Native American Timeline – Westward Expansion

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 the American construction of the Bozeman Trail which was to run from Fort Laramie to the Montana goldfields.

Medicine Lodge, Kansas Council Tent, by James E. Taylor, 1867.

Medicine Lodge, Kansas Council Tent, by James E. Taylor, 1867.

1867 – In October 1867 the Treaty of Medicine Lodge is negotiated. 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. Over 6,000 members from the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa met at Medicine Lodge, Kansas. The Grand Council of tribes was attended by Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Sitting Bull, among other great leaders, and 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 – The Nez Perce Treaty is negotiated. This was the last Indian treaty ratified by the U.S. government.

The Second Treaty of Fort Laramie is negotiated which guaranteed the Sioux Indians’ rights to the Black Hills of South 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.”

Battle of Washita, Oklahoma by Steven Lang

Battle of Washita, Oklahoma by Steven Lang

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 1868, the Navajo signed a treaty after the Long Walk when Kit Carson rounded up 8,000 Navajo 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 Navajo, it was a prison camp.

1869 – The First Sioux War ends with the Treaty of Fort Laramie. The government agrees to abandon Forts Smith, Kearney, and Reno.

Congress created the Board of Indian Commissioners to investigate and report on the alleged Bureau of Indian Affairs 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.

Plains Indians

Plains Indians

1870 – Buffalo herds are diminished to a crisis point for the Plains Indians.

On January 20, 1870, Buffalo Soldiers, under the command of Captain Francis Dodge, came upon a settlement of Mescalero Apache in the most remote region of New Mexico’s Guadalupe Mountains and attacked them, killing 10 Mescalero Apache and taking 25 ponies.

On January 23, 1870, in the Massacre on the Marias, 173 Blackfoot men, women and children were slaughtered by U.S. soldiers on the Marias River in Montana in response to the killing of Malcolm Clarke and the wounding of his son by a small party of young Blackfoot men.

On March 30, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified which finally recognized the natural right of all men to vote, including Indians. However, women continued to be second-class citizens.

1871 – On March 3, 1871, the Indian Appropriation Act is passed which specifies that no tribe thereafter would be recognized as an independent nation with which the federal government could make a treaty. All future Indian policies would not be negotiated with Indian tribes through treaties, but rather would be determined by passing Congressional statutes or executive orders. Marking a significant step backward, the act made tribal members wards of the state rather than preserving their rights as members of sovereign nations.

Old Camp Grant, Arizona

Old Camp Grant, Arizona

On April 30, 1871, 144 Aravaipa Apache, most of them women and children, were murdered outside Camp Grant, Arizona, where they had been given asylum. The attack occurred when an angry mob of citizens from Tucson and their Papago Indian mercenaries attacked the camp, clubbing, shooting the people, mostly women, and children. All but eight of the corpses were women and children, as the men had been off hunting in the mountains. The attack was made in retaliation for a Gila Apache raid in which six people had been killed and some livestock stolen. Twenty-seven children who were captured were sold in Mexico by the Papago Indians. See Camp Grant Massacre.

May 17, 1871 – Kiowa war leaders Satanta, Big Tree, and Satank lead an attack on a freight train known as Warren Wagon Train Raid in Texas, in which seven white men lost their lives.

Kiowa warrior Setangya, aka: Satank, Sitting Bear, by William S. Soule

Kiowa warrior Setangya, aka: Satank, Sitting Bear, by William S. Soule

July 5, 1871 – Kiowa warriors, Satanta, Big Tree, and Satank are tried for the Warren Wagon Train Raid in Texas. Satank is killed while trying to escape. After three days of testimony, the other two are found guilty. 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 Congress. Alaskan natives were excluded from claiming ownership of 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 – George Custer and the Seventh Cavalry come to the northern plains to guard the surveyors for the Northern Pacific Railroad. He has a chance encounter with Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

On June 5, 1873, 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 is unknown today what he was convicted of or why he was killed.

George Custer leads an expedition into the Black Hills in 1874.

George Custer leads an expedition into the Black Hills in 1874.

1874 – George Armstrong Custer announced the discovery of gold in the Black Hills of South 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, 1874, the Skokomish reservation was established, near Shelton, Washington.

On July 26, 1874, the order was given that friendly Indians were to remain in fixed camps at the Wichita Agency in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) and answer periodic roll calls.

On September 10, 1874, a group of Kiowa and Comanche attacked a military supply caravan along the Washita River in Indian Territory. The soldiers barricaded themselves for several days until others came to help. One soldier was killed.

On September 28, 1874, Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie at the head of the Fourth U.S. Cavalry attacked and destroyed a large Indian encampment in Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle.

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