Hanging Indians in 1865

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lame Cow War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Redskins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spanish Missionaries in Texas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1714

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

Listed below are some of the Indian events of 1714.

New England:

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

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

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

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

New York:

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

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

Southeast:

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

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

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

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

Spanish Territory:

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

The Great Plains:

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

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

Great Lakes Area:

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

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

Preparing the Cherokee for Removal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Third Anglo-Powhatan War

The third Anglo-Powhatan war (1644 to 1646) started with a large, coordinated strike by Powhatan warriors against the Virginia colonists. Several outlying settlements were struck with the Powhatan killing and/or capturing between 400 and 500 English settlers. At this time, there were 8,000 to 10,000 English colonists in Virginia.

The Powhatan, an alliance of several groups, were led by the elderly Opechancanough who was about 100 years old at this time. Opechancanough had also led the early 1622 Powahatan war against the English.

The English had established Jamestown as a mercantile venture in 1607. Since that time, tobacco had become an important export crop, so the English demand for increasing amounts of good farm land had increased. Ignoring the fact that the Indian nations of Virginia were agricultural, the newly arrived colonists simply assumed that the Indian fields were somehow “vacant” and available to them.

From the Powhatan perspective, the coordinated attacks against settlements which had encroached in their territory were meant to send a message to the English. In his book Powhatan’s World and Colonial Virginia, anthropologist Frederick Gleach writes: “Like his earlier attack, the 1644 coup can be best understood as an attempt by Opechancanough to correct the colonists’ inappropriate behavior and to stay their ceaseless expansion.”

The English colonists responded to the attacks by declaring a general war against the Powhatan. All private trade with the Powhatan was to be terminated. The Virginia Assembly felt that the Indians had obtained guns, powder, and shot through private trade. However, it was soon apparent that the colonists needed the trade in order to survive: without Indian corn they would starve. In 1645, the Assembly allowed authorized agents to trade with the Indians in order to obtain the badly needed grain.

The colonists attacked the Pamunkey and Chickahominy, two tribes affiliated with the Powhatan alliance. The Weyanocks, fearing English attacks, moved south of the Blackwater Swamp and purchased land from the Tuscarora.

In 1646, the General Assembly authorized a force under Lieutentant Francis Poythers to find Openchancanough and press for peace. Poythers, a trader with general knowledge of Virginia Indians, had experience in dealing with Opechancanough regarding land claims. Poythers, however, was unable to find Opechancanough.

A force led by Governor Berkley and aided by Rappahannock and Accomac allies manage to capture Openchancanough between the falls of the Appomattox and James rivers. At this time, the elderly Indian leader was unable to walk unaided. The English treated Opechancanough as a side show, displaying him to curious English colonists. The Indian leader, however, maintained his dignity and upbraided the English commander for the English’s lack of respect. The English commander then ordered that Opechancanough be treated with the dignity befitting his station.

The English governor considered sending Openchancanough to England where His Majesty would be presented with a royal prisoner (the English considered Indians chiefs to be royalty, not understanding any of the concepts of Indian government). Before a decision regarding his fate could be made, one of the guards took matters into his own hands and shot the elderly leader in the back. The wound proved to be fatal.

Hundreds of Indians who had been captured by the English during the Third Anglo-Powhatan War were sold into slavery.

With the death of Opechancanough, Necotowance assumed leadership of the Powhatan alliance and negotiated a new treaty with the English. This treaty was the first time Necotowance’s name appeared in the English written records and there is no indication that the English had ever had any previous dealings with him.

The peace treaty between the English colonists and the Powhattan called for the removal of the Powhatan Confederacy to an area north of the York River. Necotowance signed the treaty as “king of the Indians.” The treaty established a pattern of removing Indian nations away from the invading Europeans as a strategy to reduce the conflict between the two groups.

The Second Anglo-Powhatan War

The years after the 1614 treaty between the English and the Chickahominy were relatively peaceful. During this time the English colonists in Jamestown expanded their tobacco raising enterprises, often appropriating Indian corn fields for this export crop.

In 1618, Wahunsonacock (also known as The Powhatan) died. There was a leadership struggle among the Powhatan and Opechancanoe emerged as the new leader of the confederacy.

Concerned about the increasing use of guns by the Powhatan, in 1618 the English decreed that Indians were not to be taught to shoot guns. The decree mandated death for both teacher and student. The following year, a death penalty was established for anyone selling guns to the Indians.

In 1621, the Reverend Jonas Stockam preached that the only way of bringing the gospel to the Indians was to kill the elders: “till their Priests and Ancients have their throats cut, there is no hope of bringing them to conversion.”

The flash point that started the Second Anglo-Powhatan War centered around Nemattanew (Jack of the Feathers), the charismatic war chief of the Pamunkey. Nemattanew would go to war covered with feathers and with swans’ wings attached to his shoulders. In some instances, he would bewitch enemy warriors, including the English soldiers.  He had been revitalizing native culture and warrior traditions, preparing them for combat against muskets. He was thought to be invulnerable to bullets.

The starting point of the Second Anglo-Powhatan War is generally traced to 1622 when Nemattanew persuaded an Englishman named Morgan to go to Pamunkey to trade. This was the last anyone saw of Morgan. A few days later, however, Nemattanew went to Morgan’s house and informed the two young male servants there that Morgan was dead. The young men noticed that Nemattanew was wearing Morgan’s hat and they tried to take him to the authorities. When he refused, they shot him. As he was dying, he asked the young men not to reveal how he died.

Opechancanough was upset when news of Nemattanew’s death reached him and he vowed revenge. However, it also seems that he had been planning his attack on the English colonists for over a year. The death of Nemattanew simply provided an additional excuse for the war.

Two weeks after Nemattanew’s death, the Indians entered into the English villages, just as they often had in the past, bringing them presents of food. The next morning, they joined the colonists for breakfast and even joined them in working the fields. The Indians had come unarmed so there was little concern among the colonists. Then the Indians picked up the colonists’ tools and guns and began an unprecedented slaughter, killing men, women, and children. By the day’s end, 350 English colonists—one-fourth of the colony’s total population—were dead. The official count was 347 dead, but after its dissolution, the Virginia Company indicated that about 400 were slain.

Jamestown was not attacked. According to some accounts, often told a couple of centuries after the war, Christian Indians had warned the Jamestown colonists of the coming attack. The official account of the attacks, written shortly afterwards, makes no mention of this warning. In the nineteenth century histories of the colony, an Indian boy named Chanco is credited with warning the colonists, and yet no contemporary accounts of the colony make mention of this name.

The attack took the English by surprise and many argued that this strategy had been so clever that it could not have been masterminded by Indians and credited the Spanish with engineering it. There was, however, no evidence that the Spanish were involved.

The English retaliated with a series of raids on the Indians. Instructions from London to the Virginia colonies called for a perpetual war to exterminate the Indians and the Governor of Virginia issued a directive to rob, hunt down, and kill the Indians of the area. Military commanders were ordered not to make peace on any terms. Writing in the Handbook of North American Indians, Wilcomb Washburn notes: “the attack provided a ready-made justification for waging perpetual war (as Christian legal theory allowed against infidels) against any and all Indians. Too often the rules of honor were abandoned in the process.”

The Powhatan did not plan on engaging in a protracted war. They made their attacks, suffered few losses, and then did not make further assaults on the colonists. Unlike European warfare, Indian warfare was not about extermination. From an Indian perspective, the colonists were unruly and not behaving according to the natural laws that governed Indian conduct. The attacks were intended to simply teach the colonists a lesson. The goal was to restrict them to a small territory, to put an end to Christian proselytizing, and to demonstrate Powhatan power. By attacking only the outlying colonies and not Jamestown itself, the Powhatan attempted to show the English that these settlements were inappropriate.

The English colonists, of course, misinterpreted the message. They continued to view themselves as being endowed by their religion to occupy the lands of others, to convert them, and to rule all non-Christian nations.

 

Joseph Brant in Canada

During the Revolutionary War, many Indians allied themselves with their old trading partners, the British. For the six tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, the divided loyalties led to the ritual covering of their council fire so that each nation was free to choose sides. At the 1777 Battle of Oriskany, for example, the pro-British Iroquois under the leadership of Joseph Brant (Mohawk) and Chainbreaker (Seneca) fought against the pro-patriot Iroquois under the leadership of Nonyery Tewahangaraghkan (Oneida). Following the war, the Indian allies of the British expressed anger and disbelief as the British handed over their Indian lands to the Americans. The Americans seemed determined to extract retribution from all Indians regardless of whether they had fought for or against the Americans. As a result many Indians, including many former British allies, fled north to Canada.

In 1783, Joseph Brant accepted new lands along the Grand River, just north of Lake Erie, for the Iroquois League of Six Nations who had remained loyal to the British during the American Revolution. The land was viewed as compensation for their loss of land in New York. Brant was also commissioned as Captain of the Northern Confederate Indians.

In New York, Joseph Brant met with the chiefs of the Iroquois League of Six Nations and invited them to join with him in his reserve in Ontario. He felt that the British government would serve the Iroquois better than the new American government. The chiefs entrusted the decision to the clan matrons. The clan mothers decided that the Six Nations should divide, with half in Canada and half in the United States.

The following year, a group of 1,843 Iroquois Loyalists under the leadership of Joseph Brant settled in Ontario. The group included members from all six of the Iroquois League (though most were Mohawk and Cayuga) as well as some Delaware, Nanticoke, Tutelo, Creek, and Cherokee. The migrants settled in small tribal villages along the Grand River.

The Mississauga sold their land claims to Joseph Brant so that the Mohawk could have clear title to their new territory. Mississauga leader Pokquan announced:  “We are Indians, and consider ourselves and the Six Nations to be one and the same people, and agreeable to a former, and mutual agreement, we are bound to help each other.”

In their new Ontario home, Joseph Brant and others built the Mohawk Chapel (Anglican) in the Mohawk village. The church housed the Queen Anne Silver Communion Plate and Bible which had been given to the Mohawk in 1710 when the chapel at Fort Hunter, New York was built.

In 1785, Mohawk leader Joseph Brant talked with the Mohawk under the leadership of Captain John Deserontyon about joining him at the Grand River. Deserontyon, however, prefered to remain in his own village.

While Joseph Brant was generally recognized by the British as the leader of the Iroquois and other tribes in the Grand River area, there were some Indians who were not happy with his leadership. In 1788, Captain Aaron and Captain Isaac attempted to assassinate Mohawk leader Joseph Brant. When the attempt failed, they fled to the Mohawk village of John Deserontyon who welcomed them to his community.  

 In 1792, two Mohawk men—Hendrick and Kellayhun—murdered a French Canadian trader. The British military commander demanded that the chiefs surrender the two men so that they could stand trial under British law. Instead of surrendering the men, the chiefs asked that they be allowed to cover the grave with gifts for the relatives of the deceased. This was a traditional Native practice in resolving the crime of murder. According to Joseph Brant: “We have forms and Ancient Customs which we look upon as Necessary to be gone through as the Proceedings in any Court of Justice.”

From the Indian view, to accept British legal jurisdiction would be to deny their own sovereignty. The British, on the other hand, viewed the Indians as British subjects and therefore subject to British law. The case was suspended rather than dropped.

In 1793, John Graves Simcoe, the lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, drafted the Simcoe Patent which stipulated that all land transactions of the Iroquois Six Nations would have to be approved by the Crown. Simcoe insisted that Indians had always mishandled their land. Mohawk leader Joseph Brant and the other Iroquois chiefs, however, rejected this concept. According to Brant:  “It seems natural to Whites to look on lands in the possession of Indians with an aching heart, and never to rest ‘till they have planned them out of them.”

The Iroquois had sold or leased several large blocks of land to non-Indians because Brant felt that the non-Indians would provide useful models for the Iroquois.

 In 1795, Isaac Brant, the eldest son of Joseph Brant, killed a deserter from the American army. Isaac Brant was known to have a temper, particularly when he was drunk. Furious because a saddle had not been completed on time, he buried a tomahawk in the deserter’s brain. Brant was convicted of murder by a jury, but the Iroquois chiefs insisted that the victim’s grave be covered instead. While the British military commander wanted to send in troops to retrieve Isaac Brant, the governor, wishing to avoid bloodshed, delayed. The situation was solved when Isaac Brant attacked his father in a drunken rage and Joseph Brant killed his son in self-defense.

In 1795, Joseph Brant was authorized by the Six Nations to sell large blocks of land directly to speculators who were lusting after the fertile land. The land was sold for 18 times what the government had offered for it.

In 1798, in order to disrupt the alliance between the Mississauga and the Six Nations Iroquois, the government established a separate agency for the Mississauga at York. The Mississauga protested the change and indicated that they wanted to continue their affiliation with the Iroquois.

In order to show that Indians had military importance to Ontario, in 1798 Joseph Brant convened a muster of 400 Indian warriors and a settler militia company.

Joseph Brant died on his estate near Brantford, Ontario in 1807. He was 67 years old.

Cherokee Treaty Claims

By 1830, the American government had decided that American Indians had no place in the United States and passed legislation calling for their removal to lands west of the Mississippi River. As a part of this removal effort, the Americans negotiated a series of treaties with the various Indian nations in which the Indians ceded their lands and were given new lands in the west.

In 1835, the United States presented the Cherokee with a new treaty. The deal that the United States offered the Cherokee was simple: they could sign the treaty and move west, or the military would come in and they would be marched west at bayonet point. In either case, the Cherokee would have to abandon their ancient homelands, their farms, and the graves of their ancestors.

A few Cherokee leaders – primarily Major Ridge, John Ridge, Elias Boudinot, Andrew Ross, James Starr, Stand Watie, James Rogers, Archilla Smith, John A. Bell, Charles Foreman, George W. Adair, and Thomas Watie– signed the Treaty of New Echota in Georgia. None of those signing the treaty had been authorized by the Cherokee Nation to sign it. The signers would become known as the Treaty Party. Upon signing the treaty, Major Ridge said: “I have signed my death warrant” in reference to the Cherokee law which called for the death penalty for those who sold Cherokee land without the consent of the National Council.

Under the terms of this treaty, the Cherokee were to give up all of their lands east of the Mississippi and to move to Oklahoma and Arkansas. Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross repudiated the treaty because it was signed by a minority of the Cherokee leaders. However, the notice which had been sent to the Cherokee notifying them of the treaty council indicated that those leaders not in attendance would be considered to approve any document signed by the negotiators.

Most historians today view the Treaty of New Echota as a fraud. Cherokee historian Robert Conley, in his book The Cherokee Nation: A History writes:  “The entire procedure was illegal, but it was what the United States government wanted, and it was accepted by the U.S. Congress as legal and binding on the entire Cherokee Nation.”

In the treaty negotiations, the Cherokee were assured that the United States would respect the Nation’s right to self-government and that the Cherokee would never be included in any state or new territory without the consent of the Cherokee people. The Americans promised the Cherokee that they would respect Cherokee borders and they would remove all unwanted American intruders.

Under the terms of the treaty, the United States promised to pay the Cherokee $5 million.

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

Ten years after the treaty had been signed and ratified by the Senate, the Cherokee had still not been paid. In 1845, the Cherokee sent a delegation to Washington, D.C. to secure an adjustment of the claims and other unsettled business of the nation. The delegation, under the leadership of John Ross, included Richard Tayler,  John Looney, Aaron Price, David Vann, Joseph Spears, and Thigh Walker. The tribe was owed $5 million as a part of the Treaty of New Echota. Brian Hicks in his book Toward the Setting Sun: John Ross, the Cherokees, and  the Trail of Tears, writes:  “The United States government refused to live up to its end of the bargain, officials inventing any number of excuses. Some refused to recognize the tribe as long as Ross was chief.”

In 1846, the United States negotiated a new treaty with the Cherokee. All of the Western Cherokee groups—the Old Settlers, the Treaty Party, and the National Party—as well as the Eastern Cherokee were present for the treaty signing. Under the new treaty, the United States promised to reimburse the Cherokee Nation for sums which were unfairly deducted by the United States from their payment for their eastern lands. According to some accounts, the rivals Stand Watie of the Treaty Party and John Ross of the National Party shook hands at the end of the signing. Other accounts claim that this is just a legend stemming from wishful thinking.

The new treaty also declared that Cherokee lands in Oklahoma were to be for the use and occupancy of all Cherokee. The treaty guaranteed every Cherokee accused of a crime the right to a trial by jury.

Grace Steele Woodward, in her book The Cherokees, writes:  “After the Treaty of 1846 the Cherokee Nation enjoyed a golden era of prosperity and progress unsurpassed by its territorial neighbors. In the era that followed the treaty, education, building projects (both private and public), churches and missions, improvement societies, agriculture, domestic arts, and animal husbandry thrived in the Nation.”

With regard to the Eastern Cherokee, the new 1846 treaty upheld the rights of the Cherokee who had remained east of the Mississippi.

 

Virginia and the Indians, 1606 to 1608

Because England is a Christian nation, the Discovery Doctrine supposedly gave it the right to govern all non-Christian nations. In 1606, therefore, England was able to give a Royal Charter to the Virginia Company to develop a market in the New World for English commerce and for “propagating of Christian Religion to such people, as yet live in darkness.” In this charter, Indians were characterized as living “in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God.”

The Virginia Company, a corporation, was founded and directed by a group of merchants and gentry who were motivated in part by the promise of strong economic returns for their investment. Their Royal Charter gave them permission to exploit the riches of Virginia with little or no concern to any possible ownership of these riches by Indian nations. The Company planned to establish a trading post which would acquire valuable furs from the Indians and to sell the Indians manufactured goods and textiles. In addition, the Company planned to search for gold and to exploit the timber resources of the region.

In addition to seeking profits, the Company also indicated that it would seek the conversion of the heathen (that is, conversion of Indians to Protestant Christianity), the expansion of the English kingdom, increased revenues for the king, and employment for the English vagrant poor.

The following year, three English ships brought 120 British settlers into Chesapeake Bay who established a colony at Jamestown. At this time there were an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 Indians living in the area that would become Virgina. The major tribal confederacy in the area was the Powhatan (also spelled Powhattan), an Algonquian-speaking confederacy of about 30 tribes (some sources indicate as many as 43 tribes). These tribes included the Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Pamunkey, and Rappahannock. The alliance of these tribes had formed in the late 1500s, just prior to the English invasion, by a Pamunkey chief named Wahunsonacock. His capital was located at the falls of the James River in Virginia. This was called Powhatan which means “Falls of the River” and thus the allied tribes were known as the Powhatan. To confuse the matter a bit, Wahunsonacok was also called The Powhatan or simply Powhatan.

Captain John Smith led a small party up the Chickahominy River. The English were attacked by about 200 Pamunkey warriors who captured Smith and killed his companions. The Pamunkey, under the leadership of Opechancanough, were a part of the larger Powhatan Confederacy. Smith was taken before the dominant chief, Powhatan, and was eventually released. Smith, described by his contemporaries as a self-promoting mercenary, reported that he had been kept in a comfortable and friendly fashion. Many years later he would tell a story about being on the verge of being clubbed to death when a prominent woman intervened and saved his life. In one version of the story, he named Pocahontas (a nickname meaning the “spoiled child”) as the woman who saved his life (she was about 10 years old at the time). He told this story only after the death of Pocahontas and after she had gained some fame among the English.

While English writers often describe the Indians as hunters, they were actually farmers who had been planting crops in the region for several centuries. The English were delighted by some of the Indian crops, including strawberries (which were described as being larger and tastier than those in England) and persimmons. Persimmon bread was a common Indian gift.

The English looked upon the land as vacant, even when it had been cleared and planted with the Indian crops of maize (corn), beans, and squash. For the English, land was occupied only when it was laid out in neat rectangles, fenced, and used for a single crop. Since the Indians cleared their lands by burning and used intercropping—the practice of planting crops together—their lands did not look “neat” and “occupied” to English eyes. The English also seemed to be oblivious to the fact that the park-like wilderness was actually a well-managed ecosystem which the Indians maintained by regularly burning it.

One exploring expedition from the Virginia Company at Jamestown traveled up the James River. When the group encountered some Indians in a canoe, the group’s leader, Christopher Newport, asked them for directions. One of Indians sketched a map of the river, its falls, and two native kingdoms beyond the falls. When the English party reached the falls, Newport wanted to continue exploring on foot, but was told by Pawatah, a local village leader, that the Monacan would attack them for entering their territory.

In 1608, the English colonists at Jamestown found that most of their stores were rotten or had been eaten by rats. The countryside around them had abundant game, and John Smith encouraged the colonists to live off the land. Smith sent groups to different places to gather food resources. However, many of the colonists were unaccustomed to living off the land and found it easier to trade with the Indians for supplies. As a result, the settlement was stripped of items—particularly metal items—which could be used for trade. In addition, some colonists deserted to live with the Indians whose way of life they preferred.

With regard to trade, the English introduced a new trade item to the Powhatan: sky blue Venetian glass beads. The traders told the Indians that these were a rare substance and that they were worn only by kings.

The English soon realized that Powhatan led a confederacy of about 30 different groups and his cooperation would be vital to their continued existence. From a European perspective, leaders such as Powhatan needed to be kings and so they decided to conduct a coronation ceremony for him which would make him a king with loyalty to the British Crown. The ceremony was a comedy of cultural misunderstandings as the English attempted to choreograph a feudal ceremony in a society in which two key elements of the ceremony – the crown and the act of bending the knee – were unknown.

John Smith led a small group south on the Chesapeake Bay and up the Patuxent and Rappahannock Rivers. They had a short battle with the Mannahoac in which they wounded and captured Amoroleck. Amoroleck reported that there were four Mannahoac villages on the Rappahannock, each of which had its own leader. When asked what lay beyond the mountains, Amoroleck indicated that he did not know as the woods had not been burnt.

The English explorers made contact with an Algonquian-speaking group whom they called Tockwogh (possibly the Nanticoke?). With the help of the Tockwogh, the English then contacted an Iroquoian-speaking group, the Susquehannock and exchanged gifts with them. The English described the Susquehannock as a “giant-like people” because they were significantly taller than the English.

Later, a group of about 60 Susquehannock visited Captain John Smith and the English colonists.

Captain John Smith attempted to obtain corn from the Pamunkey who were under the leadership of Opechancanough. When the chief indicated that he was unwilling to trade, the captain held a gun to the chief’s breast and threatened to kill him unless the English boats were filled with twenty tons of corn. He also told the Pamunkey that if they did not fill his boats with corn, he would fill it with their dead carcasses.

English colonists heard rumors about an Indian mine in the interior. Lured by the possibility of gold, John Smith and six others set off to verify its existence. They employed Potomac guides who they placed in chains during their march. They found a great hole which had been dug with shells and hatchets. The mine, developed by the Indians to obtain minerals for making body paints, failed to yield any gold.

Carolina Indians in 1700

Part of our knowledge of the Indian nations of the Carolinas during the early colonial period comes from the reports of European explorers. One of these was the British naturalist John Lawson, who led a small exploring expedition out of Charleston in late 1700. Traveling by canoe and by foot, he travelled about 600 miles through what the Europeans considered a wilderness, making many observations about the vegetation, wildlife, and the Indian nations.

John Lawson began by journeying up the Santee-Wateree-Catawbee River. He noted that the Sewee were once a populous nation, but European diseases, such as smallpox, had greatly reduced their numbers.

Among the Santee Lawson found a powerful Indian ruler. He reported that this chief had absolute power and could sentence any of his people to death. When the chief died, his body was placed on top of a pyramidal mound.

Lawson next encountered the Congaree and again noted that their numbers had been greatly reduced by smallpox. He noted that the main town had less than a dozen houses.

The Wateree Chickanee were the next group that Lawson visited (about 60 miles from the Congaree).  He noted that they spoke a language (probably Catawban) which was different from that of the Congaree. They were a numerous people but they lacked English trade goods. They were using bows and arrows rather than guns for hunting. The ancestors of the Wateree Chickanee were probably the Guatari.

About three miles from the Wateree Chickanee, Lawson encountered the Waxaw. Among the Waxaw, Lawson noted that there was a “state-house” which was distinct from domestic structures and was intended for use by the chiefs.

The party then visited the Esaw (a Catawba people) and the Sapona.

Lawson’s observations of the Indians at this time show that they are already undergoing many changes due to their contact with the European colonists. Some of these changes were due to epidemic diseases, such as smallpox, which were brought in by the colonists; some of the changes were brought about by the manufactured goods, such as guns and knives, which they got from the European traders.

The tribes which Lawson observed would later become known as the Catawba Nation or the Catawba Confederacy. The Catawba Nation (or Confederacy) was composed of several tribes: Catawba (also known as Issa, Iswa, Ushery, Ysa, Usi, Esau, Esaugh, Esaw), Cheraw (also known as Carrow), Saraw (also known as Sara), Sugaree (also known as Sugari, Suttaree, Shuteree, Sittari, Sugaw, Sugar), Waxhaw (also known as Waxaw, Wisack, Wisacky, Weesock, Flathead), Congaree, Suteree (also known as Sitteree), Waccamaw, Santee (also known as Seretee, Sarati, Setatee), Pedee (also known as Pee Dee), Saxapahaw, Wateree (also known as Watery, Watteree, Guatari), and Wateree-Chickenee.

In 1709 Lawson returned to England where he published an account of his adventure, A New Voyage to Carolina. The book proved to be successful and attracted more colonists to the region.

Lawson returned to the Americas in 1710 to help establish the colony of New Bern for German refugees. In 1711, he was captured by the Tuscarora Indians, tortured, and killed. Following this incident, the conflict known as the Tuscarora War broke out between the colonists and the Indians.

 

Chief Kitsap

Suqamish Chief Kitsap lived from about 1750 to about 1845. He was born and raised in Suquamish (in what is now Washington state). He was a friend and ally of Chief Sealth’s father. Kitsap had winter houses at Fort Madison and Pleasant Beach on Bainbridge Island. He was known as a brilliant war strategist and as an expert bow marksman. He often led intertribal forces from Puget Sound into battle against raiding tribes from the North. He was best known for leading a Suquamish raid to Vancouver Island to avenge an enemy tribe. For this, the Suquamish recognized Kitsap as a leader and historians have described him as  “the most powerful chief of all the Indians from Olympia to the Fraser River.”

He helped build the Old Man House communal dwelling that became one of the largest winter houses in the Northwest Coast. The Old Man House was the center of the Suquamish winter village on Agate Pass, located just south of the present-day town of Suquamish. The original name of the site was D’Suq’Wub which means “clear salt water.”

The site of D’Suq’Wub was occupied for at least 2,000 years according to the archaeological investigations at the site. While some sources indicate that the longhouse itself was built in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, archaeology seems to suggest that it was originally constructed earlier than this.

With regard to size, the Old Man House was between 200 and 300 meters (600 to 1,000 feet) in length.

In 1792, the British Captain George Vancouver arrived at the Strait of Juan de Fuca and took possession of the area for England, ignoring the fact that it had been occupied by American Indian nations for thousands of years. He named the area New Georgia after King George III. One of the Native leaders who met Vancouver’s party was Chief Kitsap. According to the Native accounts, Chief Kitsap helped guide the British through the area.

Vancouver noted that many of the Indians in the area had pock-marked faces, that many villages appeared to have been recently abandoned, and that there were many recent graves. This was probably an indication of smallpox. The Indians were not always friendly and the English found that they already had firearms and knew how to use them.

Around 1825, Chief Kitsap helped to organize a large intertribal coalition of the Indian nations of the Puget Sound area. Under his leadership, this coalition attacked the Cowichan, a group of tribes living on Vancouver Island who often raided against the Puget Sound tribes. Chief Kitsap’s coalition forces with about 200 canoes, however, were soundly defeated by the Cowichan.

The Cherokee Civil War, 1842 to 1843

After their removal to Oklahoma in 1838, the hostile rivalry between two Cherokee political factions—the National Party which had resisted removal and the Treaty Party which had favored removal—became violent. In 1842, James Foreman, a member of the National Party, and Stand Watie, a member of the Treaty Party, encountered each other in a grocery store. Watie accused Foreman of killing his uncle, Major Ridge. The argument quickly grew physical and Watie killed Foreman.

Following the incident, groups of armed men from both factions began to assemble. There were rumors that an outbreak of civil war within the Cherokee Nation was imminent and that Foreman’s death had been a part of a larger conspiracy in which others were marked for assassination. The American Indian agent met with the Cherokee near the grocery store. During the course of his investigation, the agent had found that the rumors of a conspiracy were without foundation. The agent urged Foreman’s friends and the members of the National Party to allow the law to take its course. Instead of seeking revenge, he urged them to allow Watie to face trial.

Stand Watie was concerned that he would be tried in a Cherokee Court. Since John Ross, the leader of the National Party, was the principal chief, and the Cherokee government seemed to be biased toward the National Party, Watie did not feel that a fair trial in a Cherokee court would be possible. However, since the incident occurred in Arkansas, outside of the Cherokee Nation, he was tried in Arkansas.

At the trial, James Foreman was described as a violent man. Witnesses testified that Foreman had come into the store expecting trouble while Watie had not. The jury debated for about five minutes and Watie was acquitted on a plea of self-defense. The attacks were seen as a renewal of a Cherokee feud and armed guards gathered for the protection of the National Party adherents. The killing of James Foreman and the acquittal of Stand Watie were seen by many as another step in the escalation of violence among the Cherokee.

The following year, the violence escalated when a group of Treaty Party men, under the leadership of George West, attacked and killed Isaac Bushyhead, a member of the National Party. The murderers then escaped into Arkansas where they would be out of reach of Cherokee tribal justice.

Violence against the National Party continued. In separate attacks, David Vann was attacked and beaten with clubs, but was carried off to safety by friends. Judge Elijah Hicks was forewarned about the attack and escaped. Many of the Treaty Party people, fearing retaliation, fled from the Cherokee nation, leaving most of their personal goods behind.

There were rumors that Chief John Ross was going to be assassinated and so the Cherokee General Council posted several dozen Cherokees around his home. While the warriors guarded his home for several weeks, there was no attempt on his life.

The animosity between the two factions continued to simmer, with occasional outbreaks of violence for another couple of decades.

A Cherokee Murder

Following the Trail of Tears in 1838, there were three groups of Cherokee living in Oklahoma: (1) The Old Settlers who had moved to the west prior to the 1830 Indian Removal Act, (2) the Treaty Party who had signed the removal treaty and had been moved in relative comfort, and (3) the National Party who had been forcibly removed by the military. In Oklahoma, the Cherokee came together under a new constitution. The first challenge to this new constitution came in 1840.

In 1840, Archilla Smith, a member of the Cherokee Treaty Party, got into a frivolous dispute with John MacIntosh. In his anger, Smith stabbed MacIntosh to death. Under the new Cherokee Constitution, Smith was arrested and tried for murder.

Stand Watie, another prominent member of the Treaty Party, was the counsel for the defense. Watie pointed out that there was no real evidence that Smith had actually done the killing. He argued that the government’s witnesses had been inconsistent in their testimony. In addition, Watie argues that if Smith had indeed killed MacIntosh, then the death should be considered self-defense rather than murder. He pointed out that MacIntosh had provoked Smith and, given the violence of the times, MacIntosh had been killed in self-defense. Watie asked the jury to find Smith not guilty.

Watie’s words did not convince the jury. Smith was found guilty and sentenced to be hung. A petition for pardon was presented to Chief John Ross with “a desire that peace and harmony prevail.” With the tensions among the various factions in Cherokee society at the time, the petitioners implied that hanging Smith would lead to more violence.

Ross did not respond to the request and Smith was hung. Later some people would claim that Ross had ignored the petition because of his animosity against Watie. Ross was the leader of the National Party and Watie was one of the leaders of the Treaty Party. Forced to defend his actions, or, rather non-action, Ross would claim that the Cherokee chief had no power to grant pardons which would undo the will of the court.

As a result of this trial, many members of the Treaty Party faction were skeptical about the impartiality of the Cherokee government and its courts.

A Chippewa Treaty

A treaty is an agreement between two or more sovereign nations. Under the U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution, Indian tribes are legally considered to be nations. During the nineteenth century, the United States government negotiated a number of treaties with Indian nations. While often called “peace treaties,” these treaties were not about ending wars and often they were negotiated with Indian nations considered American allies. While the treaties proclaimed eternal peace between the Indians and the United States, the real purpose of the treaties was to obtain land which could then be given to non-Indian settlers.

In negotiating Indian treaties, American negotiators usually showed great ignorance about American Indian governments and often failed to recognize what really constituted a sovereign nation and what did not.  Since they preferred to deal with fewer tribes, they arbitrarily grouped sovereign entities together and unilaterally declared them to be a single nation. They also preferred to deal with dictatorships rather than democracies and preferred to support and create dictatorships.

In 1837, some 1,200 Chippewa gathered for a treaty conference with the United States in Minnesota. Under the proposed treaty—proposed by the United States, not the Chippewa—the Chippewa were to give up their claim to the St. Croix Valley of Minnesota and their rights to much of northwestern Wisconsin.

The area in question had been over-hunted thus its value to the Chippewa had been reduced.  In addition, the ongoing war between the Chippewa and the Sioux, which had resulted in many Sioux bands migrating out into the Great Plains of the Dakotas, had made the area dangerous for Chippewa hunters.

In exchange for the ceded lands, the Chippewa were to receive annually for 20 years: $9,500 in cash, $19,000 in goods, $3,000 for a blacksmith, $1,000 for farmers, $2,000 in provisions, and $500 in tobacco. In addition, $70,000 was to be paid to traders to “liquidate certain claims against the Indians” and $100,000 to be paid to “the half-breeds of the Chippewa nation.” Chief Flat Mouth protested the payment to the traders arguing that many of the debtors had been killed by the Sioux while on excursions for the traders. He also pointed out that the Americans had taken fish from the lakes and streams and had harvested timber from the woods without paying the Indians. For the United States, however, corporate interests such as those of the trading companies also outweighed any concern for individual interests.

The Treaty with the Chippewa states:  “The privilege of hunting, fishing, and gathering the wild rice, upon the lands, the rivers and the lakes included in the territory ceded, is guaranteed to the Indians, during the pleasure of the President of the United States.”

Chiefs Hole-in-the-Day and La Trappe expressed some concerns about their rights. La Trappe told the Americans: “We wish to hold on to a tree where we get our living, & to reserve the streams where we drink the waters that give us life”

In the treaty, there was no distinction between the various bands. The treaty ignored the political reality of the Chippewa – that they were not a single nation, but are several autonomous bands – and referred to them as a single nation.

Interference with Cherokee Government

In 1839, the Cherokee in Oklahoma had gathered to create a new government. They adopted the Act of Union which was to be their new constitution. Under this constitution, they then selected John Ross as Principal Chief. However, John Ross had been the leader of the Cherokee who had been force-marched from Georgia to Oklahoma and was known for his opposition to removal. The United States in its foreign policy—Indian tribes are designated as nations by the U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court, thus fall under the realm of foreign policy—had traditionally opposed any democratically elected leader who has criticized U.S. policy. The U.S. response to this democracy is a blatant attempt to overthrow it, by force of arms if necessary.

In 1840, the Secretary of War directed the army to declare martial law among the Cherokee, to dissolve their government, and to call together all factions of the Cherokee to form a new government. Under the directive, neither John Ross nor William Shorey Coodey would be permitted any voice in the new government.

In Washington, D.C., the John Ross faction, commonly known as the National Party, prepared a memorial to Congress outlining the steps they had taken to re-establish their government in their new home and the difficulties created by the opposing parties and by the military. In response, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling for the Secretary of War to provide:   “copies of all orders and instructions issued from the department to any officer of the army, or to any agent of the Government, requiring his interference with the Cherokee Indians in the formation of a government for the regulation of their own internal affairs.”

Before the Secretary of War could respond to the request, the Cherokee opposing John Ross, known as the Treaty Party, filed their own memorial outlining the wrongs imposed upon them by the Ross faction and asking Congress to intervene.  While both President Martin Van Buren and the Secretary of War refused to see John Ross and William Shorey Coodey, they warmly welcomed Stand Watie, John Bell, and William Rogers, all members of the Treaty Party.

The U.S. House of Representatives sided with Ross and charged President Martin Van Buren and the War Department with unjustified interference in Cherokee affairs.

The Cherokee After Removal

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, many prominent and influential Americans, particularly those from the southern states, had decided that the United States should not contain any Indians. Pretending that their primary concern was the “protection” of the Indians, they pressured Indians to move across the Mississippi River using open threats and harassment. In response some Cherokees began moving from their homelands in Georgia and Tennessee to the Southern Great Plains. When it became apparent that most Indians would not move voluntarily, the United States passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. Under the legal authority of this Act, in 1838-1839, the United States military forcibly and brutally force-marched thousands of Cherokee to their new home in what would become Oklahoma.

Upon their arrival in Oklahoma in 1839, some 13,000 Cherokee immigrants were to be issued subsistence rations by a government contractor. The government contractor, however, had little interest in Cherokee welfare and focused instead on enhancing profits with the government contract. The flour and meal which was provided to the new arrivals following their forced march was infested with weevils. Realizing that no-one in the government cared about these Indians, the contractors seized the opportunity to get rid of cattle which would be otherwise unsalable while charging the government for prime beef. Cherokee chief John Ross called the meat “poor and unhealthy.” When his complaints received no response, he purchased rations for the people from another private contractor.

In Oklahoma, the Cherokees faced the task of forming a new government. Three different groups were involved: (1) the Treaty Party which had the support of the Old Settlers and the planters, (2) the National Party which had the loyalties of two-thirds of the Cherokee population and was loyal to principal chief John Ross, and (3) the Keetoowah Society which had been formed prior to removal to prevent removal and considered itself to be a sacred institution rather than a political institution. American officials generally worked to discredit John Ross and the National Party as they viewed the Treaty Party as true patriots. The American officials generally portrayed Chief John Ross as a villain and the recent arrivals as “savages.”

John Brown, the first chief of the Western Cherokee, declared that the Eastern Cherokee had accepted the hospitality of the Western Cherokee and therefore they should live under the Western Cherokee government. However, John Ross argued for the continuation of the eastern Cherokee government. The Cherokee Nation—that is, the eastern Cherokee—had a written constitution and they had a far more elaborate law code than the Western Cherokee. The eastern Cherokee also constituted a major of the Cherokees in Oklahoma.

A constitutional convention was held and was presided over by Sequoyah, an Old Settler. Sequoyah and Jesse Bushyhead (an eastern Cherokee Baptist minister) worked out a compromise. The convention passed an Act of Union which was intended to unify the nation. The Old Settlers were guaranteed one-third of the seats in the new legislative body.

In the formation of the new government, John Ross was selected as principal chief; Joseph Vann, an Old Settler, was selected as second chief; and Young Wolf, an Old Settler, was chosen as speaker of the National Council. The Act of Union established the laws by which the Cherokees could live in harmony among themselves and deal with the American government which was threatening not only their traditional way of life, but their very existence.

In the Act of Union, the Cherokees made reference to inalienable rights and stated that each Cherokee had specific God-given rights. Since the Cherokee had the same God as that of the United States, this meant that the Cherokees should have the same political standing as other Americans. However, President James Polk stated:

“The Cherokees have been regarded as among the most enlightened of the Indian tribes; but experience has proved that they have not yet advanced to such a state of civilization as to dispense with the guardian care and control of the government of the United States.”

While American officials attempted to oust John Ross from the government, the United States did recognize the Act of Union as the Cherokee constitution.

The Act of Union did not bring about harmony or union. The animosities that divided the Cherokees continued. A group of 100 to 150 Cherokees associated with the National Party met in secret to discuss what to do about the Treaty Party. They felt that the men who signed the Treaty of New Echota were traitors and should be executed. They drew up a list of those who were to be killed and then drew straws to determine who would do each killing. John Ross did not attend the meeting.

The first to be killed was Elias Boudinot, the first editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, as the law of blood revenge was revived. Two other leaders of the Treaty Party, Major Ridge and John Ridge, were also murdered. Stand Watie managed to escape assassination. As signers of the Treaty of New Echota, all of these leaders were in violation of Cherokee law and the penalty for this violation was death. In one day, the prominent leaders of the Treaty Party were eliminated. These actions increased the friction between the two main Cherokee groups as those who had committed the murders now became targets of revenge.

The Council of the Cherokee Nation met shortly after the murders and declared that the three men had been outlaws since they had signed the removal treaty. The Council thus decreed that the killings were legal executions.

Stand Watie, distraught over the murders of his brother, uncle, and cousin, vowed revenge and began to raise a militia to kill John Ross.

The Secretary of War (who was in charge of Indian Affairs at this time), after listening to members of the Treaty Party, declared that the legitimate government of the Old Settlers had been illegally overthrown by Ross and the National Party. The American government demanded the arrest of those who had murdered the Treaty Party leaders. The American government refused to pay Cherokee annuities to the Ross government.

The divisions among the Cherokees continued to disrupt the peace and harmony of the nation for more than a generation.

Fort Manuel Lisa and the Indians

When the Corps of Discovery under the leadership of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned to St. Louis after their journey to the Pacific Ocean in 1807, they brought back reports of the rich beaver country at the headwaters of the Missouri River. As a result, the Upper Missouri in Montana became one of the most sought after prizes of the fur trade. In St. Louis, 12 separate companies were formed to exploit this newfound source of wealth.

One of the first fur traders to enter into the upper Missouri River area of what is now Montana was Manuel Lisa, a Louisiana Spaniard by birth. Lisa established a fort at the confluence of the Bighorn and Yellowstone Rivers. The venture was under the auspices of the Missouri Fur Trading Company of St. Louis and included four men who had been with Lewis and Clark. The expedition had a total of 42 men, including 37 French Canadians.

The trading post was named Fort Raymond by Lisa, but most people called it Fort Manuel. Some historians claim that the log cabin, consisting of two rooms and a loft, was the first permanent building in what would become the state of Montana. This claim, however, either ignores or is unaware of the permanent structures which had been built centuries earlier by Indian peoples.

Fort Manual was unusual it that it had coal for fuel. This was a luxury which was rare in the upper Missouri area.

Fur trading companies at this time would establish a trading post at a location convenient for several tribes, then have the Indians come to them bringing in the furs to trade. The new fort was located in Crow country. However, the Yellowstone Valley at this time was also used by the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Blackfoot hunting parties. This meant that the new trading post was also positioned to trade with these Indian nations as well as the Crow.

Lisa departed from the usual practice of waiting for Indians to bring in furs to trade by sending out his own trappers. He ignored any possible concerns that Indians might have about taking their animal resources.

In 1807, John Colter, one of Manuel Lisa’s employees, set out from Fort Manuel to make trade alliances with the Absaroka (Crow). He found the Crow to be friendly and travelled with them into the area that is now known as Yellowstone National Park. When he later reported about the geysers and other sights that he had seen, many non-Indians did not believe him.

In 1808, John Colter set out from Fort Manuel (now also known as Lisa’s Fort and Fort Ramon) on the Yellowstone River, crossed the Bozeman Pass and encountered a Flathead buffalo hunting party. He convinced them to return with him to the fort to establish trade relations. Near Bozeman Pass they were attacked by a large Blackfoot war party. Colter was wounded in the thigh. As the Flathead were about to be defeated, the Crow entered the battle and the Blackfoot were driven off. As a result of this battle, the Blackfoot considered the fur traders to be allies of their enemies and treated them accordingly. As a result, the Blackfoot attacked the fur trading and fur trapping parties.

The following year, John Colter was trapping when he was discovered by a Blackfoot party. From the Blackfoot perspective, he was not only trespassing on their hunting grounds, but he was also stealing their resources. Colter is captured. Instead of killing him, they strip him naked, and tell him to run for his life. This was a traditional punishment for people who were banished. Colter managed to escape and his story became legendary.

Lisa had hoped to monopolize the Missouri River fur trade and to establish trade with the Blackfoot. However, when he failed to establish peaceful relations with the Blackfoot, the fort was abandoned in 1811. The Blackfoot had not only refused to patronize the fort, but they had also run off the fort’s livestock and harassed the traders.

The Spanish and Indians in Florida, 1513 to 1527

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The Spanish invasion of what is now Florida began in 1513. At this time, there were at least 200,000 Native Americans living in the area. Even before the first Spanish explorers set foot in Florida, European diseases had begun to impact the Native population. Smallpox had been carried to the Calusa by Native people from Cuba. The Native people of south Florida were well aware of the Spanish from the reports from the Natives of the Caribbean islands with whom they had regularly traded for centuries.

Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon (the conqueror of Puerto Rico) explored the coast of Florida in 1513. It was Easter Week – Pasqua Florida in Spanish— when he landed and so the land was called Florida. The primary goal of the expedition was to obtain slaves. At this time, the Spanish were interested in Americans as laborers, sexual partners, guides, porters, and suppliers of food. While one of the common misconceptions repeated in history is that Ponce de Leon was looking for a fountain of youth, he was really looking for slaves who would add to his wealth.

The Spanish under Ponce de Leon landed just north of present-day Cape Canaveral which was the northern end of Ais territory. Sailing south of Cape Canaveral they sailed into Biscayne Bay and landed at a Tequesta town.

The Spanish ships then sailed into San Carlos Bay where they intended to clean and recaulk one of the ships. Eighty Calusa canoes filled with archers with shields approached the Spanish ships. The Spanish attacked, drove the Calusa to shore, broke up some of the canoes, and captured some women. The Calusa warriors, however, forced the Spanish to withdraw.

In 1517, three Spanish ships under the command of Hernández de Córdoba stopped for water at San Carlos Bay. The well-armed Spanish landing party was driven off by the Calusa. Six of the Spanish soldiers were wounded and one was carried off alive. However, the Spanish reported that they killed 35 Indians.

In 1519, Spanish sea captain Alonso de Piñada sailed along the Florida coast and then up the Mississippi River for about 20 miles. He reported seeing about 40 towns along the river.

That same year, a series of smallpox episodes began to strike the Native American population with a mortality rate of 50-75%.

In 1521, Juan Ponce de Leon attempted to establish a colony for the Spanish Crown. With a force of 200 men, including Catholic priests, 50 horses, and livestock (cows, sheep, goats), the Spanish landed at San Carlos Bay. They were met by Calusa warriors who inflicted a number of casualties and wounded Ponce de Leon in the thigh with a reed arrow. In the close combat conditions, the European weapons proved less than effective. The Spanish returned to Cuba where Ponce de Leon dies.

The Spanish soldier Pánfilio de Narváez, with a reputation for brutality and a strong desire to find gold and wealth, invaded Florida in 1527 with a force of 600. Narváez had two primary goals: to find gold and to discover a passage to the Pacific Ocean.

The Spanish landed somewhere near present-day Tampa. On a beach empty of any Indians, a monk reads the requerimiento and with this the Spanish feel that they have met the legal and religious obligation to take possession of the land and wage war against the natives. The requerimiento was a recitation of the Christian history of the world followed by the requirement that the Natives come forward of their own free will to convert to Catholicism or

“with the help of God we shall use force against you, declaring war upon you from all sides and with all possible means, and we shall bind you to the yoke of the Church and Their Highnesses; we shall enslave your persons, wives, and sons, sell you or dispose of you as the King sees fit; we shall seize your possessions and harm you as much as we can as disobedient and resisting vassals.”

Furthermore, the Natives who resisted were to be held guilty of all resulting deaths and injuries. The requerimiento was read in either Spanish or Latin with little concern for any possible Native comprehension of the words.

Narváez opened up negotiations with the Indians by having one of the chiefs and his family come into the Spanish camp. Spanish hospitality involved cutting off the chief’s nose and having his wife torn apart by dogs.

The Spanish entered a Timucua village which included one dwelling that could hold 300 people. The village was deserted as the Timucua planned to encourage the Spanish to leave by offering no hospitality. However, the Spanish found a gold rattle that ignited their gold-lust.

Next, the Spanish marched north to Tampa Bay. At one village the Franciscan priests ordered that the revered remains of the Timucua ancestors be burned. The Spanish continued their march northward without seeing any natives. The Timucua considered their policy of avoidance to be successful.

Near the Apalachicola River, the Spanish were met by the Timucua chief Dulchanchellin who was carried on a man’s back and was accompanied by a group that included musicians playing reed flutes. The two groups exchanged gifts and the chief led them to his village where he fed them. In the morning, the Spanish find that they are alone.

The Timucua warriors attacked Spanish soldiers as they were attempting to cross through a lake. The Timucua warriors fired arrows at a range of more than 200 paces with great precision. Spanish armor proved nearly worthless as the arrows, tipped with snake-teeth, bone, or flint, penetrated the steel. In spite of this, most of the Spanish soldiers survived.

Farther north, the Spanish carried out an unprovoked surprise attack against the Apalachee village of Apalachen. Even though this was one of the largest Apalachee villages, the Spanish did not find the treasure they were seeking. They found only corn, deerskins, woven cloth, and corn-grinding bowls. There was no gold.

The Spanish continued their march north into Aute country. They found that the Aute had burned and abandoned their village before the Spanish arrival.

The Narváez attempt was a failure. The Spanish found out that their crossbows were no match to the Indian longbows. The Indian bows, 6-7 feet long, were accurate to about 200 yards. Furthermore, the arrows, tipped with flint, bone, snake teeth, and fish scales, penetrated the Spanish armor. Spanish horses proved worthless as war machines in the Florida swamps and brush.

Only four members of the expedition survived: Narváez, Alvar Núnez Cabeza de Vaca, Andrés Dorantes, and a black slave Esteván (also called Estévanico and Esteban). They finally managed to return to Mexico City in 1536.