Ancient America: 3,000 Years Ago

Three thousand years ago-about 1000 BCE-there was a lot going on around the world. Some examples:

Egypt: the New Kingdom era was collapsing

Mesopotamia: Babylon was in decline

Greece: Greece was beginning a period which would later be known as the Dark Ages characterized by the loss of Mycenaean writing

Rome: there was no city of Rome:only seven hills with a few hamlets

South Asia: the Aryans were settling on the plain of the Ganges River

Pacific Ocean Islands: the Lapita people were sailing to New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga

China: the Zhou dynasty was in its first century of rule

Middle East:  the Hebrew tribes were uniting under the leadership of Saul

Europe:  the Celtic migrations were beginning

Mesoamerica:  the Mayans were draining swamps to create new farmlands

North America: American Indians by this time had developed many diverse cultures. What follows is a brief overview, based on archaeological findings, of some of the things that were happening in North America around 1000 BCE.  

Eastern Woodlands:

In the Eastern Woodlands part of the United States, Indian people began making subsistence changes as well as other cultural changes which resulted in what archaeologists call the Woodland Tradition.

In the Southeast, people were gathering large quantities of nuts and were using underground pits for storage. This allowed for a more sedentary way of life. In addition, people were cultivating sunflower (Helianthus annus var. marcrocarpus), goosefoot (Chenopodium berlandieri ssp. Jonesianum), maygrass (Phalaris caroliniana ), and sumpweed (Iva annua var. macrocarpa).  

During this time, pottery became more widespread throughout the Eastern Woodlands with local variations in both form and decoration. Some archaeologists feel that the ceramics in the Northeast generally resemble the ceramics from the North Sea region of Europe and that the ceramics in the Southeast generally resemble the ceramics from northeastern South America.

In New York and New England, a pottery style which archaeologists call Vinette I appeared about this time. The Vinette pots had conoidal bottoms. They were tempered with grit, and were beaten, inside and out, with cord-wrapped wooden paddles.

In New England, trade and exchange routes expanded during this time, particularly to the west. New England’s Indians began to acquire objects which show styles which were common in New York. In Connecticut and Rhode Island, weapon points and ceramic pots show trade with people to the southwest along the coastal plain.  Archaeologists have found that ceramic pots replace the older carved soapstone vessels during this time.

In New Jersey, two distinct pottery traditions appeared. One involved tub-shaped, flat-bottomed pots while the other is characterized by simple conoidal, ovate, or baglike forms. While archaeologists find the appearance of two distinctly different forms of ceramics to be puzzling, it may be that the people were useing pottery as a medium to replace containers, such as tubs and baskets, which had been made with other materials.

In Rhode Island, Indian people in the Potowomut River and Greenwich Cove area were engaged in the intensive exploitation of shellfish. The people were living next to a saltwater estuary.


In Ohio, Indian people at the Danbury site on a Lake Erie beach were now using pottery that was marked with cord impressions. These impressions either served as decorative elements or they made the pots easier to grip. The Danbury site was used primarily as a fishing site during warm weather.

In Michigan, Indian people began burying their dead at the Riverside site.  Burial goods suggest that the people had well-developed trade networks with the Ohio River Valley, the Gulf Coast, and the Great Plains. Included in the graves were obsidian from the Yellowstone National Park area of Wyoming, marine shells from the Gulf or Atlantic seacoast, flint from North Dakota, and stone tools from other parts of the Midwest.

In the Midwest, Early Woodland people were using tubular-shaped pipes for smoking tobacco. The pipes were flared on the tobacco end and narrowed on the mouth end.


In California, the Indian people living in the Channel Islands were now using elaborate circular and bi-prong fishhooks made from shells. The development of this improved fishing technologies coincided with a decrease in the availability of shellfish, which had been their staple food. The development of better fishing technologies enabled these people to catch larger fish, some of them far off shore.

In the Martis Valley near Truckee, California, Indian people were doing high-elevation seasonal hunting and seed-gathering. These people were probably the ancestors to the Maidu.

In California, Tataviam began to be differentiated from the other Takic languages. The Takic-speaking people at this time were cremating their dead.

Indian people whose cultures were adapted to living in desert climates began moving from Arizona into the California desert regions. These were probably Yuman-speaking people.

Indian people began carving petroglyphs in the Central Sierra area which were characterized by the near absence of human and animal representations. Most frequent were the circle and dot forms. The rock art sites were often associated with game trails and seem to be part of the magico-religious aspect of big-game hunting.

Northwest Coast:

On the Northwest Coast, Nootka and Kwakiutl had diverged into two distinct language groups.

In Alaska, the Old Whaling Culture was now present at the site of Cape Krusentern on the Bering Sea. The people were living in semi-subterranean houses and hunting whales. The culture was related to that found in Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula.

At Hidden Falls in southeastern Alaska, Indian people were living in pole shelters. They were gathering shellfish, including bay mussels, littlenecks, and butter clams. They were fishing for Pacific gray cod, salmon, rockfish, herring, and halibut. They were hunting deer, sea otter, and harbor seal. They had dogs living with them.  

People living on the Pitt River near the present-day city of Vancouver, British Columbia were weaving baskets from cedar. The Native Americans used three different weaving techniques.

Columbia Plateau:

In Idaho, Indian people were operating nine high-elevation quarries near the Warm Springs Creek to obtain ignimbrite for the manufacture of bi-face blanks for projective points and knives.

Along the Middle Snake River in Idaho, hunting began to be more important.

Indian people who were using two sites located near present-day Greer, Idaho were hunting bison, deer, mountain sheep, and rabbit.

In Oregon, Indian people were burning large areas to encourage the growth of good deer forage and to improve oak groves for acorns. In the mountain areas of northern Oregon and southern Washington, Indian people were burning areas to maintain the huckleberry patches.

In Montana, the Kootenai were hunting mountain sheep high in the mountains of what is now Glacier National Park. The Kootenai were also quarrying chert for making stone tools about 3 miles upstream on Bowman Creek from its confluence with the North Fork of the Flathead River.

Great Basin:

In Nevada, Indian people began making duck decoys to help in their duck hunting along lake shores.

In Utah, Indian artists were creating pictographs at the Buckhorn Wash site.


In New Mexico, Indian people were now using the Hill Rolls Cave in the Sacramento Hills as shelter during the spring and summer. They were hunting rabbit, deer, and pronghorn. They were harvesting at least two varieties of domesticated corn. Abalone shell from the Pacific Ocean was being used as jewelry.

In New Mexico, Ancestral Puebloans, called Basketmaker II by archaeologists, were growing squash and corn. While corn was important to their subsistence, they had not developed a fully sedentary way of life.


In Florida, Indian people in the St. Johns River area were making pottery. They were using freshwater sponge spicules in the pottery paste which results in a chalky feel. These sponge spicules were an intentional temper which was added during the manufacturing process. The pottery was made with a coiled technique.

In the western Tennessee River valley of northern Alabama and west Tennessee, Indian people were making flat-bottomed, wide-mouthed beakers, and plain simple bowls. This fiber-tempered pottery is known as the Wheeler series.

The people of Poverty Point, Louisiana stop building mounds and appear to leave the area.  

Feeling lost and confused, am I alone?

My Great Great Grandma, and my Great Grandma are Sioux, the problem being, my Great Great grandma was adopted, so the only information of her, is that she is Sioux, but have no way to contact her family. The only thing I have is that her and her daughter [my great grandmother] are listed as Native American on their birth certificates and are Sioux.

That makes my Grandmother 1/2, my mother 1/4 and me 1/8ish.

However I have had 0 luck in tracing too much information, but I feel this as a huge part of me.

Will I ever have any luck?

Or will I be doomed to search forever.

…. I feel so lost. This identity crisis is driving me up the wall…

A Chief’s Journey

During the nineteenth century, particularly during the early part of the century, part of the American policy regarding American Indian nations was to invite selected leaders to journey to Washington, D.C. where they would be wined and dined and impressed with American wealth and military power. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during their 1805-1806 journey across the continent invited a number of Indian leaders to visit the U.S. capital.

In North Dakota, Mandan peace chief Sheheke in 1805 described to William Clark the country between the Mandan villages on the Knife River and the Rocky Mountains. He described to Clark the Yellowstone River and the tributaries which ran into it. Working with Sheheke, Clark sketched a map of the country which helped guide the Corps of Discovery on their journey. Since Sheheke was viewed by Lewis and Clark as a “friend” of the Americans, he was invited to journey to Washington, D.C..  

Two years later, Mandan peace chief Sheheke and his wife Yellow Corn journeyed from North Dakota to visit Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York. The couple spent about ten weeks in the East. Outside of Washington, D.C., Sheheke’s visits attracted little media attention. There was little fanfare when he visited the other cities.

In Washington, D.C. , Sheheke attended a dinner in honor of Meriweather Lewis. There were 17 toasts to Lewis, two of which expressed American sentiments toward American Indians:

“The United States-who, by respecting the rights of her native children, has inspired them with reverence for her power, and affection for her laws.”

“The Red People of America-under an enlightened policy, gaining by steady steps the comfort of the civilized, without losing the virtues of the savage state.”

Following his tour of the east, Sheheke travelled to St. Louis where William Clark was the Indian agent for the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase territories. Here the United States government authorized an expedition to return Sheheke and his family to their home in North Dakota. The expedition of more than 100 people included traders August Chouteau and Pierre Dorian.

In South Dakota, the expedition was stopped by the Arikara who are angry with the United States over the death of chief Is-a-Whippoorwill in Washington, D.C. The expedition was told that it can go no farther and that the goods in the boat were to be theirs. A fight broke out. While the Americans were better armed, they were outnumbered and the Arikara warriors were well concealed. After 15 minutes, the military commander ordered a retreat to the boats and had them cast off. Thus Sheheke and his family were returned to St. Louis, not to their Mandan village.

Chief Is-a-Whippoorwill, like Sheheke, had been invited to visit Washington, D.C. and had journeyed from his South Dakota village to St. Louis by keelboat. He initially became ill in St. Louis and had asked to return home. His return, however, was blocked by a hostile encounter between his military escort and the Kansas tribe. Subsequently, he travelled to Washington, D.C. where he met with President Thomas Jefferson. Shortly after this meeting, Is-a-Whippoorwill died. The government designated trader Joseph Gravelines to go to the Arikara villages and break the news to them. The trader was to distribute gifts worth two or three hundred dollars to the deceased chief’s wives and children. The Arikara were not happy with the news and the trader was roughed up before being allowed to leave.

In 1809, the Missouri Fur Company signed an agreement with the federal government to return Sheheke to his village in North Dakota. Under the agreement, the fur company was given an exclusive, though temporary, license to carry on commerce above the Platte River and to act as an official militia of the Louisiana Territory. The company was to provide the chief and his family with accommodations and provisions. Above all else, the chief and his family were to be protected from any harm. After a journey of three years and more than 6,000 miles, Sheheke finally returned to his home. The Mandan villagers came en-mass to greet the barges and their returning chief.

Sheheke was killed in 1812 in a battle between the Mandan and Hidatsa. The Hidatsa, under the leadership of Le Borgne, considered themselves to be allies of the English, while the Mandan, particularly Sheheke, were closely allied with the Americans. Some historians feel that this battle should be considered a part of the larger War of 1812.

For more information about Sheheke see:

POTTER, TRACY. 2003 Sheheke Mandan Indian Diplomat: The Story of White Coyote, Thomas Jefferson, and Lewis and Clark. Helena: Fort Mandan Press and Farcountry Press.  

Research Project on Native American Parents

(This user contacted me by email and asked permission to post this.  Please forward link to any possibly interested parties. – promoted by navajo)

We are looking for Caucasian-American, Asian-American, and Native-American adolescents to complete an online survey about their views of their parents. We are interested in the role culture plays in parenting. The survey takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. Participants who complete the survey will be eligible to win one of two iPod Nano devices.  Chances of winning are approximately 1 in 30. Surveys must be completed by July 31st to be eligible. Adolescents must have parental permission to participate. Parents with interested adolescents can contact Nora Phillips at for more information. This project has been approved by the Texas Tech University Institutional Review Board.

The Mysterious William Weatherford, Creek War Leader

In 1813 a civil war broke out within the Creek Confederacy. There were two factions among the Creeks: the Red Sticks (called this because their war clubs were painted red), led by Peter McQueen and William Weatherford, who wanted war with the Americans, and the White Sticks, led by Big Warrior, who wanted peace.  

A number of Creek spiritual leaders, influenced by the Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother The Prophet, preached a nativistic doctrine. These leaders include Hilis Hadjo (Josiah Francis), Cusseta Tustunnuggee (High-Head Jim), and Paddy Walsh. These prophets sought to restore a time when the produce of a woman’s farm and the meat from a man’s hunt sustained every Creek household.

William Weatherford (Red Eagle) and his warriors attacked Fort Mims on the Alabama River. Here the Red Sticks killed about 400 settlers and freed the slaves. Consequently, many runaway black slaves joined the Red Sticks. However, many Creek warriors were killed and wounded in the battle. The Creek prophet Paddy Walsh was blamed, for he had failed to make the warriors invincible as he had promised.

In response to the attack on Fort Mims, Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi raised armies to invade Creek territory. In 1814, at the battle of Horseshoe Bend, General Andrew Jackson’s troops (which included Cherokee as well as his Tennesseans) defeated the Creek Red Sticks, killing 800 Creek warriors. As a result of this defeat, the Creek were forced to sign a treaty in which both the peaceful White Sticks and the militant Red Sticks gave up 23 million acres of land. While White Stick leader Big Warrior had fought with the Americans, Jackson threatened him with handcuffs unless he signed the treaty. While the friendly Creek were told that the United States would remember their fidelity, within a few months the Americans no longer made any distinction between the “friendly” Creek and the Red Sticks.

William Weatherford (Red Eagle) had not been at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. General Jackson hunted for Weatherford for weeks in vain, but was unable to find him. Later, in Jackson’s own camp, surrounded by armed soldiers who had vowed to capture William Weatherford and put him in chains, General Jackson was approached by a tall Indian who simply said in fluent English: “I am Bill Weatherford.” There was no accurate recording of the General’s surprised response. Weatherford seemed to have simply materialized in the midst of an enemy camp. He had somehow walked past the supposedly alert sentries, through the throngs of soldiers, and appeared at the General’s side.

The two men, accompanied by General Jackson’s aide who recorded the conversation, went in the General’s tent. Weatherford told General Jackson:

“I can oppose you no longer. I have done you much injury. I should have done you more…my warriors are killed…I am in your power. Dispose of me as you please.”

General Jackson replied:

“You are not in my power. I had ordered you brought to me in chains….But you have come of your own accord.”

The two men then shared a glass of brandy. General Jackson promised to help the Creek women and children and Weatherford promised to try to preserve the peace. Weatherford then left the tent, walked by the soldiers, and disappeared into the brush. At that point William Weatherford disappears from the historic record.  

The Migrations of the Crow Tribes

When the first American explorers and fur traders began to move out onto the Northern Plains following the Corps of Discovery (i.e. Lewis and Clark) in the early nineteenth century, they encountered the tribe they came to call the Crow hunting in Montana and Wyoming. At this time, the Crow were horse-mounted buffalo hunters with a good understanding of the ecology of the country. However, like many of the other Indian tribes living on the Northern Plains at this time, this had not always been true. Oral traditions, linguistics, and archaeological data all suggest that the Crow began their migration onto the Northern Plains about three centuries earlier.  

According to oral traditions, in the 1500s the Crow ancestral tribe was living east of the Mississippi River in a land of forests and lakes. Some Crow elders feel that this was probably present-day Wisconsin. At this time, their subsistence was probably based on a combination of hunting forest animals such as deer, elk, and moose; fishing; gathering wild plants; and planting some crops, including corn. At this time, they were not living in the Plains Indian tipis, but in woodlands wigwams: domed shaped structures covered with bark.

For some reason, they migrated to the west and settled along the Missouri River in North Dakota. Here they settled into a more agricultural way of life, raising corn, beans, sunflowers, tobacco, pumpkins, and squash in small, irregularly shaped fields. They adopted the more permanent earth lodge house common to the tribes along the river. From here, the ancestors of the Crow broke off from the ancestral tribe, moving onto the plains to become more dependent on the buffalo for their subsistence.

Linguistically, the Crow are a Siouan-speaking group which is most closely related to the Hidatsa. The linguistic data suggests that the Crow separated from the Hidatsa in the late 1500s.

According to one oral tradition, there was a buffalo hunt at which the wives of two of the chiefs argued over the upper stomach of one of the cows. There was a scuffle and one of the women was killed. This escalated into a skirmish between the two bands led by the chiefs, and several more people were killed. As a result, one band left the Missouri and migrated to the Rocky Mountains. The band that followed along the rivers and streams came to be known as the River Crow (They Travel Along the Riverbanks) and the other band became known as the Mountain Crow. The Mountain Crow later divided with part becoming the Kicked in the Bellies.

Another oral tradition tells that at one time there was a wandering tribe under the leadership of two brothers: No Intestines and Red Scout. At what is now called Devil’s Lake, they did a vision quest together. During the vision, No Intestines was told to search for the seeds of the sacred tobacco and Red Scout was told to settle on the banks of the Missouri River and grow corn. No Intestines led his people to many parts of the Great Plains in search of the sacred tobacco seeds. The oral tradition tells of the Great Salt Lake, the geothermal features of Yellowstone National Park, of the Arkansas River in Oklahoma, and of the plains of Alberta, Canada. Finally, at Cloud Peak, the highest crest in the Bighorn Range, No Intestines received another vision and thus the Crow made their home in Montana and Wyoming with the Bighorn Mountains as their heartland.

The oral traditions also tell of another group of Crow-Bilápiiuutche, Beaver Dries Its Fur-which became lost during the journey. Several explanations are offered for the fate of this group. Some feel that it split in Canada and remained there. Others say it turned east and ended up at Lake Michigan. Still others feel that Beaver Dries Its Fur became a part of the Kiowa, who were closely associated with the Crow. According to some oral traditions the Comanches located a group of massacred people in southern Colorado who were dressed like Crows.

Like the other tribes of the Northern Plains, they did not receive horses until sometime in the 1700s, perhaps about 1750. It is likely that they first acquired horses from the Shoshone.  

Russian Castaways Among the Indians

The Russian-American Company (RAC) was formed in 1799 as a quasi-governmental monopoly to control the North American fur trade and rule the Russian colony in Alaska. Within a decade, the company managers began to expand their operations down the Pacific coast from their headquarters at New Arckhangel (present-day Sitka, Alaska).  

In 1808 the Russian schooner Sv. Nikolai (St. Nicholas), owned by the Russian-American Company, sailed from New Arkhangel to explore Vancouver Island and then the Washington/Oregon coast to the south. The schooner carried 22 people, including five men and two women who are identified as Aleut from Kodiak Island. Also on board is the wife of the navigator (who served as the schooner’s captain). The schooner was to barter with Natives for sea otter pelts and to discover a site for a permanent Russian post in the Oregon country. However, the ship was driven ashore on a sandy beach near the mouth of the Quilayute River near the present-day town of La Push, Washington on the present Quileute Indian Reservation.

After salvaging part of their cargo, the Russians clashed with the Quileute, abandoned most of their supplies, and fled south into Hoh country. Timofei Tarakanov, one of the Russians on the ship, would later describe their encounter with the Quileute this way:

“We killed three of the enemy, one of who they dragged away. How many we wounded I do not know. As spoils we acquired a large number of spears, raincoats, hats, and other things left at the scene of the battle.”

Their initial encounter with the Hoh was somewhat friendly. However, it was soon evident that the Hoh wanted to capture the group to sell as slaves to other coastal Indians. In a brief encounter, two men and two women, including the Russian wife of the party’s leader, were captured by the Hoh. The rest of the Russians and Aleut fled toward the interior to escape the coastal Indians.

Away from the coast, they spent a miserable winter struggling to avoid starvation. On a number of occasions, they plundered native camps, occasionally fighting with small groups of natives. They vainly sought some way they might be rescued.

The following year, the Russians and Aleut returned to the coast hoping that they would find some way of being rescued. They found that the wife of their leader had been sold by the Hoh to the Makah. They actually made contact with her and found that she was fairly comfortable and content. When she found that they were planning a raid to rescue her, she rejected the idea. Instead, she urged the Russians to surrender to her captors. Timofei Tarakanov reports it this way:

“In horror, distress, and anger, we heard her say firmly that she was satisfied with her condition, did not want to join us, and that she advised us to surrender ourselves to this people.”

A few of the Russians surrendered to the Makah and the rest were captured by the Hoh and the Quileute.

In 1810, an American captain sailing for the Russian-American Company paid a large ransom to the Makah to rescue thirteen of the survivors from the shipwreck of the Sv. Nickolei. Another American captain purchased one or two more survivors from the Indians in the Columbia River area. The wife of the Russian leader died before she could be ransomed and at least one Russian is reported to have gone native.

“The French and Indian War”

The Seven Years War (1756 to 1763) is sometimes called the First World War because it involved so many different countries and was global in scale. The North American portion of the war is best known in the U.S. as the French and Indian War. In Quebec it is known as La Guerre de la Conquête (The War of Conquest). For the Indian nations, particularly those in the greater Ohio area, some allied themselves with the French, some with the English, and some attempted to stay neutral.  

In general, the French had come to North America seeking to exploit its riches through trade. They viewed Indian nations as trading partners and thus they were little concerned with either changing Indian cultures or eradicating the Indians themselves. The French often learned Indian languages and intermarried into the tribes. They ranged far inland seeking trading partners.

The English on the other hand, came to North America seeking land. They viewed the land as a great vacant wilderness in which the Indians were often seen as wild savages. Their policies toward the Indians tended to be genocidal: they wanted the Indians to either die off or to become English. Initially, the English settlers did not range far from the coast, but by the eighteenth century their greed for land brought them farther inland and here they found the French living and trading with the Indians.

While the Seven Years War officially began in 1756, in North America the armed conflicts between the French and the English began in 1754. When the French constructed Fort Duquesne in Ohio in an attempt to gain influence over the Indian tribes in the area, the Seneca leader Tanacharison (Half King) reported this action to the British Virginia forces under George Washington. Tanacharison provided Washington with a delegation of warriors to go with the Virginia forces in an expedition against the French. The combined Virginian and Seneca forces surrounded a French camp, killing 10 and taking 21 prisoners. This was George Washington’s first combat experience.

The wounded French leader attempted to explain that he was on a diplomatic peace mission. Tanacharison, who was more fluent in French than Washington, killed him before Washington understood the nature of his message.

Tanacharison (Half King) then arranged a council between tribal leaders and George Washington. Washington, realizing that he needed the support of the tribes, explained that the purpose of the British military efforts was to maintain Indian rights to the region and to prevent the French from taking their lands. Tribal leaders did not find Washington’s argument to be persuasive. They also knew that the size of the advancing French troops made an alliance with the British a bit risky.

In 1756, England officially declared war on France and then France officially declared war on England. The focus of the war in North America was on the Ohio Valley. The French wanted to consolidate their position in the Ohio which would restrict the English to the area between the Allegheny Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. On the other hand, the English traders were pushing into the area which had the potential for cutting France’s American empire in two.

The Indian Nations living the Ohio Valley at this time included the Lenni Lenape (Delaware), Shawnee, Wyandot, and Iroquois. In addition, there were a few Abenaki, Nipissing, and Ottawa. In the western portion of the area were the Miami Confederacy and the Illinois Confederacy.

In 1759, the Lenni Lenape under the leadership of Tamaqua made peace with the British. Tamaqua then spread the word of peace to other tribes and the war leaders from the Lenni Lenape (Delaware), Shawnee, Wyandot, Ottawa, Ojibwa, Kaskaskia, Miami, and Potawatomi met at Fort Pitt to make peace by symbolically burying the war hatchet under the tree of peace.

The British demanded that all captives be released as a condition of the peace. From an Indian perspective, this was an unrealistic demand. Many of the captives, mostly women and children, had been adopted into the tribes. Most of the former captives considered themselves to be tribal members. They preferred Indian life to life as British colonists. Indian leaders had no way to force the former captives to return to their old lives, and very few would do so voluntarily.

In 1759, a party of Ottawa, Huron, and Potawatomi encountered an English Ranger group in Michigan. The Ottawa leader Pontiac demanded to know why the Americans were trespassing on Indian land. The Americans told him that they were there only to remove the French. After they gave Pontiac wampum, he smoked with them. While Pontiac agreed to be a subordinate of the English Crown, he told the English that if the King should neglect him, he would shut down all routes to the interior.

In 1760, the war in North America was over: the French forces were defeated and English settlers began to pour across the Alleghenies into the Ohio valley. Indians soon found that they were not welcome at the British forts and intermarriage was discouraged. English actions toward the Indians made it clear that they felt that they had no obligation toward the Native people.

While the French had secured the loyalty of their Indian allies by providing them with ammunition and supplies, the English did not. Lord Jeffrey Amherst wrote:

“I do not see why the Crown should be put to that expense. Services must be rewarded; it has ever been a maxim with me. But as to purchasing the good behavior either of Indians or any others, [that] is what I do not understand. When men of whatsoever race behave ill, they must be punished but not bribed.”

The British placed Jeffrey Amherst in charge of Indian relations in 1761. He took the view that Indians were savages who had to be disciplined to conform to the laws of the British Empire. One of Amherst’s first changes was to eliminate presents given to Indian tribes. He felt that presents encourage laziness and that the Indians should support themselves by hunting so that they could obtain the trade goods which they desired.

The 1763 Treaty of Paris officially ended the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War). Under the terms of the treaty, which was negotiated with no Indian leaders present, all of the Indian nations east of the Mississippi River were to come under the jurisdiction of the English. Those Indian nations which had allied themselves with the British and helped defeat the French forces were treated the same as those who allied themselves with the French and those who had stayed neutral.

American Indian Caucus at NN11 and MORE!

Our American Indian Caucus will be held on Saturday morning June 18 at 10:30am (Central) in room L100 D. Meteor Blades and I will be leading the discussion.

My heroes rfall and Oke will be there to stream the caucus proceedings for you like they did last year. I’ll provide a url for this the next time I post this diary as a reminder.  Oke will also be taking email questions at nativeamericannetroots at g mail dot com from viewers during the caucus.

Last year our stats showed that we had about 30 people watching the streaming video including one from Europe.

Ojibwa who unfortunately cannot attend provided a blessing to open our caucus, please read it, it is marvelous.

We will also be selling posters for $10 to benefit the Pine Ridge Billboard Project at the NN11 registration desk location on Saturday and Sunday. These three images will be available:

(I’m hearing that original donors who earned the signed screen prints are so pleased with the product when they arrived in the mail. I received mine today and they are fantastic. There is a vast difference between the signed screen prints and the posters we will be selling.)


I’d like to promote another event I’m involved in. I’ll be on the panel for Promoting People of Color in the Progressive Blogosphere with dopper0189, TexMex, Citizen Orange, Deoliver47 and soothsayer99.

Friday, June 17th 10:30 AM – 11:45 AM

in room L100 AB

This panel will address the needs, successes and obstacles to having greater participation of people of color in the blogosphere. Using the models of Black Kos and Native American Netroots as a beginning point for the discussion, we’ll cover topics such as color-blindness versus representation and how to get historically underrepresented groups and their views heard. The discussion will focus on how to organize outreach between the larger blogosphere and blogs that are specific to communities of color, and how to form stronger connections to ongoing organizing efforts and activism in communities of color.

I’ll be speaking about Invisible Indians and showing new slides of the Pine Ridge Billboard Project.

Port Townsend (WA) and the Indians

By 1859, the S’Klallam Indian community of Kah Tai was well established on what the American newcomers would call Port Townsend Bay in Washington. When the newcomers began to arrive they encountered Chief T’chiis-a-ma-hum who welcomed them and worked to maintain peace between the two very different groups. Since English-speaking people found Indian names difficult to pronounce, it was common for them to give Native leaders the names of European royalty.  Thus the chief was called the Duke of York and his two wives were called Queen Victoria (See-Hei-Met-za) and Jenny Lind. Later historians will record the chief’s name as Chet-ze-moka, or Chetzemoka. The city park in present-day Port Townsend was dedicated to him in 1904 and in 2009 one of the new ferries between Port Townsend and Keystone was named for him.

Chetzemoka Park


Shown above is the photograph of chief Chetzemoka which is displayed in the city park in Port Townsend which bears his name.

Chet-ze-moka was born in Kah Tai about 1808. His father, Lah-Ka-Nim, was from the Skagit tribe and his mother, Quah-Tum-A-Low, was S’Klallam. The S’Klallam are a Salish cultural and linguistic group related to other tribes of British Columbia and to most of the tribes of the Puget Sound area. S’Klallam means “strong people.”

Salish Sailing Canoe

Salish Canoe 2

Salish Canoe 3

Shown above are some pictures of S’Klallam canoes. These photos are on display in the Jefferson County Museum in Port Townsend.

Salish artifacts 1

Salish artifacts 3

Shown above are some S’Klallam artifacts on display at the Jefferson County Museum in Port Townsend.

General A. V. Kautz visited the S’Klallam on Puget Sound in 1853. He described their housing:

“Their abodes are permanent, for they live in extensive houses, reminding me of the tobacco sheds in the east. They are formed of large posts, supporting beams, some of them so large that it is a source of wonder how they are handled.”

Traditional S’Klallam leaders basically gave advice to help settle disputes. As with most other Indian nations, chiefs could not really compel any one to do anything. Chiefs, aided by a group of advisors, made decisions regarding the utilization of fishing grounds, gathering areas, and hunting territory. Chiefs were expected to be generous. When the advisors were called upon, the chief feasted them.

When Chet-ze-moka’s brother died in 1854, Chet-ze-moka was selected chief of his people.

By the 1850s, the Indian nations in Washington were concerned about the American intrusions into their lands and arrogant disregard for tribal sovereignty and religious freedom. In 1854, a large council was held in the Snohomish village of Heb-Heb-O-Lub. Chiefs from the Nisqually, Duwamish, Skagit, Lummit, Skykomish, Snoqualme, and S’Klallam attended. Representatives from the Yakama argued for action against the American settlers. Yakama leader Owhi asked for immediate action by all of the tribes to drive the settlers out. S’Klallam chief Chet-ze-moka disagreed and suggested that peaceful coexistence was possible.

In 1854, there was an outbreak of hostilities between the S’Klallam at Dungeness and army troops. The skirmish left four dead: two S’Klallam men, an Army captain, and an Army lieutenant. Three S’Klallam men were subsequently arrested for murder and three more were flogged for a related theft. The three men who were accused of murder quickly escaped from jail. Soldiers approached a S’Klallam camp on the Hood Canal and demanded that the prisoners be surrendered. The band refused and the soldiers destroyed the camp and the Indians’ winter supply of salmon. Farther down the Canal, Chief Chet-ze-moka was captured and held hostage until the prisoners were returned.

In 1855, the S’Klallam under the leadership of Chet-ze-moka, the Skokomish under the leadership of Nah-whil-luk, and the Chimakum under the leadership of General Pierce (Kul-kah-han) met with Governer Isaac Stevens in treaty council at Point-No-Point. The tribes agreed to move to the Skokomish Reservation in Washington under the Point-No-Point Treaty. Very few S’Klallam actually moved to the reservation because it was in Twana territory, their traditional enemies.

The treaty called for the tribes to give up 438,430 acres of their ancestral land and to move to a 3,840 acre reservation within one year of ratification. The treaty also called for the tribes to stop trading at Vancouver Island, to exclude alcohol from the reservation, and to free all of their slaves (something the United States had not yet done with their African-American slaves).

One of the Americans who knew Chet-ze-moka fairly well and understood tribal feelings was James Swan. In his 1857 book The Northwest Coast; or Three Years’ Residence in Washington Territory, he wrote:

“They feel as we would if a foreign people came among us, and attempted to force their customs on us whether we liked them or not. We are willing the foreigners should come, and settle, and live with us; but if they attempted to force upon us their language and religion, and make us leave our old homes and take up new ones, we would certainly rebel; and it would be by a long intercourse of years that our manners could be made to approximate.”

James Swan

A photograph of James Swan and some of the artifacts which he collected for the Smithsonian Institution is shown above. From 1861 on, he collected and shipped hundreds of items from the Northwest Coast to the Smithsonian.

In 1859, James Swan was invited by Chet-ze-moka to observe a Chemakum tomanawos ceremony. While Swan was allowed to enter the lodge on the first night of the ceremony and to listen to the opening chants, he was not allowed to observe the rest of the ceremony even though he was Chet-ze-moka’s guest. This portion of the ceremony was closed to non-Indians. He did, however, witness the potlatch given by chief Chet-ze-moka at the end of the ceremony and sketched the distribution of presents.


Shown above is Swan’s drawing.

By 1870, the non-Indian residents of Washington were clamoring for the government to forcibly remove all Indians to reservations. In 1871, the S’Klallam at Port Townsend were ordered removed to the Skokomish Reservation. Their canoes were tied to the stern of a waiting ship. As the ship left with the S’Klallam in their canoes trailing behind, their village was burned. While the fire was deliberately set by a group of soldiers from Fort Townsend on orders from higher authorities, some official reports claimed that the fire started accidentally.

When the stern wheeler reached the Skokomish Reservation, the S’Klallam canoes were cut loose and they paddled to shore. Within a few days, most had returned to their homeland. Under the leadership of Chet-ze-moka they established a new village across the bay from Port Townsend at Indian Island.

In 1880, President Rutherford B. Hayes visited Port Townsend. Among those who were introduced to the President is Chet-ze-moka (Duke of York), the leader of the S’Klallam. There is no report on the conversation between the two leaders. Chet-ze-moka was acutely aware that the treaties with the Indians of Puget Sound had not been fulfilled and most Indians at this time believed that the President had the power to order them fulfilled.

The United States government in dealing with Indians nations has always preferred to deal with tribal leaders who were absolute dictators, selected by and loyal to the United States. There has been little concern for nourishing, recognizing, or encouraging democracy among the tribes. In 1884, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs reduced the authority of S’Klallam chief Chet-ze-moka to that of a sub-chief.

Chief Chet-ze-moka died in 1888 at the age of 80. The people of Port Townsend provided an elaborate funeral. The Seattle Weekly Intelligencer reported:

“no Indian in Washington Territory, and very likely none in the United States, ever received so flattering a funeral as did the Duke of York.



Columbus and the Taíno

When Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain in 1492, he was locked into a geographical view of the world which did not anticipate a continent between Europe and Asia. He had set sail for India-a 15th century concept which referred to southern China and southeastern Asia-so when he landed on some islands he assumed that he was off the coast of Asia. On behalf of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he claimed the land and the people for Spain, conveniently ignoring native government and native ownership of the land.

The population of the Americas in 1492 is estimated to be 100 million, as compared with 70 million in Europe.  

Europeans were not known for their religious tolerance. The day before Columbus left Spain, all of the Jews in Spain were required to leave. During the time that Columbus was preparing for his voyage, an estimated 30,000 Spanish Jews were burned at the stake for their failure to convert to Catholicism.

The Taíno were the first Native Americans to encounter the Spanish. Columbus recorded in his diary that the natives “would easily be made Christians because it seemed to me that they had no religion.”

After Columbus had returned to Europe and word of his discoveries reached the royal courts of Portugal and Spain, there were heated debates over the ownership of the new lands. Pope Alexander VI stepped in to solve the dilemma. Papal bulls by Pope Alexander VI granted Spain and Portugal all of the lands in the Americas which were not under Christian rule. Thus began the European assumption that the native people of the area did not really own the land because they were not Christian. The Pope decreed that

“barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.”

The Inter Caetera papal bull by Pope Alexander VI stated:

“We trust in Him from whom empires, and governments, and all good things proceed.”

This laid the legal foundation for assuming that government comes only from the Christian god and therefore Christian nations have a legal right to rule over non-Christian nations. The late Vine Deloria in his “Afterword,” for America in 1492: The World of Indian Peoples Before the Arrival of Columbus wrote:

“Thus armed with a totally bogus title issued by God’s representative on earth, the Spaniards then began a brutal conquest in the Americas which virtually obliterated the native populations in the Caribbean within a generation.”

The discovery of Indians presented some problems for Europeans since they were not mentioned in the Christian Bible: the Native Americans did not fit within orthodox Christianity’s explanation of the moral universe.

At the time of first contact with the Spanish, the Taíno world stretched across the Caribbean Islands for more than a thousand miles. The Taíno, part of the Arawak language group, had arrived on the islands more than 2,000 years earlier from South America. By 700 CE, they occupied the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico. They then pushed into the Greater Antilles-Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Cuba.

In South America, the Arawak-speaking ancestors of the Taíno had a lifestyle that centered around the growing of manioc and other root crops, hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants. This lifestyle adapted to the islands and the sea, rather than separating them, seemed to unite them. They had ocean-going canoes which could hold as many as a hundred people. Voyages between the islands were common place. Intermarriage among the lineages of the different islands was also common and helped build a unifying network of kinship relations.

Another unifying element among the Taíno was the ball game. The game, which was also found in Mesoamerica and part of South America, was played using a rubber ball on courts with stone or earthen embankments. As in Mesoamerica, the ball was struck primarily with the hips. For the Taíno, the game was the focus of religious festivals, feasting, trade, intermarriage, and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The political power of Taíno leaders stemmed from: (1) the mother’s lineage (very different from that of European monarchs), (2) having a special relationship with the supernatural, and (3) political acumen. A “chief” (this is a European leadership term) could be deposed by his brothers or nephews.

When Columbus landed on the island of Hispaniola, Guarionex was one of the five most powerful Taíno leaders with followers numbered in the tens of thousands scattered over hundreds of square miles.

By 1495, the Spanish who had originally been welcomed by the Taíno, had managed to alienate their hosts. Guarionex and the other Taíno leaders decided that they had had enough and tens of thousands of Taíno warriors (some reports claim a hundred thousand) gathered to do battle with 200 Spaniards. The battle was unlike anything that the Taíno had ever experienced. It began with twenty Spanish warriors, fully armored and riding warhorses through their ranks inflicting great damage with their swords and lances. Then foot soldiers fired their guns, a terrifying weapon to those who had never encountered it. Finally, the Spanish set loose their large dogs, trained to kill humans, upon the Taíno warriors. The Spanish goal seemed to be to kill as many Taíno as possible, a goal that was unheard of in the traditional warfare on the islands.

Following their defeat, the Taíno accepted their status as Spanish subjects. They agreed to pay tribute in the form of food, cotton, and gold. The Spanish demanded that every man over the age of 14 provide them with a little copper bell filled with gold every three months. Providing gold, however, was not the greatest hardship on the Taíno: the Spanish were eating them out of house and home. Not only did the Spanish seem to eat far more than the Taíno, but they also ate the manioc that wasn’t ready to be harvested. The result was food shortages and starvation for the Taíno.

Columbus viewed the Taíno themselves as a way to amass his personal wealth. He selected 500 to be exported to Spain as slaves, and 500 to serve as slaves to the Spanish on the Island. Columbus proudly boasted to the Spanish monarchs about the slave potential and its economic benefits. Columbus would capture and export more Indian slaves-about 5,000 — than any other single individual. In addition to capturing the Indians as slaves, the Spanish also hunted the Indians for sport and slaughtered them for dog food. The Spanish also viewed Taíno women as their sex slaves.

By 1497, the combination of starvation, European diseases, and Spanish brutality had reduced the Taíno numbers. Christopher Columbus was neither a good leader, nor particularly charismatic. Many of his men hated him. As a result, the Spaniard Francisco de Roldán led a small army of anti-Columbus soldiers. He encouraged the Taíno leaders, including Guarionex, to join with them in defeating the other Spanish.

Don Bartolomé Colón, the brother of Columbus, was a better leader and had, in fact, learned to speak some Taíno. Bartolomé moved against the incipient rebellion by staging a midnight raid on the Taíno villages, a serious breach of Taíno war etiquette, and capturing as many Taíno leaders as possible. They killed the leaders in the traditional Spanish style: they burned them alive.

Traditionally, Taíno leaders not only directed their warriors in battle, but more importantly they mediated with the spirit helpers to ensure victory. Without their leaders, the Taíno warriors were in chaos and soon surrendered.

The destruction of the Taíno political system, coupled with the demands for tribute and the devastating impact of disease and starvation, led to the virtual extinction of Taíno society on Hispaniola by 1500.

While there are some historians and pseudo-historians who point to Christopher Columbus as an example of perseverance, courage, and Christian faith, there are others who feel that his legacy, from a Native American viewpoint, is one of genocide and slavery.

A Blessing for the Native American Caucus

I am unable to attend NN11 and the Native American caucus. Navajo had asked me for some words for the caucus, and since I do not have email at this location, I’m going to put these words into a short diary for all to read.  

Traditionally, Native American events began with a blessing. We understand that there are a great many different religious and spiritual traditions, and beginning discussions with a spiritual blessing does not imply that all must “believe” the same-rather it simply indicates that this is an important event. Traditional Indians have little concern for making converts, for carrying “the message,” or for proselytizing. An elder is simply asked to bless the event. This blessing might involve smudging with sage, sweet grass, cedar, or some other herb. It might involve a song. It might involve a pipe ceremony. It might involve some symbolic gestures.

Spoken words are different from written words, and many of us who live in oral pagan traditions are reluctant to write down the words that we would speak at a blessing. The power of the word changes when it is written and it loses its sense of the here and now. If I were to do a blessing at this event, it would probably involve smudge and the use of the pipe. What follows is not the words which I would speak, but a description of their intent.

This is a blessing calling upon the seven directions. It starts with offerings to that which lies above and that which lies below. It is a way of reminding ourselves of our need for fresh air, for rain that falls clean and free of chemicals, for the sun, the moon, and the star people. It reminds us of our dependence of the earth and our responsibility to nourish and care for it, just as it nourishes and cares for us.

Next would come an offering to the manitos (spirits) of north and a reminder of the importance of dreams. It is a reminder that it is our responsibility to bring our dreams to life.

Next would come an offering to the manitos (spirits) of south and a reminder of the importance of words. We should remember that words are living things and they continue to impact our lives long after they have been spoken. At meetings such as this we should speak words which bring us together, which create harmony. Words which separate us-those which reflect racism, sexism, homophobia, agism, classism, and other divisions-should have no place here.

Next would come an offering to the manitos (spirits) of west and a reminder of the importance of death. If I have lived well, then it is a good day to die. The focus among traditional Native Americans was on maintaining harmony in life: there was not a lot of concern for what happens next. The offering to the west is also about endings, about changing things in our lives.

Next would come an offering to the manitos (spirits) of east and a reminder of the importance of birth. This is a reminder of the need for birth, rebirth, and new ideas. New ideas, new concepts, like newborns, must be nurtured and nourished.

And the final direction, the seventh direction, is inward. It is placing myself within the circle that has gatherered and opening myself up for the words which will be spoken and the concepts which will be presented.

We come from many traditions. We come here to find harmony in our common cause.  

New Amsterdam and the Indians

As a part of their exploitation of the natural resources of the Americas, the Dutch West India Company laid out New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island in 1624. The company envisioned New Amsterdam as a transportation hub from which they could ship timber and furs from the area. In addition, it would serve as a hub for ships trading into South America and the Caribbean. To get colonists for this new venture, the company promised them land in exchange for six years of service to the company. However, the Dutch didn’t really own the land.  

In 1626, Peter Minuit negotiated with the Canarsee tribe to sell the company the entire island of Manhattan even though the Reckgawawanc have the northern part of the island.

While today’s popular history tells of Minuit buying the island for $24 worth of trade goods, the actual treaty has never been located. The deed on file in the New York State Library archives in Albany is an obvious fake. From an Indian perspective, what the Dutch purchased was simply a right to use the land in common with the Indians. Both the Dutch and the Indians understood that their agreement did not give the Dutch the exclusive rights to the land.

In 1626, the Susquehannock attempted to establish trade with the Dutch. However, the Algonquian-speaking tribes of the Delaware Valley objected and attempted to stop the trade.

The Dutch found that Staten Island was inhabited by the Raritan. The village of 80-90 people in 1628 was supported by agriculture, primarily raising corn.

While the Dutch East India Company’s interest in New Amsterdam was primarily commercial, there were missionaries living in the colony. One of these missionaries, the Reverend Jonas Michaelius who has been described as “the moodiest, bitchiest resident of New Amsterdam” wrote in 1728:

“As to the natives of this country, I find them entirely savage and wild, strangers to all decency, yea, uncivil and stupid as garden stakes, proficient in all wickedness and ungodliness, devilish men who serve nobody but the devil, that is, the spirit which in their language they call Menetto, under which title they comprehend everything that is subtle and crafty and beyond human skill and power.”

The 1626 treaty negotiated with the Canarsee was not the only effort by the Dutch to secure title to the land. These “land deals” were often misinterpreted by both sides. Since the Indians viewed land as something that was used, not owned, there was often land which was used by several different tribes. This created potential conflicts as the Dutch assumed they were buying ownership-meaning exclusive use rights-when they were actually buying only a right to use the land in common with other tribes. Thus, in 1630, Peter Minuit, on behalf of the Dutch West India Company, bought Staten Island from the Tappan. The records do not indicate how the Raritan who lived there felt about the sale, or even if they were involved.

In 1637, the Marechkawieck sachems Seyseys and Neumers sold land at Hell Gate to the Dutch.

In 1639, Mechoswodt, the chief sachem of the Massapequa placed the entire western half of Long Island under Dutch protection.

In 1640, a group of Matinecock tore down the coat of arms of the Dutch Estate General and substituted for it a fool’s head. The Dutch passed a resolution to-

“send a sloop with soldiers thither to bring said Indians under our obedience and contribution.”

In spite of the resolution, the Dutch did not launch an attack. Five years later, however, the Matinecock of Long Island signed a peace treaty with the Dutch. Under this treaty, both groups were to live in peace with each other.

In 1643, the Rockaway and the Merrick sold much of their traditional homeland near Hempstead to the Dutch. Many of the Rockaway were enraged at the sale and were hostile toward the Europeans.

In 1645, the Marechkawieck sachem Seyseys signed a peace treaty and deed which gave his people’s land in southwestern Brooklyn from Gowanus to Jamaica Bay to the Dutch.

In 1649, the Wiechquaesgeck, weakened by war and out-migration, sold their land to the Dutch. They then moved north to establish villages at Dobbs Ferry, New York and at Stamford, Connecticut.

Mattano, the sachem of the Nayack, under threat of Dutch attack, agreed in 1652 to sell tribal lands in Brooklyn, New York to the Dutch. The conditions of the deed required that the Nayack –

“remove immediately from the land now occupied by them, called Naieck, and never to return to live in the district.”

Following the sale most of the Nayack moved to Staten Island.

In 1655, about 600 Indians landed at the southernmost point of Manhattan Island and then attacked the Dutch settlement. At the same time, Indians raided other Dutch settlements and farms, killing several dozen Europeans and taking a number of hostages. In trying to make sense of this war, the Dutch blamed it on an incident in which a Dutch settler had killed a Munsee woman who was picking peaches in his orchard. Hence it was commonly called the Peach War.

In looking for a cause for the Peach War, the Dutch conveniently overlooked the fact that Dutch troops were attacking Swedish settlements on the Delaware River at this time. The Swedes had developed good trading relationships with the Susquehannock. Since the Dutch seemed intent on destroying this relationship, the Susquehannock, together with the Munsee, may have actually carried out the attacks as a way of protecting the Swedes whom they viewed as allies.

In addition to the Peach War, the Dutch also found themselves engaged in the Esopus Wars, so called because of the key role of the Esopus. These wars started when a war party of about 50 Indians attacked New Amsterdam and lasted until the English took over the colony. The Dutch viewed themselves as totally blameless in these wars and felt that the cause was the natural hostility of the natives.

In 1660, the sachem Tapusagh signed a peace treaty with the Dutch as the chief of the Rockaway, Canarsee, and Marsepyn. At the same time, the Massapequa sachem Tackapousha signed a peace treaty with the Dutch and agreed to provide them with warriors for their war against the Indian nations of the mid-Hudson River Valley.

In 1664, New Amsterdam was transferred from the Dutch to the English and became New York.

Ancient America: 4,000 Years Ago

Four thousand years ago, the Bronze Age was just beginning in Europe and in China. Palace civilizations were beginning in the Aegean. The chariot had emerged as a war vehicle in the Near East, in Egypt, and in parts of Eastern Europe. By 4,000 years ago, American Indians had occupied North America many millennia and had developed adaptations to the many ecological zones within the region.  

Pacific Coast:

By 4,000 years ago there was a major trade network which was bringing beads and ornaments from southern and central California into eastern California, Nevada, and Utah.

Near the present-day city of Berkeley, CA, Indian people were supporting themselves by collecting mussels and oysters as well as fish. In addition, they were gathering some plant foods and were doing some hunting.

Indian people on San Nicholas Island had a generalized maritime economy which was largely dependent on mollusks.

At Little Harbor on Catalina Island, Indian people were living on fish, mollusks, and sea mammals.

In British Columbia, Indian people occupied the Ch’uumat’a site, a village with direct access to open ocean.

On the northern part of the Pacific Coast in what is now Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington, the coastal peoples were using antler wedges for splitting cedar boards.

In Oregon, Indian people were now occupying the Avenue site near present-day Seaside.

Great Basin:  

Indian people in Nevada were weaving sandals and basketry. They were also making small split-twig figurines of deer and mountain sheep. In the area of the Lovelock and Humboldt Caves, Indian people were also specializing in using lake resources. They were making nets and fishhooks.


In Indiana, Indian people established a kitchen in the present-day Charlestown State Park for processing nuts so that they could be stored for winter use. The Indians collected hickory nuts, used large slabs of rock to crush them and then made fires to boil them and extract fatty oils.

In Illinois, Indian people were using the Koster site as a camping site while deer hunting. Archaeologists identify these people as a part of the Titterington culture which centered near St. Louis, Missouri.

In Illinois, Indian people had started raising sumpweed and chenopod for food.


By 4,000 years ago, the cultivation of maize (corn) was diffusing from its hearth in Mexico in the Southwest.

The Cochise Archaic Culture moved into the Southwest from Mexico about 4,000 years ago. One of the characteristic traits of their culture was their basketry which was made using coiled bundles of beargrass or yucca fiber which was then sewn together with the same materials.

In Arizona, some Cochise Culture people camped along Cienega Creek on the present-day San Carlos Apache Reservation. They dug holes to obtain water.

In Arizona, Indian people at the Clearwater site near present-day Tucson were raising corn.

In Arizona, Indian people were placing miniature figures in caves in the walls of the Grand Canyon. The caves are difficult to reach because the sheer precipices lack handholds and footholds. These figures were made by bending and folding a single willow twig. Most of the figures seem to represent deer or bighorn sheep; others may represent antelope. The figures may have been made for use in hunting medicine. With regard to the placement of the figures within the caves, the objects were generally placed under flat rocks or small cairns. No  accompanying relics or offerings have been found by archaeologists.  

In Colorado, Indian people established a residential site south of the present-day city of Denver. They built six pit houses which were covered with brush and hides. The people who occupied the site were using a projectile point which archaeologists call the McKean style. This projectile point has a stem with an indented base.


In Georgia, Indian people living on the south coast were now making a low-fired pottery which was tempered with Spanish moss or palmetto. Archaeologists call this Orange Pottery.

On the coastal islands of Georgia and South Carolina, Indian people constructed about 20 large shell rings. The largest of these, built on Sapelo Island, Georgia, is more than 300 feet across and forms a circular embankment about 7 feet high. It is assumed that the construction and use of these shell rings was ceremonial.

In North Carolina, Indian people were using the Gaston site. They were using broad-bladed projectile points and soapstone bowls.

In Florida, Indian people at the Summer Haven site constructed four circular structures. The people who occupied this site were practicing cranial deformation (a deliberate modification of head shape which begins by binding the head of an infant shortly after birth).

In south Florida, Indian people are living on Useppa Island in the Pine Island Sound. They are making fiber-tempered pottery.

Along the Savannah River near Augusta, Georgia, Indian people at Stalling’s Island began making decorated pottery about 4,000 years ago. The pottery was in the form of open bowls with the walls decorated with incised lines and punched indentations. The pottery was fiber-tempered, which means that fibers – grass, roots, Spanish moss – were placed in the clay to strengthen it for firing.

Archaeologists divide the Stalling’s Island vessel forms into three types: a shallow, wide-mouthed basin with a flat to semi-flat base; a small, slightly restricted-mouth basin; and an unrestricted bowl form with a rounded base. The shallow profile and wide orifice of the first type of vessel forms made it easy to transfer warm or hot material from one container to another. In addition, the flat bottoms effectively radiated heat upward.

Some archaeologists feel that this Stalling’s Island decorated pottery in the Southeast is similar to Valdivia pottery which was carried to the coast of Ecuador from Japan. This type of pottery seems to have traveled from Ecuador to Colombia’s northern coast, and then to Panama, Guatemala, and Mexico. Finally, it seems to have traveled from Mexico to the Southeast.

The Indian people who lived at Stalling’s Island at this time specialized in collecting shellfish. Indian people who lived on the southeastern coasts lived on marine shellfish, while those who lived inland used river mussels.

Columbia Plateau:

About 4,000 years ago, the Indian population increased along the Weiser, Payette, and Boise Rivers in present-day Idaho.  

In Idaho, Indian people began using Dagger Falls on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River as a salmon spearing station.

In Idaho, Indian people were making rock art at Birch Creek.

Indian people began using Big Creek Cave in Idaho as a shelter.

In Idaho, Indian people began using Scaredy Cat Cave as a natural meat locker. Bison meat was stored with the ice in the cave and then later dislodged from the ice when needed.

In British Columbia, Indian people established a village at Keatley Creek on the Fraser River near Lillooet. The village consisted of 112 pit houses.

Great Plains:

In Montana, Indian people occupied the Janney Rockshelter.

In Montana, Indian people at the Rattlesnake Point Site were utilizing tipis. They were using tools associated with the McKean Complex.


In the northeast, Inuit people from Greenland migrated to Canada carrying with them a technology that included microblades and unusually small chipped blades (termed “Artic Small Tool Tradition” by archaeologists).

In Massachusetts, Indian people were exploiting the shellfish resources on Martha’s Vineyard.  

The Katy and the Indians in the 19th Century

Following the Civil War, the Indian nations located in Indian Territory (an area which would later become the state of Oklahoma) faced two massive forces. First, the federal government wanted to impose new treaties on them, treaties which were intended to punish them for their role in the Civil War. The federal government either forgot or ignored the fact that the Civil War had divided these nations and that many had supported the Union during the war.

The second, and perhaps more powerful force, was the concept of manifest destiny which was being carefully nurtured by the corporate news media and the school systems. It was America’s destiny to occupy and develop the western wilderness, ignoring any interests which the aboriginal inhabitants of the area might have. One of the corporate sponsors of manifest destiny was the railroad. If the West was to be developed, then the railroads would have to connect them to American and global markets. The railroads lobbied Congress to obtain favored status and superior rights.  

Cherokee chief John Ross had been a Union supporter during the Civil War and had spent much of the war in Washington, D.C. In spite of Ross’s personal charisma and his influence among government officials, a new treaty was imposed upon the Cherokee. When John Ross died in Washington in 1866, his nephew Will Ross was named principal chief to fill the unexpired term of his uncle. John Ross had groomed him for this position and had paid for his education at Princeton, where he had graduated with honors at the top of his class. With regard to the new treaty with the United States, Will Ross said:

“Whatever may be our opinion as to the justice and wisdom of some of the stipulations it imposes, we have full assurance that the delegation obtained the most favorable terms they could, and it is our duty to comply in good faith with all its provisions.”

However, Chief Ross indicated that there were some troublesome articles in the treaty. One of these, Article 11, granted a right of way through Cherokee land for a railroad.

In addition to forcing the Cherokee to grant a railroad right-of-way through their territory, the federal government required the same of the other nations. In the 1866 treaty imposed upon the Creek, for example, the treaty called for the Creek to give up rights-of-way for two railroads: one north-south and one east-west.

In order to take advantage of manifest destiny, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad was incorporated in 1870. It was generally called the K-T, which soon became the Katy. The newly formed railroad soon crossed the border into Cherokee territory and then veered southwest into the Creek Nation, the Choctaw Nation, and the Chickasaw Nation. This opened the way for the corporate invasion of Indian lands that would divest the tribes of their natural resources, land, and sovereignty. The Katy did not pay for its right-of-way. It also had an exemption from taxes and it bought raw materials from individuals in direct violation of tribal laws. In other words, the Katy ran roughshod over the Indian nations, seeking to extract as much wealth as it could while giving as little as possible in return.

In building the railroad, the steel rails had to be imported, but the ties upon which they rested could be obtained locally. The cedar forests which were abundant in Indian Territory seemed to be ideal for the ties. The railroad construction used up 2,700 ties per mile which resulted in much deforestation. Both the Choctaw and Chickasaw governments passed legislation to limit the exploitation of tribal resources to its tribal members. While many tribal members cut timber for the railroads, there was a great deal of poaching by non-Indians. Since the tribal courts had no jurisdiction over non-Indians, there was little that the Indian nations could do to enforce laws that regulated timber cutting.

Like other corporate interests of the time, the Katy felt that it was wrong for “unproductive” Indians to claim a rich and productive land while there were thousands of non-Indians who would be willing to take over the land and “develop” it. Of course, these non-Indians would make better use of the resources and in doing so would have to use the railroad’s services. In order to discourage Indian development, the Katy often refused to carry Indian freight and to stop at Indian towns.

In 1870, the first of a series of intertribal meetings known as the Okulgee Convention was held. Delegates from many Indian nations attended: Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, Ottawa, Eastern Shawnee, Quapaw, Seneca, Wyandotte, Peoria, Sac and Fox, Wea, Osage, and Absentee Shawnee. The delegates drew up a memorial to President Ulysses S. Grant, asking him to uphold the treaties of 1866-1867, to prevent the creation of a territorial government, and to deny access to the territory to any new railroads.

In 1871, Cherokee entrepreneur E.C. Bodinot, knowing where the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas (Katy) and the Atlantic and Pacific (A & P) railroads would intersect in the Cherokee Nation, constructed a hotel at the site. He then staked off the rest of the land into lots and named the new town Vinita. However, Boudinot’s actions were illegal under Cherokee law. Cherokee law at this time decreed that all land within one square mile of any railroad station was under the control of the Cherokee Nation. No one could make improvements on it without authorization from the Cherokee government. The Cherokee, in order to avoid a legal battle with Boudinot, convinced the A & P to move the intersection three miles north. In response Boudinot moved his hotel, and the new town of Vinita, north to the new site. The hotel, a two-story building, was named the Railroad Hotel.

In 1871, the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad built an illegal rail line through Choctaw territory in order to obtain coal.

In 1872, the Katy was completed through Creek territory. The completion of the railroad connected the Creek nation economically with the outside world. This encouraged more non-Indian agricultural settlement.

By 1876, railroads were often touted as important for economic development of the tribes and the tribes were encouraged to provide economic support for the railroads passing through their lands. In Oklahoma, however, the Cherokee found that passengers were being charged 12 cents a mile in their nation as compared with 3-4 cents in the neighboring off-reservation states. Freight rates on the reservation were high and in some instances the train would not stop on the reservation to even pick up the mail. When the tribes complained about this lack of service, the railroad lobbyists simply used this to bolster their case that so long as the tribes remained, profitable corporate enterprise would not be possible.

The Choctaw appointed a tax collector to exercise their right as a sovereign nation to tax the railroad. If the Choctaw had the power to grant rights-of-way, they reasoned, then they should have the power to tax the railroads. The Katy ignored this.

One of the lobbyists for the railroads was Elias Boudinot, a Cherokee from a prominent family. In 1879 he published an article in the Chicago Times that identified 14 million acres of Indian Territory as available for homesteading. This was land that had been set aside for the future settlement of Indians and had not yet been utilized. Boudinot’s article was widely republished in neighboring states. The Secretary of the Interior was soon receiving inquiries about homesteading the land. In addition, prospective settlers began camping out along the borders. Army patrols attempted to keep the intruders out. The Secretary of the Interior hinted to the tribes that the federal government might not be able to stem the tide of non-Indian settlement and advised them to give up holding land in common. They should instead prepare for the inevitable arrival of the homesteaders.

Alarmed at the pressure being exerted by the railroads to open up Indian country in Oklahoma, a group of non-Indian women in the east gathered signatures on a petition. In 1880 they presented a roll of signatures more than 300 feet long to President Rutherford Hayes and to Congress. They then gathered more than 100,000 signatures on a second petition.

In 1882, Congress granted a railroad a right-of-way through the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory, thus setting the precedent that Congress might authorize corporations to exercise privileges upon Indian lands without consulting the tribes.

Overall, all of the railroads, and particularly the Katy, in Indian Territory set the stage for the destruction of tribal governments, the loss of Indian land and resources, and the increase in poverty among Indians. It shows that corporate interests, at least during the late nineteenth century, were greater than those of either the Indian people (most of whom could not vote) and the sovereign Indian nations for whom the United States had a fiduciary responsibility.