Nez Perce War – This war occurred when the US army responded to some American deaths along the Salmon River, said to have been committed by the Nez Perce. To avoid a battle that would have resulted in being forced onto a reservation, about 800 Nez Perce fled 1,500 miles. They were caught 30 miles south of the Canadian border. Survivors were sent to Indian Territory in Oklahoma, despite the promise of the US government to allow them to return to their homeland.
|January 15, 1877||Standing Bear, a Ponca chief, refused to move to a reservation because it was within lands already given to the Lakota.|
|February 28, 1877||The U.S. Government seized the Black Hills from Lakota Sioux in violation of a treaty.|
|March 23, 1877||John D. Lee was brought to trial for his part in the Fancher Party Massacre of 1857. He was convicted by an all Mormon jury. On March 23 he was executed by firing squad at the site of the massacre, after denouncing Brigham Young for abandoning him. His last words are for his executioners: “Center my heart, boys. Don’t mangle my body.”|
|Early May -1877||Sitting Bull escapes to Canada with about 300 followers.|
|May 6, 1877||Crazy Horse finally surrendered to General George Crook at Fort Robinson, Nebraska on May 6, having received assurances that he 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 Nelson A. 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.|
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, Chiefe Joseph of the Nez Perce Tribe addressed Congress about tribal lands stolen through treaties. He gave the analogy that it was like having horses that he doesn’t want to sell being sold by his neighbor, with the neighbor then letting the buyer take the horses.
In January, the U.S. Army rounded up 540 Paiute in Oregon and, in what’s known as the Paiute Trail of Tears, forcibly took them to the Yakima Reservation in Washington. On February 2, they arrived at the reservation after a forced march through winter snows.
|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 US government’s treatment of Indians.|
|January 18, 1881||The Spokan Indian Reservation was established.|
|July 19, 1881||Sitting Bull and 186 of his remaining followers surrender at Fort Buford, North Dakota. He is sent to Fort Randall, South Dakota for two years as a prisoner of war instead of being pardoned, as promised.|
|Late Summer, 1881||Spotted Tail, is assassinated by Crow Dog – White officials dismiss the killing as a simple quarrel, but the Sioux feel that it was the result of a plot to wrest control from a strong Indian leader.|
|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 US 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.
|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 Indian.
|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 hanged over the wall of a Spanish church in Arizona on the charge of using witchcraft to chase away rain clouds.
|January 1, 1889||A Paiute rancher named Wovoka announced that he had dreamed a vision of a new world set aside for native people 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.
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.|