Native Americans Under Siege

Native Americans Under Siege: 1854-1890
Organized into tribes, which were usually subdivided into
"bands" of about 500 men and women, each with a
governing council.
Women assumed domestic & artistic roles, while men
hunted, traded, and supervised religious & military life.
Each tribe’s warrior class competed with others to
demonstrate bravery.
Never successfully united politically or militarily against
white power, thus contributing to their defeat by the
white society.
 1851:
Concentration Policy - US government tried
to concentrate Native Americans into areas north &
south of those intended for white settlement.
 1860s: Relocation Policy – Native Americans were
herded into still smaller areas
o Sioux "guaranteed" sanctuary of Black Hills in Dakota Territory.
o Other tribes relocated to "Indian Territory" (present-day Oklahoma)
o Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior was put in
charge of the reservations.
1854-1890: Near
constant warfare raged
in West between Native
Americans & whites.
o US troops were largely
Civil War veterans.
o 1/5 of all soldiers
assigned to frontier were
black (Buffalo Soldiers)
o Led by Sherman,
Sheridan, & Custer.
 November
1864: Colonel John Chivington’s militia
massacred more than 200 Indians who had just
signed a peace treaty with the US government
 1874:
Gold was discovered in the Black Hills of
South Dakota.
 May 1875: Sioux leaders traveled to
Washington, DC in order to persuade the
government to honor existing treaties
 November 1875: Sioux were ordered to return to
their reservation.
 February 1876: The matter was turned over to
the US army.
June1876: Battle of Little Big
o Colonel George Custer’s forces
clashed with nearly 4000 well
armed warriors led by Crazy
Horse and Sitting Bull
o Custer, along with more than
250 of his men were killed
o US reinforcements chased
Sitting Bull to Canada where he
received political asylum;
hunger forced them to return &
surrender by 1876.
1855: Nez Perce ceded much land to US in return for
large reservation in Oregon and Idaho; later ceded
more lands when gold was discovered.
 June 1877: US government ordered the Nez Perce to
move to a reservation in Idaho.
o Nez Perce, led by Chief Joseph, began a 75-day, 1300 mile
trek; forced to surrender 40 miles south of the Canadian
October 1877: Nez Perce were moved south to a
malaria infested camp in Kansas before their final
relocation in Oklahoma
1874: US government ordered the Apache onto a
reservation in San Carlos, Arizona
o About ½ of the Indians, led by Geronimo, escaped to Mexico
o Throughout the 1870s & early 1880, Geronimo raided settlements
on both sides of the US-Mexican border
1884: Geronimo surrendered to the US army
o 1885: Geronimo, along with a small band of warriors & their families escaped
1886: Geronimo & his followers were captured & held
as prisoners of war in Florida
 1894: Geronimo was sent to Fort Still, Oklahoma
 Last
major clash between US troops & Native
 Issue: The US army was sent to end sacred "Ghost
Dance" performed by Dakota Sioux.
o Believers expected the white man to disappear from
Native lands & for the buffalo to return in abundance.
o Indian agents feared it was a prelude to an attack.
• They ordered Sitting Bull’s arrest.
• He, along with 6 policemen & 7 supporters died in the
mayhem that followed.
• His supporters fled.
 December
29: The Dakota Sioux were intercepted
on the edge of the Wounded Knee Creek.
o The US Army ordered the Sioux to surrender their
Yellow Bird began to perform the Ghost Dance.
Black Coyote, who was deaf, refused to surrender his
rifle which discharged.
Within minutes, 200 Sioux were dead.
The US Army then went after the fleeing women &
children, killing them as well.
 National
sentiment began to urge reform toward
Native Americans.
o 1881: Helen Hunt Jackson: A Century of Dishonor
• Chronicled the record of government ruthlessness &
deceit toward Native Americans
• Had similar emotional impact of Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s
• Inspired the movement to assimilate Native
Americans "for their own good."
 Provisions:
o Dissolved many tribes as
legal entities.
o Wiped out tribal ownership
of land.
o Set up individual Native
American family heads with
allotment of 160 free
o Allowed for US citizenship
in 25 years.
 Results
o Army-style boarding
schools were set up where
Indians prohibited to
exercise any portion of
their culture.
o 2/3 of Indians’ remaining
land was lost.
o Remained official Indian
policy until 1934.
o Helped Indian population
to grow from about
243,000 in 1887 to 1.5
million in 1990.