The Mandans, Farmers on the Northern Plains

While the most common stereotype of Plains Indians brings forth an image of horse-mounted buffalo-hunting nomads living in tipis, many of the Plains Indian nations were farmers who lived in permanent villages and raised crops of corn (maize), beans, and squash. The Mandans were among the earliest farming nations on the Northern Plains. Their villages were along the Missouri River in the Dakotas. Mandan migrations, farming, hunting, and fishing are described below.

Archaeologists feel that the Mandan first moved to the banks of the Missouri River in what is now South Dakota from northwestern Iowa or southwestern Minnesota. After five centuries in this area, there was a climatic change (the Pacific I climate episode) which drove them north into present-day North Dakota. The photographer and ethnographer Edward Curtis reports:  “Mandan tradition tells of a gradual migration up the Missouri ‘from the place where the river flows into the great water’.”  Curtis, in reviewing Mandan oral tradition, concludes:  “One can hardly doubt, therefore, that the Mandan dwelt originally in the warm Gulf region near the mouth of the Mississippi.”

For two centuries their villages lay north of the Grand River. In their 1917 book Corn Among the Indians of the Upper Missouri, George Will and George Hyde write: “The Mandans were evidently the first Siouan tribe to reach the Upper Missouri.”

When the climate changed again, they found themselves in competition with other groups, such as the Arikara.

Oral Tradition Regarding Creation:

One oral tradition says the Mandan came out from the underground on the west bank of the Mississippi near its delta on the Gulf of Mexico. They left this point of origin and began a long, slow migration to the north. They continued their migration along the Mississippi until they reached Minnesota. Here they found that the land was not good for farming and so they turned to the south and west. They settled for a time near Pipestone, Minnesota, but they didn’t like pipestone as its red color signified blood and was thus unsuitable for ceremonial smoking. They preferred to make their ceremonial pipes from clay.

From Pipestone, about 40 lodges separated from the main tribe and moved north to the Red River and its tributary, the Sheyenne. After a flood forced them to move, they found the Missouri and settled in the Heart River area.

Those who remained at Pipestone were visited by Lone Man and the First Creator. From these two great culture heroes they learned many ceremonies. The tribe then moved west and settled along the Missouri River. Lone Man and First Creator convinced the people to more north and to join the other Mandan in the Heart River area.


The Mandans, like the other village tribes of the upper Missouri River Valley such as the Hidatsa, and Arikara, raised corn, beans, sunflowers, tobacco, pumpkins, and squash. These tribes produced not only enough agricultural products for their own use, but also a substantial surplus which was traded to other tribes, and later to the Europeans and Americans. In her book Women of the Earth Lodges: Tribal Life on the Plains, anthropologist Virginia Bergman Peters writes:  “The combination of a satisfactory agricultural base and a surplus of corn vital to their extensive trade brought wealth and political power to the upper Missouri River villages.”

In preparing the fields for planting, the Mandan used rakes and digging sticks. Some of the rakes were made from deer antler and some were made from long willow shoots. In cultivating the fields, the Mandan used a hoe that was often made from the shoulder-blade of the buffalo or elk which was attached to a long wooden handle.

The Mandan and the other village tribes of the Northern Plains planted between nine and eleven different varieties of corn. The Indian farmers also observed some basic plant genetics and separated the fields with the different varieties of corn.

With regard to the corn grown by the Missouri River tribes, George Will and George Hyde report:  “It is extremely hardy, not only adapting itself to varying amounts of moisture, and producing some crop under drought conditions, but resistant also to the unseasonable frosts which are apt to occur in the home region.”

One of the main varieties of corn was flint corn which was well-adapted to the semi-arid Northern Plains climate. This corn took about 60 days to mature and, because of its short stalk, was able to withstand winds fairly well. George Will and George Hyde report:  “Flint corn is usually eight rowed, occasionally ten or twelve rowed; this species is high in protein and the grain is very hard and heavy.”

The Mandan also grew flour corn which is softer and lighter. It is largely composed of starch and is deficient in protein. The advance of this species of corn, however, was that it could be easily crushed or ground and it was much softer than the flint corn when eaten parched.

Squash was planted in late May or early June. To prepare the seeds for planting, they were first wetted, then placed on matted red-grass leaves and mixed with broad leaved sage. Buffalo skin was then folded over the squash bundle and it was then hung in the lodge to dry for two days. During this time the seeds would begin to sprout. The sprouted seeds were then planted in hills about four feet apart.

Immediately after planting the squash, the beans were planted in hills about two feet apart. The beans were often planted between the rows of corn. Five different varieties of beans were planted.

The village tribes stored their crops for winter in cache pits. These pits were shaped like a jug with a narrow neck at the top.  Among the Mandan, the storage pits would be from 6 to 8 feet deep. The cache would hold 20 to 30 bushels. They were lined with grass or woven plants to prevent spoilage from moisture.

In preparing the corn for storage the ears would be braided into strands. According to George Will and George Hyde:  “There was a standard size for these braids, the length being from knee down around the foot and up to the knee again.”  Once braided, the corn would be hung on the frame of the drying scaffold.

One of the popular ways of preparing the corn for eating was making corn balls. In one version of the corn balls, pounded sugar corn was mixed with grease. Another kind of corn ball was made using pounded corn, pounded sunflower seed, and boiled beans. It is reported that this tasted like peanut butter.

Hunting and Fishing:

 While the Mandan were a farming people, they supplemented their agricultural diet with buffalo meat. Along the Missouri River in North Dakota, tribes such as the Arikara, Mandan, and Hidatsa would “fish” for buffalo. In the fall, buffalo attempting to cross the thin ice on the river would fall through and drown. Their bodies were carried downstream and collected by the village tribes along the river. The meat from these animals was often well-aged—some Europeans would call it “high”—but the Indians enjoyed dining on buffalo that had been dead for months. Some nineteenth-century traders reported that the Indians were eating “fished” buffalo that were so rotten the flesh had to be scooped with a spoon.

The Mandan would also build corrals next to precipitous stream banks which were used to trap pronghorn antelope. The animals would be driven into the corral with men, women, and children jumping up and preventing the pronghorns from turning back. Once captured in the corral, the animals could be easily clubbed to death.

Fish were another source of protein. The Mandan used pens made out of willows as fish traps. These traps would be placed in the shallow waters near the edge of the stream and baited with rotten meat. During the summer months they would catch large quantities of catfish. Several species of catfish were taken: blue (Ictalurus furcatus) which weighed up to 100 pounds; flathead (Pylodictus olivaris) which was up to five feet long and could weigh up to 100 pounds; channel (Ictalurus punctatus) which seldom weighed more than 25 pounds; and the black bullhead (Ictalurus melas) which weighed two pounds or less.

American Indians in 1915

One hundred years ago, in 1915, most Indians were not citizens even though U.S. policies called for the full assimilation of Indians and the total destruction of the tribal lifestyles. At the same time, there were a number of prominent Indian voices—Indian people who were writing books, directing museums, and organizing Indian groups. Outlined below are some of the Indian events of 1915.

Federal Government:

 In the federal bureaucracy, the person most directly involved with Americans Indians was the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, a political appointment whose office was in the Department of the Interior. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs writes:  “I repudiate the suggestion that the Indian is a vanishing race. He should march side by side with the white man during all the years that are to come.”

 The Board of Indian Commissioners released a report showing that many Indian irrigation projects were actually operated to benefit non-Indians rather than Indians. With regard to irrigation projects on Montana reservations, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs reported:  “Careful consideration of the rights of the Flathead, Blackfeet, and Fort Peck Indians has convinced me that the conditions under which the cooperative irrigation work on these reservations has been done in the past is not for their best interest, and that its continuance would be a great injustice to the Indians.”

Blackfoot leaders Curly Bear, Wolf Plume, and Tail Feathers Coming Over The Hill visited Washington, D.C. to complain about the renaming of mountains, lakes, rivers, and glaciers in Glacier National Park in Montana. The Indians wanted Blackfoot names used and they were promised that in the future only Indian names or their translations would be used.

Hunting and Fishing Rights:

While many of the nineteenth century treaties with Indian nations contained sections in which the Indian nations explicitly retained their traditional fishing, hunting, and gathering rights, the states ignored these rights.

In Washington state, the government passed new fishing regulations which narrowly interpreted Indian treaty rights. Indians could fish off reservation without a license, but only if they were within five miles of the reservation boundary. Since the state of Washington did not recognize Indians as citizens, they are unable to get fishing licenses. It was not uncommon for Indians to be arrested for fishing at their traditional fishing sites.

Also in Washington, Alec Towessnute, a Yakama, was arrested for fishing at Prosser Falls, a usual and accustomed Yakama fishing place. It was, however, more than five miles from the reservation and Towessnute did not have a state license. A county judge ruled that he had a treaty right to fish without a license. The state appealed the case to the state supreme court.

In Washington, John Alexis, a Lummi elder, was arrested for fishing without a license and during a state closure. At his trial, testimony was provided regarding the treaty rights of the Point Elliot Treaty. The judge concluded that Alexis was subject to state law in spite of the treaty.

In Michigan, state and local officials began arresting and fining Ottawas for hunting and fishing without a license.


In New York, the Tepee Order of America was established by urban Indians to stress a common Indian experience. It was a secret, fraternal organization which was modeled after Freemasonry. Officers held titles such as Head Chief and Medicine Man.

In Kansas, the Society of American Indians (SAI) held their fifth annual conference with the theme “Responsibility for the Red Man.” Dr. Carlos Montezuma (Yavapai), in an address entitled “Let My People Go,” condemned the Bureau of Indian Affairs and called for the abolition of reservations. Over 25 tribes were represented at the conference.

The Boy Scouts of America incorporated more Indian lore into its program with the founding of the Order of the Arrow, a camping fraternity. Initiation into this fraternity involved Lenni Lenape legends.

In Washington, the Duwamish, a tribe not recognized by the federal government, are organized and select a board of directors. They were assisted by the Northwest Federation of American Indians.

Museums and Expositions:

In New York, the State Museum exhibited a series of six dioramas on Iroquois life created by Arthur Caswell Parker (Seneca). The dioramas provided illustrations of the various stages of cultural evolution as proposed by anthropologist Lewis Morgan. The dioramas were intended to educate the general public about American Indians.

In California, the Panama California Exposition was held in San Diego. The director of the American Institute of Archaeology in Santa Fe, New Mexico was hired to develop exhibits on the evolutionary progress of humans. Anthropologists from the Smithsonian Institution were consulted in preparing exhibits on physical evolution, cultural evolution, and the native races of the Americas. The Painted Desert exhibit, financed by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, included a Pueblo Indian village showing Indians living a simple hand-to-mouth existence. San Ildefonso potter Maria Martinez and her husband Julian conducted pottery demonstrations at the Exposition.


In Kansas, Winnebago educator Henry Roe Cloud opened the Roe Indian Institute as a college preparatory school for Indians. Henry Roe Cloud attended the Auburn Theological Seminary and had been ordained as a Presbyterian minister. He was inspired by a missionary couple, Walter and Mary Roe, and incorporated their name into his and initially used it for the name of his school. The school was later renamed the American Indian Institute.

In Arizona, the Hopi boarding school at Keams Canyon was judged to be in dangerous condition and was closed. The children were enrolled in reservation day schools.

President Wilson appointed Long Lance (Lumbee) to the military academy at West Point. The press picked up the fascinating story of the “full-blooded Cherokee” who was the first Indian appointed to the academy. Long Lance had not fully revealed his mixed blood heritage in his application. Long Lance later failed to pass his entrance exams (perhaps deliberately) and did not actually enter West Point.

Books and Art:

Dr. Charles Eastman (Sioux) published The Indian Today. Dr. Eastman wrote:  “It is the aim of this book to set forth the present status and outlook of the North American Indians.”

In a chapter entitled “The Indian in College and the Professions,” he wrote about Carlos Montezuma, a Yavapai physician whose practice was in Chicago:  “He stands uncompromisingly for the total abolition of the reservation systems and the Indian Bureau, holding that the red man must be allowed to work out his own salvation.”

Kiowa writer Joseph K. Griffis published Tahan: Out of Savagery, Into Civilization in which he wrote:  “The trouble is that so many of us go out in the world and pass as white men. At schools and college they are passing as white men until they try to forget they are a part of the Indian people.”

George Bird Grinnell’s The Fighting Cheyennes was published. Sherry Smith writes in The View from Officers’ Row: Army Perceptions of Western Indians:  “At a time when the vast majority of Anglo-Americans showed interest only in the army’s stories, Grinnell collected those from the other side of the battleline.”

James E. Fraser’s equestrian statue, “The End of the Trail,” was shown at the San Francisco Exposition. Flathead author D’Arcy McNickle, in his book Native American Tribalism: Indian Survivals and Renewals, wrote: “Reproductions in miniature of this doleful composition had wide distribution as parlor ornaments and carried into middle-class homes the idea that Indian destiny had run its course.”

In California, linguist Edward Sapir phonetically recorded six traditional Yahi tales told by Ishi.

In Washington, Thomas Bishop began recording Indian elders’ memories of U.S. treaty promises and comparing them to the text of the treaties. Historian Alexandra Harmon writes in her book Indians in the Making: Ethnic Relations and Indian Identities Around Puget Sound:  “Bishop’s stated aim was to educate officials who had either forgotten the treaty promises or ignored the troubles plaguing Indians sixty years later.”

Tourism and Sports:

In order to promote tourism in Montana’s Glacier National Park, the Great Northern Railway produced a movie entitled A Day in the Life of a Glacier Park Indian. The film is based on a successful Broadway play called The Redskin. The Great Northern Railway took six Blackfoot to the San Francisco Exhibition where they presented lectures, movies, and transparencies about Glacier National Park.

 In Wyoming, the residents of Lovell sought National Landmark status for the Big Horn Medicine Wheel (48BH302). They saw it as a means to attract tourists into the area and thus help develop the local economy.

The Cleveland professional baseball team changed its name to the Cleveland Indians to honor the memory of Louis Sockalexis.


In Oregon, Susan Waters, the daughter of a non-Indian named Martin Davis and an Indian woman named Jane, filed suit challenging the settlement of the Buford Davis estate. She claimed to be the legitimate offspring of a valid marriage and therefore entitled to a half portion of the Davis estates. While 15 witnesses testified that the marriage between a non-Indian man and an Indian woman was common in Oregon and that Davis was married to Jane, the court ruled against her.

Sacred Sites:

In Arizona, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Walnut Canyon as a national monument. The site contains many archaeological ruins, some pertaining to the Sinagua people.

States and Territories:

In Montana, a memorial to the Shoshone woman Sacajawea was erected at Armstead by the Montana State Organization of Daughters of the American Revolution.

The Alaska Territorial Legislature passed an act which allowed Indians to become citizens if they had: (1) severed tribal relationships; (2) adopted the habits of “civilization”; (3) passed an examination; (4) obtained endorsement from five non-Indian citizens; and (5) satisfied a district judge.

In Oklahoma, William W. Hastings (Cherokee) was elected to Congress.

Ancient Newfoundland and Labrador

The eastern Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador was not only the first area of North America encountered by Europeans, but it also had a long history of aboriginal occupation. The province includes one of Canada’s largest islands—Newfoundland—and the mainland area of Labrador. Described below are some of the archaeological sites which document the aboriginal settlement of the province.

By 6,000 BCE, native people had begun to occupy the rugged mountainous coastline area in Labrador.

In 5,580 BCE, the body of a twelve year old child was buried in a low artificial mound in Labrador. The body, covered in red ochre, was laid in a prone position with the head turned to the west. The grave was about three feet deep and was covered with earth and stones. Grave goods included stone and bone spear points, ochre and graphite stones with a pestle to grind them for making paint, a walrus tusk, a bone pendant, and a flute made from a bird bone.

In 5,300 BCE, on the present-day border between Quebec and Labrador, the body of an adolescent was laid face down between two fires. Around the body’s neck was a bone pendant and a whistle with three stops. A number of objects were placed next to the body: a walrus tusk, a harpoon, some stone and bone weapon points, three stone knives. In addition, red ochre, graphite pebbles, and an antler tine—materials needed to make the ochre into paint—were also buried with the adolescent. The grave was covered with a stone slab and two short rows of upright slabs were set up above the grave. These were then covered with sand and boulders to form a burial mound.

By 5,000 BCE, a way of life that archaeologists call the Maritime Archaic Tradition had developed in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador, and Maine. Subsistence activities focused on sea mammals such as seals (harp, ringed, harbor, gray, and bearded seals), walrus, porpoises, and whales. They were also taking fish and sea birds. In the southern Maritimes and New England they were harpooning swordfish.

The Maritime Archaic people were equally at home on the sea coast and the interior. During the early spring, the Maritime Archaic people were on or near the coast where they could easily take the sea mammals on the pack and landfast ice. In the summer, the sea mammals were less available, but the people stayed on the coast to fish—particularly for Atlantic salmon—and to take birds. At the first snow, they withdrew from the coast to inland hunting locations where they hunted caribou, moose, and elk.

With regard to the stone tools used by the Maritime Archaic people, archaeologist James Tuck, in his chapter in the Handbook of North American Indians, reports:  “Stone was manufactured into spears and lances as well as into axes, adzes, and gouges, which in turn bespeak a heavy woodworking industry, the products of which probably included frames for shelters, weapon and tool handles, boats, dugout canoes, and wooden bowls.”

Spirituality at this time included hunting magic (evidenced in the wearing of charms and amulets) and a well-developed burial ceremonialism. Burials involved the use of red ochre as well as many grave offerings. Graves tended to be oriented toward the east.

In 5,000 BCE, gravediggers in Labrador made a circular pit more than 30 feet in diameter at the L’Anse-Amour site near the Strait of Belle Isle. They placed the body of a child about 12-13 years old in the pit. In The Smithsonian Book of North American Indians: Before the Coming of the Europeans, Philip Kopper reports:  “They lit fires on either side of the body, which was covered with a flat rock and provided with knives or spear points of stone and polished bone; a cosmetic kit of red ochre, graphite paint stones and antler pestle to grind the paint; a walrus tusk; a bone pendant; a bird-bone whistle and a harpoon point. The grave was heaped with sand and then covered with three layers of boulders.”

In 3,350 BCE, Indian people established a coastal village at what is now called the Gould Site in Newfoundland. Their tool kit included gouges for woodworking, projectile points, and fish spears.

In 2,450 BCE, people living along the coast of Newfoundland began a practice of elaborate burials which included offerings of tools, animal bones, carved animal effigies, and small, white quartz pebbles. The offerings were covered in red ochre which would lead archaeologists to call them the Red Paint People. The offerings show that their economy and lifestyle was oriented toward the deep sea. Their tool kit included woodworking tools for making houses and boats, finely made bone and ivory fishhooks, harpoons, lances for hunting whales and walrus, and fish spears.

In 2,400 BCE, more than 100 people were buried at Port au Choix in Labrador. The burials included an equal ratio of men and women. In his book Prehistory of the Americas, Stuart Fiedel reports:  “The bodies had been coated with red ochre, and were provided with tools and ornaments.”

Among the grave offerings were ground slate bayonet points which may have been used for whale hunting. Other tools included harpoons, barbed bone fishing spears, and slate woodworking tools.  Stuart Fiedel also reports:  “The dead were also provided with daggers made of walrus ivory, caribou bone and antler, and with bone awls, needles, tubes, combs, hairpins, whistles, and pendants.”  Shell beads were sewn onto skin garments.

By 800 CE, the Point Revenge culture began to develop in Labrador. According to William Fitzhugh, in his chapter in Cultures in Contact: The European Impact on Native Cultural Institutions in Eastern North America, A.D. 1000-1800, these people “probably spoke a variety of Algonquian languages, used canoes rather than kayaks, painted their bodies and tools with red ocher, and hunted caribou in the interior during the winter and caught fish, birds, and seals on the coast during the summer.”

In making their stone tools, the Point Revenge people used Ramah chert which is found in Ramah Bay in northern Labrador. This chert was also traded to peoples to the south and is found in sites in Novia Scotia, New Brunswick, and New England.

In Labrador, the Late Dorset Eskimo began to establish themselves north of the Port Revenge cultures by 900 CE. According to William Fitzhugh:  “Late Dorset peoples inhabited coastal locations throughout the year and made use of the entire northern coast, including the region around Ramah Bay.”

Like the Point Revenge people, they were using Ramah chert for making their stone tools. Unlike the Point Revenge people, however, they used kayaks rather than canoes. They also had richly developed shamanistic and secular art traditions.

By 1,000 CE, Thule culture groups began to migrate into Labrador from Alaska. They were practicing a maritime adaptation which focused on hunting large marine mammals, particularly the bowhead whale. According to Susan Kaplan, in her chapter in Cultures in Contact: The European Impact on Native Cultural Institutions in Eastern North America, A.D. 1000-1800:  “The newcomers arrived with dog-drawn sleds, large skin boats (umiaks), and single-man boats (kayaks). With this equipment people and heavy gear could be transported long distances with speed.”

In the fall and winter, the people lived in small, subterranean houses built out of stone, sod, wood, and whale bone. During the whaling season, several settlements would pool their resources in a cooperative endeavor. In the fall, the people would hunt caribou using fences and drives. In the spring they would fish using stone weirs to entrap the fish.


Nakaidoklini, Apache Spiritual Leader

President Ulysses Grant established the San Carlos Indian Reservation in Arizona by Presidential Executive Order in 1872. The newly created reservation was a division of the White Mountain Apache Reservation and was intended for the Chiricahua Apache as well as other tribes. Under Grant’s Peace Policy, the Dutch Reformed Church was given charge of the reservation.

Americans generally have difficulty in distinguishing one Indian tribe from another.  With regard to the Apaches, the U.S. government had difficulty understanding that there were many distinct Apache tribes. There are six major divisions of the Apache: the Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Kiowa-Apache. The Western Apache include five groups: Cibecue, San Carlos, White Mountain, Northern Tonto, and Southern Tonto. The traditional homelands of the Chiricahua Apache are south of the Western Apache in the mountains of southeastern Arizona.

In Arizona a new religious movement arose in 1881 when a White Mountain Apache medicine man called Nakaidoklini talked to the Apaches about a new religion in which dead warriors would return to help the people drive the Americans from their territory. He taught his followers a new dance in which the dancers were arranged like the spokes on a wheel, facing inward.

Nakaidoklini announced that he would bring back two chiefs from the dead if the people gave him enough horses and blankets. When the dead chiefs failed to materialize, Nakaidoklini announced that they had refused to return because of the Americans and that they would return when the Americans were gone.

The United States sent soldiers with orders to arrest Nakaidoklini or to kill him, or both, for his teachings. Nakaidoklini quietly submitted to arrest. On the return journey, the troops were followed by many Apache. As the Apache moved closer, their faces painted, the frightened officer in charge of the soldiers ordered the Apaches to move back and shooting broke out. The Apache scouts who had been with the army also began firing on the soldiers. The officer ordered Nakaidoklini killed and a soldier shot Nakaidoklini at point blank range.

Some of Nakaidoklini’s followers later attacked Fort Apache, but were driven back. Others sought refuge with the Chiricahua Apache on the San Carlos Reservation. Chiricahua leaders, including Geronimo, became alarmed with the arrival of additional troops. There were rumors that the soldiers intended to arrest the chiefs and place them in leg irons. Three Chiricahua bands left the San Carlos Reservation and headed to Mexico.

The “rebel” bands, with 74 men and 300 women, included the Nednhi led by Chief Juh and Geronimo; the Chokonen led by Naiche (the son of Cochise), Chato, and Chihuahua; and the Bedonkohe led by Bonito. The Apaches who remained on the reservation, including 250 Chiricahuas, generally opposed the breakout.

Three of the scouts who turned on the troops – Sergeant Dandy Jim, Sergeant Dead Shot, and Corporal Skippy – were court-martialed, found guilty of mutiny, and hanged. Several others were sent to Alcatraz.

The “rebel” Chiricahua bands then began a series of raids which resulted in a prolonged campaign by General George Crook to “pacify” the Apaches.

Occupation of Paisley Caves in Oregon

The earliest period of human occupation in what is now Oregon is called the Paisley Period by archaeologists. The period, which is tentatively dated from about 15,700 years ago to 12,900 years ago, is named after the Paisley 5 Mile Point Caves site (35LK3400) near Summer Lake.

The Paisley Caves are located in the Summer Lake basin in south-central Oregon on the highest shoreline of pluvial Lake Chewaucan. The initial archaeology at the site was carried out during 1938 and 1940 by Luther Cressman and his students. In Cave 3, Cressman and his students found a U-shaped living area which had been cleared of stones and outlined with boulders which lay well below a layer of volcanic ash from Mount Mazama (the eruption which created Crater Lake). The Mount Mazama eruption would later be dated to 7,600 years ago.

At the time Cressman was working at Paisley Caves there were no precise chronometric methods for dating archaeological sites. One of the major advances in chronometric dating came with the development of radiocarbon dating. This dating method was developed in 1949 by Chicago chemist Willard Libby as a result of the Manhattan Project (i.e. the development of the atomic bomb during World War II). It is based on the principle that radioactive carbon in the atmosphere is absorbed by all living things. At death this absorption stops and a steady decay of carbon begins. Since the half-life of the radioactive carbon is known (5,568 years), measuring the amount of carbon remaining can determine the age of the material.

In Cave 3, Cressman and his students found the bones of Pleistocene camel, horse, bison, and waterfowl. While Cressman felt that these remains were associated with the human occupation of the site—that is, they had been killed and eaten by these early Indians—many archaeologists at the time were more than a little skeptical, feeling that human occupation of the Americas could not be this ancient.

From 2002 through 2010, new archaeological excavations were conducted at the Paisley Caves by the University of Oregon’s Northern Great Basin archaeological field school. As in the earlier study, the archaeologists found the bones of now-extinct Pleistocene camel and horse and were able to establish a direct link between these remains and the human occupation of the site. The cut marks on the bones of these ancient animals showed that they had been butchered by the Indian occupants of the site.

One of the features found in Cave 5 was a small pit containing camel, horse, mountain sheep, waterfowl, and fish bones. Called the “Bone Pit” by the archaeologists, the pit was covered by a stone slab. A second stone slab stood on end at the southern rim of the pit. Bones can be radiocarbon dated and the bones from inside the pit and near the pit returned dates ranging from 16,190 years ago to 13,030 years ago.

Also present in the cave were coprolites (dried feces). The coprolites were identified as human by DNA analysis and radiocarbon dated to 14,500 years ago. In the news report on this discovery, Tamara Stewart wrote in American Archaeology:   “Rather than the traditional view that first Americans entered the New World via the Bering Strait, these new findings suggest it is more likely that people came down the coast by boat or that they were south of the corridor before the Last Glacial Maximum closed the route.”

DNA from the coprolites shows that the occupants of the cave were Native Americans with close genetic ties to Siberian and Asian populations. Coprolites also provide direct evidence of prehistoric diets. One of the coprolites also gave chemical evidence that meat from bison, fox, and sage grouse had been consumed.

The stone tools at the site belong to the Western Stemmed Tradition. Obsidian hydration dating on some of the tools shows that they were made between 13,500 and 16,500 years ago. A protein residue analysis on a polished hand stone found near the “Bone Pit” showed that it had been used to process horse meat. In other words, this stone tool had been used for pounding or grinding dried horsemeat or had been used to crack open horse bones to extract the marrow.

In addition to stone tools, the site also contained bone tools, including a bear bone with saw-like teeth which was dated to 14,230 years ago.

In their book Oregon Archaeology, Melvin Aikens, Thomas Connolly, and Dennis Jenkins sum up the archaeological finds at the Paisley Caves:  “While one could wish there were more artifacts from the deepest and oldest deposits, it is abundantly clear that occupations at the Paisley Caves were always very brief, leaving behind only thin scatters of stone, bone, and fecal matter, of which little survived the depredations of illegal artifact mining to be recovered by archaeologists.”

With regard to the importance of the Paisley Caves site, Melvin Aikens, Thomas Connolly, and Dennis Jenkins write:  “In sum, the Paisley Caves site is extremely important because it is the first place in the New World that incontrovertible human traces—including human DNA in dried feces on the one hand, and obvious stone and bone artifacts on the other—have been directly dated in excess of 14,000 years ago.”

Indians 1815

Two hundred years ago, in 1815, the United States Senate ratified the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812. The treaty restored to all Indian nations all of the possessions, rights, and privileges which they had prior to the war. Robert Venables, in a chapter in American Indians/American Presidents: A History, reports:  “Under the Treaty of Ghent, for example, Andrew Jackson’s 1814 treaty with the Creeks should have been nullified and their ceded lands returned to them. But the Treaty of Ghent was ignored—and continued to be ignored in subsequent treaties with Indian people.”

 In Florida, the British withdrew their troops in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Ghent. However, when it became obvious that the Americans had no intention of honoring article 9 of the Treaty, which specified that the Indians would not lose any land, the British left a large supply of arms and ammunition behind for the Indians to use.

In Missouri, territorial governor and Indian superintendent William Clark announced that the intrusion of non-Indians onto Indian lands would no longer be permitted. He says:  “Our government, founded in justice will effectually extend its protection to the Native inhabitants within its limits.”

Clark also announced that the militia would evict trespassing non-Indians. Echoing Clark, President James Madison denounced intrusions and asserted that  “premature occupancy of the public lands can be viewed only as an invasion of the sovereign rights of the United States.”


Two hundred years ago, the United States, following the Constitution, dealt with Indian tribes as sovereign nations and negotiated treaties with them.

In Nebraska, Hard Heart (Wy-in-wah-hu) and 17 other Iowa chiefs signed a peace treaty with the United States. The treaty: (1) granted mutual forgiveness for acts of hostility and injury, (2) established peace between the Iowa and the United States, (3) returned all prisoners, and (4) stated that all previous treaties and agreements should be recognized.

 In Nebraska, the Omaha, who had become dependent on the British for trade, signed a new treaty with the United States which reestablished peace between the two nations. Under the terms of the treaty, the Omaha put themselves under the protection of the United States. Big Elk and six other Omaha chiefs signed the treaty. Big Elk was the grandson of the Omaha chief Black Bird.

In St. Louis, Missouri, the Potawatomi and the Piankashaw signed a treaty in which they agreed to give up two tracts of land in Illinois.

In Missouri, the Fox, Kickapoo, and Iowa signed peace treaties with the United States.


 In Missouri, William Clark convened the first great Indian council held west of the Mississippi. At Portage des Sioux some 2,000 representatives met for several weeks of treaty-making. With the end of the War of 1812, the purpose of the council was to put an end to hostilities with all Indians with whom the United States might be at war. Landon Jones describes the scene:  “The U.S. regulars had lined up their one hundred tents in precise rows on the prairie. Surrounding them was a hodgepodge of dwellings and canoes of the Native Americans, each reflecting their distinct tribal traditions.”

Clark began by addressing each of the tribes separately. He stressed that the United States wished to bury the tomahawk and forget past transgressions. The Shawnee, Delaware, Sioux, and Omaha, applauded his words.

None of the major Sauk chiefs, such as Keokuk and Black Hawk, attended the council.

The Sioux chief Black Buffalo suddenly died at the council. The American soldiers gave him a full military funeral and thus eased the apprehensions that his death might be a bad omen.  Omaha chief Big Elk delivered the eulogy:  “Death will come, and always comes out of season. It is the command of the Great Spirit, and all nations and people must obey.”

In Missouri, Western Cherokee leader Tahlonteskee met with Governor William Clark. The Cherokee asked for help in stopping the conflict with the Osage. They asked for U.S. troops to provide protection from both the Osage and from non-Indian settlers. Of particular concern to the Cherokee were the Osage under the leadership of Clermont.

In Michigan, the Americans held a council with the Shawnee, Wyandot, Seneca, and Delaware. The Shawnee prophet Tenskwatawa, who was living in exile in Canada, attended and promised that his people wished to be at peace with the Americans. The Americans, however, were determined to destroy any influence which Tenskwatawa might have. They insisted that if he were to come back to the United States, he would not be allowed to establish a separate village, but would be required to live in the village of his old rival, Black Hoof. Angry, Tenskwatawa left the conference and returned to Canada.


In Illinois, Kickapoo warrior Kennekuk had a vision in which the Great Spirit spoke to him. He began to preach a message of pacifism and accommodation with the Americans. He was ostracized by the Kickapoo and went into exile, establishing a village on the Vermillion River. About 250 Kickapoo joined him at his new village.

In California, the Franciscans at the Santa Cruz mission began recruiting Yokut from the San Joaquín Valley.

In California, the Catholic priest at La Purísima Concepción ordered Timiyaquat, a Chumash tomol (canoe) captain, to take 30 tomols to San Miguel Island and remove all of the Indians from the Island. The tomols, however, were met by a raging storm and all but three were lost.

Emissaries from the Onondaga Nation, one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, asked the Seneca prophet Handsome Lake to bring his message to their people. Shortly after this, Handsome Lake had a vision in which he was advised by three messengers that it was his duty to go to the Onondaga, but that he would meet four messengers who would lead him on the Sky Trail. The Seneca begged him not to go, but he set out for the Onondaga Nation anyway. Near Syracuse, New York, he became very ill and weak. Following his vision, he died.


In Oregon, the North West Company decided to send trapping parties south to California and east toward the Rockies. They established Fort Nez Perce where the Walla Walla River joins the Columbia River as the hub of this operation.

 In Oklahoma, a group of American traders made a settlement on Pecan Point on the Red River. The Caddo complained to their Indian agent about this unauthorized intrusion on their lands. The location of the settlement interfered with buffalo attempting to cross the river.


Several hundred Shawnee and Delaware left the United States and moved to Texas where they were welcomed by the Spanish as a barrier against the Americans. This group became known as the Absentee Shawnee.


In Missouri, the Shawnee who were living in the Cape Girardeau area complained to Governor William Clark that the American settlers were stealing their horses.


In Lincoln County, Missouri, fifty Sauk warriors under the leadership of Black Hawk killed four American rangers. The Americans counterattacked and the warriors barricaded themselves in a sinkhole. Here they successfully defended themselves.

Alaska Before 6000 BCE

Archaeologists usually classify the period between 25,000 BCE and 6,000 BCE in Alaska as Stage 1, an era in which the first evidence of human habitation occurs. During much of this time, much of North America was under glacial ice and the sea levels were much lower. In the lower forty-eight states of the U.S., the time period known as the Archaic begins about 6,000 BCE. By 5,000 BCE, the ice had retreated and the sea levels had risen to approximately their current levels.

In general, the archaeological data for human occupation during this time tends to be scarce. Don Dumond, in a chapter in the Handbook of North American Indians, summarizes the data:  “Excepting some few bone artifacts that can be placed only inferentially within a wider cultural context, debris that is of clearly attested antiquity and of absolutely indisputable human origin is almost totally confined to stone assemblages that are largely composed of products of the plentiful production of microblades and blades from cores of a certain variety in size and shape, but with some significant portion of the blades pressed or struck from well-formed cores of carefully constructed wedge shape.”

Microblades are fairly small stone blades which are usually placed in a wooden or bone handle to form a spearpoint, knife, or other cutting tool. Overall, the stone tools from this time are similar to those found in Siberia from the same time period.

Listed below are a few of the archaeological sites in Alaska from this time period.

By 13,000 BCE, people were occupying the Trail Creek Caves on the Seward Peninsula. They were hunting bison and horses. In order to prevent their dogs from damaging the animal hides while hunting, they broke the canine teeth. At this time, Alaska was still connected to Asia by the Bering Land Bridge.

By 12,000 BCE, Indian people were occupying the Swan Point site in the Tanana Valley. With regard to artifacts, they were using microblades.

In 11,600 BCE, Indian people were using the Mesa site.

By 9,800 BCE people were occupying sites in the Nenana and Tanana River Valleys. They were making fluted projectile points, bifaces, and unifacial end and side scrapers. They were hunting mammoths as well as other now-extinct Ice Age mammals.  They were also eating cranes, ducks, swans, wild geese, beaver, squirrel, and caribou. At the Broken Mammoth site, Indian people had a microblade industry.

With regard to the now discredited idea that Clovis people were the first Americans, anthropologist James Dixon, in his Bones, Boats, and Bison: Archeology and the First Colonization of Western North America, writes:  “The differences between the type of artifacts from these sites and Clovis sites to the south suggest to some archeologists that these early sites are not directly related.”

Some anthropologists consider the Nenana industry in Alaska to be similar to the Upper Paleolithic industries which are found in Siberia.

In 9,710 BCE, Indian people at the Swan Point site in the Tanana Valley were making a variety of stone tools, including microblades, dihedral burins, pebble hammers, and split quartz pebble tools. They were also shaping mammoth ivory.

In 9,710 BCE, Indian people at the Spein Mountain site were using lanceolate points which resembled the points at the Mesa site.

By 9,660 BCE, Indian people had re-occupied the Mesa site on the north side of Brooks Range. Among the tools being used at this time were lanceolate projectile points, thin bifaces used as knives, and hammer and anvil stones. Most of the projectile points—80%—were bifaces. The projectile points have a concave base with some thinning, although this is not true fluting, and they have heavily ground proximal edges and bases.

Some anthropologists feel that the Mesa Complex tools are similar in technology to the Agate Basin and Hell Gap points which are found on the High Plains of the Lower Forty-Eight and Canada. However, the Mesa Complex points have concave bases which are like the Goshen and Plainview points, which are also found primarily in the Lower Forty-Eight.

In 9,500 BCE, Indian people at the Upper Sun River site had a subsistence pattern which included fish, birds, and small game. They occupied a seasonal semisubterranean house at the site in the summer. A three-year-old child—dubbed Xaasaa Cheege Ts’eniin (Upward Sun River Mouth Child, in Athabascan) was buried at the site.

In 9,470 BCE, Indian people began to occupy the Putu site on the north flank of the Brooks Range. They were using both fluted and non-fluted points. The fluted points were made from obsidian and chert. They were also using burins and flakes similar to the Denali complex.

In 9,470 BCE, Indian people began to occupy the Healy Lake Village site in the Tanana Valley.

In 9,000 BCE, people using a microblade tradition reached the western portion of the state from Asia. Archaeologist Stuart Fiedel, in his Prehistory of the Americas, reports:  “The Paleo-arctic tradition was clearly derived from northeastern Asia, where similar microblades, struck from small wedge-shaped cores, were present in the Dyuktai culture of Siberia by 14,000 B.C., and were used in northern Japan by 8,000 B.C.”

In 9,000 BCE, people using the Chindadn tool complex were using the Dry Creek site in the Nenana River Valley.

In 8,740 BCE, people using microblades occupied the Dry Lake site. Their tool kit included burinated flakes, lake biface blades and smaller bifaces that were used as knives.

In 8,343 BCE, Indian people were now occupying the Hidden Falls site on Baranoff Island. The people were using a microblade technology.

In 8,300 BCE, Indian people occupied the Broken Mammoth site. They were hunting bison, elk, river otter, Dall sheep, porcupine, ground squirrel, marmot, red squirrel, goose, duck, and ptarmigan. They were also involved in fishing.

By 8,320 BCE Indian people were living at Ground Hog Bay in southeastern Alaska.

In the interior of Alaska, Indian people occupied the Panguingue Creek site by 8,200 BCE. They were using lanceolate projectile points.

In 8,050 BCE, Indian people began to occupy the Spein Mountain site east of the present-day town of Bethel. At this time there were no trees in the region.

In 7,907 BCE, the Akmak site was occupied. The stone tools included end scrapers, gouges, knives, and shaft straighteners. Douglas Anderson, in the Handbook of North American Indians, writes:  “Narrow grooved shaft straighteners of basalt suggest that bows and arrows were used.”

The microblades at the site were of a type found in sites in Siberia, Mongolia, Japan, and central Alaska. Douglas Anderson writes:   “During the last centuries of the Bering land bridge and for several millennia afterward, Arctic groups throughout eastern Siberia and Alaska must have remained part of a broad interaction network.”

Akmak was a dwelling site. Douglas Anderson writes:  “The Akmak people who used the site carried out a wide range of activities including hide preparation, butchering, carving on hard and soft materials (perhaps on ivory), planing, chopping, and the manufacture of weapons. Stone tools apparently were finished and resharpened at the site but were blocked out or made elsewhere.”

In 7,700 BCE, Indian people at the Onion Portage site were using the Akmak assemblage which includes microblades.

In southeastern Alaska by 7,500 BCE, Indian people were engaged in a coastal marine subsistence pattern which includes fishing and the gathering of shellfish. Almost all of the diet was based on marine foods. With regard to On-Your-Knees Cave (49-PET-408), anthropologist James Dixon writes:  “Discoveries at this site inferentially demonstrate that humans living along the coast of Southeast Alaska were using watercraft, were primarily dependent on marine foods, had established trade networks, and were capable of intercoastal navigation by 9,200 B.P.”  (note: B.P. means “before present,” which means before 1950—when radiocarbon dating began. B.C.E. means “before current era.”)

The DNA from the remains of one individual in the cave carries markers which were found in people living on Siberia’s Chukotka peninsula.

Indian people with a maritime economy were living on Prince of Wales Island off the coast of Alaska by 7,200 BCE. The obsidian for the microblade tools which they were using comes from Mount Edziza, which is on the mainland about 120 miles away.

By this time, the trading of obsidian and quartz crystals by watercraft routes was widespread along the northwestern Pacific Coast from the Queen Charlotte Islands to southeast Alaska.

In 7,120 BCE, the Indian people using the Trail Creek caves had a microblade technology. The caves at this time were serving as shelter and a lookout for caribou hunters.

Indian people using microblades were living on Baranoff Island in southern Alaska by 7,110 BCEE.

The tiny southern Aleutian island of Anangula was occupied by 6,750 BCE. Philip Kopper, in The Smithsonian Book of North American Indians: Before the Coming of the Europeans, reports:  “The place was virtually barren of vegetation—no trees and only a few berries and greens in summer, together with indigestible grasses. Fish, shellfish, birds, and sea mammals sustained the people.”   Kopper also reports:  “In Anangula the houses were small, oval, semi-subterranean structures with frames of driftwood covered with matting and live sod rooted in an insulating layer of earth.”

About 75 people lived on the island. The village was not a seasonal camp, but was permanently occupied.

The stone technology is a core and blade tradition which looks like it was strongly influenced by the stone technology of northeastern Asia. Allen McCartney, in the Handbook of North American Indians, writes:  “The Anangula core and blade assemblage is the oldest known evidence of human occupation in the Aleutian chain.”  McCartney also reports:  “The Anangula assemblage is dominated by small to large blades struck from polyhedral cores of wedge and other shapes, and flakes and platform tablets from this manufacturing technique.”

At the time of first occupation, Anangula appears to have been an island which means that the first inhabitants would have had to have boats. Allen McCartney writes:  “The location on the Bering Sea coast, of course, suggests that Anangula people were marine-oriented, but there is no direct evidence that they possessed boats or the degree of maritime expertise expressed by later Aleuts.”

In the interior of Alaska, Indian people were using the Carlo Creek site in the Nenana River Valley as a fall and winter hunting camp by 6500 BCE. They were hunting caribou, sheep, and ground squirrel.

In 6,500 BCE, Indian people at the Goldstream Creek site near the present-day town of Fox were using bone projectile points. According to anthropologist James Dixon:  “Similar large bone projectile points, possibly atlatl dart points, may have been an important component of Northern Paleoindian tradition weapon systems.”

In 6,500 BCE, Kobuk complex hunters were using campsites along the edges of the Kobuk River. Douglas Anderson writes:  “The ancient hunters made camp fires of willow branches and, in some cases, of caribou bone. Their fires were relatively small and frequently did not get hot enough to oxidize the moist sand upon which the fires were built.”

The tiny southern Aleutian island of Anangula was abandoned when volcanic ash blanketed the island in 6,250 BCE.

 Indian people in southeastern Alaska were using a variety of stone tools, including microblades, anvil stones, hammerstones, and whetstones by 6,230 BCE. They were gathering shellfish, including horse clam and sea urchin. They were hunting seals, sea lions, and beaver.


Eschiti, Comanche Medicineman

The Comanche held a Sun Dance in Oklahoma in 1874. This was not a traditional ceremony, but was one they had borrowed from the Cheyenne. The Sun Dance coincided with the emergence of a new medicine man, Eschiti (Coyote Droppings; also spelled Esa-tai). Bill Neeley, in his book The Last Comanche Chief: The Life and Times of Quanah Parker, describes him this way:  “He wore no buffalo skull cap or ceremonial mask, as did most of the older medicine men, but was attired only in breechclout and moccasins and a wide sash of red cloth around his waist. From his hair protruded a red-tipped hawk’s feather, and from each ear hung a snake rattle.”

Eschiti had been given strong powers in a vision quest. Eschiti had ascended to the home of the Great Spirit, a place which is far above the Christian Heaven. It was reported that he was capable of vomiting up all the cartridges which might be needed for any gun; that he could raise the dead; that he was bulletproof and could make others bulletproof; that he could control the weather. His messianic message to the people was that he was sent by the Great Spirit to deliver them from oppression.

Later that year, in the panhandle of Texas, buffalo hunters armed with high powered telescopic rifles capable of killing buffalo at 600 yards, set up camp at the abandoned trading post of Adobe Walls. The camp was attacked by a war party of about 300 warriors made up of Comanche, Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Arapaho. War party leaders include Tabananaka, Wild Horse, Mowaway, Black Beard, and a rising new leader, Quanah. The Indians were confident that Eschiti’s power would render the hunters’ guns useless. Eschiti warned the warriors not to kill a skunk on their way to Adobe Walls. According to Eschiti’s vision, the hunters would be asleep and would not be able to use their big guns.

Just as the war party prepared to attack the sleeping buffalo hunters, there was a loud crack which woke them up. The hunters, fearing that the ridge pole had snapped, were suddenly awake and scrambling around. The hunters settled down for the siege, and with plenty of ammunition and good marksmanship, they repelled the war party.

Eschiti attributed the failure of his medicine to a member of the war party violating a taboo by killing a skunk. Apparently some of the Cheyenne warriors had killed a skunk, which was not unusual since skunk meat was often a favorite of the Southern Plains Indians.

This second battle of Adobe Walls began an Indian war known as the Red River War or the Buffalo War. Army troops were called in to capture the war party, but movement was hampered by drought and by temperatures well over 100 degrees. Eschiti took credit for arranging the weather. The troops, however, were relentless and managed to destroy lodges and capture horses.

In the battle of Palo Duro Canyon, the Cavalry scattered the warriors under the command of Iron Shirt (Cheyenne), Poor Buffalo (Comanche), and Lone Wolf (Kiowa). There were few casualties, but the Americans killed more than 1,000 horses and destroyed the Indians’ winter food supply.

The Red River War was the last major conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and the U.S. Army. Historian Herman Viola, in his book Warrior Artists: Historic Cheyenne and Kiowa Indian Ledger Art, writes:  “The Red River War marked a last desperate and hopeless resistance to the new order.”

With the end of the war and the failure of his medicine, Eschiti faded into obscurity.


Indian Events of 1615

Four hundred years ago, in 1615, the European invasion of North America was in its infancy. Contact between the Indian nations and the Europeans was largely in the form of explorers, missionaries, and fur traders. The Europeans found that the Indian nations were diverse in their languages, cultures, and religions. Similarly, there were significant differences among the European nations with regard to their perception of the Indians and their land. In general, the French tended to view Indians as potential trading partners; the Spanish viewed Indians as a potential labor force; and the English often saw them as wild animals to be exterminated. While the Spanish debated about the moral and legal rights of the Indians, the English had no interest in Indian rights; Indian people were simply inconvenient occupants of land desired by the English.

The French, unlike the English and the Spanish, saw Indians as trading partners. The French saw that their best opportunity for economic gain was to be found in the fur trade in which their Native American trading partners would retain their autonomy and provide them with furs. The French explorers quickly established trading relations with the Native nations. From the beginning, the French were willing to learn from their Indian trading partners. Conrad Heidenreich, in his chapter on early French exploration in North American Exploration, writes:  “The French obtained geographical information from natives, hired them as guides, traveled with natives, lived among them, and learned from them.”

The early French explorers sought to stake out French territorial claims in North America and to determine the nature of exploitable natural resources, such as furs and minerals.


 In Ontario, French explorer Samuel de Champlain ignored Huron stories of Nipissing sorcery and visited one of the Nipissing villages. The Hurons discouraged contact with the Nipissing as they wanted to monopolize trade with the French.

Champlain then traveled to the Huron village near present-day La Fontaine. The village had triple palisades which are 35 feet high. The Huron warriors who were to accompany him were not there, so he journeyed on to the village of Cahiagué which had more than 200 longhouses.

The French party then visited Indians which they called Cheveux Relevées (High Hairs) because their hair was combed to stand very high. These were the Ottawa.

Champlain noted that the Iroquois-speaking people who lived near the western end of Lake Ontario were not involved with the conflicts between the Iroquois and the Huron. For this reason, the Europeans called this group Neutral. The Huron called them Atiouandaronk.

In Quebec, the French under Samuel de Champlain aided a joint Huron and Algonquin raiding party against the Iroquois. The joint war party attacked an Onondaga village. Conrad Heidenreich, in a chapter in the book North American Exploration, reports:  “After attacking the village and laying siege to it for six days, the army withdrew to the Huron country the way they had come.”

While Champlain viewed the war as a total failure, it did result in a French-Huron alliance.

The French explorer Champlain crossed into New York with a party of Huron warriors. They captured three Iroquois men, four women, three boys, and a girl. Champlain complained when the Huron cut off one of the women’s fingers as a demonstration of the torture that lay ahead. Because of the French concerns, the Huron agreed not to torture the women.

The French-Huron party attacked an Iroquois fort near present-day Fenner, New York. After the initial attack, the Huron warriors withdrew. Champlain convinced the warriors to build large wooden shields for protection, and a large, moveable platform which overlooked the Iroquois palisades. While the plan had initial success the Huron warriors, unused to the discipline expected by European military leaders, broke ranks and attempted to set fire to the palisades. The Iroquois, however, simply poured water into the troughs which formed their fire defense system and the fires were quickly extinguished. Champlain was hit twice by arrows and was severely wounded. The Huron retreated carrying their wounded, including Champlain, in improvised baskets.

In New York, the Susquehannock sent 500 warriors to aid Samuel de Champlain in his war against the Iroquois. The warriors arrived two days after Champlain and his Huron allies had retreated. The Susquehannock warriors returned home without engaging in battle.

In Maryland, English explorers were welcomed with the sacred pipe. One of the Englishmen, Father Andrew D. White would later write of the ceremony:  “each one smoking it breathes over the several members of his body and consecrates them.”

In Maryland, the colonial policy was to enter into formal treaties with the Indians. If the tribes placed themselves under the protection of the colonial government, they would receive guarantees for reserved lands as well as hunting and fishing rights. The tribes, however, also had to pay the colony an annual tribute, return any fugitive slaves and servants, and have their chiefs confirmed by the governor.

Etienne Brulé met a group of Erie near Niagara Falls, New York. This would be the only known encounter between this group and the Europeans. At this time, the Erie were in an alliance with the Neutrals and the Wenro against the Iroquois.


In Quebec, four Récollet missionaries arrived to work among tribes operating trade networks with the Huron. For the most part, the missionaries stayed in Quebec and ministered the Montagnais. The Récollets are a reform branch of the Franciscans. With regard to their impact on the Indians, historian Matthew Dennis, in his book Cultivating a Landscape of Peace: Iroquois-European Encounters in Seventeenth-Century America, writes:  “But the mendicant Recollets lacked the necessary resources, seemed ill-suited to this missionary work, and were too few to make a large impact.”


In Spain, Fray Juan de Torquemada wrote Monarchia Indiana in which he mentions the Pueblo fetishes as well as the Spanish names of the Pueblos. Archaeologist Adolph Bandelier, in his 1910 monograph Documentary History of the Rio Grande Pueblos of New Mexico, notes:  “Torquemada himself was never in New Mexico, but he stood high in the Franciscan Order and had full access to the correspondence and to all other papers submitted from outside missions during his time.”

Indian Events:

 In Maine, the Micmac captured and killed the Penobscot Sachem Bashaba, thus putting an end to the war which started in 1610. Following this victory, Micmac warriors raided down the coast of Maine and into Massachusetts.

In North Dakota, the Mandan established a village at the Larson site north of present-day Bismarck.

The Indian Wars of 1915

By the end of the nineteenth century, it was commonly believed by scholars, politicians, and the general public that Indians were destined to disappear. In the twentieth century, many scholars continued to write as though Indians did, in fact, disappear by the twentieth century. Since there weren’t supposed to be any Indians in the twentieth century, there weren’t supposed to be any Indian wars in the twentieth century. Yet there are many incidents involving military action against Indians, as well as the actions of volunteer groups and law enforcement agencies against Indians that can be considered to be Indian “wars” similar to those of the nineteenth century. Briefly described below are some of the Indian “wars” of 1915.

While the army often ignored due process of law when dealing with Indians, there are cases in which the army did attempt to see due process carried out. In 1915, a Mexican sheepherder was murdered in Colorado and popular opinion assumed that he had been killed by an Indian. The court of public opinion blamed Tsenegar (Tse-ne-gat), a Ute Indian, for the death. Subsequently a posse of 26 cowboys crossed into Utah and surrounded the Ute camp of Old Polk. Their supposed goal was to capture Tsenegar who was rumored to be in Old Polk’s group. The cowboys, who were drunk at the time, began firing into the camp with no warning. The Indians had no idea who these men were, nor why they were shooting at them. The posse did not identify itself nor did it ask for Tsenegar. The Indian response was to fire back to distract the cowboys and then to slip away. When the smoked cleared, there were dead on both sides and the Ute had vanished.

In response to this incident, non-Indians began to raise a cry about an “Indian uprising” and to ask for military help. In the meantime, the marshal sent out word that all Indians in the area were to come into Blanding, Utah and surrender. One group of Ute teenagers—Havane, Ute Jack, Noland May, Jack Rabbit Soldier, and Joe Hammans—who had nothing to do with the shootout at Old Polk’s camp–walked into Blanding and gave themselves up. Even though they were innocent of any crime except for being Indian, they were handcuffed and imprisoned under armed guard at the Zion Co-op Store.

Because of the anti-Indian sentiment at this time, the military forcibly removed 160 Ute from their Utah homelands and resettled them on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation in Colorado.

To capture Tsenegar and Old Polk, the military recruited Bi-joshii, a Navajo medicine man. Bi-joshii made contact with Old Polk and Tsenegar. Through the efforts of trader John Wetherhill and his Navajo wife Slim Woman, the Ute “outlaws” peacefully surrendered to General Hugh Scott. According to General Scott:  “My problem was to prevent those four Indians from being legally murdered. White men had been killed and the trial would be in the hands of white men, possibly prejudiced against the Indian, whose land incidentally was wanted.”  General Scott later wrote:  “I believed that the white man had been the aggressor, but this could be proved only by Indian witnesses whose word would not be taken against that of a white man.”

Tsenegar was tried for murder in Denver, Colorado. Concerned about preserving the image of fairness in this case, the judge appointed leading members of the bar to present Tsenegar’s defense. In court, Tsenegar dressed in a gray flannel suit with a red necktie and a red flower in his buttonhole. He wore moccasins and a white felt cowboy hat. One breast was covered with dime store medals and on the other he wore a miniature United States flag.

The first witness for the government was John Miller, a Ute. As the witness began to be sworn, the defense attorney objected, claiming that the oath was not binding on a non-Christian. The judge overruled the objection. After seven hours of deliberation the jury found Tsenegar not guilty. With regard to the non-Indian response in Utah, Robert McPherson, in an article in the Utah Historical Quarterly, reports:  “Much to the chagrin of the Blanding people, he was acquitted in the courtroom, dined in the best restaurants, and revered as a noble Indian. Infuriated by these developments, the white vowed silently that the next time a serious fight started, there would be a different ending.”

In Utah, a group of Ute encountered a group of cowboys from the KT outfit in Montezuma Canyon. The cowboys had just killed a cow for supper and the Indians, knowing that there would be meat left over, asked for some. The foreman told them:  “Yes, we leave it for the coyotes and the skunks. We think more of them than of you”

The Indians left, and then shot one of the KT cows for supper. Historian Robert McPherson, in article in the Utah Historical Quarterly, reports:  “Most of the men in the cow camp approved of what the Utes had done and believed that the foreman was too scared to say anything to the Indians.”

William Weatherford, Red Stick Leader

The designation “Creek” is a European concept which emerged during the eighteenth century to designate the Indian people who were living along the creeks and rivers in Alabama, Georgia, and northern Florida. While these people have a cultural continuity which reaches back to the mound building cultures of this area, the concept of a Creek “Nation” or “Confederacy” is something which did not emerge until after the European invasion. In reality, the Creek were several autonomous groups. The aboriginal homeland of the Kosatis had been in the Tennessee River Valley, but in the late seventeenth century, they fled their homeland and joined the Creek confederacy in Alabama to gain protection against Indian slavers.

The Kosatis, like other Indian nations in the Southeast were matrilineal. This meant that each person was born into the mother’s clan. Thus in 1781 (some sources list 1780), William Weatherford, also known as Red Eagle, was born into the Creek Wind Clan. His mother was Sehoy III, the half-sister to Creek leader Alexander McGillivray. His father was Charles Weatherford, a trader who is described as being “of partial Indian descent.”  When the Creek National Council voted in 1798 to expel traders, Charles Weatherford was exempt due to the influence of the Wind Clan. However, by 1799 he had left his family.

Divorce was common among the Creeks and since clan relationships were more important than those of the nuclear family, it was rarely traumatic to children. Sehoy was a successful and wealthy businesswoman who owned about 30 slaves. With regard to her son, Christina Snyder, in her book Slavery in Indian Country, writes:  “William excelled at the Creek masculine arts of hunting and stickball, and his reputation as an eloquent speaker may have been what prompted his contemporaries to dub him ‘Truth Teller.’”

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. Christina Snyder writes:  “Despite his upbringing, William likely believed, as other Red Sticks did, that the Creek Nation’s turn toward plantation agriculture, political centralization, and racial slavery was misguided.”

William Weatherford (Red Eagle) and his warriors attacked Fort Mims on the Alabama River. Weatherford’s force has been estimated at 1,000 warriors. Here the Red Sticks killed about 400 non-Indians (some sources indicate that they killed as many as 500) 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.

At the Battle of the Holy Ground, American troops attacked the Red Stick village of Econochaca on the Alabama River. Pursued by the Americans, Weatherford, riding his grey horse Arrow, charged off a high bluff and landed safely in the river some 20 feet below.

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.

Following the Red Stick War, William Weatherford, with the help of his Wind Clan relatives, established a large plantation in southern Alabama and assumed the lifestyle of a wealthy planter. During this time, he would often stop to eat at a wayside tavern run by Mrs. William Boyles. One evening four strangers entered the tavern and sat at Weatherford’s table. Not knowing who he was, the strangers began talking about wanting to find that “bloody savage, Billy Weatherford.” They were probably more than a little surprised when the man at their table said:  “Some of you gentlemen expressed a wish while at dinner to meet Billy Weatherford. Gentlemen, I am Billy Weatherford, at your service!”  One of the strangers timidly shook his hand while the others simply looked frightened.

William Weatherford died in 1824. Christina Synder writes:  “William Weatherford was a planter and slaveholder, and by right of matrilineal descent reckoning, he was also unequivocally a Creek Indian who hunted, warred, and traded as his ancestors had for centuries. Without contradiction, he lived as both warrior Truth Teller and gentlemen planter Billy Weatherford.”


Aztec Metalwork

The concept of working with metal to fashion ornaments and tools did not originate in Mesoamerica but seems to have diffused into the region sometime in the seventh century from the south—Panama, coastal Ecuador, or Peru. Metal working seems to have diffused initially into West Mexico through maritime trade. According to Dorothy Hosler, writing in The Oxford Companion to Archaeology:  “These maritime traders primarily transmitted technical knowledge, although they sometimes traded artifacts, which were then copied using local materials.”

As a result of this diffusion of knowledge, the Mexican metalworkers and artisans developed their own distinctive artistic and aesthetic style. This style emphasized the symbolic possibilities of metal.

From West Mexico, metalworking diffused to the east and was present in the Valley of Mexico by the eleventh century. By the time the Aztecs rose to power in the Valley of Mexico in the fourteenth century, metalworking was well-established among the Mesoamerican civilizations.

The technology of alloying tin or lead with copper was unknown in the Valley of Mexico, so the Aztec metalworkers worked with soft, lustrous metals such as copper, gold, and silver. None of these metals were found in the Valley of Mexico and had to be imported from distant areas.

Metal smiths melted copper and gold nuggets in fairly simply charcoal-fired furnaces. In order to maintain high and even heat in the furnaces, relays of workers would blow through a tube to provide air to the flames.

Aztec society was highly stratified with groups of artisans living in their own residential quarters. Archaeologist Brian Fagan, in his book The Aztecs, writes:  “This close-knit residence pattern enabled the artisans to organize their own people in ranked guilds and to train their successors in organized apprenticeships.”

The metalworkers were ranked among the highest of the artisan guilds and the products which they created were reserved almost exclusively for the nobility. These products included necklaces, ear plugs, masks featuring animals and humans, plaques, and other ornaments. Brian Fagan also reports:  “The ruler restricted the privilege of wearing gold and silver ornaments so carefully that many metal-workers enjoyed a special relationship with the palace.”

Some objects were created using a lost wax technique in which the artisan would first create a mold using ground charcoal and clay. This likeness would then be covered with a skin of melted beeswax and then the entire object encased in a shell of ground charcoal and clay. After drying thoroughly, the mold would be heated so that the beeswax would flow out of special holes. The molten gold or silver would be poured in to replace the beeswax. When completed, the artisan would have a fine duplicate in gold or silver of the original prototype. In extracting the final product, the mold would be smashed and thus each object would be unique.

Relatively little Aztec gold and silver artwork exists today. The Spanish were more interested in the metal than in the art, so they simply melted it down.

The Avonlea Complex

The common stereotype of Plains Indians sees them as horse-mounted buffalo hunters. The reality is, of course, that Plains Indians did not adopt the horse and its equestrian lifestyle until the eighteenth century. There were, however, bison hunting Indian peoples long before the arrival of the horse.

On the grasslands of southern Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada, archaeologists have found evidence of early bison hunters who specialized in bow hunting which has developed by 200 CE. Aboriginal people began to use the bow and arrow somewhat earlier than this, but they used it as a supplement to the atlatl. Archaeologists Ian Dyck and Richard Morlan, writing in the Handbook of North American Indians, report:  “Avonlea people were the first to rely almost exclusively on bows and arrows.”

With regard to the use of the bow and arrow, J. Roderick Vickers, writing in Plains Indians, A.D. 500-1500, reports:  “It is hypothesized that this technology diffused from Asia, perhaps through the mountain interior of British Columbia.”

Archaeologists consider Avonlea as a complex, which means that it is a group of artifact types which are found in a chronological sub-division. Avonlea does not, therefore, refer to a specific tribe. There are some who feel that Avonlea is ancestral to the Athapaskan peoples, including Chipewyan, Beaver, and Sarcee.

While archaeologists have not uncovered any Avonlea bows, they have found arrowshafts and a distinctive arrow point. The Avonlea arrow points are small and thin, with tiny side notches. These points were originally found at a site in Saskatchewan and were thus named Avonlea after the site. The fine craftsmanship shown in the Avonlea projectile points suggests that strong social control was exercised in their production. J. Roderick Vickers writes:  “Assuming that Avonlea competitive success was partly grounded in their innovative weapon system, there may have been magico-religious sanctions associated with production standards and use of the bow and arrow. That is, they may have been an attempt to prevent the spread of their weapon technology, at least in detail, to others.”

Avonlea first appears along the Upper and Middle parts of the Saskatchewan River basin and during the next 200 years spreads into the Upper Missouri and Yellowstone River basins in present-day Montana. From its beginnings about 200 CE, Avonlea seems to reach its peak about 800 CE and by 1300 CE it has disappeared.

With regard to subsistence, bison seem to have been a major factor in the Avonlea diet. Ian Dyck and Richard Morlan write:  “Avonlea hunters were adept at communal hunting methods that allowed them to bring together and dispatch dozens of animals at one time.”  Communal hunting included the use of pounds and jumps, such as the buffalo jump at Head-Smashed-In.

One of the ways Indian people hunted buffalo was to drive them over a cliff. Scattered across the Northern Plains are thousands of these buffalo jump sites. Many of them were used only once, while others were used repeatedly. For the buffalo jump, several hundred people (sometimes more than a thousand) would come together. Archaeologist Jack Brink, in Imagining Head-Smashed-In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains, writes:  “Not only were buffalo jumps an extraordinary amount of work; they were the culmination of thousands of years of shared and passed-on tribal knowledge of the environment, the lay of the land, and the behavior and biology of the buffalo.”

The buffalo pound was a way of harvesting large numbers of bison in a similar fashion to the buffalo jump. However, the final kill location was not a cliff, but rather a pound or corral made of wood. Pounds were located in the lightly wooded areas that surround portions of the Great Plains. Here the hunters could find enough wood to build the pound. Using techniques similar to those used in the buffalo jump, the herd would be lured over many miles and then driven into the pound where they would be killed with bows and arrows and spears as they milled around.

In addition to hunting bison, the data from the Avonlea archaeological sites show that they also hunted pronghorn antelope, deer, beaver, river otter, hares, and waterfowl. The Avonlea people also used weir fish traps during the spring spawning runs.

Like the later horse-mounted Plains Indians, the Avonlea people used tipis. Archaeologists have found tipi rings associated with Avonlea material culture at several sites. The tipi coverings were held down with rocks and thus the archaeological remains are simply a ring of stones, sometimes with a hearth inside. For Indian people using dogs rather than horses to carry loads, the tipis were smaller than those used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The Avonlea people also made and used pottery. Several pottery types—net-impressed, parallel-grooved, and plain—have been found at Avonlea sites. Pottery vessels usually have a conoidal or “coconut” form.

There are a number of hypotheses about what happened to the Avonlea people. One hypothesis sees them having migrated south where they would later emerge as the Navajo and Apache people. Another sees them as staying on the Northern Plains where they contributed to the Old Woman’s phase, which is associated with the North Piegan, Blood, and Gros Ventre. Some feel that Avonlea may have contributed to the Tobacco Plains phase of the Kootenay Valley of the Rocky Mountains. There is also speculation that they were involved in the formation of the village cultures of the Middle Missouri tradition. Ian Dyck and Richard Morlan write:  “It is, of course, possible that the fate of the Avonlea culture took more than one twist.”

J. Roderick Vickers summarizes Avonlea this way:  “In the end, archaeologists must plead ignorance in understanding the appearance of Avonlea on the Northern Plains. It seems we can state that Avonlea is a culture of the western Saskatchewan River basin and that it expanded southward into central Montana, westward over the Rocky Mountains, and northeastward into the forest margins.”


The 1837 Winnebago Treaty

During the first part of the nineteenth century, the American Indian policy was to remove Indians from east of the Mississippi River and to “give” them reservations in Indian Territory. Under the U.S. Constitution, Indian tribes were considered to be domestic dependent nations which meant that the federal government had to negotiate treaties with them.

A treaty is simply an agreement between two or more sovereign nations. Following the Constitution, the United States recognized Indian nations as sovereign entities and thus negotiated treaties with them. From the viewpoint of American law, there are three basic steps involved in the treaty process: (1) the treaty is negotiated, (2) it is then ratified by the Senate, and (3) it is proclaimed (signed) by the President. At this time, the treaty is considered to be in force and is a law which is superior to that of local or state laws.

In negotiating treaties with Indian nations, the Americans viewed the treaties, and the Indians themselves, as being temporary. “Knowing” that Indians were destined to vanish, the Americans generally viewed treaties as a way of increasing the pace of assimilation and the destruction of Indian cultures.

Treaties were negotiated for many different reasons. In addition to establishing peace, and thus preventing war, the United States negotiated treaties to obtain land. The United States frequently gave voice to the idea that no Indian land was to be taken without the consent of the Indians. At the same time, the United States had a policy of recognizing Indian leaders who were favorable to land cession and who were willing to accept bribes.

Winnebago Background:

 In 1634, the French explorer Jean Nicolet encountered the Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) living along the Door Peninsula on Lake Michigan in what is now Wisconsin. According to Winnebago oral tradition, this was their original home. Like the other Indian nations in the western Great Lakes region, the Winnebago at this time were a farming people who lived in villages. Like many other Indian nations, they did not live in tipis, but in rectangular pole-framed houses covered with bark. For subsistence, they grew corn (maize), beans, and squash. They raised tobacco for ceremonial use.

The Winnebago’s initial contacts with Europeans were with fur traders and missionaries. Then, in the nineteenth century, came the Americans. The first treaty with the Winnebago occurred in 1816 when a delegation of 11 Winnebago chiefs, including Naw-Kaw and Spoon Decora travelled to St. Louis, Missouri to sign a treaty of peace and friendship with the United States.

The Treaty of 1837:

The road to the Winnebago Treaty of 1837 began in 1830 at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Here the United States negotiators met in treaty council with several tribes: Sioux (Sisseton, Wahpeton, and Medawakonton), Iowa, Menominee, Winnebago, Omaha, Otoe-Missouria, Sauk, and Fox. Tribal leaders signed a treaty which gave the United States most of what is now Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota. During the council, the Americans told the Indians that it is time to bury the war tomahawk deep in the earth or face the U.S. army. The threat of war and genocide was not even thinly veiled. William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) assured the chiefs:  “we didn’t purchase those lands with a view to settle the white people on them.”  This was, in reality, the beginning of non-Indian settlement in the region.

Two years later, in 1832, the United States met with the Winnebago and as a result the Winnebago agreed to give up their lands east of the Mississippi and to move to Neutral Ground in Iowa. They were to receive $10,000 per year for 27 years for their lands.

As with other removals in which Indian nations were verbally told that their new lands would be theirs forever, American greed tended to be impatient. In 1837, the United States imposed a new treaty on the Winnebago nation. This new treaty confirmed the Winnebago land cessions in Wisconsin and reduced the size of the Neutral Ground. The Winnebago treaty delegation had gone to Washington, D.C. to meet with the President to plead for their lands. Instead, they were told that they could not return home until they had signed the new treaty which gave their lands away. This was an effective negotiating practice often used by the United States.

Under Winnebago protocol, treaty signers in matters pertaining to land must include a significant representation of leaders of the Bear clan, which was lacking in the Washington delegation. Anthropologist Nancy Lurie, writing in the Handbook of North American Indians, reports:  “To make sure no land would be sold, the tribe sent 20 men who had no authority to sign a treaty of cession.”

Two respected civil chiefs—Kar-i-mo-nee and Big Boat Decora—led the delegation of mostly younger men.

In Washington, the Winnebago were promised that they would have 8 years to move and the members of the treaty delegation hoped that by then they would be able to negotiate a new treaty. However, the actual treaty required that they move in 8 months. The interpreter had been directed to deceive the delegation into thinking that they had 8 years. The Governor of Wisconsin had informed Washington that if the federal government did not remove the Winnebago, he would raise a state militia to forcibly remove them.

The treaty created a permanent division in the Winnebago. One group under the leadership of Kar-i-mo-nee and Big Boat Decora abided by the treaty and the other group under the leadership of Yellow Thunder and Dandy hid out in central Wisconsin.

Suppressing Indian Religions in 1915

In 1915, the United States was firmly convinced that American Indians could assimilate only if they became Christians. To aid in the “civilization” (i.e. Christianization) of the Indians, Congress had formally outlawed Indian religions in the nineteenth century. On the reservations, Indians could be jailed without a trial for practicing or promoting any traditional Indian religious practice. One of the concerns at this time focused on suppressing and criminalizing the so-called “Peyote Cult” (the Native American Church). Briefly described below are some of the events dealing with American Indian religions in 1915.

 In Washington, D.C., the Board of Indian Commissioners held a hearing on peyote. James Mooney, an ethnologist with the Bureau of American Ethnology, provided testimony based on first-hand knowledge of the religious movement.

A writer in the Missionary Review reported on the Christian missionaries who were “fighting to save the American Indians from the degrading cult of peyote worship.”

The Omaha tribe of Nebraska petitioned Cato Sells, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to protect their religious freedom to use peyote in their ceremonies. One of the petitioners, Thomas Walker, wrote:  “This religious use of peyote is on the same line as the white people’s use of the Bible. What we learn from the Bible is true in Peyote.”

In Idaho, the Shoshone on the Fort Hall Reservation began to become involved with the Native American Church and the use of peyote as a sacrament. Sam Lone Bear (Sioux) was one of the proselytizers for the peyote religion.

 Dan Dick (Shoshone) brought peyote to the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada and Idaho to help cure an abscess. The cure didn’t work and the tribal council reprimanded him for bringing peyote to the reservation.

In Montana, the Northern Cheyenne explained their Willow Dance to the new Indian agent and stressed that it would be held for only two days after the crops have matured. The agent suggested that instead of the dance they have a fair where their crops could be exhibited. Father Peter J. Powell, in his book Sweet Medicine: The Continuing Role of the Sacred Arrows, the Sun Dance, and the Sacred Buffalo Hat in Northern Cheyenne History, reports:  “The people responded to that suggestion by slipping off to the privacy of the hills. Maheo still heard their prayers, and the men still quietly offered their flesh as sacrifices.”

In Oregon, the Bureau of Indian Affairs advised the Superintendent of the Klamath reservation that, while Indian Shaker Church worship was acceptable, the Shakers were not to be allowed to conduct healings. After allowing Shaker meetings for a couple of weeks, the Superintendent stopped the meetings and ordered Shaker elder Alex Teio off the reservation.

In Washington, the Lummi received permission from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to celebrate their treaty with the United States by having a feast and traditional dances. In this way they were able to bring out the old dances without being punished.

In Oklahoma, the Baptist field matron for the Kiowa-Commanche Reservation condemned powwow dancing:  “These dances are one of the breeding places of illegitimate children, which is becoming the shame of the tribe.”

In Oklahoma, the Kiowa began to Ghost Dance. The Indian agent, in a campaign to wipe out the Ghost Dance, threatened to withhold per capita payments from all who participated. When the Indian agent found out the identity of the leaders, he had them imprisoned and beaten.