Louisbourg

  • French defeated on Plains of Abraham (Quebec)

  • Peace of Paris 1763

  • French gave up Canada to British (kept Caribbean Islands)

  • Indians not included in negotiations

PONTIAC'S REBELLION (1763), Ohio Valley/Great Lakes Region


  • Native Americans enjoyed better relations with the French than the English

  • After the French and Indian War, the British absorbed New France along with the Indians living in the regions

  • Unlike the French, the British treated the Indians as "wretched people" and stopped giving them gifts (blankets, metal tools, guns, liquor etc.)

  • In reaction, Ottawa Chief Pontiac (a former ally of the French) created an alliance of Indian tribes, attacked British outposts, and killed more than 2,000 British soldiers and settlers.

  • The British retaliated by sending Indians smallpox-infected blankets and fighting the Indians

  • To prevent further bloodshed

  • the British government issued the Proclamation of 1763 prohibiting colonists from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains

  • Colonists were outraged since they believed they had fought the war with the French in order to expand settlement westward. (See causes of American Revolution)

BATTLE OF FALLEN TIMBER (1795), Ohio River Valley, Northwest Territory


  • After the American War of Independence (and the dismantling of the Proclamation Line of 1763)

  • Confederate Congress began incorporating the Northwest Territory into the United States

  • With promise that "the utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their Consent; and in their property, rights and liberty they shall never be invaded or disturbed."

  • Despite promises

  • American frontiersmen (hungry for land) poured into the region and ignore the rights of Indians.

  • Resulting in frequent skirmishes and massacres.

  • British openly sold firearms and alcohol to Indians of Miami Confederacy.

  • Miami Confederacy (Western Confederacy)

  • Group of eight Indian nations

  • Who considered Ohio River the northwestern boundary of U.S.

  • Harassed Americans encroaching on their land.

  • War chief -- Little Turtle

  • Open warfare broke out 1790 and 1791

  • Washington sent militias led by Josiah Harmar (1790) and Arthur Saint Clair (1791)

  • Poorly supplied, suffered from dysentery and malaria, didn't know terrain.

  • Americans decimated by Little Turtle's troops (630 killed) - the costliest loss suffered by U.S. army at hands of Indians.

  • 1794

  • 3,000 Americans regular troops led by General "Mad Anthony" Wayne

  • Defeated Little Turtle's forces at Battle of Fallen Timbers

  • Indians turned to British for help

  • But British denied aid.

  • Little Turtle surrendered.

  • Treaty of Greenville 1795

  • Twelve Indian tribes gave up big areas of control in Old Northwest

  • Ceded southern half of Ohio and part of Indiana

  • In return, tribes of Miami Confederacy given $20,000 and yearly annuity ("Annuity System")

  • Annuity = yearly grants of federal land or money

BATTLE OF TIPPECANOE (1811), Indiana


  • After Treaty of Greenville (see above)

  • Many Indians moved to Indiana territory

  • To escape U.S. settlers.

  • Tecumseh, a Shawnee leader

  • Angry that Delaware and Pottawatomie Indians gave up land to U.S. (it belonged to all Indians)

  • Urged Indians to unite to protect hunting grounds.

  • Tecumseh's brother Tenskwatawa ("The Prophet")

  • Lived in Prophetstown on Tippecanoe River

  • "The Prophet" believed Indians needed to revive their culture

  • Became militant

  • Battle of Tippecanoe

  • William Henry Harrison (Governor of Indiana)

  • 1811 gathered force to march on Prophetstown

  • "The Prophet" attacked Harrison's troops first near Tippecanoe River.

  • 1/4 of Harrison's troops dead or wounded.

  • Indians lost confidence in Tenskwatawa

  • Many Native Americans (including Tecumseh) fled to British-held Canada

  • Proved that British had been helping them.

  • Tecumseh allied with British in War of 1812.

  • Killed in battle against Americans led by William Henry Harrison in 1813.

TRAIL OF TEARS (1835-1838)

  • Five Civilized Tribes (including Cherokee)

  • Had written language, converted to Christianity, agriculture, some owned slaves.

  • Cherokee nation = independent republic within Georgia

  • Gold found on Cherokee land.

  • Indian Removal Act passed by Congress 1830

  • Cherokee forced to resettle in Oklahoma ("Indian territory")

  • Cherokee sued (see court cases)

  • Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 1831

  • Supreme Court refused to hear the case of the Cherokee

  • Called the Cherokees a "dependent nation" with a relationship to the U.S. like "wards to its guardian."

  • Worcester v. Georgia 1832

  • Ruled in favor of Cherokee over Georgia

  • Determined that the federal government was the sole authority in dealing with Indian nations.

  • Jackson allowed Georgia to ignore ruling

  • ("John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it." Jackson)

  • Trail of Tears (1838-1839)

  • 1000s of Cherokee died en route to Oklahoma


SEMINOLE WARS (1817-18, 1835-42, 1855-58), Florida

First Seminole War (1817-1818)

  • Seminole Indians lived in Spanish Florida.

  • Welcomed runaway slaves living among them.

  • Under Jackson,

  • U.S. military invaded Florida, burned down downs and seized Pensacola from Spanish.

  • Spanish forced to give up Florida to U.S. (Adams-Onis Treaty,1819)

Second Seminole War (1835-1842)

  • Indian Relocation Act of 1831

  • Seminoles commanded to leave reservations to go west of Mississippi (see map above)

  • Led by chief Osceola,

  • Seminoles hid families in Everglades and fought .

  • Battle with U.S government was expensive (more than $40 million)

  • Osceola captured.

  • Peace. most Seminoles agreed to emigrate.

Third Seminole War (1855-1858)

  • Led by remaining Seminole leader, "Billy Bowlegs"

  • Provoked by U.S surveying corps' destruction of Seminole banana plantation.

  • US military reduced Seminole population to 200-300 people.

  • Bowlegs surrendered May 7, 1858.

  • US abandoned efforts to remove all Seminoles.

RESERVATION SYSTEM (1851)

  • In 1851 the U.S. Congress introduced the policy of "concentration"

  • Pressing tribes to sign treaties limiting their hunting grounds to "reservations"

  • Indian Appropriations Act (Feb. 27, 1851)

  • Authorized the creation of Indian reservations in Oklahoma

  • Allocated funds to move western tribes onto reservations

  • Protected and enclosed by the US government

  • Reservations were created to "protect" the Native Americans Americans from the growing encroachment of whites moving westward.

  • Indians were not allowed to leave the reservations

  • Treaty of Fort Laramie (Sept 17, 1851)

  • Between the U.S. and representatives of the Cheyenne, Sioux, Arapaho and five other tribes.

  • Set aside land that was Indian territory

  • Native Americans guaranteed safe passage for settlers on the Oregon Trail and allowed roads and forts to be buit in their territories

  • in return for promises of an annuity in the amount of 50,000 for 50 years.

  • The treaty also made an "effective and lasting peace" among the eight tribes

FIRST SIOUX WAR (1854)

  • First of a series of wars

  • Followed the signing of the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1851

  • Which allowed safe passage for white settlers along the Oregon Trail

  • A cow escaped from a Mormon party in 1854 and wandered into a Sioux camp.

  • The Mormons chased the cow, saw Indians, became scared

  • They reported to the army at Ft. Laramie that the cow had been stolen

  • Lt. John Grattan led a force to the village and tried to arrest a man

  • When the man claimed innocence, Grattan fired on the Indians killing Chief Conquering Bear

  • Sioux counterattacked and killed the whole detachment.

  • Sept. 1855, General Harney overran the village killing 85 Indians and taking 70 women and children captive.

DAKOTA WAR (1862), Minnesota


  • 1858 Minnesota became a state.

  • Santee Dakota Sioux agreed to settle on strip of land reserved by the govt.

  • In exchange for regular payments (annuities).

  • But the agents (including Minnesota's governor) kept the money for themselves leaving Dakota poor and starving.

  • Meanwhile, white settlers inundated the area.

  • Lincoln had withdrawn federal troops from the West to protect DC during the Civil War.

  • 1862 Dakota anger boiled over, they killed more than 400 white people (including women and children) creating a hysteria.

  • Minnesotans sentenced 307 Dakotas to death

  • Lincoln pardoned most of them

  • 38 Native Americans were hanged in 1862 in largest mass execution in U.S. history.

  • Congress then canceled all treaties with the Dakotas, revoked the annuities and expelled them from Minnesota

SAND CREEK MASSACRE (Chivington Massacre) (1864), Colorado


  • Cheyenne (allies of the Sioux) weren't hostile but western whites felt vulnerable in wake of Dakota uprising.

  • Colorado militia leader John Chivington

  • Determined to quell public anxiety to get ahead politically.

  • May 1864, Cheyenne chief Black Kettle, fearing attack, talked to U.S. agents

  • Agents told the Cheyenne to settle along Sand Creek in eastern Colorado until a treaty was signed.

  • Nov. 29, 1864, Chivington's Colorado militia attacked the camp while the men were out hunting.

  • Killed and mutilated more than 100 Indians (2/3 were women and children) and hung scalps in the Apollo theater

  • Cheyennes joined Arapahos and the Sioux

  • They attacked and burned white settlements along the South Platte River.

  • U.S. army couldn't find the warriors.

  • A joint congressional investigation condemned Chivington

FETTERMAN MASSACRE (1866), Wyoming


  • 1,500 Sioux warriors lured Captain William Fetterman and 80 soldiers from a Wyoming Fort

  • Killed all of them

  • And closed Bozeman Trail

  • A private road under army protection,

  • The main route to Montana

  • General William Tecumseh Sherman

  • Swore to defeat Indians

  • 1868 the Sioux, led by the Oglala band under Chief Red Cloud,

  • Said they wouldn't sign treaty unless US pledged to abandon all forts along the Bozeman Trail.

  • Commission agree - Red Cloud won.

  • By the time U.S. Grant elected President 1869

  • Indian policy changed -- sought peace

BUFFALO SOLDIERS (1866)


  • Formed Sept. 21, 1866 in Kansas

  • Nickname given by Indians to African-American soldiers

  • Veterans of the Civil War

  • 9th, 10th cavalries

  • 24th and 25th infantries

  • Who fought in the Indian Wars

  • First all-black regiments in the regular army.

SECOND TREATY OF FORT LARAMIE, 1868

  • Agreement between whites and the Sioux

  • Resulted from a 1867 report: "Report on the Condition of the Indian Tribes"

  • Led to an Indian Peace Commission to end the wars and prevent future Indian conflicts.

  • U.S. recognized the sacred Black Hills as part of the Great Sioux Reservation

  • Sioux agreed to settle within the Black Hills reservation in the Dakota Territory

  • In 1874, though, General George Custer led an expedition in the Black Hills

  • With miners seeking gold found in the Black Hills.

  • See Battle of Little Bighorn (1876)

INDIAN APPROPRIATIONS ACT 1871

  • Ended recognition of tribes as independent nations by the federal government

  • And nullified previous treaties made with the tribes.

  • Conflicts:

  • Red river War against Comanche

  • Second Sioux War led by Sitting Bull and Crazy horse in the northern plains.

BATTLE OF LITTLE BIGHORN - CUSTER'S "LAST STAND" (1876),


  • Sioux War ended 1868 with signing of Treaty of Fort Laramie

  • Established two Indian reservations

  • Oklahoma and Dakota Badlands.

  • Indian Appropriation Act 1871

  • Ended recognition of tribes as independent nations by the federal government

  • nullified previous treaties made with tribes.

  • Ignoring the treaty, in 1874 Colonel George Custer led an expedition into the sacred Black Hills of the Sioux (Paha Sapa)

  • Because of rumor of gold in the region, prospectors came.

  • President Grant ordered all "hostiles" in the area rounded up and driven onto the reservations.

  • Little Bighorn, Summer 1876

  • Several army columns marched against the Sioux

  • Custer (who had a reputation as a cruel "squaw killer") eager for glory, got to Little Big Horn River a day earlier than the other troops.

  • But discovered encampment of 12,000 Sioux and Cheyenne (allied now)

  • Sioux leader Crazy Horse and religious leader Sitting Bull

  • Killed Custer and 250 soldiers.

  • Sioux were forced to split into small bands to escape the army.

  • 1876 Crazy Horse and 800 other Cheyennes and Sioux surrendered after a winter of suffering and starvation.

CHIEF JOSEPH

  • "Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain" ("Joseph the Younger) was born in Oregon

  • A Nez Perce who had been baptized a Christian.

  • His father, Joseph the Elder, was one of the first Nez Perce to convert to Christianity.

  • Joseph the Elder had made peace with white people in 1855 and helped set up a Nez Perce reservation

  • But in 1863 gold was found on Nez Perce territory followed by a gold rush.

  • Joseph (the younger) became chief when his father died in 1871.

  • He resisted efforts to move his band onto the small Idaho reservation.

  • In 1877 General Oliver Otis Howard threatened to attack Joseph

  • Joseph took his 700-member tribe and tried to flee the US by getting political asylum in Canada.

  • But the band was cornered and had to give in.

  • Chief Joseph was seen as a humanitarian and peacemake

DAWES SEVERALTY ACT 1887

  • 1881 Helen Hunt Jackson wrote A Century of Dishonor

  • Detailed the broken treaties between federal government and Indians

  • Whites cheating Indians out of their lands and herding them onto reservations.

  • By 1881, government no longer made treaties with Indian "nations"

  • Instead tribes defined as wards of the federal government (not citizens but under Washington's protection)

  • Because of Helen Hunt's book, in 1887 Congress approved Dawes Severalty Act

  • To Americanize and assimilate Indians

  • Tribes were dissolved.

  • Reservation land was distributed.

  • Indian heads of households given 160 acres of land (80 acres for each additional adult)

  • After 25 years, the Indian families would become citizens.

  • Problems

  • Few Indians were farmers

  • 160 acres was not big enough and not good for farming

  • Indians were not used to individual land ownership

  • Indians lost the safety of the tribes.

  • Indians sold most of their land to big farmers

BATTLE OF WOUNDED KNEE , South Dakota (1890)


  • After Battle of Little Bighorn Chief Joseph tried to lead a band of Nez Perce into Canada

  • But they were defeated in 1877

  • Problems for the Indians:

  • Pressure from the U.S. Army to enter into treaties,

  • Slaughter of North American bison (American buffalo)

  • Death of Sitting Bull during an arrest

  • Failure of Dawes Act

  • Ghost Dances

  • Wovoka, known as Jack Wilson, was a paiute medicine man, religious visionary/prophet.

  • Who adapted Christian doctrines to Indian wishes.

  • Wovoka performed ritual dance to convince the Great Spirit to:

  • Make white man disappear in a great flood

  • Bring back buffalo herds

  • Bring back Indians who were killed by whites.

  • White people were alarmed by the "ghost dances"

  • Battle of Wounded Knee

  • Dec. 1890, soldiers guarding Sioux encampment on S.D. Pine Ridge reservation

  • tried to take guns from Ghost dancers

  • Shots were fired

  • Soldiers, panicked fired machine guns (Hotchkiss guns) into crowds

  • Only 50 Indians survived.

  • Between 200 and 300 Indians died( including women and children) and 25 soldiers

  • This was the final act of violence against the Indians.


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