Native American Timeline of Events

Native American Photographic Prints

Sioux Chiefs.


“This war did not spring up on our land, this war was brought upon us by the children of the Great Father who came to take our land without a price, and who, in our land, do a great many evil things… This war has come from robbery – from the stealing of our land.”

— Spotted Tail, Lakota Sioux Chief

10th Century The Norse colonization of North America began in the late 10th century AD when Norsemen explored and settled areas of the North Atlantic including the northeastern fringes of North America. At this time, the first contact was made with the indigenous people.
1492 When Christopher Columbus first came in contact with native people, he wrote: “They all go around as naked as their mothers bore them; and also the women.” He also noted that “they could easily be commanded and made to work, to sow and to do whatever might be needed, to build towns and be taught to wear clothes and adopt our ways,” and, “they are the best people in the world and above all the gentlest.”
May 1513 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.
1519 Hernan Cortes invades Mexico, completing his conquest of the Aztec empire in 1521 and 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.
1534 After living six years among the Indians of the Texas coast, Cabeza de Vaca and his three fellow survivors began their travels across Texas and the Southwest into northern Mexico.
April 16, 1528 The first significant exploration of Florida occurred when Spanish soldier, explorer, and 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.

1536 Cabeza de Vaca and his companions meet a band of Spanish slave hunters near Culiacan on the Mexican west coast and make their way to Mexico City, where their adventure sparks interest in the mysterious lands to the north.
1538 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.”
1539 Hernando De Soto lands at Tampa Bay, Florida and 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.
1540 Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led Mexico’s invasion of the north with an expeditionary force of 300 conquistadors and 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, and 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 and looted the surrounding pueblos for supplies. During this operation, a Spaniard raped an Indian woman, and when Coronado refused to punish him, the Indians retaliated by stealing horses. Lopez de Cardenas attacked the thieves’ pueblo, captured 200 men and 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 and 200 Spaniards. The remaining Spaniards then burned down the Mabila compound, killing some 2,500 people who were inside.
1540-1541 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 and Native Americans in the American West.
1541 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 and children.
1542 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.
1546 The “New Laws” barring Indian enslavement were repealed at the insistence of New World colonists, who developed a society and economy dependent on slave labor.
1552 Bartolome de Las Casa, the first priest ordained in the Western hemisphere and 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.
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.
1600’s 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, and 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 and disease reduce the original 105 settlers to just 32 survivors. Captain John Smith is captured by Native American Chief Powhatan and saved from death by the chief’s daughter, Pocahontas.
July 3, 1607 On July 3, Indians brought maize, beans, squash, and fresh and smoked meat to the Jamestown colony. As at Plymouth years later, the colonists and their diseases would eventually exterminate them.
July 29, 1609 Samuel de Champlain, accompanied by two other Frenchmen and 60 Algonquin and Huron Indians, defeated a band of Iroquois near the future Ticonderoga, beginning a long period of French/Iroquois hostilities.
1611 Former Dutch lawyer Adrian Block explored Manhattan Island in the ship Tiger. He returned to Europe with a cargo of furs and two kidnapped Indians, whom he named Orson and 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.
1616 A smallpox epidemic decimates the Native American population in New England.
May 1616 Virginia’s Deputy Governor George Yeardley and a group of men killed 20 – 40 Chickahominy Indians. It was under Yeardley’s leadership that friendly relations between the Chickahominy and the colony ended.
1621 One of the first treaties between colonists and 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.
1622-44 Powhatan Wars – Following an initial period of peaceful relations in Virginia, a twelve-year conflict left many natives and colonists dead.
1626 Peter Minuit, a Dutch colonist, buys Manhattan island from Native Americans for 60 guilders (about $24) and names the island New Amsterdam.
1636-37 Pequot War – Taking place in Connecticut and 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 and John Underhill attacked and burned Pequot forts at Mystic, Connecticut, massacring 600 Indians and starting the Pequot War.
June 5, 1637 English settlers in New England massacred a Pequot Indian village.
1639 Captain William Pierce of Salem, Massachusetts sailed to the West Indies and exchanged Indian slaves for black slaves.
1675-1676 King Philip’s War – Sometimes called Metacom’s War, was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day southern New England and English colonists and their Native American allies.
July 30, 1676 Bacon’s Rebellion – Tobacco planters led by Nathaniel Bacon ask for and are denied permission to attack the Susquehannock Indians, who have been conducting raids on colonists’ settlement. Enraged at Governor Berkeley’s refusal, the colonists burned Jamestown and killed many Indians before order was restored in October.
1680-92 The Pueblo Revolt occurs in Arizona and 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.
1689-1697 King William’s War – The first of the French and Indian Wars, this conflict was fought between England, France, and their respective American Indian allies in the colonies of Canada (New France), Acadia, and New England. It was also known as the Second Indian War (the first having been King Philip’s War).
1689-1763 The French and Indian War, a conflict between France and Britain for possession of North America, rages for decades. For various motivations, most Algonquian tribes allied with the French; the Iroquois with the British.
1702 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, and 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, and 1,000 Creek Indians against Spanish settlements. They attacked a Mission in Northwestern Florida. They took many Indians as slaves and killed Father Manuel de Mendoza.
1709 A slave market was erected at the foot of Wall Street in New York City. Here African-Americans and Indians — men, women and children were daily declared the property of the highest cash bidder.
1711 Taking place in North Carolina, the Tuscarora War, led by Chief Hancock, was fought between the British, Dutch, and German settlers and the Tuscarora Native Americans. In an attempt to drive the colonists out of their territory, the tribe attacked several settlements, killing settlers and destroying farms. In 1713, James Moore and Yamasee warriors defeated the Indians.
1715-1718 The Yamasee War occurs in southern Carolina, which came close to exterminating white settlements in their region.
1716 South Carolina settlers and their Cherokee allies attack and defeat the Yamassee.
1721 Jesuit explorer Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix recorded effeminacy and widespread homosexuality and lesbianism among the “Indian” tribes in what is now Louisiana. The most prominent tribes in the area at the time were the Iroquois and Illinois.
1725 Ten sleeping Indians were scalped by whites in New Hampshire for a bounty.
1745 Upon hearing of an impending French and 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 and Abenaki Indians, attacked and burned the English settlement at Saratoga. The 101 inhabitants were either killed or taken prisoner.
1752 In the 1752 census, 147 “Indian” slaves — 87 females and 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 and 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 and plunder, and what slaves we take to be our own.”
April 8, 1756 Governor Robert Morris declared war on the Delaware and Shawnee Indians. Included in his war declaration was “The Scalp Act,” which put a bounty on the scalps of Indian men, women, and boys.
August 1, 1758 The first Indian reservation in North America was established by the New Jersey Colonial Assembly.
1759 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 and other Plains Indians fighting behind breastworks and armed with French rifles. The Spaniards were routed, losing a cannon in their retreat, and Comanche raids became a constant threat to settlers throughout Texas.
1760-62 Cherokee Uprising – A breakdown in relations between the British and the Cherokee leads to a general uprising in present-day TennesseeVirginia and the Carolinas.
1762 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.
1763 The Proclamation of 1763, signed by King George III of England, prohibits any English settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains and requires those already settled in those regions to return east in an attempt to ease tensions with Native Americans.
May 1763 The Ottawa Indians under Chief Pontiac begin all-out warfare against the British west of Niagara, New York, destroying several British forts and 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 and 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 killed 20 peaceful Susquehannock in response to Pontiac’s Rebellion.
December 27, 1763 A troop of 50 armed men entered the Workhouse at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and hacked to death the only 14 surviving Conestoga Indians (the rest of the tribe having been similarly dispensed with, 13 days earlier).
1775 Forced to labor in the mission fields and to worship according to the missionaries’ teachings, the Indians at San Diego rebelled against the Spanish, burning every building and killing most of the inhabitants, including the mission’s head priest. Thanks to a Spanish sharpshooter, the Indians were finally driven off and 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,” and 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.
1772-1780 Eighty percent of the Arikara died of smallpox, measles, etc.
1776-1794 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 TennesseeKentuckyVirginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
1781 Smallpox wiped out more than half the Piegan Blackfoot.
March 8, 1782 Captain David Williamson and about 90 volunteer militiamen slaughtered 62 adults and 34 children of the neutral, pacifist, and 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.
1785-1795 Old Northwest War – Fighting occurred in Ohio and 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, and liberty they shall never be disturbed.”
1787 First federal treaty enacted with the Delaware Indian.
1789 Indian Commerce Clause of the Constitution is added stating “The Congress shall have Power…to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and 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 the jurisdiction of the War Department. The Indian agents were empowered to negotiate treaties with the tribes.
1790 The Indian Trade and Intercourse Act is passed, placing nearly all interaction between Indians and 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, and 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 and 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 and free African-Americans, but Indians were not included.
Wampanoag Chief Metacom, also called King Philip

Wampanoag Chief Metacom, also called King Philip.

Native American Symbols, Totems

Native American Symbols, Totems & Their Meanings – Digital Download

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