|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 US government and the Seminole people was also one of the longest and most expensive wars in which the US 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 Seminole to move to Indian Territory – more than the entire US government’s budget for Indian Removal.|
|1836||In five groups, over 14,000 Creek Indians were forcibly removed by the US Army from Alabama to Oklahoma.|
|1837||Two thirds of the 6,000 Blackfoot died of smallpox.|
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 Seminole 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.|
|1843||Second Seminole War ends.|
|1847||Westward migration begins along the Oregon Trail through Plains Indian country.|
|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.|
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 Trail, few at first but an onslaught after the end of the Civil War.
Federal commissioners attempting to halt the brutal treatment of Indians in California negotiated eighteen treaties with various tribes 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.|
|September 3, 1855||Ash Hollow Massacre – Colonel William Harney uses 1,300 soldiers to massacre an entire Brulé village in retribution for the killing of 30 soldiers, who were killed in retribution for the killing of the Brulé chief, Conquering Bear, in a dispute over a cow.|
|January 26, 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.|
|September, 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 Francher 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 D. Lee, and 54 Mormon militiamen approached the Francher Party and offered to provide safe passage through the territory. The surviving members of the Fancher Party would hand over their livestock to the Paiute 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 Mountain Meadows 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, Spokan, 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 Spokan 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 Navajo 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 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 Apache 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 US army, which marched 1,700 survivors to Fort Snelling. Others escaped to the safety of their western relatives. Over 400 Indians were tried for murder, 38 of whom were publicly executed. By 1864 90% of the Santee, 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 Abraham 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 hanged.|
|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 Cavalry, 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 women 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.