Although the “Wild West” is a time period generally defined from 1865 to 1895, there are many events that shaped the American West as a region from ancient times up to 1916.
- Paleo-Siberians migrate to North America from Asia via the Bering Strait land bridge.
1500 B.C.-1000 A.D.
- Christopher Columbus lands at San Salvador.
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado leaves Mexico to hunt for gold in the Southwest.
- The Hernando de Soto expedition goes as far as Oklahoma
- Francisco Vasquez de Coronado is the first white man to visit pueblos in New Mexico
- Coronado’s party crosses the Arkansas River and goes as far as the present-day Kansas/Nebraska Border.
- Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo lands at San Diego, California.
- Captain James Cook, seeking the Northwest Passage, charts part of the Oregon coastline.
Naval Officer, Sir Francis Drake claims California for Britain
1560 – 1570
- Juan de Onate establishes San Gabriel in New Mexico.
- Captain John Smith published his account of the New World, urging more colonists to follow.
- Don Pedro de Peralta founds Santa Fe, New Mexico.
- On March 22, the first colonial treaty with Native Americans was signed between Massasoit, Chief of the Wampanoag, and English pilgrims on behalf of King James I at Strawberry Hill, Massachusetts.
- On June 18, the first duel in America reportedly took place in the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts.
On December 1, Massachusetts became the first colony to legalize slavery
- Northern New Mexico Pueblo Indians, outraged by atrocities committed by Spanish explorers and colonists, resist in the Pueblo Revolt. Many settlers are killed and the rest are driven south.
- A short-lived French colony is founded at Matagorda Bay, Texas
- Diego de Vargas re-conquers New Mexico.
- Juan de Ulibarri claims Colorado for Spain.
- Louis-Joseph and Francois Verendrye explore South Dakota, seeking a water route to the Pacific Ocean.
- The Spanish build Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, the first California mission.
- Daniel Boone discovers the Cumberland Gap.
- The American Revolution begins.
- Fort Tucson is established in Arizona.
- Franciscan friars Escalante and Dominguez explore Utah.
- The Presidio is established in San Francisco, California.
Los Angeles, California is founded.
- Britain recognizes American independence.