The Theft of the Cherokee Outlet

In 1836, under the terms of the Treaty of New Echota, the Cherokee were given a narrow strip of land some 225 miles long and 60 miles wide in what would later become Oklahoma. This strip of land, known as the Cherokee Outlet, was in addition to their reservation and was intended to provide them with a perpetual outlet from their reservation to lands in the west for hunting. The area within the Outlet contained more than 8 million acres of land.

When the Civil War broke out, the United States withdrew its troops from Forts Cobb, Arbuckle, and Washita, leaving the Indians open to attacks from the Plains tribes and from non-Indians. In addition, the federal government, afraid that annuity payments might fall into the wrong hands, withheld the annuities which were owed to the tribes. These actions not only violated the removal treaties of the Indian nations in Indian Territory, they also undermined the credibility of the United States. The Confederacy moved into the vacuum left by the federal government and held treaty councils with the tribes.

The Civil War divided the Cherokee into two groups: the Ridge or Treaty Party led by Stand Watie and E. C. Boudinot, and the Ross or Non-Treaty Party led by John Ross. Ross issued a Proclamation of Neutrality with regard to the war.

Following the Civil War the United States, ignoring the fact that many Cherokees had supported the Union, imposed a new treaty on the Cherokee Nation. The new treaty allowed the United States to settle other Indian nations in the Cherokee Outlet and to dispose of the land. A number of tribes—Kaw, Osage, Pawnee, Ponca, and Tonkawa—settled in the area.

The Cherokee Outlet was invaded by Texas cattlemen who grazed their herds on Cherokee land while en route from Texas to the northern markets. The Cherokee government solved this problem by charging a per head fee for grazing privileges. In 1883, the Texas cattlemen formed the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association under the laws of Kansas. The Cherokee under the leadership of Dennis Bushyhead then leased the grassy meadows of the Cherokee Outlet to the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association for $100,000 for five years. The agreement was felt to beneficial for both the Cherokee and for the cattlemen. Soon after the lease was signed, dissident Cherokee, angry at being denied free use of the Outlet, claimed that the Association had gained exclusive use of the area through illegal means. Complaints concerning bribery and corruption were lodged with the Department of the Interior.

When the lease with the cattlemen expired in 1888, the Cherokee agreed to renew the lease of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association for the exclusive use of the Cherokee Outlet for $200,000 per year. The federal government, however, warned the Cherokee that they would consider the lease to be invalid.

In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison announced that no livestock would be grazed in the area known as the Cherokee Outlet in Indian Territory. This move deprived the Cherokee Nation of a substantial part of its operating budget and brought an end to their lease with the Cherokee Live Stock Association. The move was part of a government effort to get the Cherokee to sell this land.

In 1890, President Benjamin Harrison closed Cherokee Outlet to the cattle growers who were legally leasing the lands from the Cherokee. Federal troops then occupied the area and forcibly removed the cattle growers and their herds from the land. Having lost the major source of revenue for their schools and government, the Cherokee were forced to cede the Outlet lands. The government forced the Cherokee to sell their Outlet lands for $1.25 per acre (a total of $10.2 million).

In 1893, the Cherokee Outlet was opened to non-Indian settlement, resulting in Oklahoma’s largest land run. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people attempted to stake out claims for the land.

In 1948, the Cherokee filed suit before the Indian Claims Commission to recover the real value of the Cherokee Outlet lands. One expert from Oklahoma State University testified that the land had been worth $10.01 per acre at the time it was taken by the government. Experts testifying on behalf of the government claimed it was worth $1.70 per acre. The courts awarded the Cherokee an additional $14.7 million for the lands. The Indian Claims Commission noted that the conduct in the original transaction had been unconscionable.

President Benamin Harrison and Indian Education

When Benjamin Harrison became President in 1889, he appointed Thomas Jefferson Morgan as his Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Like most of his predecessors, Morgan had no experience in Indian affairs, little contact with actual Indians, and no understanding of Indian cultures. He was, however, a Baptist minister and an educator with a fervent belief that Christianity held the solution to the “Indian problem.” With regard to his philosophy of Indian education, Morgan wrote:  “When we speak of the education of the Indians we mean the comprehensive training and instruction which will convert them into American citizens, put within their reach the blessings which the rest of us enjoy, and enable them to compete successfully with the white man on his own ground and with his own methods. Education is to be the medium through which the rising generation of Indians are to be brought into the fraternal and harmonious relationship with their white fellow-citizens and with them enjoy the sweets of refined homes, the delight of social intercourse, the emoluments of commerce and trade, the advantages of travel, together with the pleasures that come from literature, science, and philosophy, and the solace and stimulus afforded by a true religion.”

 Congress passed legislation in 1889 which allowed the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to enforce the school attendance of Indian children by withholding rations and annuities from Indian families whose children were not attending school.

 With regard to education, Morgan felt that Indian history should not be taught and that it was important that Indian children acquire a fervent patriotism for the United States. In stressing patriotism, he ordered that all Indian schools celebrate national holidays: Washington’s birthday, Decoration Day, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Furthermore, he ordered that the American flag be displayed and that the students be taught reverence for the flag as a symbol of American protection and power.

Morgan also felt that for Indians the “school itself should be an illustration of the superiority of the Christian civilization.”

While the United States often turned over the running of Indian schools to missionary societies, Morgan strongly opposed the funding of Catholic schools for Indians. Morgan’s anti-Catholic sentiments were well known and for his term of office he battled with the Bureau of Catholic Missions.

In 1890, Morgan announced that the 8th of February was to be celebrated as Franchise Day. It was on this day that the Dawes Act was signed into law, and the Commissioner felt that this  “is worthy of being observed in all Indian schools as the possible turning point in Indian history, the point at which the Indians may strike out from tribal and reservation life and enter American citizenship and nationality.”

Morgan also published a detailed set of rules for Indian schools which stipulated a uniform course of study and the textbooks which were to be used in the schools. The Commissioner prescribed the celebration of United States national holidays as a way of replacing Indian heroes and assimilating Indians. According to the Commissioner:  “Education should seek the disintegration of the tribes, and not their segregation. They should be educated, not as Indians, but as Americans.”

Schools were to give Indian students surnames so that as they became property owners it would be easier to fix lines of inheritance. Since most teachers could not pronounce or memorize names in native languages, and they did not understand these names when translated into English, it was not uncommon to give English surnames as well as English first names to the students. There were a number of Indians who were given names such as William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.

In 1892, Commissioner of Indian Affairs Thomas Morgan published a pamphlet to centralize Indian education and to unify the curriculum of the Indian Office schools. With regard to the role of art in Indian schools, Morgan felt that art would help improve manual skills. Morgan’s approach to teaching art had been discarded by most public schools in the 1880s. The model for teaching art ignored individual development, skill proficiency, and intellectual progress. American Indian children were taught to draw from a European perspective which did not take into account their indigenous knowledge or environment.

Indian Schools were ordered to celebrate Columbus Day on October 21,1892. Indian students were to pay homage to the so-called “discoverer” of the “New” World. Education professor David Wallace Adams, in his book Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, notes:  “Indian students must be made to see that Columbus’s accomplishment was not only a red-letter day in history but also a beneficent development in their own race’s fortunes. Only after Columbus, the myth went, did Indians enter into the stream of history; only after Columbus did Indians begin the slow and painful climb out of the darkness of savagery.”

Imposing Law on Sovereign Nations

While the Constitution of the United States and the Supreme Court recognize Indian tribes as sovereign nations, this has been frequently ignored by Indian agents. Ignoring the fact that Indian nations had their own laws which had been developed over centuries of experience, Indian agents frequently imposed their own laws, based on their concepts of Christianity and European feudalism.

In 1842, Oregon Country—an area that included all of present-day Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia, and western Montana—was jointly administered by the United States and the United Kingdom. At this time, the United States had negotiated no treaties with the Indian nations in this territory.

Elijah White, described by historians as “a scheming man” and “a flimflammer”, was appointed as sub-agent for Indian affairs. White was a physician and a Methodist missionary who had helped to establish the Methodist mission in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

One of White’s first actions was to hold a council with the Nez Perce in Lapwai, Idaho. Unconcerned with the fact the Nez Perce were a sovereign nation and that the United States had not established any jurisdiction over them, he imposed on them a set of “laws” under which they were to live:

1. Whoever willfully takes life shall be hung.

2. Whoever burns a dwelling house shall be hung.

3. Whoever burns an outbuilding shall be imprisoned six months, receive fifty lashes, and pay all damages.

4. Whoever carelessly burns a house or any property, shall pay damages.

5. If anyone enter a dwelling, without permission of the occupant, the chiefs shall punish him as they think proper.

6. If any one steal he shall pay back two fold; and if it be the value of a beaver skin or less, he shall receive twenty-five lashes; and if the value is over a beaver skin he shall pay back two-fold, and receive fifty lashes.

7. If any one take a horse, and ride it, without permission, or take any article, and use it, without liberty, he shall pay for the use of it, and receive from twenty to fifty lashes, as the chief shall direct.

8. If any one enter a field, and injure the crops, or throw down the fence, so that cattle or horses go in and do damage, he shall pay all damages, and receive twenty-five lashes for every offence.

9. Those only may keep dogs who travel or live among the game; if a dog kill a lamb, calf, or any domestic animal, the owner shall pay the damage, and kill the dog.

10. If an Indian raise a gun or other weapon against a white man, it shall be reported to the chiefs, and they shall punish him. If a white person do the same to an Indian, it shall be reported to Dr. White, and he shall redress it.

11. If an Indian break these laws, he shall be punished by his chiefs; if a white man break them, he shall be reported to the agent, and be punished at his instance .

In traditional Native American jurisprudence, the adjudication of a crime focused on healing and the restoration of social harmony, not on punishment. In addition, the idea of death by hanging was abhorrent. The Nez Perce Tribe summarizes the laws this way:  “To put it mildly, this system of government was not one the tribe adopted easily or even willingly.”

In addition to the “laws”, White also ordered the Nez Perce to choose a single chief as high chief and to have all of the other chiefs subordinate to him. White ignored the fact that the Nez Perce were really more than 40 culturally affiliated but autonomous bands. Each of these bands had its own leadership and the idea of having a supreme chief was alien to them.

Ellis, a Christian who was both fluent and literate in English, was designated as the high chief. However, most of the Nez Perce did not regard him as having any more power than any other Nez Perce leader.

The following year, White called a council of the Nez Perce, Cayuse, and Walla Walla. The Indians were read the “laws” which had been earlier imposed on the Nez Perce. Walla Walla chief Peopeo Moxmox asked White:  “Where are these laws from? Are they from God or from the earth? I would that you might say they were from God. But I think that they are from the earth, because, from what I know of white men, they did not honor these laws.”

After two days of discussion, the Cayuse accepted the laws and elected Tauitau as high chief. However, Tauitau was a Catholic and therefore unacceptable to the Methodist missionary. White then simply appointed Hezekiah as high chief.

President Benjamin Harrison and Indian Policy

In 1889 Benjamin Harrison, an attorney, Presbyterian church leader, and Civil War Brigadier General, was elected President of the United States. Harrison, a Republican, defeated incumbent President Grover Cleveland. In his brief inaugural address, Harrison credited the nation’s growth to the influences of education and religion (meaning Christianity). For his cabinet appointments, Harrison considered three important criteria: (1) Civil War service, (2) membership in the Presbyterian Church, and (3) Indiana citizenship.

With regard to Indian affairs, Harrison believed that Indians, like the other immigrants to the United States, should be fully assimilated into American society. Assimilation, of course, required Indians to speak English, to be Christian, to dress in non-Indian clothing, to acquire a notion of greed so that they would acquire private property, and to get rid of reservations and tribal governments. He believed that the Allotment Act (also known as the Dawes) act would help Indians into civilization by divesting them of their reservations and communally held land.

Like other Presidents, Harrison met with delegations of Indians. In 1892, Washo leader Captain Jim and his interpreter Dick Bender traveled to Washington where they met with Nevada and California senators and congressional representatives and President Benjamin Harrison. They were promised $1,000 for the immediate relief of the old and the infirm, but the money was never received.

The Commissioner of Indian Affairs:

The Commissioner of Indian Affairs was the person in American government who had direct responsibility for Indian affairs. The position, which was under the Secretary of the Interior, was a political appointment. For his Commissioner of Indian Affairs, President Harrison appointed Thomas Jefferson Morgan. Like most of his predecessors, Morgan had no experience in Indian affairs, little contact with actual Indians, and no understanding of Indian cultures. He was, however, a Baptist minister and an educator with a fervent belief that Christianity held the solution to the “Indian problem.”

Morgan, who had served as an officer under Harrison in the Civil War, had contacted his old commander after Harrison won the Presidency asking to be appointed as Commissioner of Education. Instead, Harrison offered him the position of Commissioner of Indian Affairs, which Morgan accepted.

Shortly after becoming Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Morgan announced:  “When President Harrison tendered me the Indian Bureau, he said I wish you to administer it in such a way as will satisfy the Christian philanthropic sentiment of the country. That is the only charge I received from him.”

In his 1889 annual report, Indian Commissioner Thomas J. Morgan indicated that tribal relations should be broken up; that Indian social­ism be destroyed; and English be universally adopted. He writes:  “The Indians must conform to ‘the white man’s ways,’ peaceably if they will, forcibly if they must.”

In 1890, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs ordered traders to stop carrying playing cards. This was an effort to discourage gambling on the reservations.

Civil Service:

Four groups of Indian Service employees – physicians, school superintendents and assistant superintendents, school-teachers, and matrons – were placed under Civil Service Classifi­cations in 1891. One of the members of the Civil Service Commission, Theodore Roosevelt, advocated that Civil Service rules be modified so that Indians could be given preference for these positions.

The following year, Civil Service Rules were extended to cover superintendents and teachers in the Indian Service. School Superintendent Edwin Chalcraft explained:  “Prior to this time, Indian Agents made all those appointments, but from this date they were made by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs from names submitted to him by the Civil Service Committee in Washington, D.C. These rules prohibited the dismissal of employees for political or religious beliefs, but the Appointing Officer in Washington, D.C., could remove an employee for any other cause without giving him reason for doing so.”

Census:

The 1890 Census formally enumerated all of the Indians in the country. According to the Census, there were a total of 248,253 Indians in the United States: 58,806 were “Indians taxed” and 189,447 were “Indians not taxed.”

With regard to the difficulties in counting Indians, the Census Bureau reported: “Enumeration would be likely to pass by many who had been identified all their lives with the localities where found, and who lived like the adjacent whites without any inquiry as to their race, entering them as native born white.”

 Wovoka’s Ghost Dance:

 As a Christian nation, the policy of the United States was to require Indians to convert to Christianity and to actively suppress all Native religions. During the Harrison administration, religious intolerance climaxed with the teachings of a Paiute prophet named Wovoka in Nevada. In 1889, Wovoka died during an eclipse. He then returned to life with a message and a dance for his people. This was the birth of a Native American religious movement called the Ghost Dance by non-Indians.

Wovoka’s new religion spread from Nevada to Indian reservations in Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, and Indian Territory. Christian missionaries, Indian agents, the military, and politicians opposed the new religion without understanding anything about it. Inspired by newspaper reports written by reporters who never talked to any of the followers of the new religion, there were calls to suppress it. On several reservations Indians who participated in or advocated Wovoka’s religion were imprisoned and/or beaten. In some instances, Indians who were suspected of being involved with the Ghost Dance were murdered by ad hoc militia groups.

In December, 1890, Army troops were sent to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to suppress the religion. The War Department issued a list of Indians who were to be arrested on sight. Their “crime” was simple: they had embraced a new religion, one which had not been approved by the United States government.  At Wounded Knee, the Army surrounded a group of starving, freezing, and unarmed Indians who were flying white flags from their staffs. Using Hotchkiss machine guns the soldiers managed to kill 40 men and 200 women and children. Chasing fleeing women and shooting them was sport to the soldiers and the bodies of some of the women were found four to five miles from the slaughter site. Twenty-three of the soldiers received the Medal of Honor for their heroic action against unarmed Indians.

In testimony before Congress, General E. D. Scott strongly stressed that there was nothing to apologize for and suggested that the Indians were under a strange religious hallucination.

In his evaluation of the events surrounding the “battle” at Wounded Knee, Sioux physician Charles Eastman wrote:  “I have tried to make it clear that there was no ‘Indian outbreak’ in 1890-1891, and that such trouble as we had may justly be charged to the dishonest politicians, who through unfit appointees first robbed the Indians, then bullied them, and finally in a panic called for troops to suppress them.”

 

Christian Missionaries in Oregon Country

The European invasion of the Oregon Country began in the late eighteenth century and intensified in the early nineteenth century. In 1818, the United States and the United Kingdom, ignoring any possibility of the sovereignty of Indian nations and relying on the legal concept of the Discovery Doctrine (stating that Christian nations have a right, if not an obligation, to rule over non-Christian nations), signed a treaty declaring Oregon Country to be a joint occupation area. Under this treaty, both the United States and the United Kingdom could claim land and both were guaranteed free navigation throughout.

Oregon Country was the American name for the region; the British called it the Columbia District. The area stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Continental Divide; it was bounded in the north at Fort Simpson in what is now British Columbia; and in the south at what would now be the Oregon-California border. It encompassed the present-day states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho; western Montana; and the Canadian province of British Columbia.

While the initial invasion of the Oregon Country was led by fur traders, the English Hudson’s Bay Company, the Canadian Nor’Westers, and the American Astorians, by the 1830s the missionaries began to arrive.

The first of the missionaries was Jason Lee who had been originally sent by the Methodist Missionary Board to establish a mission among the Flathead in western Montana. The Flathead had astonished the Christian world by sending expeditions to St. Louis asking for missionaries. The Flathead had learned about Christianity, and more importantly, about the power of the Black Robes (Jesuit priests) from Iroquois employed by the fur trade. They had come to St. Louis specifically seeking a Black Robe, but the Methodists had decided to reach the Flathead first and bring them the true Christian religion.

Jason Lee met with the Flathead and the Nez Perce at the Green River Rendezvous in Wyoming. He found the Indians deeply unsettling. He concluded that the Indians were slaves to Satan and to alcohol. Instead of establishing an Indian mission, he continued his journey west to Fort Vancouver, a Hudson’s Bay trading post. From here, he went to the Willamette Valley just north of present-day Salem, Oregon where he established a mission and a school in an area with relatively few Indians. There were, however, about a dozen Canadian settlers, former employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company, with Native American wives living in the area.

The Flathead’s request for a missionary was answered in 1840 with the Jesuit Pierre-Jean De Smet. In 1840, he was welcomed into a camp of Flathead and Pend d’Oreilles. De Smet envisioned a new Indian society similar to medieval Europe in which the Indians would become Catholic farmers subservient to the Church.

In Oregon, Methodist missionaries set up a mission and farm on the Clatsop Plains west of Fort Clatsop in 1840. The wife of an American settler in the area, Celiast Smith, was the daughter of Clatsop chief Coboway and was able to translate for the missionaries. Ideally, the missionaries wanted to be able to preach to the Indians in their own language, but they soon found learning the Chinookan languages such as Clatsop was beyond their abilities. The Chinookan languages include sounds which are difficult, if not impossible, for English-speaking adults to master. The missionaries, therefore, turned to Chinook Jargon, a pidgin language with a reduced vocabulary and no complexities of verb conjugation or noun declension. As a pidgin language, Chinook Jargon was designed to be learned by adults and to facilitate trade. It lacked vocabulary to translate spiritual concepts.

In 1840, Methodist missionaries Gustavus Hines and Jason Lee decided to visit the Umpqua in an attempt to bring Christianity to them. The Hudson’s Bay Company trader at Fort Umpqua, however, informed them of recent Indian attacks. He warned them not to visit the Umpqua villages. When the missionaries insisted, the trader and his Indian wife accompanied them. The trader later insisted that only the presence of his Indian wife kept them from being killed.

Like the Flathead in western Montana, the Coeur d’Alene in Idaho had heard about the powers of the Blackrobes from fur traders. In 1841, three Coeur d’Alene men traveled to western Montana to see the Jesuit missionary Father DeSmet. They asked him to send the Black Robes (Jesuits) to their people. The following year, the Jesuits sent Father Nicholas Point to establish a mission among the Coeur d’Alene. Jerry Camarillo Dunn, in his The Smithonian Guide to Historic America: The Rocky Mountain States, writes:  “The mission had some success, although Father Point himself was dismayed by what he saw as his flock’s dirtiness, idolatry, and ‘moral abandonment.’”

In the nineteenth century there were several competing kinds of Christianity. The Protestant missionaries in Oregon Country resented the presence of Catholic missionaries whom they regarded as atheistic papists. In 1841, the wife of a Protestant missionary among the Nez Perce complained:  “Romanism stalks abroad on our right hand and on our left and with daring effrontery boasts that she is to prevail and possess the land.”

Two years later, a Protestant missionary to the Nez Perce blamed his failure to convert Indians on the opposition of the Catholics.

In 1843, the Canadian missionary Father Bolduc established a mission among the Cowlitz in Washington. Bolduc wrote in his journal:  “One must develop a strong spirit here. It is important to be kind to the savages, to make them laugh now and then so as not to frighten them, and give them a favorable impression of religion. It is not necessary to show them the severe side at first, but in time and successively to introduce everything, or the end will not be accomplished.”  Bolduc also reported:  “Since being with the Cowlitz tribe, I have converted only a few. They are unwilling to submit.”

According to Balduc, polygyny, slavery, and gambling were obstacles to conversion to Christianity.

In 1843, Father Nicholas Point and the Jesuit brother Charles Huet established a mission on the St. Joe River in Idaho to serve the Coeur d’Alene. Father Point noted that the Coeur d’Alene were living in 27 villages around Lake Coeur d’Alene.

In 1845, the Jesuits under Father De Smet established a mission at Chewelah, Washington. The mission was called Saint Francis Regis and was intended to serve the Kalispel as well mixed blood trappers who were living in the area.

While the Flathead had asked for a Blackrobe (Jesuit priest), what they were actually seeking was the spiritual power to enable them to defeat their traditional enemies, the Blackfoot who controlled much of the buffalo hunting grounds on the Northern Plains. After five years of living with them, Father De Smet had gained little real understanding of Flathead culture. Feeling that he had been successful in converting the Flathead, he crossed the Rocky Mountains and attempted to convert the Blackfoot. When he returned to the mission among the Flathead he found them angry with him and openly challenging his Christianity. Many of his converts left the church.

In 1846, the United States and the United Kingdom negotiated the Oregon Treaty which divided the territory between the two countries. Oregon Country thus became Oregon Territory.

Marriage Among the Southern Plains Tribes

Marriage is an almost universal human institution. However, the concept of marriage varies greatly among different cultures. In some cultures, marriage is seen as a primarily economic institution; in some it is celebrated with a religious ceremony; some marriages are arranged by elders who take into account the needs of the society and the extended family.

The Southern Plains lie south of the Arkansas River valley. It includes Oklahoma, Arkansas, portions of Texas, the eastern foothills of New Mexico, and portions of Louisiana. This area included hunting and gathering tribes, such as the Comanche, the Kiowa, the Osage, and the Lipan Apache, and more agricultural tribes such as the Caddo.

As with tribes in other North American culture areas, there was no formal marriage ceremony among many of the Southern Plains tribes. In general marriage was seen as a social and economic institution rather than a religious institution. In some cases, the couple would simply live together and be recognized by others as a married couple. Among many of the tribes, such as the Plains Apache, marriage could be legitimized by the exchange of gifts between the two families.

While the Europeans tended to emphasize the sexual aspect of marriage, for the Indian nations of the Southern Plains there was no special concern regarding sex and marriage. There were no premarital restrictions on sexual intercourse.

Polygyny (the marriage of one man to several women) was common among many of the Southern Plains tribes. As a normal pattern, the second wife would be the sister of the first wife (a practice known as sororal polygyny). In general, there were two advantages to this form of polygyny. First, it was generally acknowledged that sisters don’t often fight and thus marriage to sisters helped reduce tension in the household. Second, marriage was an economic relationship and this meant that the husband would have economic obligations to only one other family.

The ideal Osage marriage was arranged by the families and it was considered preferable if the couple did not know each other prior to marriage. Individuals were not allowed to marry someone who belonged to one of their four grandparents’ clans. The marriage ceremony included an exchange of gifts between the two families. Polygyny tended to be sororal as the husband of the oldest daughter had marriage claims on the younger sisters.

Among most American Indian cultures, all adults were married. This meant that there needed to be mechanisms in place for re-marriage when a spouse died. Some of the tribes, such as the Lipan Apache, the Plains Apache, the Comanche, and the Kiowa, practiced the sororate. That is, if a man’s wife died, her family would provide him with one of her sisters as a wife. The “sister” could be a “cousin” as recognized by the European way of describing relatives.

Many of the tribes also practiced the levirate. When a man died, his widow would be married to his brother. Keep in mind, that in the kinship terminology of many of the tribes, some cousins would be considered the same as brothers. With this arrangement, the brother would assume the economic responsibilities of the widow and her children.

For non-Indians perhaps the most baffling form of Native American marriage was polyandry: the marriage of one woman to more than one man at the same time. This most often took the form of a man lending his wife to his brother. Among some groups, such as the Comanche, this was an anticipatory levirate. When a man died his wife would become the wife of his brother. Anticipating this practice, a man would allow his brother(s) to have sexual access to his wife. This was seen as symbolic of the brotherhood bond.

Renegade Indians

It has been common to describe American Indians as renegades, particularly when they wished to continue their traditional lifeways and refused to conform to Euro-American behavioral expectations. So where did the word “renegade” come from and how did it come to be used to describe American Indians?

“Renegade” came into English at the end of the sixteenth century from the Spanish “renegade” which entered Spanish from the Medieval Latin “renegātus,” the past participle of “renegāre” meaning “to deny.”

Like other European nations, the Spanish justified their legal right to invade and subdue Native American nations with the Discovery Doctrine which claimed that Christian nations have the right, and possibly the obligation, to rule all non-Christian nations. By 1513, Palacios Rubios, Spain’s master jurist, had drafted the “requirement” (“requerimento”) which recited the Christian version of the history of the world. Once this document had been read to Native Americans, they were required to accept the Christian fable as true and to submit themselves to the Catholic Church and the Spanish Crown. The document was, of course, read to them in either Spanish or Latin, and from a Spanish perspective it didn’t make any difference if they understood it or not: once the words had been read, conversion to Christianity was required.

There were some Indians, perhaps most, who did not convert and thus they were “renegades,” meaning that they denied the Christian history of the world. From the legal perspective of the time, a “just war” could then be waged against those who denied the Spanish Catholic view of the “truth.”

English-speaking people in the Americas, who also felt that the Discovery Doctrine gave them superior rights to rule, quickly adopted the Spanish concept and Anglicized the word to “renegade.”

The word “renegade” today is used to denote someone who has abandoned their own nation or belief system; one who has left a group or religion and has joined another which opposes it; someone who chooses to live outside of laws or conventions. The term “renegade” is often seen as being synonymous with “apostate” and “traitor.” With these definitions, use of the term “renegade” in referring to American Indians who refused to submit to Christianity or to foreign rule is not appropriate.

During the nineteenth century, the term “renegade” was applied to those Indians who refused to be imprisoned on the reservations and to those who continued to practice their “pagan” religions. Thus, the Apache chief Victorio and the Apache spiritual leader Geronimo were classified as “renegades” in the popular press of the time and later in western movies and academic histories. Neither of these men denied their own culture.

Hanging Indians in 1865

Since the creation of the United States there have been conflicts with American Indian nations. The United States has generally viewed the actions of Indian in defending their traditional homelands not only as acts of war, but also as crimes. Unlike other crimes, however, in which the focus is on justice which requires a due process of law (sometimes called a trial) and punishment of the guilty, American dealings with Indian “crimes” focused on retribution with no concern for due process of law or punishing the guilty. In the racist view of the United States all Indians were the same: therefore when hanging an Indian for an alleged crime, there was no concern about which Indian was actually hung. Often there was little concern regarding tribal affiliation: all Indians in the eyes of many Americans were the same and, as Indians, they had to be guilty of some crime.

In their 1865 “war” against the Plains Indians, most notably the Cheyenne and Sioux, the United States began a policy of publicly hanging Indians and leaving the bodies hanging until they rotted. It was felt that this would send a message about the great power and peaceful intentions of the United States.

In Colorado, the Cheyenne and Sioux attacked the small settlement of Julesburg hoping to lure the troops from Fort Rankin into a trap. The decoys were led by Big Crow, a chief of the Crooked Lance Society. The warriors smashed windows and doors. They raided the warehouse and the blacksmith shop where they liberated supplies, provisions, clothing, and harnesses.

The small force of mounted Indians—five Cheyenne and two Sioux—managed to lure the cavalry (37 men) into a trap. However, some of the younger warriors rode into the fight prematurely, allowing most of the cavalry to escape.

In the Julesburg area, the warriors also attacked a wagon load of Americans from the American Ranch. In another incident, Little Bear and Touching Cloud led a group of warriors against two discharged soldiers riding in a wagon. Afterwards, they found two scalps in a valise. The scalps belonged to White Leaf and Little Wolf/Coyote and had been taken at Sand Creek.

Following the Julesburg raid, most of the Cheyenne leaders favored further raids on the American settlements. However, Black Kettle opposed this plan and so his band, which numbered about 80 lodges, separated from the main tribe and returned to the Arkansas River.  He planned on joining with the Kiowa, Comanche, and Little Raven’s Southern Arapaho.

Following the Julesburg raid, the army captured Cheyenne chief Big Crow. The orders from the commanding general read:  “Take Big Crow to the place where soldier was killed yesterday, erect a high gallows, hang him in chains and leave the body suspended.”

Historian John McDermott, in his book Circle of Fire: the Indian War of 1865 reports:  “Big Crow was hanged with the ball and chain that had manacled him still attached to his leg, and it was not long before the body decayed sufficiently so that the weight of the ball pulled off the limb, and there the grisly remains stayed as a warning to others.”

There was no trial, no concern for the actual guilt of Big Crow. He was an Indian leader and was therefore hung as an example to other Indians.

In Wyoming, the army discovered a group of Sioux camped about 10 miles from Fort Laramie. With the Sioux was Lucinda Eubank and her small daughter. She and her daughter had been captured by the Cheyenne and then sold to Sioux Chief Two Face. She had been forced to work and to have sexual relations. In retaliation, the army ordered the hanging of two Sioux chiefs—Two Face and Black Foot—as an example to other Indians. According to Special Order No. 11:  “The execution will be conducted in a sober soldierly manner and the bodies will be left hanging as a warning to them. No citizens or soldiers will be permitted to visit or touch the dead bodies without permission from this headquarters or that of this post.”

Once again, there was no trial to determine guilt. While the executions of the two chiefs were intended to show the Indians that it would be fruitless to oppose the power of the United States, John McDermott reports:  “The death of the chiefs, however, did not seem to affect the depredations of the Sioux and Cheyennes. If anything, it may have inspired them to greater efforts.”

In summary, the United States did not hang Indians in the pursuit of justice, but instead did so as a show of raw power. It was an early form of shock and awe.  The crime of Indians was often that of being Indian.

Indian Rebellions at the California Missions

While it is not uncommon for some textbooks to give the impression that the California Native Americans passively accepted the missions, Spanish domination, and conversion to Christianity, this was not the case. In fact, the initial reception of the Franciscans by the California Indians was anything but hospitable. Resistance to the Spanish Franciscans was organized by village chiefs and influential shamans and this resistance was expressed through attacks on both the Spanish soldiers and the Franciscan missionaries. During the first years of the Franciscan mission program the overt hostility of the Indians slowed the rate of the establishment of the new missions and created a reliance on soldiers to protect the Franciscans.

By Spanish law the process of converting Indians into Christians was to take ten years and was to involve four stages: (1) misión (mission) which was to include initial contact and the explanation of the importance of God and the King, (2) reducción (reduction) which was to reduce the Indians’ territory by bringing them into a segregated community centered around a church, (3) doctrina (doctrine) in which the Indians would receive instructions on the finer points of Christianity, and (4) curato (curacy) in which the Indians would become tax-paying citizens.

In 1771, Spanish Franciscans founded the San Gabriel Mission in the Los Angeles basin. The new mission was given the name La Misión del Santo Príncipe El Arcángel, San Gabriel de Los Temblores. Shortly after the mission was established, it was attacked by Indians. The two attacks were triggered by the rape of a Kumi.vit woman by the soldiers who were assigned to protect the Franciscans. One chief was killed and the Spanish soldiers placed his head on a pole as an example to other Indians who might wish to rebel against Spanish authority.

In 1769, the Spanish Franciscans established La Misión San Diego de Alcalá in the homeland of the Kumeyaay Indians. In 1775, the Kumeyaay revolted, burned the mission and killed one of the priests.

Fearing reprisals from the nearby Spanish presidio, the attackers quickly fled into the interior, taking with them some booty in the form of clothing, trinkets, and religious icons. Spanish troops were called out to capture the ringleaders.

The Spanish priests blamed Satan for the uprising against the San Diego Mission. Father Francisco Palóu wrote:  “The enemy, [Satan] envious and resentful, no doubt because the heathen in that territory were being taken away from him, and because the missionaries, with their fervent zeal and apostolic labors, were steadily lessening his following, and little by little banishing heathenism from the neighborhood of the port of San Diego, found a means to put a stop to these spiritual conquests.”

From an Indian perspective, the rebellion against the oppression of the Spanish mission was the result of forced labor and the rape of several Kumeyaay women. The Indians viewed the Spanish priests as shamans and held them responsible for the disease and misfortune which was befalling them. Thus, the killing of the priest—an evil shaman in the eyes of the Indians—and the removal of sacred objects from the mission was a way of cleansing the land of the spiritual evil that was growing on it.

Spanish investigation revealed that at least fifteen villages took part in the rebellion, including several so-called Christian villages. Leaders of the insurrection were identified as Oroche of Macate, Francisco of Cullamac, Rafael of Janat, and Ysquitil of Abusquel.

In 1776, the Spanish Franciscans selected a number of Ohlone and Costanoan Indians to be flogged and threatened with execution. The action was intended to stop any resistance to their missionary activities.

In that same year, Indians attacked the San Luis Obispo Mission and set fire to the roofs of the buildings.

In 1785, Toypurina (Gabrielino) convinced Indians from six villages to participate in a revolt against the San Gabriel Mission. Toypurina was a medicine woman who was considered to have supernatural powers. At the attack on the Mission, she killed people with her magic, but the priests and soldiers had been warned and the insurgents were arrested. At her trial, Toypurina denounced the Spanish for trespassing on and destroying Indian lands. Another Indian leader, Nicolas Jose, spoke out against the Spanish prohibition of traditional Indian ceremonies. Most of the Indians were sentenced to 20 lashes and Toypurina was deported to the San Carlos Mission. The public flogging of the Indians involved in this revolt was a ritual designed to restore Spanish domination, a common practice throughout Spanish America.

The Mission Indians often rebelled against the Franciscan missionaries with their feet: they ran away from captivity. In 1795, over 200 Costanoan staged a mass escape from Mission Dolores and 280 Indian “converts” fled from the San Francisco Mission.  The following year, another 200 Indians fled from the San Francisco mission. In 1798, 138 Indian “converts” fled from the Santa Cruz Mission. In 1805, 200 Indian “converts” fled from the San Juan Bautista Mission.

In 1811, Nazario, a Mission Indian cook at the San Diego Mission, was subject to 124 lashes. He then poisoned one of the priests. Since the Indians often viewed the Franciscan missionaries as powerful shamans or witches, it was appropriate in Indian culture to poison them as this was the traditional Indian way of dealing with such people.

In 1812, a group of Indian converts at the Santa Cruz mission murdered a Franciscan missionary because of his plans to punish Indians with a cat-o’-nine-tails with barbed metal on the ends of the leather straps.

In 1824 the Chumash at the La Purísima Mission revolted against the ill treatment and forced labor imposed by the priests and soldiers. The revolt was sparked by the routine beating of an Indian at the Santa Ynez mission.

A force of 2,000 Indians captured La Purísima and were soon bolstered by Indians from Santa Ynez and San Fernando. For more than a month, the Indians who occupied the La Purísima and Santa Ynez missions were able to resist Spanish military attempts to restore order.

The news of the revolt soon reached Santa Barbara and the Indians attacked the soldiers, sacked the mission, and then retreated to the back country.

The Spanish recaptured the missions after four months. The four leaders of the revolt – Mariano, Pacomio, Benito, and Bernarde – were sentenced to 10 years of chain-gang labor.

Another factor in the revolt was the appearance of a twin-tailed comet in the night sky. According to traditional Chumash beliefs, such a sign foretells of great changes which are about to happen.

In 1828, Mission Indians, under the leadership of Yokuts chiefs Estanislao (Stanislaus) and Cipriano, revolted against the Mexicans in the San Joaquin Valley. Among those joining the revolt were refugees from the Santa Cruz, San José, and San Juan Bautista Missions. Estanislao established a fortified village which was ringed with deep trenches. The Indians were successful in repelling three counterattacks by the Mexican army.

In 1829, Mexican troops attacked Estanislao’s stronghold. After several hours of intense fighting, the Mexicans breached the stockade using canon fire. They then retreated for the night. In the morning, the Mexicans found the Indian camp deserted. Thinking that Estanislao and his rebels had fled to another stockaded village about 10 miles away, the Mexicans attacked the village. They set fire to the stockade and shot all who tried to escape. They found that Estanislao was not among the dead.

Estanislao secretly returned to the Mission San José and asked the priest for a pardon. The priest agreed that he could return to the mission if he promised never to raid again.

In 1830, Christian Indians under the leadership of Francisco Jímenez, the Indian alcalde of the Mission San José, attempted to capture some Indians who had run away from the mission and were living with the Ochejamne Miwok. The Miwok repelled the invaders. Jímenez then recruited the aid of some American trappers, including Kit Carson, who fought the Miwok for an entire day, killing many Indians, and burning the village. They took some captives back to the mission.

Later the Sierra Miwok captured about 60 horses from the American trappers. Kit Carson and others chased the Miwok for over 100 miles into the Sierras. They attacked the Miwok camp, killing eight and taking three children captive. They recaptured most of their horses.

In 1833, American fur trappers found a village of Spanish-speaking Chumash living near Walker Pass. This group of Indians were renegades who fled from the Spanish missions during the 1824 revolt. They were raising corn and had horses.

In 1834, the Mexican government secularized the California missions. Mission properties were sold or were given to soldiers who had fought against Spain in the revolution.

 

Hohokam Platform Mounts

About 2,000 years ago, in what has seemed to some people the inhospitable desert of Central Arizona, Indian people developed a farming culture which utilized extensive irrigation systems. As farmers they raised corn (maize), tepary beans, grain amaranth, agave, and little barley. This ancient culture, called Hohokam by archaeologists, is considered ancestral to the O’odham peoples.

Hohokam history is generally divided into two major periods: Preclassic (from about 200 to 1150 CE) and Classic (from about 1150 to 1450 CE). The Preclassic Period is characterized by clusters of small villages along the canal systems and the construction of ball courts.

Sometime after 1100 CE, the Hohokam ball courts seemed to be less important and the people began constructing platform mounds. These platform mounds took on greater importance and between 1250 and 1350 they grew dramatically in size. During this time, the platform mounds would be composed of thousands of cubic feet of fill. The construction of these mounds required community labor on a massive scale. Some archaeologists have calculated that construction of the larger mounds may have required 50,000 person-hours.

Most of the platform mounds—more than 120 have been identified—were constructed in the Phoenix Basin. The mounds were often built within an adobe compound and some of them are over 3.5 meters (12 feet) high. On top of the mounds there were as many as 30 rooms.

While the ball courts of the early period were open and seemed to encourage spectators, the platform mounds have limited access. This seems to suggest a major change in Hohokam social organization. Archaeologist Brian Fagan, in his book Elixer: A History of Water and Humankind, writes:  “It is as if Hohokam society became more hierarchical, with only a few individuals having access to the precincts within the enclosures.”

The construction of the platform mounds seems to suggest a change from a relatively egalitarian society to a more stratified society, a society in which an elite group was setting itself apart from other people. The platform mounds seem to be associated with elite activities.

The shift from ball courts to platform mounds suggests that there was a change in religion, in the nature of the Hohokam’s relationships with the supernatural. While the ball courts were built into the ground, the platform mounds seem to reach for the sky. Brian Fagan writes:  “It was as if a few members of society elevated themselves in both material and spiritual terms above everyone else, whereas in earlier times the relationship between the living and the ancestors, with the underworld where humans originated, had been more important. Now, perhaps, the close spiritual relationships were between a few individuals with unusual powers and the water deities of the supernatural realm.”

After 1400, many of the Hohokam towns were abandoned. This may be due to a combination of environmental factors (including the build-up of salt in the soil from irrigation) and civil warfare. According to Gregory Schaaf, the director of the Center for Indigenous Arts and Culture, in his book Ancient Ancestors of the Southwest:  “Pima oral history tradition describes how elite Hohokam leaders became oppressive and locals drove them back to the south, as part of a liberation movement.”

At the beginning of this decline, the population of the Phoenix basin is estimated at 40-50,000. During the next 200 years, it will drop to 5,000.

 

The Lame Cow War

In the 1840s a massive migration of non-Indians began in which long wagon trains would cross the Great Plains bringing new settlers into Utah, Oregon, and California. The people in the wagon trains were generally oblivious to the fact that they were trespassing on Indian land and using Indian resources. As they crossed the Plains, their oxen, cattle, and horses grazed on the grass, depleting the resources needed for Indian horses and for the bison on which Plains Indian lives depended. Many of the non-Indians viewed Indians as a part of the wildlife, like coyotes and wolves, destined to be exterminated before the relentless push of Manifest Destiny. The Indians, on the other hand, viewed the intruders as thieves stealing grass and game.

In 1845, Joel Palmer, who was leading a wagon train to Oregon, met with a group of about 100 Oglala Sioux at Fort Laramie, Wyoming. One Sioux leader, whose name was not recorded, told Palmer:  “This country belongs to the red man, but his white brethren travels through, shooting the game and scaring it away. Thus the Indian loses all that he depends upon to support his wife and children. The children of the red man cry out for food, but there is no food.”

Ignoring the fact that the Indians had just pointed out that wagons trains like his were stealing from the Indians, Palmer informed them that they were compelled to pass through Indian territory on their way to the coast.

In 1850, the U.S. Army at Fort Laramie tallied the wagon trains that passed through. They counted: 7,472 mules, 30,616 oxen, 22,742 horses, 8,998 wagons, and 5,270 cows. All of these animals were, of course, eating Indian grass for which the tribes were never reimbursed. With regard to the buffalo, generally regarded as a primary food source for Plains Indians, the hunters from the wagon trains would shot buffalo regularly, taking only the choice cuts of meat and leaving the rest for the wolves, coyotes, and buzzards. Unlike the Indians, they had no interest in preserving any meat for future use.

In 1854, a Mormon wagon-train was crossing Wyoming on its way to Utah when it abandoned a lame cow. When a hunting party of Sioux came across the cow on what they felt was their land, they killed it for food. Chief Pretty Voice Eagle explained it this way:  “They had with them a cow which was lame, and they left it. The Indians thought they had thrown it away, and killed it. We killed this cow not for subsistence but because it was lame and we felt sorry for it.”

When the Mormons complained about the killing of the cow, the Indians offered them a horse worth double the cow as a trade, but the Mormons refused and later filed a formal complaint with the army. A young army officer and 20 troops, described by Father De Smet as “armed to the teeth and with a cannon loaded with grapeshot,” were sent out to bring back the Indian responsible for killing the cow. According to Lakota Sioux writer Charles Eastman, in his book Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains: “It would seem that either the officer was under the influence of liquor, or else had a mind to bully the Indians, for he would accept neither explanation or payment, but demanded point-blank that the young men who had killed the cow be delivered up to summary punishment.”

The officer then fired his cannon into the Indians, killing chief Conquering Bear and a number of men. The Indians defended themselves and the army unit was annihilated. The non-Indian press declared that a state of war existed with the Sioux and called for reinforcements. The focus was not on justice, but on retaliation and punishment. Father DeSmet, the Belgian-born Jesuit who spent 32 years among the Indians and often aided the Americans in holding Indian councils, wrote that a lame cow was   “the origin of a fresh war of extermination upon the Indians which is to be carried out in the course of the present year.”

George W. Manypenny, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, felt that the whole incident could have been avoided if Indian funds had been used to pay for the cow. In his annual report, Manypenny noted:  “No officer of the military department was in my opinion authorized to arrest or try the Indian for the offense charged against him.”

Mannypenny, while the government official responsible for Indian Affairs, expressed no concern over the depletion of Indian resources nor did he suggest that Indians be compensated for these losses.

 

Indians and Cancer

In general, American Indians and Alaska Natives appear to have lower rates of cancer than other American groups. However, the death rates among those who have cancer tend to be higher. Among Native Americans, cancer is the third leading cause of death among all age groups and the second leading cause of death among those over 45 years of age.

The Center for Disease Control summarizes the situation this way: “Unique circumstances of culture, location, history, and health care produce unique patterns of cancer occurrence among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) in the United States. Many AI/AN live on reservation lands or in remote rural areas, and their primary health care is provided by a tribally operated health program or the Indian Health Service. Rural and urban AI/AN alike experience greater poverty, lower levels of education, and poorer housing conditions than does the general U.S. population.”

In looking at the overall cancer rates among Indians, we should keep in mind a couple of things. First, the reported cancer rates may not be accurate. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center notes: “these numbers may be underreported because of past flaws in collecting this information.”

A report from the Yakama Nation: “Information on the exact magnitude of the cancer burden among Native Americans is both incomplete and compromised by significant levels of racial misclassification, underreporting of cancer cases, the reluctance of many Native Americans to provide personal information to researchers or cancer surveillance personnel, and insufficient and underutilized databases, among other problems.”

The rural nature of reservations coupled with the poor, and often culturally insensitive, healthcare facilities mean that cancer screening is less frequently done. It also means that cancer is often not detected at the early, treatable stage, and therefore the survival rate is lower.

For example, Indians over age 50 are less likely than other Americans to have received a colon cancer screening test —such as a fecal occult blood test, colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy—within the past two years. According to the Indian Health Service, this is due in part because of the lack of resources to perform the routine tests that detect the early warning signs of the disease. Colorectal cancer is highly treatable if caught early enough, but for American Indians it is usually not detected early.

American Indian and Alaska Native women are three times more likely to die of cervical cancer than all other American groups. Once again, this is a cancer that can be treated if found early enough.

American Indians and Alaska Natives are about twice as likely as other groups to have liver cancer and to die from it. There is a correlation between liver cancer and heavy alcohol use, obesity, and diabetes—all conditions which are widespread on the reservations. A number of Indian nations have implemented culturally appropriate programs to deal with alcohol abuse, obesity, and diabetes. The scientific studies have shown that the chances of getting liver cancer are reduced by not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains, exercising regularly, and limiting alcohol consumption. For poor people, a healthy diet is often too expensive.

It has been well-documented that there is a correlation between lung cancer and smoking. While smoking has declined in the United States over the past two decades, American Indians and Alaska Natives are more likely to smoke. At the present time, the smoking rate is estimated at about 31% as compared with about 18% for the general population. Smoking rates tend to be highest in the Northern Plains and in Alaska. Many Indian nations have programs intended to reduce recreational use of tobacco, keeping in mind that tobacco has a long history of spiritual use among Indian people.

In 2002, the President’s Cancer Panel was invited to visit the Yakama Nation in Washington. They reported: “Moving and troubling testimony was received from nearly 40 cancer survivors, family caregivers, physicians and other medical personnel, outreach workers, health care administrators, and cancer researchers. They described in detail an Indian health system hobbled by longstanding, severe underfunding, inadequate infrastructure and staffing, and the maze of complex and arcane requirements of the Indian Health Service (IHS) system. These problems frequently cause needed cancer care to be delayed for months at the patient’s peril—and even denied.”

Solutions to healthcare concerns among American Indians have been suggested since the 1928 Meriam report. Over and over again, it is apparent that part of the solution is inadequate funding. The federal government spends more for prison healthcare than for American Indians. Virtually every report on reservation health conditions calls for more funding and in response Congress tends to cut this funding in the name of austerity.

The second barrier to adequate healthcare on the reservations is cultural insensitivity. The 2002 report from the Yakama Nation:  “Some Native people also hesitate to engage the health care system, particularly providers outside the IHS system, due to cultural and language barriers. Even within the IHS system, many of the available physicians are foreign nationals who are temporary and are unfamiliar with Native American cultures and beliefs. Building a relationship of trust and mutual respect with the health provider is often extremely difficult under these circumstances. In addition, many non-Indian providers are unwilling to include traditional health practices or Native ceremonies in hospitals or in the course of other cancer care even when it is possible to do so without jeopardy to the patient’s treatment.”

Finally, dealing with cancer is a public health issue and this means involving the public. On the reservations this means tailoring the public health message in culturally appropriate ways. The kinds of public service announcements that seem to work for the general public, may not be effective on the reservation. In addition, it should be kept in mind that there is no generic Indian culture, but rather hundreds of distinct Indian cultures. What works on one reservation may not work on others.

 

 

Marriage Among Northwest Coast Indians

The family is a social institution that appears to be universal among humans, though the actual form of the family can vary greatly. One of the foundational aspects of family is marriage which involves the commitment of two or more individuals. With regard to a formal definition of marriage, in Culture as Given, Culture as Choice, anthropologist Dirk van der Elst writes:  “It is impossible to make a single, universally applicable definition of marriage. The reason is simple: marriage has many separate functions, so different societies can emphasize different aspects—and hence not mean quite the same thing by the term.”

For thousands of years prior to the European invasion, Native American people lived along the northern Pacific coast between the Cascade Mountains and the ocean. Here they developed complex cultures characterized by permanent villages and social stratification (that is, there were social classes, including ruling families). As with other peoples around the world, their marriage customs reflected the other aspects of their cultures.

To understand marriage among the First Nations of the Northwest Coast, we must start with the concept of the family. While Europeans have been obsessed with the nuclear family—that is, a family composed of a man and a woman and their children—and feel that this is the foundation of human society, this type of family had little importance for the Northwest Coast Indians.  For the Indian people in this region, family was about a type of extended family known as a clan.

Clans are named extended family units—that is, they include relatives which Europeans call aunts, uncles, cousin, grandparents, and so on—which often are corporate in nature (that is, they will have a formal leader and possess property) and are usually exogamous (requiring marriage outside of the clan). Among the Indian nations of the Northwest Coast, clans were traditionally the most important element of their social organization.

In the traditional pre-European villages each of the houses within the village was associated with an extended clan and each clan had certain privileges, which included fishing, hunting, and gathering rights as well as ceremonial rights (such as ownership of songs and dances).

On the northern part of the coast, among the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian, descent is matrilineal. This means that people belong to the same clan or lineage as their mother. Thus, a village leader’s position would be inherited by his nephew (his sister’s son) rather than by his own son.

Marriage was often a clan concern rather than an individual concern. Marriage united clans and formed the basis for economic and political alliances. Since marriages created alliances between houses and clans, they tended to be arranged by the families with an eye toward lasting political and social consequences. Spouses were expected to be social equals. The actual wedding was celebrated with a potlatch.

Among the Nisg’a (Tsimshian), royalty were expected to marry cross-cousins. A cross-cousin would be the child of the mother’s brother or the father’s sister. In a matrilineal system, this would mean that the cousin would not be in the same clan. Ideally, a royal man would marry his mother’s brother’s daughter, but marrying his father’s sister’s daughter was also a possibility. A royal man could marry a woman, have four children with her, then separate from her, and marry someone else.

Among the Heiltsuk, marriage was called wíná (war) and was always conducted in the style of a war party. The men from the bridegroom’s house would arrive in canoes, feigning an attack. This was the case even when the couple was from the same village. Among the chiefly classes, marriage was usually arranged by the family as it was a means of obtaining status through the transfer of names and the distribution of property. Among commoners, the couple’s wishes were the primary consideration in marriage and less wealth was transferred.

Among the Kwakwaka’wakw’ (Kwakiutl), the marriage of the eldest children of chiefs was very elaborate and was called “taking-care-of-the-great-bringing-out-of-the-crests-marriage.” Some Kwakwaka’wakw’ noble families sought to retain noble privileges by seeking out marriages within the extended family. Anthropologist Franz Boas, in his book Race, Language, and Culture, explains:  “Marriages are permitted between half-brother and half-sister, i.e., between children of one father, but of two mothers, not vice-versa; or, marriages between a man and his younger brother’s daughter, but not with his elder brother’s daughter, who is, of course, of higher rank, being in the line of primo-geniture or least nearer to it.”

Among some of the Northwest Coast cultures, both polygyny (the marriage of one man to two or more women at the same time) and polyandry  (the marriage of one woman to more than one man at the same time) occurred. Among the Tlingit, for example, a woman of high rank often had more than one husband, but these husbands had to belong to the same clan. Polygyny was also found among the wealthy Tlingit. While a man could marry as many women as he could afford, the first wife always outranked all others in the household.

 

 

Hohokam Ball Courts

In the desert area of Arizona, an area now occupied by the greater Phoenix metro area, Indian people were farming corn, beans, squash, and cotton more than 2,500 years ago. Called Hohokam by archaeologists, these people developed a system of irrigation that carried water for many miles to their productive fields which yielded two harvests per year.

In the Phoenix Basin, the Hohokam brought some 70,000 acres under cultivation with their elaborate networks of irrigation canals. Along the canals were interdependent villages whose residents shared the work of constructing, maintaining, and managing the canals. In the larger communities there were basin-like structures which archaeologists have identified as ball courts.

Balls courts were an important part of the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras), such as the Maya. In Mesoamerica, the ball game which was played on these courts was often a ceremonial event which tied different communities together.

At about 600 CE the archaeological data shows the contact between the Hohokam and the civilizations of Mexico intensified. This marks the beginning of what archaeologists call the Colonial Period. Imports from the civilizations in Mexico at this time include cast copper bells, macaws (which are valued for their feathers), and mirrors made from bits of iron pyrite. Hohokam communities built ball courts between 700 and 1100 C.E.

While the Mesoamerican ball courts were generally built out of stone, in the Arizona desert the Hohokam built theirs by digging into the desert and piling the soil up on either side. Some of the ball courts were 250 feet (76 meters) in length and 90 feet (27 meters) in width. In some instances they were dug up to 9 feet (nearly 3 meters) into the subsoil.

With regard to the nature of the ball game, archaeologist Brian Fagan in his book Elixer: A History of Water and Humankind, writes:  “Quite what form the ball game itself took remains a mystery, but there is no question that it originated in Mexico, where commoners played a version of the contest that required each side to cast a rubber ball back and forth without touching the ground.”

Archaeologists have uncovered rubber balls similar to those used in Mesoamerica at sites in the Southwest. Historical records from Mesoamerica indicate that the ball games were generally the culmination of a period of feasting, trading, and social activities. Thus archaeologists feel that something similar was happening among the Hohokam. Some feel that the ball games were a way of integrating the various interdependent villages with tournaments between teams from different villages.

Some archaeologists feel that the ball games were associated with trading days or trading fairs. Artisans from many different Hohokam communities could come together for a single trading event in which a great variety of goods would be available. Writing in the journal American Antiquity, David Abbott, Alexa Smith, and Emiliano Gallaga write:  “We can imagine Hohokam potters in the middle Gila River valley packing up loads of their wares, walking one or two days to ballcourt events in the lower Salt River valley, while eager buyers anticipated these merchants’ arrival.”

There is some indication that some Hohokam villages specialized in producing some materials. For example, the Hohokam had a site north of Phoenix for the specialized production of manos and metates from a kind of quartz-basalt known as New River andesite. The manos and metates manufactured here were then traded to Hohokam villages and hamlets in other areas. The ball games would have provided a good opportunity for this type of trade.

At the Hohokam sites, archaeologists have observed that the ball courts were oriented in various directions. This seems to suggest that the different ball courts may have been used to celebrate different events in a ceremonial calendar.

The Hohokam managed to create large public works, such as their canal systems and ball courts, but there is no evidence of any ruling elites. The ball game may have integrated the communities, brought together for feasting, dancing, trade, and sport and in so doing reduced the need for social coercion and a ruling class. In 1100, however, they stopped building the ball courts and began building mounds, suggesting a change in their social and religious organization.

 

The Iroquoian Language Family

The Iroquoian language family, found in the Eastern Woodlands Culture Area, includes the languages of the League of Five Nations (Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, Seneca, and Cayuga), Nottoway, Tuscarora, Cherokee, Huron, Susquehannock.  Some linguists feel that this language family may be a part of the larger Macro-Siouan phylum, which indicates a very distant relationship with Siouan.

With regard to the origins of the Iroquoian language family, there are some who feel that Iroquoian had a homeland outside of the Northeast and thus Iroquoian-speakers are intrusive in the region. However, archaeological data at the present time does not support this hypothesis.

Some linguists feel that Iroquoian has been spoken in the area of central New York state and north-central Pennsylvania for at least four millennia. From here, they suggest, there were migrations first to the south and then to the north and immediate west.

Historical linguists have long noted that some parts of language tend to change faster and earlier than others, while other parts of language tend to resist change. Using a standard word list chosen from the most resistant vocabulary, linguists are able to compare languages within the same language family to determine how long ago two languages shared a common ancestor, how long ago they separated from each other. This process is called glottochronology.

Glottochronology suggests that Southern Iroquoian (Cherokee) broke off about 1800 BCE. Linguist Michael Foster, in a chapter in the Handbook of North American Indians, writes that  “the divergence between Northern and Southern Iroquoian is probably somewhat greater than that between any of the languages of the Germanic or the Romance families, but not so great as that between languages belonging to the separate branches of Indo-European.”

While the Tuscarora were located geographically close to the Cherokee, their language is actually Northern Iroquois. Glottochronology suggests that Tuscarora separated from the Five Nations’ languages about 400 BCE.

Within the northern division of Iroquoian, Onandaga, Cayuga, and Seneca broke off from Mohawk and Oneida between 1,000 and 1,500 years ago. The relationship between Mohawk and Oneida is fairly close with a great deal of mutual intelligibility between the two languages.

With regard to the division of Iroquoian into distinct languages, linguist Blair Rudes, writing in Anthropological Linguistics, reports:  “Among Northern Iroquoian languages, it is fairly certain that the earliest division involved a dialect group comprising the ancestors of the Tuscarora and Nottoway.”

Next came the splitting off of Cayuga and the Wendat languages (Huron and Wyandot). This was followed by the Seneca, then the Onondaga, and then the Oneida and Mohawk.

In the northeastern culture area, Iroquoian and Algonquian people lived next to each other, they traded, they fought, and they intermarried. With regard to language, there was relatively little borrowing between the two language families.

Linguists consider the Iroquoian languages to be polysynthetic, fusional, and incorporating. Floyd Lounsbury, in his chapter on Iroquoian languages in the Handbook of North American Indians,  explains:  “That is to say, words may be made up of a great many component parts, whose relative order is strictly determined; these parts are variable in their phonetic forms (adjusting to variable contexts) and are unintelligible and without meaning if taken out of proper context; and verb forms may incorporate noun roots—as direct objects with transitive verb roots, and as subjects with intransitive verb roots—as well as incorporating subject and object pronominal preference.”

As with other American Indian groups, the Iroquoian-speakers took pride in good oratory. The Iroquoian people appreciated and cultivated skillful language use, particularly in political and ceremonial oratory. Story-telling and snappy repartees were highly regarded skills.

While most American Indian languages did not develop writing, the Cherokee—the most southern branch of the Iroquoian language family—not only developed their own writing system, they also had a higher rate of literacy than their English-speaking neighbors.

In 1821, Sequoia (also spelled Sequoya) developed a syllabary of 86 characters for Cherokee which made it possible for Cherokee to become a written language. Sequoia neither spoke nor read English, but he had seen the English alphabet and so took many of these letters to represent Cherokee sounds. There is, however, no correspondence between the sounds represented in the two languages. The letter D, for example, is pronounced a in Cherokee.

The Sequoia syllabary made it possible for a Cherokee speaker to quickly learn to read and write in Cherokee. It is said that Sequoia could begin teaching his syllabary in the morning and by sundown his students would be literate in Cherokee. Linguist Kenneth Katzner, in his book The Languages of the World, writes:  “That an unlettered hunter and craftsman could complete a task now undertaken only by highly trained linguists must surely rank as one of the most impressive intellectual feats achieved by a single man.”

Redskins

In 1722, Samuel Shuttle, the governor of Massachusetts, declared total war on the Abenaki. Part of the concern of the English colonists was the presence of Jesuits among the Abenaki. The colonial Puritans were vehemently anti-Catholic and particularly anti-Jesuit. Father Sebastian Rasles had strongly encouraged the Abenaki to defend their lands and themselves against the English colonists.

The English colonists viewed North America as a vast wilderness, ignoring the fact that the park-like environment they encountered was, in fact, carefully managed by Native Americans. They viewed the Indians as savage nomads, ignoring the fact that Native agriculture had fed them; ignoring the fact that Indian people lived in permanent villages and raised a variety of crops. The English felt that it was their God-given duty to “tame” the wilderness by exterminating all animals they didn’t like and for this reason they encouraged the killing of coyotes, wolves, and, of course, Indians.

To encourage the killing of these “wild” and “dangerous” animals, the colonial government established a bounty system. To get paid the bounty, hunters had to provide proof of the kill: for this they submitted coyote skins, wolf skins, and red skins (usually the scalps or heads of the Indians they had killed). Some colonists earned their livings through bounties.

In January 1725, Captain John Lovewell organized a militia group to hunt Indians. With the bounty set at £100, Lovewell and his militia members saw killing Indians for the bounty as a way to get rich. In his book The Forgotten America, Cormac O’Brien describes Lovewell’s decision to hunt Indians this way: “A farmer with little to do in the winter but fight off boredom, he decided to raise a company of volunteers, go off into the woods, and cash in on the government’s offer of scalp money.”

The group set out to attack the Abenaki village of Pigwacket (near present-day Fryeburg, Maine), but they changed plans when they came across the tracks of an Indian party heading south. They followed the tracks and came across and Indian camp.

At about 2:00 AM on February 20, the sixty-two English bounty-hunters formed a semi-circle around the sleeping camp. Lovewell fired first and the others followed. One surviving Abenaki man jumped up and began to run and the English set their attack dogs on him. The English stormed the camp, clubbing to death any who had survived the volley of bullets and then scalping all of them. They then took the Abenaki guns (which were of French manufacture and considered quite valuable) and other souvenirs.

When the militia arrived in Boston, they proudly displayed ten scalps which they hoisted on poles for all to see. They were greeted as heroes. They were paid £1,000 by the General Court and they sold their booty for another £70. At this time, this was a lot of money.

Having found bounty hunting for “red skins,” Lovewell decided to raise yet another militia and to enrich himself even further. By spring, Lovewell had signed up 46 men for another bounty expedition hunting Indians for profit and fun. Among those who joined the expedition was Jonathan Fry, a twenty-year-old graduate of the Harvard Divinity School. Fry was to be the group’s chaplain, seeking God’s help in their slaughter of Indians.

Once again, the initial target was the Abenaki village of Pigwacket which was believed to be friendly to the hated Catholic Jesuits. They set out in April, in good weather. On Sunday, May 9, just a short distance from an Indian village, Fry called the men together for a prayer service. The service, however, was interrupted by a gunshot. The English rushed to the shore of a pond where they saw a lone Indian hunting ducks.

Lovewell told his men to leave their blankets and gear so that they could move in quickly to kill the Indian. They quickly surprised the hunter who was carrying some dead ducks and two muskets. The hunter fired one of the muskets, which had been loaded with shot for duck hunting, and wounded two of the English militia. Fry and another man returned fire, killing the hunter. Fry, the group’s chaplain, then scalped him so that he could claim the bounty.

While the English were busy killing and scalping the Abenaki duck hunter, a party of Abenaki under the leadership of Paugus, a Mohawk who had become an Abenaki war leader, were in canoes. When they heard the gunfire, they put ashore and happened to find the English camp. They concealed themselves and waited for the English to return.

The English returned to their camp, basking in the victory over the lone hunter. As they became aware of the fact that their blankets and gear were missing, the Abenaki opened fire. As the battle raged, the surviving English took refuge on a small peninsula on the pond. From here their accurate rifle fire could hold off the Abenaki.

Among those killed in the battle were the English leader Lovewell, the Abenaki leader Paugus, and the Abenaki spiritual leader Wahwah. Twenty of the English bounty hunters survived.

The Battle of Saco Pond, as it was later called, became glorified in American history and literature. In 1820, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “The Battle of Lovewell’s Pond” and in 1824, the Reverend Thomas Cogswell wrote “Song of Lovewell’s Fight.” In the histories and in the literature glorifying the battle, however, the initial cause—hunting Indians for their bounty—was generally omitted.

Spanish Missionaries in Texas

A frontier is a transition zone between two regions, between two areas with different cultures. For the European invaders in North America, the frontier represented the transition between civilization—defined by European languages, governments, and religion—and barbarism—defined by the pagan and incomprehensible Native American cultures. For the English colonists in North America, the frontier was a broad line running north-south and for the English the frontier was always to the west. In New Spain, however, the frontier was to the north. For the colonial Spanish, one of the frontier zones was the area that is today known as Texas.

For the Spanish, the northern frontier of Texas was an area that had to be civilized through the conversion of Native peoples to Catholicism either by persuasion or by force of arms. From 1673 until 1728 Catholic missionaries worked in Texas, establishing missions and seeking converts.

In 1673, in response to what was viewed as a request for Christian missionaries by the Coahuiltecan, the Franciscans sent Fray San Buenaventura and a force of ten soldiers north from Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Coahuila north across the Rio Grande. When the expedition returned, Fray San Buenaventura recommended that the Spanish establish three missions among the Coahuiltecan and that each mission be protected by a presidio (fort) of not less than 70 soldiers.

In 1675, Spanish explorers, including a group of Franciscans, traveled northward from Eagle Pass to present-day Edwards County. They encountered three tribes and noted that smallpox had already decimated tribal numbers. Some of the tribes were hunting buffalo and making jerky.

In 1683, Jumano chief Juan Sabeata led a multi-tribal delegation to El Paso to speak with Spanish state and church officials. Sabeata was appointed to the position of gobernador by the Spanish. Juan Sabeata told the Spanish about the thirty-some tribes to the east, including the “Great Kingdom of the Texas” (the Caddo).

In response to the request by Jumano leader Juan Sabeata the Spanish sent out an expedition to explore the Nueces River country, to learn about the Jumano and other Indian nations in the territory, and to bring back specimens of the pearls which were reported to be there. The Franciscan missionaries Nicolás López and Juan Zavaleta were in charge of the religious aspects of the expedition. The expedition turned back after reaching the Colorado River of Texas and having been attacked several times by the Apache.

 In 1690, Fray Francisco Casañas de Jesus María founded a mission on the banks of the Neches River. The mission was named Santísimo Nombre de María and was intended to convert the Hasinai (Caddo).

Three years later, the Spanish missions and presidios in east Texas were abandoned because of lack of cooperation among the Caddo tribes in the area. One Hasinai medicine man convinced the people that baptism waters could be fatal. The Spanish priests found that the Caddo refused to believe in one god, but insisted that there were two: one who gave clothing, knives, hatchets, and other things to the Spanish; and one who gave corn, beans, acorns, nuts, and rain to the Indians.

At San Francisco de los Tejas the Spanish buried heavy objects, such as canons and bells, and then burned the mission. For several days, the Caddo followed the retreating Spanish at a distance to make sure they were really leaving. Four soldiers, however, deserted the Spanish to join the Caddo. Back at the mission, the soldiers showed the Indians where the heavier objects were buried.

 In 1715, the Spanish decided to re-occupy east Texas and established four missions among the Indians.

The following year, a Spanish missionary party of 75 people, including six Querétan missionaries, reached the site of the abandoned Mission of San Francisco de los Texas. Four leagues inland from this site they established the Mission of San Francisco de los Neches. This mission was intended to serve the Neches, Nabedache, Nacogdoches, and Nacono.

Eight or nine leagues northeast of the new mission, they established another mission for the Hainai which was called the Mission of Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Concepción.

A third mission, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, was established for the Nacogdoche and Nacao. A fourth mission, San José de los Nazones, was established for the Nasoni and Nadaco.

In 1718, the Franciscans moved their mission from Eagle Pass to San Antonio where it became known as San Antonio de Valero.

In 1722, the Spanish established a fort, La Bahía, and the mission of Espíritu Santo de Zuñiga in Karankawa territory.

Four years later, the Spanish moved the Franciscan mission of Espíritu Santo de Zuñiga to the lower San Antonio River in Aranama territory.

In 1728, the Spanish sent General Pedro de Rivera to inspect the Indian missions. He reported: “there was not a single Indian at San Miguel de los Adaes; at Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Nocagdoches, although there were many Indians, industrious and well-disposed, they were all still heathens; at three missions, Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, San Francisco de los Neches, and San José de los Nazones, there were no Indians at all, with little hope of ever getting any.”  In other words, the Spanish missionary efforts to convert the Indians accomplished very little.

1714

Three centuries ago, in 1714, the United States had not yet emerged as a country and the English colonies were continuing their land-hungry push inland from the Atlantic seaboard. Indians were, of course, in the way and the colonists were insisting that they be confined to reservations so that the good farm and pasture lands could be given to the Europeans.

Listed below are some of the Indian events of 1714.

New England:

In Connecticut, a committee was appointed by the Connecticut General Assembly to investigate Pequot complaints against English colonists. The Assembly forbids the colonists to prevent the Pequot from hunting, fishing, or planting on disputed lands. The committee found that the Pequot had plenty of land to live on in the area known as Mashantucket.

In Connecticut, the General Court ordered the Pequot to relinquish their planting rights to Noank as there was felt to be sufficient land for Pequot needs at Mashantucket. The Pequot were allowed to continue to fish, fowl, and gather shellfish at Noank.

In Massachusetts, the Potawaumacut complained that their English neighbors were not allowing them to cut wood and gather plants in undivided common areas.

In Massachusetts, the Monomoy sold their land. Tribal members moved to Potawaumacut and to Sahquatucket.

New York:

In New York, the colonial governor asked the Iroquois to stop their warriors from attacking Indians such as the Catawba who were allied with the English. The Iroquois sachems maintained that they could not make peace until they had consulted with the warriors. The Iroquois raids against the Catawba continued.

In New York, a group of about 500 Tuscarora families, fleeing from North Carolina and Virginia, sought refuge among the Iroquois.

Southeast:

In Alabama, the Cherokee under the leadership of Uskwalena (Bull Head or Big Head), defeated the Creek at Pine Island.

In the Carolinas, European traders Alexander Longe and Eleazar Wiggen persuaded Cherokee warriors who were heavily in debt to them to raid a Yuchi village in order to obtain captives who could be sold as slaves.

In Virginia, a reservation for the Mannahoac, Saponi, Tutelo, and Occaneechi was established around Fort Christianna on the fall line of the Roanoke River. The 1714 treaty provided for a reservation six miles square with a palisaded fort with cannons and a school for Indian children. The treaty also promised a group of armed rangers for defense. The commander of the post was to administer Indian affairs under the authority of the Virginia Indian Company.

In Mississippi, the French traders established a warehouse at Natchez in order to acquire deerskins from upcountry villages.

Spanish Territory:

 In New Mexico, the Spanish governor ordered that all Apache captives be baptized before being sold as slaves.

The Great Plains:

In Nebraska, the Ponca obtained horses from the Comanche, trading them for bows and arrows.

In Nebraska, French traders found the Otoe living in a village on Salt Creek.

Great Lakes Area:

 In Minnesota, the Fox made peace with the Sioux in an effort to gain trading partners and to enlist their support against the Chippewa who were pushing south from Lake Superior.

In Illinois, smallpox struck the Kaskaskia. About one-fourth of the people died.

The Hokan Language Family

During the nineteenth century linguists—scholars who are engaged in the scientific study of language—began to adopt a biological model of language development in which they viewed languages evolving in much the way that organisms had. With this model, linguists were able to put together family trees which provide a simplified genealogy of a language’s development and relationships. This genealogy groups related languages together into language families. With regard to American Indians, the study of language families helps us understand the relationships among different tribes, their histories, and their migrations.

The California culture area of Native Americans includes seven major language groups and more than 100 languages. This means that this area is the most linguistically diverse culture area in North America. The oldest language family in California is Hokan which includes Chimariko, Palaihnihan, Yana, Esselen, Salinan, Karok, Pomo, Shasta, Seri, and Washo. Several of these languages are not well-known as they are endangered or extinct.

Some linguists feel that Hokan may have been the language first spoken by American Indians 20,000 years ago. According to one hypothesis, Hokan speakers may have originally inhabited the great intermountain basin north of the Grand Canyon. Eventually, the Uto-Aztecan speakers moved north into this area and displaced the Hokan speakers.

Outside of the California Culture Area, the Coahuiltecan-speaking people of the Western Gulf Culture Area in Texas and Mexico appear to be related linguistically to the Hokan.

Chimariko:

The Chimariko language was spoken by only a few hundred people in the Trinity River area. There are no known speakers at the present time.

Palaihnihan:

The Palaihnihan group includes two languages: Achumawi and Atsugewi. These two languages are the most closely related in the Hokan Family. There were an estimated 3,000 Palaihnihan-speakers in aboriginal times.

Achumawi is nearly extinct at the present time with only older adults speaking the language. All speakers are considered semi-speakers or passive speakers. Some linguists have reported that there were originally nine dialects of Achumawi.

Yana:

The Yana group has two languages: Yana and Yahi. The last known speaker of Yahi was Ishi. One of the characteristics of Yana is the distinction between the speech of men and women. Men’s speech was longer in that in women’s speech the final vowel of nouns more than two syllables in length is devoiced. When men were talking to men, men’s speech was used. At all other times, women’s speech was used. Women would use men’s speech only if they were giving a direct quote.

Esselen:

Very little is known about the Esselen language which was spoken by only a few hundred people in the area around the Carmel River and the Big Sur coastal area. Esselen was the first Native American language in California to go extinct after Spanish colonization. During the mission era, a few word lists were collected. There are currently attempts to revive this language.

Salinan:

 The Salinan language was spoken by about 2,000 people and had two or three major dialects, including Antoniano and Migueleño. There are presently no known speakers of this language. The last speakers died in the early 1960s. There is, however, interest at the present time in language revival.

Karok:

In aboriginal times there were an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 Karok speakers. Presently there are only 10 speakers. This language is the most distantly related of the Hokan languages.

Pomo:

The Pomoan group includes seven languages which are designated by area: Northeastern, Eastern, Southeastern, Northern, Central, Southern, and Southwestern. One of the interesting features about Central Pomo is the remarkable array of prefixes. Using the root yól which means “to mix” some examples of prefix use include:

ba- means “orally” and thus bayól means “to insert words suddenly while humming; that is, mix orally”

s- means “by sucking and thus syól means “to wash down cookies or doughnuts with coffee; that is, to mix by sucking”

da- means “by pushing with the palm” and thus dayól means “to fold in dry ingredients while baking”

m- means “with heat” and thus myól means “to throw various ingredients into a pot; that is, to mix by heating”

qa- means “by biting” and thus qayól means “to eat several things together, such as meat and potatoes; that is, to mix by biting”

By 2000, it was estimated that there were only 255 speakers of the Pomoan languages. Of these, 45 are between the ages of 5 and 17, including 15 with limited English proficiency.

Shasta:

The Shastan group consists of four languages: Shasta, New River Shasta, Okwanuchu, and Konomihu. There are currently no known speakers of this language.

Seri:

 The Seri people live along the Sonora, Mexico coast. The language is still spoken by all age groups. Some linguists feel that this is a language isolate rather than a part of the Hokan language family.

Washo:

Washo is the only language in the Great Basin culture area which is not a part of the Numic division of the Uto-Aztecan family. While the 2000 Census counted 252 Washo-speakers, there are some who feel that there are only about 10 fluent speakers.

Preparing the Cherokee for Removal

Since its founding, the United States, and particularly the states that compose it, has been uncomfortable with having Indians nations within its boundaries. Motivated by a combination of greed, racism, and religion, non-Indians debated two basic solutions to the Indian “problem”: removing Indian nations from the United States by relocating them west of the Mississippi River, and/or genocide. These solutions began with law in 1830 with the passage of the Indian Removal Act.

In 1835, American settlers invaded Cherokee territory and filed lawsuits against the Indians. The Indians, under state law, were not able to testify against the Americans so the Indians always lost. Some Americans stripped Indian men and women and flogged them. When General Ellis Wool attempted to protect the Cherokee, the state of Alabama accused him of disturbing the peace and interfering with the rights of Alabama citizens.

In 1835, the United States presented the Cherokee with a new treaty. The offer which the United States presented to the Cherokee was simple: if the tribe signed the treaty, the Cherokee would surrender their ancient homelands and move to the west. If the Cherokee did not sign, then the United States military would herd them at bayonet point from their homes and move them to the west.

Seeing no realistic alternative, some Cherokee leaders – primarily Major Ridge, John Ridge, Elias Boudinot, Andrew Ross, James Starr, Stand Watie, James Rogers, Thomas Watie, Archilla Smith, John A. Bell, Charles Foreman, George W. Adair, and others of the Treaty Party – signed the Treaty of New Echota.  None of those signing the treaty had been authorized by the Cherokee Nation to sign it. In signing the treaty, all realized that they had violated Cherokee law, a law with a death penalty.

Under the terms of this treaty, the Cherokee were to give up all of their lands east of the Mississippi and to move to what is now Oklahoma and Arkansas. Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross repudiated the treaty because it had been signed by a minority of the Cherokee leaders. The United States, however, contended that they had informed the Cherokee that all leaders who did not attend the treaty conference would be considered to have approved any document signed by the negotiators.

In 1836, Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross met with President Andrew Jackson in a courtesy visit. Jackson brought up the issue of removal, indicating he would be unable to protect the tribe as long as they lived among non-Indians.

That same year, Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross addressed the U.S. Senate, providing them with an outline of the abuse and injustice done to the Cherokee. He presented them with two protest resolutions – one signed by 3,250 North Carolina Cherokee and one representing more than 12,000 Cherokee – asking that the Treaty of New Echota not be ratified.  While the government claimed that the Cherokee General Council had approved the treaty and that 500 Cherokee were present when it was adopted, neither was true. It had been signed by a few dozen Cherokee, many of whom had already agreed to emigrate. The Senate, by a margin of one vote, ratified the treaty.

As soon as the new treaty was ratified by the Senate, President Andrew Jackson issued a proclamation that the United States no longer recognized the existence of any government among the Cherokee in the Southeast. Furthermore, the Cherokee were warned that any resistance to removal would be met by force through the army.

In 1836, General Ellis Wool forwarded Cherokee protests over removal to Washington, D.C. He explained:  “It is, however, vain to talk to a people almost universally opposed to the treaty and who maintain that they never made such a treaty.”  He also reported:  “Many have said they will die before they will leave the country.”

In response, President Jackson rebuked the General for forwarding the Cherokee protests, declaring them to be disrespectful of the President, the Senate, and the American people.

In 1836, Major W.M. Davis, appointed to enroll the Cherokee for removal, reported that the removal treaty  “is no treaty at all, because it is not sanctioned by the great body of the Cherokee and made without their participation or assent. I solemnly declare to you that upon its reference to the Cherokee people it would be instantly rejected by nine-tenths of them, and I believe by nineteen-twentieths of them.”

In 1936, Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross visited the Western Cherokee. He conferred with the chiefs and visited relatives. The Indian agents in the area had been ordered to arrest him and so Western Cherokee Chief John Jolly met with Ross in private to avoid any possible legal trouble.

In 1837, Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross was denied a meeting with President Martin Van Buren. He found that the new President was intent on retaining President Andrew Jackson’s policies regarding Cherokee removal.

The Cherokee National Council sent a delegation which included John Ross, Elijah Hicks, Situwakee, and Whitepath to Washington, D.C. in 1838 to present Congress with a petition signed by 15,665 people protesting their removal treaty. However, the governor of Georgia has informed the President that any delay in Cherokee removal would be a violation of the rights of the state. President Martin Van Buren refused to grant the Cherokee request for a delayed removal. With this the stage for a rapid removal of the Cherokee to the west was set. The event which would become known as the trail of tears would follow.