The Channel Islands in the Terminal Pleistocene

There was a time in archaeology some fifty to sixty years ago, when the basic hypothesis regarding the peopling of the Americas suggested that towards the ends of the last major ice age, as the two major ice sheets covering North America separated to create a passage from the Yukon to the Northern Plains, that people began migrating across Beringia (the land bridge connecting Asia and North America) and then spread out through the Americas. It was a hypothesis that was simple, neat, appealing, and wrong. One of the alternative hypotheses that have been developed over the past half-century or so suggests that some of the early (and perhaps earliest) migrations into the Americas may have been by boat. Part of the data supporting the water craft hypothesis has come from archaeological findings from the Channel Islands which date to the Terminal Pleistocene (an era that dates from about 19,000 years ago until 10,500 years ago).

Channel Islands National Park in California is composed of five of the Channel Islands: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbara. The first four are the northern islands and Santa Barbara is a part of the southern Channel Islands. This national park may be one of the most important archaeological areas in the Americas, particularly with regard to understanding the early human habitation of the continent. According to the Channel Islands National Park Archaeological Overview and Assessment: “Both prehistoric and historic archaeological resources within the Park have an unusually high level of significance in terms of criteria for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. In fact, they may be considered among the most valuable in North America, if not the world.”

During the Terminal Pleistocene, much of North America was covered with ice fields and the ocean levels were much lower. At this time, there was only one northern channel super-island, Santarosae. As the great ice sheets melted and sea levels rose, Santarosae became four islands.

During the Terminal Pleistocene, the fauna on the islands included a number of animals which would go extinct: a giant mouse (Peromyscus nesodytes), a flightless goose or scoter (Chendytes lawi), and a pygmy mammoth (Mammuth exiliis). All of these overlapped with human occupation. Human occupation on the Channel Islands has been dated to more than 13,000 years ago. According to Channel Islands National Park Archaeological Overview and Assessment:  “Significantly, there is more evidence of occupation on the northern Channel Islands during this period than in most other areas of comparable size elsewhere in California or North America as a whole.”

There are more than 50 archaeological sites on San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz islands that have been dated to between 13,000 years ago and 7,000 years ago. This is the largest cluster of early coastal sites currently known in the Americas. The earliest people on the Channel Islands are often called the Paleocoastal Peoples and their presence on the island at this time lends support to the hypothesis that the ancient people arrived in the Americas by boat. According to Channel Islands National Park Archaeological Overview and Assessment:  “The archaeological evidence for early maritime settlement of the Channel Islands also has had a significant effect on the growing recognition that a maritime migration may have contributed to the initial human colonization of the Americas.”

While one of the first archaeologists to work on Santa Rosa Island has proposed that mammoth-hunting humans first came to the islands over 40,000 years ago, very few archaeologists today accept this early date. The earliest verified evidence for human occupation in the Channel Islands comes from more than 13,000 years ago when a woman died at Arlington Springs on Santa Rosa Island. At the time she died, the sea level was 150 feet lower than it is today and the Northern Channel Islands were still connected as a single island.

In 1959, archaeological excavations under the direction of Phil Orr uncovered two femurs buried about 30 feet deep in the side wall of Arlington Canyon. The remains were initially identified as male and called the Arlington Springs Man. Orr estimated that the remains were about 10,000 years old. Thirty years later, Orr’s successor at the museum, Dr. John Johnson, re-analyzed the Arlington Springs remains using modern techniques of radiocarbon dating. At this same time, the original site was relocated and re-studied. The new studies determined that the remains were female rather than male and that they were about 13,000 years old. According to Dr. John Johnson, Curator of Anthropology, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History: “This woman’s presence on an island at this early date is significant, because it demonstrates that the earliest Paleo-Indians had watercraft necessary to cross the Santa Barbara Channel.”

Immediately above the layer of soil in which the remains of Arlington Woman (originally called Arlington Man) were found is a distinctive layer dated to about 12,900 years ago that is linked to the extraterrestrial event that caused an abrupt climate change resulting in the extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna and the end of Clovis culture.

By about 12,000 years ago, people were occupying the Cardwell Bluffs sites near the east end of San Miguel Island. These sites appear to have been multipurpose quarry, workshop, and habitation sites. Among the stone artifacts are chipped stone crescents and small, stemmed Channel Island Barbed points. While shellfish remains show that the people had a marine diet, the crescents and stemmed points suggest that they were also hunting. Both the crescents and stemmed points have been linked to other coastal sites and support the idea of a coastal migration following the North Pacific Rim from Northeast Asia into the Americas.

Daisy Cave along a remote and rocky stretch of San Miguel Island shows evidence of human occupation dating back to 11,500 years ago. The site has a shell midden dominated by rocky shore shellfish including red abalone, black turban (Tegula funebralis), California mussel (Mytilus californianus), giant chiton (Cryptochiton stelleri), and crab. While this is one of the oldest shell middens in North America, it leaves a number of questions unanswered. According to Channel Islands National Park Archaeological Overview and Assessment: “…who were these early maritime people, where did they come from, what technologies did they employ, and what was the nature of their broader economies and lives?”

Humans and Pygmy Mammoths:

The first report of mammoth remains on Santa Rosa Island came in 1853 and by the 1920s these were classified as a new species. In the 1940s, Phil Orr, Curator of Anthropology at the Museum of Natural History in Santa Barbara, conducted archaeological field studies in which mammoth bones were found in conjunction with features which were interpreted as hearths. Orr concluded that humans had been hunting and consuming pygmy mammoths. However, recent studies have not substantiated this claim.

Humans and the pygmy mammoths co-existed on the island for at least 200 years. This raises a number of interesting questions regarding the extinction of the pygmy mammoths. Was this simply a coincidence or did human hunting contribute to the extinction? Archaeological data shows that humans on the mainland were hunting mammoths. Did the people on Santa Rosa Island have mammoth hunting skills and knowledge, or was their subsistence lifestyle marine oriented?

Some researchers feel that the extinction of the pygmy mammoths was caused by a cosmic impact which is supported by data from sediments at this time.

World War II Impacts Indian Reservations

In 1942, the United States was gearing up to fight in World War II and the military efforts on the homefront had an impact on several Indian reservations.

Administration of Indian Affairs:

The need for office space in Washington, D.C. to support the war effort resulted in moving the Indian Bureau to Chicago. The move reduced Indian Bureau influence with Congress and other federal agencies. The Indian budget was slashed and New Deal programs for Indians were dropped. This left many Indian programs in disorder.

A shortage of doctors and nurses on reservations developed as medical personnel joined the armed forces. Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier warned of the potential for a complete breakdown of medical services on the reservations.


 The government established concentration camps for Japanese Americans on two Indian reservations in Arizona: the Gila Indian Reservation and the Colorado River Indian Reservation (Mohave and Chemehuevi). The tribes were not consulted in this matter.

With regard to the Colorado River Indian Reservation, the government promises that the land would be returned to the tribes substantially improved for future agricultural use. The tribes opposed the concentration camp, but understood that if they refused the government’s demands they will lose the land. The tribe did not respond to the government. On the other hand, non-Indian business people in nearby Parker saw the concentration camp as a good thing:  “The project’s going to be good for the country. It will develop a lot of land, bring in irrigation, so white farmers can use it. White men can’t work out on the reservation now.”

Following the war, the federal government used the former camps to house Hopi and Navajo who were forcibly relocated from their homes as a part of a “colonization” program. Under the plan, up to 1,000 Navajo families were to be removed from their reservation as a means of alleviating overpopulation. The colonization program was a failure.


 In Alaska, the U.S. Army removed the Unangan people from the Aleutian Islands and placed them in makeshift camps on the mainland where they suffered from hunger, cold, and disease. Many of the elders died. Their abandoned villages were vandalized by the American military.

South Dakota:

In South Dakota, the U.S. Army Air Corps “borrowed” part of the Oglala Sioux’s Pine Ridge Reservation for a gunnery range with the understanding that it would be returned after World War II. The army notified 128 tribal members that they had to evacuate their homes within thirty days. Some Indians reported that they were told they would be shot if they did not cooperate.

In 1943, more than 250 Oglala Sioux families were given 10 days notice to leave their homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation so that the land could become a bombing range.

Twenty years later, instead of returning the land to the tribe, the federal government simply declared it to be surplus which would allow non-tribal interests to acquire it. In 1968, however, the land was finally returned to the tribe except that the National Park Service was given management authority over half of the land which was now included in the Badlands National Park. For about 25 years, the federal government had leased out 90,000 acres of this land. The profit that the government received from leasing the land exceeded the compensation which had been given to the Sioux at the time the land was taken from them.


 In Oklahoma, the army expanded Camp Gruber. No thought was given to the forced relocation of the Cherokee who were living on the land taken by the army. The Cherokee had already planted their gardens and would not have food for the winter if they were removed. None of the Cherokee who were to be relocated had transportation and the army told them that it did not have any available trucks to help them. The Cherokee hoped that their land would be returned to them at the end of the war.  It was not.


 In Washington, the Wanapum fishing villages near the White Bluffs on the Columbia River were closed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a part of a top secret war project called the Gable Project (later called Hanford Engineering Works). The Wanapum were allowed to move upriver to Priest Rapids. Here they were allowed to settle in three abandoned houses that had been built for the operators of the first hydroelectric plant on the Columbia River.

Among those moved was young David Sohappy who would later become one of the leaders for Indian fishing rights on the Columbia River. Sohappy was related to the nineteenth century prophet Smohalla and would also become a leader of the Feather Religion, which is an offshoot of Smohalla’s religion.

In 1943, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation closed access to an area sacred to the Yakama. Government officials either ignored or were unaware of the 1855 treaty which guaranteed Indians access to this area.

Following the war, fish studies found that fish were now showing radioactive concentrations averaging 100,000 times the normal amount as far as 20 miles downstream from the Hanford nuclear facility.


In 1943, the federal government under the War Powers Act condemned 2,100 acres of the Shoshone and Bannock’s Fort Hall Reservation to be used as an airport. While the land was worth $100 per acre, the government paid the tribes only $10 per acre.

Tribes Ask That Oil and Gas Leases be Cancelled

On Friday, Blackfeet tribal leaders in Montana sent letters to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking that all federal oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area be cancelled. According to the letter:  “We respectfully request that you and your staff meet directly with representatives of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council regarding the Badger-Two Medicine oil and gas leases, and long-term co-management strategies for permanent protection of this most sacred mountain land.”

The Badger-Two Medicine area is adjacent to the Blackfeet Reservation and Glacier National Park and is administered by the National Forest Service. The Blackfoot Confederacy (a group of related Indian nations in the United States and Canada) and the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council also joined in this request. According to the tribes, oil and gas exploration threatens the sacred and cultural values of the region.

In 1896, the United States forced the Blackfeet Tribe to give up that portion of their reservation known as the Mineral Strip as the government feared that there might be potential mineral wealth in the area and did not want Indians to have possible wealth. This ceded area included portions of what would become Glacier National Park and the Badger-Two Medicine area. While this was a sacred area for the Blackfoot people—an area where ceremonies are conducted and sacred plants gathered—all American Indian religions were illegal at this time and so the elders had to remain quiet about the importance of the land to their spirituality and culture. The treaty, however, does include an agreement that the Blackfoot have a right to “go upon” the land, to hunt, to fish, and to cut timber.

Badger-Two Medicine is a part of the Lewis and Clark National Forest and is named for Badger Creek and the Two Medicine River which originate along the Continental Divide. It is an ecosystem that includes elk, gray wolves, bighorn sheep, moose, lynx, eagles, harlequin ducks, and wolverines. Under the provision of the National Historic Preservation Act, the Blackfeet Tribe and the Lewis and Clark National Forest have proposed that the region be designated as a Traditional Cultural District (TCD). According to the keeper of the National Register:  “The remote wilderness area is associated with the significant oral traditions and cultural practices of the Blackfoot people, who have used the lands for traditional purposes for generations and continue to value the area as important to maintaining their community’s continuing cultural identity.”

In 1997, the Forest Service placed a ten-year ban on oil drilling in the area. Since 2002, proposed drilling has centered on an area about two miles north of the TCD. In 2006, Blackfeet Community College completed a cultural resources inventory of the area and recommended that the TCD be expanded.

In 2009, the Lewis and Clark National Forest adopted a travel plan for the Badger-Two Medicine which emphasized traditional non-motorized uses. Motorized vehicles, such as all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes are now prohibited on the 200 miles of trail in the area.

Of the 47 oil and gas leases granted by the federal government in 1982, 18 are still active. One of these leases is held by Sidney Longwell of Solenex of Louisiana. Longwell is currently suing the federal government so that his firm can proceed with development. With regard to the Solenex well, a representative of the Montana Petroleum Association stated:  “I truly believe they can drill an exploratory well in a very environmentally friendly way, and that any assumptions about future development at this time are really unwarranted.”

Traditionalists, who see the area as sacred and as both culturally and historically important to the Blackfoot tribes, do not feel that oil exploration is compatible with the nature of the land.

Aztec Social Organization

When the Spanish invaded Mexico, they found that one of the dominant empires was that of the Aztecs. While many great civilizations and empires had developed and collapses in the region over the millennia, today we know more about the Aztec society than we do about the earlier societies thanks to the observations of the Spanish. In 1519, when the Spanish first encountered the Aztecs, the Aztec empire was a complex state ruled by an emperor from the city of Tenochtitlán which had a population of about 350,000.

The “big house” (calpolli; also  spelled calpulli) was the basic unit of Aztec social organization and of the Aztec empire. The “big house” was primarily a group of families who had been related by kinship or proximity over a fairly long period of time. This group was a land-holding corporation with ritual functions: in other words, the group owned its own land and worshipped its own gods. Like Aztec society, the “big house” was stratified with both elite members and commoners. The elite would provide the commoners with arable land or with non-agricultural occupations and the commoners pay tribute to the elite in various forms.

Within the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlán there were 80 “big houses” which were arranged into the four great quarters of the city.

Each of the “big houses” was presided over by a single individual who functions as a principal chief and has the title calpollec. The principal chief was elected by the members of the “big house” and confirmed by the Aztec emperor. The principal chief ruled for life.

Aztec society was stratified into a number of classes. At the very top of Aztec society were the rulers (teteuhctin) of the cities and towns. Living in palaces and wearing distinctive clothing, the rulers ensured that tribute payments were made at all of the appropriate levels of the imperial administration.

Just below the rulers were the nobles (pipiltin) which was a hereditary class (i.e. people had to be born into it). All of the Aztec imperial ministers belonged to this class. There was also a noble class known as the eagle nobles (cuauhpipiltin) who had been born as commoners but had distinguished themselves in battle and had been rewarded with a noble title.

Most of the people in Aztec society were commoners (macehualtin) who worked the lands of the “big houses” and paid tribute to the upper classes. The Aztec state maintained control over the commoners and tribute was in the form of service: labor on public works and/or as soldiers in the army.

At the bottom of Aztec society were the serfs (mayeque) who worked on the noble estates. Serfs were menial laborers and, according to some reports, were not allowed to leave the lands to which they were attached. Some scholars have estimated that perhaps as many as 30% of the Aztecs were serfs. About one-third of the produce of the serfs went to the nobles.

Aztec society, like other societies throughout the world, included slaves. Slavery was partially debt slavery which was made up of people who could not pay their debts, particularly gambling debts. When deeply in debt individuals could pawn themselves, their spouses, or their children for a certain period of time or perpetuity. Under Aztec law, slaves could not be sold without their consent. In general, slaves seem to have been treated well. Slaves could choose their marriage partners and their children were not slaves.

In addition to debt slavery, the Aztecs also captured people from other nations who were sold in slavery. By the time of the Spanish invasion, the buying and selling of slaves was a big business. Archaeologist Brian Fagan, in his book The Aztecs, writes:  “The ever-increasing nobility required en more laborers to serve in their households. Slave merchants operated from as far away as the Tabasco region of the Gulf Coast and frequented human markets in Azcapotzalco and Itzocan.”

There is also one small, but very powerful, Aztec group which must be mentioned: the long-distance merchants (pochteca). They were treated like royalty and reported directly to the royal palace. These merchants travelled hundreds of miles into foreign territories and were able to obtain luxury goods such as quetzal feathers and amber for the emperor. Membership in this merchant class was hereditary. While the long-distance merchants could become very wealthy, there were restrictions on them flaunting their wealth.

Being a long-distance merchant was a dangerous job and many died while travelling. Disease, accidents, and being killed by unfriendly people were among the job hazards. To ensure their safety and wellbeing, the pochteca had their own gods, including Yacatecuhtili (“Nose Lord”) who is generally portrayed as having a very long nose and carrying a traveler’s staff in one hand and a woven fan in the other. If one of these merchants died when travelling then, like the soul of a fallen warrior, the soul would go directly to the paradise of the Sun God.

Closely associated with the pochteca was another specialized group known as the oztomeca who dressed in local clothing and spoke the local language. Their job, in addition to obtaining exotic goods, was to gather military intelligence. Archaeologists Michael Coe and Rex Koontz, in their book Mexico, write:  “Like the businessmen-spies of modern days, the oztomeca were often a vanguard for the Aztec takeover of another nation, acting sometimes as agents-provocateurs.”

In 1521, the Spanish and their Native American allies captured the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, killing about 280,000 of its residents. Aztec society was then forced to be assimilated in the Spanish empire.

Tobacco and the Indian Nations of the Great Lakes

The western portion of the Northeastern Woodlands of the U.S., an area designated as the Great Lakes-Riverine area by some anthropologists, was inhabited by Algonquian-speaking tribes such as the Anishinabe (Ojibwa or Chippewa), Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Menominee, Shawnee, Ottawa, and Sauk and by Siouan-speaking groups such as the Winnebago, Iowa, Oto, and Missouria. The Siouan-speaking groups probably emerged from the Oneota cultural tradition that began to flourish about 1000 AD in the upper Mississippi Valley.

The economy of the Indian nations of this region was mixed with the gathering of wild plants, hunting, and fishing being of primary importance and farming being of secondary importance. Farming—corn, beans, and squash—contributed about half of their calories. The reduced importance of agriculture was due largely to climatic conditions. Throughout much of the region, the 140-growing-day season made agriculture a risky endeavor. A later spring or an early fall meant that crop failures were a constant possibility.

Among the non-food plants raised in this area was tobacco, an important ceremonial and trade plant. For Indian people throughout North America, tobacco smoking is a symbolic way of enhancing the communication between individuals, between groups, and between the people and the supernatural. One of the reasons for its ceremonial importance is explained in the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) creation story.

According to the Ho-Chunk creation story, after the Earthmaker had created all other things, human beings were created. Human beings were the least of the Earthmaker’s creations. They were put in charge of nothing. While even the smallest of the insects could see four days ahead, human beings could not even see one day ahead. Then the Earthmaker created a weed with a pleasant odor and all of the spirits wanted it. The weed was called tobacco. Earthmaker then showed the people how to use it, how to crush it, and smoke it in a pipe. To all of the spirits Earthmaker said:  “Now, whatever human beings ask from me and for which they offer tobacco I will not be able to refuse it. I myself will not be in control of this weed. If they give me a pipefull of this and make a request I will not be able to refuse it.”

Earthmaker also told the spirits:  “The human beings are the only ones of my creation who are poor. I did not give them anything, so therefore this will be their foremost possession and from them we will have to obtain it. If a human being gives a pipefull and makes a request we will always grant it.”

Among all of the tribes of this culture area, tobacco is used for all important activities. This includes sprinkling of tobacco on the water as an offering to the underwater spirits just before getting into a canoe; offering a pinch of tobacco to the earth where other ceremonial plants are gathered; providing tobacco to someone when a special request is made.

The oldest form of tobacco which was cultivated and used in this culture area was Nicotaina rustica. This tobacco, often described as “strong-tasting”, was cultivated in small patches and was used in religious ceremonies.


Two hundred and fifty years ago, in 1764, many of the Indian nations of North America had not yet had direct contact with the European colonial powers who were claiming the “God-given” right to rule them. Indirectly, however, most of the Indian nations had already been impacted by European manufactured goods and by European diseases.

Colonial Indian Policies:

 The British reorganized and reformed the administration of Indian affairs. Private and colonial purchases of land from the Indians were no longer allowed, trading was to be confined to posts, and trading rum to the Indians was banned.

Pennsylvania offered a scalp bounty on Indians as well as a bounty on live captives. Since the difference between the bounty for a scalp and a live male captive was relatively small, few bounty hunters bothered taking males alive. However, the bounty for live women and children meant that many were taken alive so that they could be sold as slaves.

In the Southeast, John Stuart, the Indian Agent for the British Southern District, suggested a divide-and-conquer policy:  “It will undoubtedly be detrimental to His Majesties service, that too strict a friendship and union subsist between the different Indian nations within this department; it is therefore incumbent upon us by all means in our power to foment any jealousy or division that may subsist between them.”

In Florida, the British took over government of Florida from the Spanish and appointed agents to represent the government in Indian affairs at Mobile, Pensacola, and St. Augustine.  A meeting was held with Cowkeeper’s Creek Indian village. A second meeting was then held with Creek leaders from five other towns: Tallahassee (Tonaby’s Town), Mikasuki (Newtown), Chiskatalofa, Tamathli, and Ochlockonee. Gifts were given to the chiefs and Cowkeeper and Long Warrior expressed strong attachment to the British.

In Louisiana, a delegation of Choctaw who were in New Orleans to confirm their attachment to the French talked with the English superintendent of Indian Affairs who happened to be visiting the city. They complained to him that the English traders beat them, stole their horses, and had sex with their women.

Anti-Indian Violence:

In Pennsylvania, a mob of about 50 men attacked the Christian Susquehannock Indians in the village of Conestogoe. They killed everyone they found, scalped and mutilated the bodies, and then burned the houses. Governor John Penn condemned the action and proclaimed a reward for the murderers.

Many of the Indians who had escaped the mob violence at Conestogoe sought refuge in Lancaster where they were locked in the workhouse for their own safety. The mob, however, broke in the door and killed several Indians, both adults and children.

The mob, known as the Paxton Boys, grew to several hundred and began to march toward Philadelphia where 140 Indians had sought refuge. The mob was angered because Governor John Penn had condemned the murder of Indians at the village of Conestogoe.

The governor called upon Ben Franklin to stop the mob. Franklin confronted the Paxton Boys in Germantown. In speaking to the mob, he used the names of the Indians they had murdered in Conestogoe. By speaking the English names of the dead Indians, Franklin treated them as human beings rather than as wild animals in the woods. Franklin told the mob that killing children was inhuman, cowardly, and unmanly. Franklin told them that  “these Indians would have been safer among the ancient heathens, with whom the rites of hospitality were sacred, than they are among us Christians in Pennsylvania.”

Franklin was successful and the mob dispersed. Following this, Franklin wrote A Narrative of the Late Massacres … of a Number of Indians. It described the massacre of Indians by “Christian White Savages.”


In Pennsylvania, Presbyterian missionaries Samuel Kirkland and Joseph Woolley traveled to the Iroquois village of Oquaga. Woolley, a Delaware Indian who had graduated from the Wheellock Academy, established a school in the village. Woolley found life in the village to be difficult and died the following year.

In Rhode Island, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel sent a teacher to the Narragansett.

Peace and War:

In Ohio, the Ottawa war leader Pontiac sent the British a wampum belt for peace. The British simply chopped up the belt. In terms of Indian diplomacy, the British action was highly disrespectful, somewhat like urinating on a peace treaty. The Indians were shocked and angered by the British actions and Pontiac was convinced that he had nothing to gain by negotiating with the British

The Shawnee, Seneca, and Lenni Lenape joined together to send war belts to the Miami and to Pontiac’s Ottawa asking them to fight the British. These three nations were joined by the Munsee and the Wyandot to form the Five Nations of Scioto.

In Michigan, the Ojibwa debated about traveling to Detroit to join Pontiac. To settle the debate a shaking tent ceremony was held. The spirits were asked if the English were really preparing to attack the Indians. The oracle replied that there were many English soldiers preparing to make war. As an alternative, the oracle suggested that they travel to New York to meet with Sir William Johnson, who  “will fill your canoes with presents; with blankets, kettles, guns, gunpowder and shot; and large barrels of rum, such as the stoutest of the Indians will not be able to lift; and every man will return in safety to his family.”

Other Events:

In Massachusetts, the Stockbridge realized that they had failed to exclude from a government transaction 2,500 acres of land which they had sold to a farmer. They refunded the money and petitioned the General Court to allow the farmer to keep the land. The Court did not allow the farmer to keep the land, but did give him 300 acres elsewhere.

In Florida, two Creek towns – Lachua under the leadership of Cowkeeper and Old Town under the leadership of White King – had a ball game which lasted for two weeks. During this time the participants consumed 18 kegs of rum.

In Virginia, amateur archaeologist Thomas Jefferson had his African slaves dig up hundreds of Monacan skeletons so that he could learn more about their mortuary customs.

In Massachusetts, the Nantucket were decimated by smallpox. Only 136 survived. At the time of first contact with the English in 1659 they had had a population of about 3,000.

The Cheyenne Migrations

In 1851, the United States government met in treaty council with 8,000 to 12,000 Indians from several Plains tribes at Fort Laramie in present-day Wyoming. One of the tribes attending this council was the Cheyenne. While many Americans assumed that the Cheyenne had always been a Plains tribe, in fact, when Europeans first encountered them in the early 1600s they were living in the woodlands at the mouth of the Wisconsin River in what is now Minnesota. Like the other tribes in this area at this time, the Cheyenne lived in permanent or semi-permanent villages making their living by farming.

Prior to living in Minnesota, Cheyenne oral tradition says that the people lived far to the northeast in what is now Canada. They were not farmers at this time, but lived by fishing, hunting and gathering wild plant foods. According to tradition, they were living by a large body of water. There was, however, a time of great sickness and the people left their homeland and moved south. The Cheyenne call this the “ancient time” when the people were happy but were decimated by a terrible disease leaving the people as orphans.

They next settled in the marshy areas between Ontario and Minnesota and it was here that they learned farming from the other tribes in the area. The Cheyenne call this the “time of the dogs” when dogs were used as beasts of burden.

About 1635, the Cheyenne began their slow migration westward toward the Great Plains. Their migration may have been motivated or initiated in part by the westward expansion of tribes to the east including the Sioux, Iroquois and the Anishinaabe. The many villages that made up the Cheyenne did not move all at one time, but rather they moved piecemeal. Archaeological data suggests that it may have taken two centuries for all of the different groups to migrate west of the Mississippi River and into the Great Plains. By 1700 many of the bands were living in the Sheyenne River Valley in eastern North Dakota. Here they adopted the life-style of the farming tribes in that region which included living in villages made up of semi-subterranean earthlodges. They continued to farm corn, beans, and squash.

In the mid-1700s, the Plains Cree, Plains Ojibwa, and the Assiniboine pushed the Cheyenne farther west. The Cheyenne re-established themselves in the Black Hills area where they acquired the horse and became nomadic buffalo hunters. In the Black Hills, the Cheyenne encountered the Arapaho who had probably moved out of the Minnesota area ahead of them. While the Arapaho had moved into the Black Hills first, they did not view the Cheyenne as intruders, but welcomed them as friends. The two tribes intermarried and became confederated.

Pressure from the Teton Sioux toward the end of the eighteenth century pushed the Cheyenne even farther west. Once again, this migration was carried out piecemeal. By 1800, the Cheyenne still had some villages which were planting corn along the Missouri River. After 1825, the Cheyenne began to divide into a Northern tribe and a Southern tribe. The Southern Cheyenne continued their close association with the Arapaho while the Northern Cheyenne developed a close association with the Sioux.

At Fort Laramie in 1851, the Americans failed to distinguish between the Northern Cheyenne and the Southern Cheyenne. The Americans in their infinite wisdom assumed that there was only one Cheyenne tribe and “awarded” them a reservation in what would become Oklahoma.  The Southern Arapaho were also assigned to this reservation.

The Northern Cheyenne had no intention of moving to a reservation on the Southern Plains so they stayed in the north where they affiliated themselves with the Sioux. However, following the Battle of the Little Bighorn where the Sioux and Cheyenne defeated a surprise attack led by Lt. Colonel George Custer, the Northern Cheyenne were scattered as the Americans attempted to force them to move to the reservation. Finally, in 1882, the government moved the Northern Cheyenne under the leaders Two Moon and White Bull to a small reserve on Rosebud Creek and the Tongue River in Montana. This marked the beginning of the formation of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

Some Apache Ceremonies

While the movies and popular books (including some textbooks) speak of the Apaches as if they were a single American Indian nation, there are many different, distinct, and autonomous Apache groups. There are six major divisions of the Apache: the Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Kiowa-Apache. East of these is also divided into discrete groups.

The Western Apache include five groups: Cibecue, San Carlos, White Mountain, Northern Tonto, and Southern Tonto. While there was intermarriage between these groups, they considered themselves to be distinct from one another and had clearly defined territorial boundaries. The traditional territory of the Western Apache is in Arizona and ranges from as far north as Sedona to as far south as the San Pedro River Valley.

The Chiricahua Apache are south of the Western Apache in the mountains of southeastern Arizona. The term “Chiricahua” was coined by an anthropologist to refer to the autonomous tribes living in or near the Chiricahua Mountains. The word “Chiricahua” is actually of Ópata origin.

The Jicarilla Apache are divided into two bands: the Llaneros (the plains people) and the Olleros (the mountain-valley people). The Jicarilla borrowed culturally from the Plains tribes (especially the war and raiding complexes) and from the Pueblos (agricultural and ceremonial rituals).

The Eastern Apache include five groups: Gila, Mimbres, Coppermine, Warm Springs, and Mescalero.

Ceremonies are a part of the social and cultural glue that brings people together, allows them to pass on their heritage, and reinforces their sense of purpose. There are many different kinds of ceremonies including rites of passage—ceremonies which designate a change in social status such as the transition from child to adult—and healing ceremonies. A few Apache ceremonies are described below. There are no photographs, as photographs of spiritual events are often considered offensive to Native peoples.

Girls’ Puberty Ceremony:

Among the Western Apache the Girls’ Puberty Ceremony invests in young girls the qualities which are felt to be important for adulthood. The ceremony is known as Na’íí’ees which means “preparing her” or “getting her ready.” This is an elaborate ceremony which has consequences for the entire community. In the ceremony, the power of Changing Woman enters the girl’s body and lives there for the four days of the ceremony. The gift of Changing Woman is longevity and physical health. During the ceremony the people come together to reaffirm kinship ties and to benefit from the healing powers of the ceremony.

Among the Jicarilla Apache the ceremony is performed in a large tipi that faces east. During the four-day ceremony, the girl and her partner (an adolescent male of the same age) listen to sacred songs about tribal origins. The ceremony stresses the positive traits that people should imitate in their own lives.

Among the Chircahua Apache the Girls’ Puberty Ceremony is composed of a series of rituals which reinforce the basic values of Apache culture. During the ceremony, the girl is united spiritually and personally with the most revered of the Chiricahua’s ancestors, White Painted Woman. Chiricahua elder Elbys Naiche Huger notes:  “Here we say White Painted Woman, other Apaches might say Changing Woman or call this a Sunrise Ceremony.”

Cradle Ceremony:

 Among the Chiricahua Apache, the Cradle Ceremony is conducted four days after birth. The ceremony involves marking the child with pollen, presenting the cradleboard to the four directions, and then placing the child in the cradleboard. The ceremony is intended to ward off evil influences.

First Moccasin Ceremony:

 The Apache hold this ceremony to celebrate a child’s first steps. The ceremony is held at the new moon with the children wearing newly made outfits and their first moccasins. The purpose of the ceremony is to keep the children healthy and strong. The ceremony includes a feast and a gift give-away as well as songs, prayers, dances, and blessings with pollen.

Holiness Rite:

The Holiness Rite is an Apache long-life ceremony which is based on the story of Bear and Snake stealing two girls during the emergence of the People from the underworld. The girls were rescued and returned by the White and Black Gods. As a curing ceremony which relieves Bear and Snake sickness—that is illness which originate from Bear and Snake. The complex, four-day ceremony may treat up to 12 patients. During the ceremony, the patients are subject to treatments which are intended to frighten away the bear and the snake.

Among the Jicarilla, the Holiness Rite is also known as the Bear Dance and is usually performed for three days before and during the appearance of the full moon (for a total of four days). The ceremony cures bear, snake, and other sicknesses. The ceremony takes place in a large enclosure (about 80 feet in diameter) which has an opening to the east. Within the enclosure on the west side is a tipi which faces east. The patients are confined to the tipi during the ceremony.

Hoop Dance:

The Hoop Dance is a White Mountain Apache healing ceremony. During the ceremony, the sick person is seated on a blanket facing east. The dancers – one boy and one girl at each of the four cardinal directions – dance in toward the patient. The boys place their hoops over the patient’s head and the girls place the crosses which they carry over the patient’s head. This is repeated four times. Next, there are ceremonies involving the four directions in which the hoops are placed over the patient.

Lightning Ceremony:

The Lightning Ceremony is a White Mountain Apache ceremony which is done to protect the people from the danger of lightning. In addition, the ceremony brings the rain and insures good crops.