- c. 985-1014 - Norsemen, including Eric the Red and Leif Ericson, set up
outposts in North America and encounter Eskimos, Beothuks, and Micmacs.
- 1119 - Chinese invent the magnetic navigational needle leading to the
development of a reliable compass.
- c. 1200-1400 - Ancestral Apache and Navajo bands separate from northern
Athabascans and migrate to Southwest.
- c. 1275 - Drought and Athabascan raids lead to abandonment of Anasazi
settlements in Southwest.
- 1325 - The Capital of the Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlan, is founded.
- 1492 - Christopher Columbus, backed by Spain, reaches San Salvador
(Guanahani to the natives), encountering Arawak and Taino people. Thinking
he is in India, he calls them Indians.
- 1497-98 - John and Sebastion Cabot explore east coast of North America for
England. They kidnap three Micmac men.
- c. 1500 - European diseases begin killing native North Americans, who have
no immunity to them.
- 1501 - Amerigo Vespucci - disputing the idea that Columbus had found the
back door to Asia, this Italian navigator was the first to call the Americas a "New
World." European mapmakers thus came to know both continents as "the
land of Americgo," or America.
- 1512 - Spanish law gives Spanish land grantees the right to make slaves of
Indians under the encomienda system.
- 1513 - V. Nunez de Balboa - Climbing a mountain crest on the Isthmus of
Panama this Spaniard became the first European to see the Pacific Ocean and
first to realize the vast distance between the New World and Asia.
- 1513-21 - Juan Ponce de Leon of Spain reaches Florida and has extensive
contact with Indians before Calusa war canoes drive his ships away. On an
expedition in 1521, he is wounded by a Calusa arrow and later dies in Havana.
- 1519-1521 - Ferdinand Magellan spurned by his king, this Portuguese captain
turned to Spain for support of the first circumnavigation of the globe. Blessed
with unusually peaceful weather across the new ocean, he named it the Pacific.
He was killed in the Philippines while fighting in a local war, and only 18
members of his crew returned home.
- 1523-24 - Giovanni da Verrazano, sailing for France, explores the Atlantic
coast, encountering Wampanoag, Narragansett, and Delaware Indians.
- 1528-36 - A. Nunez Cabeza de Vaca surviving one disaster after another
during an eight-year odyssey from Florida to the Gulf of California, he and
three others became, by accident, the first Europeans to cross the North
- 1532 - Francisco Pizarro of Spain proved the power of European weaponry in
the New World, this conquistador subdued an Inca army of perhaps 80,000 with a
force of fewer than 200. Over the next few decades the Spanish sent enough gold
back to Spain to cause severe inflation in Europe.
- 1534-41 - Jacques Cartier of France explores the St. Lawrence River area in
three voyages, making contact with Algonquian and Iroquoian speaking tribes.
On one trip he reaches the Huron towns of Stadaconna and Hochelaga (now
Quebec City and Montreal).
- 1539-43 - Hernando de Soto claims Florida for Spain and explores the
Southeast, encountering and alienating numerous tribes; he and his Spanish
expedition became in 1841 the first Europeans to see the Mississippi River as
they explored westward from Florida.
- 1540-42 - Francisco Vasques de Coronado of Spain explores the Southwest in
search of Seven Cities of Cibola.
- 1542 - Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and Bartolome Ferrelo explore the California
and Oregon coasts.
- 1564-65 - Rene de Laudonniere heads French colony on St. Johns River in
Florida until expelled by Spanish. French artist Jacques le Moyne paints
first known European depiction of Indians.
- 1565 - Spanish under Pedro Menendez de Aviles found St. Augustine in
Florida, the first permanent European settlement in North America.
- 1576-78 - Martin Frobisher of England, seeking a Northwest Passage to the
Pacific, encounters various Eskimo groups.
- 1581 - Francis Drake - Like Balboa 60 years earlier, he first glimpsed the
Pacific in Panama, then vowed to "sail once an English ship in that sea."
His voyage around the world as a privateer was instrumental in breaking Spain's
control of the high seas. When Queen Elizabeth knighted this royal pirate it
helped goad Spain into war.
- 1585 - Sir Walter Raleigh founds colony on Roanoke Island in what will
become Virginia. In 1591 Gov. John White returns from a trip to England to
find that the colonists have vanished.
- 1598 - John de Onate establishes first Spanish colony in New Mexico.
- 1598-99 - Natives of Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico attack Spanish troops; a
retaliatory force under Onate kills as many as 800 Acomans.
- 1600 - East India Company founded in London. Dutch and French follow soon,
as other Europeans come to rival Iberians in world trade.
- 1603-15 - Samuel de Champlain's voyages in the Northeast lead to contacts
with many Algonquian and Iroquoian tribes. In 1615 Champlain attacks
Onondaga villages with the help of a Huron war party, this turning the
Iroquois League against the French.
- 1607 - English colonists found Jamestown, Virginia under John Smith,
leading to extensive contact with the tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy.
- 1608 - Samuel de Champlain and French colonists found Quebec; later he
pushed west to Lake Huron, establishing alliances with Indians and opening what
became a vital fur-trading route through the wilderness - Telescope invented
- 1610 - Henry Hudson, in service of the Netherlands, explores the river
named for him - Mahattan Indians attack his ship; Mahican people make
peaceful contact, and a lucrative fur trade begins.
- 1613 - In response to gunfire aimed at them, the Beothuk of Newfoundland
kill 37 French fisherman. The French retaliate by arming the Micmac,
traditional enemies of the Beothuk, and offering bounties for scalps. The
Beothuk are soon virtually exterminated.
- 1616-20 - Smallpox epidemic strikes New England tribes between Narragansett
Bay and the Penobscot River.
- 1620 - Pilgrims from England arrive in Plymouth.
- 1624 - Dutch settlers found Fort Orange (Albany, New York) in New
- 1626 - Canarsie Indians sell Manhattan Island to Peter Minuet, governor of
New Netherland, for 60 guilders in trade goods. Dutch later have to pay
Manhattan Indians, actual occupants of the island.
- 1629-33 - Spanish found Catholic missions for Acoma, Hopi, and Zuni
- 1633-35 - New smallpox outbreaks among Indians of New England, New France,
and New Netherland.
- 1636-37 - Pequot War in New England: White colonists kill more than 600
people in surprise attack on main Pequot village.
- 1638 - Sweden lays claim to land around Delaware Bay, maintaining trade
outpost until 1655.
- c. 1640 - Beavers and otters nearly exterminated in Iroquois country. To
expand territory, Iroquois launch decades-long "Beaver Wars"
against Huron and other tribes. In 1650, 300 Huron survivors settle at
Lorette under French protection.
- 1644 - Second Powhatan Confederacy uprising against Jamestown; its leader,
Opechancanough, dies in captivity.
- 1661 - Spanish in Southwest raid sacred kivas of Pueblo towns and destroy
hundreds of kachina masks in an effort to suppress native religion.
- 1664 - England gains control of New Netherland from the Dutch and become
ally and trade partners with the Iroquois.
- 1668-69 - Pierre Esprit Radisson and Medard Chouart, sieur de Groseilliers,
explore west of the St. Lawrence River as far as Lake Superior, plus the
Hudson Bay region, for England.
- 1670 - Hudson's Bay Company chartered in London by King Charles II.
- 1672 - Colonial postal officials employ Indian couriers to carry mail
between New York City and Albany; winter weather is too severe for white
- 1673 - French explorers explore Mississippi River, reach mouth of Missouri
- 1675-76 - King Philip's War pits the Wampanoag, Narragansett, and Nipmuc
against the New England Confederation of colonies. Metacom (King Philip) is
killed in 1676.
- 1678-79 - Daniel Greysolon Duluth of France explores Great Lakes and
negotiates treaties between the warring Ojibwa and Sioux.
- 1680 - Pueblo Indians rise up in rebellion against Spanish rule; the
revolt, led by Pope, a Tewa medicine man, expels the occupiers. In 1689 the
Spanish begin reconquest of the Pueblos.
- 1682 - Robert Cavelier de la Salle claims the entire Mississippi Valley for
France, name the area Louisiana - William Penn's treaty with the Delaware
begins a period of friendly relations between the Quakers and Indians.
- 1689 - Nicolas Perrot formally claims upper Mississippi region for France.
- 1689-97 - King William's War is the first in a series of colonial wars
between England and France and their Indian allies, continuing to 1763
During these wars, the Iroquois League generally sides with the English, and
the Algonquian tribes with the French.
- 1695 - First Pima uprising against Spanish authorities in the Southwest;
second uprising occurs in 1751.
- 1710 - Three Mohawk chiefs and one Mahican are received in Queen Anne's
court in England as the Four Kings of the New World.
- 1711-13 - Tuscarora War on North Carolina frontier fought between British
settlers and Tuscarora Indians. Remnants of this Iroquoian tribe migrate
north; in 1722 the Tuscarora become the sixth tribe of the Iroquois
- 1712-34 - Fox resistance against the French in the Great Lakes area.
- 1720-60 - The Chickasaw fight the French and the Choctaw in the Southeast.
- 1729 - French governor of Louisiana, wanting the site for a plantation,
orders the Natchez to vacate their capital. The furious Natchez kill 200
Frenchmen at Fort Rosalie in response; the French answer by annihilating the
- 1730 - Mirror sextant invented - Seven Cherokee chiefs visit London and
form an alliance, The Articles of Agreement, with King George II.
- 1738 - Smallpox strikes the Cherokee in the Southeast, killing almost half
the population. Smallpox also reaches tribes in western Canada
- 1741 - Vitus Bering, in service of Russia, reaches Alaska; Russians soon
trade with natives for sea otter pelts.
- 1746 - Typhoid fever epidemic breaks out among the Micmac of Nova Scotia.
- 1750 - Moor's Indian Charity School is founded in Connecticut. It moves to
New Hampshire in 1769; as Dartmouth College, it encourages enrollment of
- 1751 - Benjamin Franklin cites Iroquois League as model for his Albany Plan
of Union, later an influence on the U.S. Constitution.
- 1752 - Benjamin Franklin flies kite in electrical storm
- 1754 - Anthony Henday travels west from Hudson Bay onto Plains, meets
natives on horseback and sees Rocky Mountains
- 1754-63 - French and Indian War (the colonial phase of Europe's Seven Years
- 1763 - Treaty of Paris officially ends French and Indian Wars and gives
Great Britain control of Canada; France cedes New France to England and
Louisiana to Spain.
- 1755-75 - William Johnson, British superintendent of Indian affairs in the
northern colonies, persuades the Iroquois League to break its neutrality and
side with England against France.
- 1760-61 - Cherokee War on Carolina frontier flares up over continuing
treaty violations by colonists.
- 1761-66 - Aleut people revolt against Russian abuses in Alaska
- 1763 - Proclamation by King George III bans settlements west of the
Appalachians and establishes a protected Indian Country there. White
settlers ignore the boundary line - Indian raids in Pennsylvania lead to the
Paxton Riots - Peaceful Conestoga Mission Indians are massacred by settlers.
- 1763-64 - Pontiac's Rebellion threatens British control of the Great Lakes
region before being put down. Pontiac, an Ottawa chief, is killed in 1769 by
a Kaskaskia Indian in Illinois
- 1765 - Reserve system in Canada begins with the provision of a tract of
land for the Maliseet tribe.
- 1769 - Gaspar de Portola claims California for Spain and establishes
mission system under Junipero Serra, a Franciscan priest.
- 1770 - David Thompson born in London - William Wordsworth born in
- 1771 - Captain James Cook completes his first voyage around the world
- 1772 - Samuel Hearne explores Coppermine River to Arctic Ocean
- 1774 - Lord Dunmore's War fought in Virginia between settlers and Shawnees.
- 1775 - Daniel Boone leads party of settlers into Kentucky
- 1776 - American Revolution begins - Spanish establish mission at San
- 1776-77 - Capt. James Cook of England explores the Pacific Northwest
- 1777 - David Thompson enters Grey Coat School
- 1778 - Spinning mule invented to spin multiple strands of yarn - James Cook
trades for sea otter pelts in Nootka Sound - First treaty between the United
States and an Indian nation is negotiated with the Delaware; they are
offered the prospect of statehood - British and Iroquois forces attack and
massacre American settlers in western New York and Pennsylvania. In 1779 a
retaliatory U.S. campaign destroys Indian towns and crops, breaking the
Iroquois League's power.
- 1779 - James Cook killed by Hawaiian natives, cutting short his search for
- 1780-1800 - Smallpox and measles decimate Indians in Texas and New Mexico.
In 1782-83 a small pox epidemic hits the Sanpoil of Washington
- 1781-89 - The Articles of Confederation establish the principle that the
central government, not the states, should regulate Indian affairs and trade
- 1782 - Christian Delaware Indians are massacred by Americans at
Gnadenhutten in Ohio
- 1783 - Treaty of Paris ends American Revolution - North West Fur Company
established in Montreal - Continental Congress proclamation bars white
squatters on Indian lands
- 1784 - David Thompson begins apprenticeship on Hudson Bay - Dr. Samuel
Johnson dies in London - James Cook's journal of his last voyage published
in London - North West Company is chartered in Montreal to compete in fur
trade with the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1821 the two companies merge.
- 1785 - Introduction of Power loom in England for weaving cloth
- 1787 - David Thompson winters with Piegans near Rocky Mountains - Northwest
Ordinance calls for Indian rights, establishment of reservations, and
sanctity of tribal lands; but it also sets guidelines for development of the
Old Northwest that lead to increased white settlement
- 1787-89 - The new U.S. Constitution gives the federal government sole power
to regulate commerce with Indian tribes
- 1789 - French Revolution begins - David Thompson learns surveying from
- 1789-93 - Alexander Mackenzie of Canada, seeking northern river route to
the Pacific, travels to the Arctic Ocean; on second journey he crosses
continent by land, making contact with many tribes.
- 1790 - Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia - British Captain George
Vancouver begins his three-year survey of northwest coast of North America -
Spain signs the Nootka Convention, ceding the Pacific Northwest to England
and the United States.
- 1791-91 - Little Turtle's War: Shawnee, Miami, and other tribes win major
battles against Americans in Ohio Valley, including defeat of Gen. Arthur
- 1792 - American Captain Robert Gray discovers mouth of Columbia River -
George Vancouver's Lieutenant William Broughton explores Columbia 100 miles
- 1793 - Alexander Mackenzie reaches Pacific Ocean at Bella Coola - David
Thompson surveys Muskrat Country west of Hudson Bay
- 1794 - Jay Treaty establishes neutral commission to settle border disputes
between United States and Canada; restores trade between the United States
and British colonies of Canada; also guarantees Indians free movement across
- 1796 - Scottish explorer Mungo Park reaches headwaters of Niger River in
what is now Mali, West Africa
- 1797 - David Thompson leaves Hudson's Bay Company to join North West
- 1798 - David Thompson travels to Mandan villages and charts headwaters of
Mississippi River - Napoleon invades Egypt - Horatio Nelson and British Navy
defeat French at Battle of the Nile
- 1799 - David Thompson marries Charlotte Small - Alexander Mackenzie resigns
from North West Company - George Vancouver's Journeys to the North
Pacific Ocean published in London - Handsome Lake, a Seneca chief,
founds the Longhouse religion - Russian-American Fur Company chartered;
launches aggressive policy in Aleutians and on Northwest Coast
- 1800 - Alexander Mackenzie joins XY Fur Company
- 1801 - David Thompson attempts to cross Rocky Mountains - Alexander
Mackenzie's Voyages to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans published in
London - Mackenzie knighted in honor of his explorations - Thomas Jefferson
takes the Oath of Office as President on March 4th.
- 1802 - Federal law prohibits the sale of liquor to Indians
- 1802-20 - The Tlingit resist Russian incursions into their territory
- 1803 - Thomas Jefferson completes Louisiana Purchase extending U.S. control
west of the Mississippi River; federal plans to resettle Eastern tribes
beyond the Mississippi soon begin - John Colter becomes the fourth man
selected by William Clark to join the Lewis & Clark Expedition
- 1804 - David Thompson works in Peace River country - Lewis and Clark start
up Missouri River - Merger of the Northwest and XY Fur Companies
- 1805 - Admiral Nelson defeats French at Battle of Trafalgar - Lewis and
Clark Reach Pacific Ocean
- 1806 - Russian-American Fur Company collects otter pelts from Alaska to
Spanish California - Mungo Park killed by natives on Niger River - On return
trip John Colter is released from Lewis & Clark Expedition to join
Forrest Hancock and Joseph Dickson (Dixon) to trap the Yellowstone River -
U.S. Office of Superintendent of Indian Trade is established to administer
federal Indian trading houses.
- 1807 - David Thompson crosses Rockies and builds trading post at headwaters
of Columbia River - In the spring John Colter joins Manuel Lisa at the
Platte River who winters on Yellowstone River at the mouth of the Bighorn
River - Zebulon Pike explores Southwest into Colorado - Great Britain
abolishes institution of slavery - Thomas Jefferson signs bill banning all
foreign trade following British attacks on American shipping - Lisa sends John
Colter to find the Crow Indians and during this time he becomes the first
explorer to enter the present boundary of Yellowstone Park
- 1808 - David Thompson explores Kootenai River - Simon Fraser follows Fraser
River to the Pacific - Napoleon invades Spain - Colter with Flathead Indians
are attacked by Blackfeet near the Three Forks - On a return trip to the
Three Forks John Colter & John Potts are captured by Blackfeet, Potts is
killed and Colter is stripped and told to run for his life (Colter's Run) -
American Fur Company is chartered by John Jacob Astor to compete with
Canadian fur trade
- 1809 - President James Madison reinstates embargo on British trade -
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck's theory of evolution based on acquired
characteristics published in Paris - Charles Darwin born - Treaty of Fort
Wayne obtains 2.5 million acres from Indians for white settlers in Ohio and
- 1809-11 - Tecumseh, Shawnee chief, and the Prophet campaign to unite tribes
of the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, and Southeast against the United States.
His brother Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet, is defeated at Tippecanoe in
- 1809-23 - Sequoyah single-handedly creates a Cherokee syllabic alphabet so
that his people's language can be written
- 1810 - David Thompson builds trade houses on Pend Oreille Lake and Flathead
River - Sir Walter Scott publishes The Lady of the Lake - Colter
guides Colonel Menard to Three Forks to build a fort. Colter returns to St.
Louis leaving May 1st and arriving on May 31st.
- 1811 - John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company establishes post at mouth of
Columbia River - David Thompson follows Columbia to Pacific and finishes
charting entire length of the river - William Price Hunt, leading Astor's
overland party, explores Snake River Valley and much of future Oregon Trail
- 1812 - David Thompson retires to Montreal - Napoleon retreats from Russia
after burning Moscow - Baron Cuvier publishes first volume of his Researches
on the Bones of Fossil Vertebrates - John Colter dies on May 7th.
- 1812-15 - War of 1812: Tecumseh, allied with the British, dies in 1813 at
the Battle of the Thames in Canada
- 1813 - Jane Austen publishes Pride and Prejudice anonymously in
- 1813-14 - Creek War (also called Red Stick War) ends in treaty that strips
Creeks of their land in Southeast
- 1814 - David Thompson delivers his map of western North America to partners
of North West Company - Treaty of Ghent ends War of 1812
- 1815 - Wellington defeats Napoleon at Waterloo
- 1817 - David Thompson takes post as chief surveyor for International
- 1817-18 - First Seminole War: Gen. Andrew Jackson invades Florida in
punitive expedition against the Seminole
- 1820-24 - Kickapoo resistance to removal from Illinois Territory; Winnebago
uprising in Wisconsin follows in 1827
- 1821 - Amalgamation of North West and Hudson's Bay Companies
- 1823 - James Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneer, first volume of his
Leatherstocking series, published in United States
- 1824 - U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is created as part of the War
- 1825 - Spokane House closed - Fort Colville built at Kettle Falls - A
separate Indian Country west of the Mississippi is first denied - Britain
introduces the steam train, a revolution in land transportation.
- 1827 - The Cherokee adopt a constitution patterned on U.S. Constitution; it
is nullified by the Georgia legislature
- 1828-35 - The Cherokee Phoenix, a bilingual weekly newspaper, is
published, printing stories in cherokee and English
- 1830 - John Mullan born July 31 in Norfolk, Virginia - Indian Removal Act
passed by U.S. Congress, calling for relocation of Eastern tribes to an
Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. Acherokee legal challenge
produces an 1832 Supreme Court ruling in their favor, but President Andrew
Jackson ignores it. From 1831 to 1839 the so-called Five Civilized Tribes
(Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole) are forcibly moved from the
Southeast to Indian Territory - Influenza epidemic strikes tribes of British
Columbia. In 1830-33 there are multiple outbreaks of European diseases in
California and Oregon
- 1832 - Black Hawk War in Illinois and Wisconsin waged by Sauk and Fox
tribes under Black Hawk against U.S. forces
- 1833-34 - Missouri River expedition of German explorer Prince Maximilian
and Swiss artist Karl Bodmer
- 1835-42 - Second Seminole War: Osceola, leader of resistance, dies in
prison in 1838
- 1836 - Washington Irving's Astoria published
- 1837 - Smallpox epidemic devastates the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara of the
upper Missouri. By 1870 four major smallpox epidemics strike Western tribes
- 1839 - American Elkanah Walker builds mission for Spokane Indians north of
- 1843 - David Thompson sends a set of refined maps to London - The first of
300,000 American settlers follow Oregon Trail west - Russian Orthodox Church
founds first mission school for Eskimos in Alaska
- 1846 - David Thompson begins compiling a book about his travels - Great
Britain and United States settle long-disputed boundary of Oregon Territory
- 1846-48 - U.S.- Mexican War begun by U.S. annexation of Texas (1845). The
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) cedes the Spanish Southwest, home of many
Indian tribes, to the United States
- 1847 - U.S. Trade and Intercourse Act regulates commerce with Indian tribes
and maintains peace on the frontier - Outbreak of measles among the Cayuse
of the Pacific Northwest
- 1847-50 - Cayuse War in Oregon
- 1848 - First white whalers reach Alaska
- 1848-49 - Gold discovered in California, starting the Gold Rush and
escalating the pressures on California, Great Basin, and Plains Indians
- 1849 - Alexander Ross's Adventures of the First Settlers on the
Columbia River published in United States - Courthouse Rebellion in
Canada launched by the Red River Metis
- 1850-51 - Mariposa War in California pits white miners against the Miwok
and the Yokut; uprising by Yuma and Mariposa in California and Arizona
- 1850-60 - Cholera epidemic sweeps the Great Basin and southern Plains
- 1851 - Gabriel Franchere's Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast
of America published in Montreal - Treaty of Fort Laramie marks turning
point in U.S.-Indian relations on the northern Plains
- 1853 - Isaac Stevens surveys route for railroad across northern Rockies;
accompanied by John Mullan - Gadsden Purchase transfers Mexican lands in New
Mexico, Arizona, and California to U.S. ownership
- 1853-56 - The United States acquires 174 million acres of Indian lands in a
series of 52 treaties, all of which are subsequently broken by whites
- 1854 - U.S. Indian Affairs commissioner calls for end of Indian removal
- 1855 - Stevens persuades tribes of Columbia Plateau to sign treaty ceding
their lands and to move to reservations - Flatheads, Kootenais, and Pend
Oreilles sign treaty ceding 25,000 square miles of territory - Gold
discovered on Pend Oreille River
- 1855-56 - Yakima War in Washington involves the Yakima, Walla Walla,
Umatilla, and Cayuse tribes
- 1855-58 - Third Seminole War in Florida
- 1856 - Bessemer furnace used to make steel in England
- 1857 - David Thompson dies in Montreal
- 1858 - John Mullan begins construction of the "Mullan Road"
between Fort Benton and Walla Walla - Coeur d'Alene War (or Spokan War)
waged in Washington by Coeur d'Alene, Spokan, Palouse, Yakima, and Northern
Paiute coalition - Battle of Four Lakes (August 31-September 1)
- 1861-63 - Apache uprisings in Southwest led by Mangas Coloradas and Cochise
- 1861-65 - U.S. Civil War: Most Indian tribes remain neutral, but the
Cherokee and others of the Five Civilized Tribes are induced to aid the
South with promises to return tribal lands. After the war, the Five Tribes
are forced to cede half of Indian Territory as punishment
- 1862 - John Mullan promoted to Captain and completes the "Mullan Road"
- Smallpox sweeps through Fort Victoria area and down the length of the
Northwest Coast, killing an estimated 200,000 Indian people - William
Duncan, an Anglican missionary on Northwest Coast, establishes village of
Metlakatla with 50 Tsimshian followers, who adopt Christian faith and
European life-styles. By 1880 more than 1,000 converts live there
- 1862-63 - Santee Sioux uprising in Minnesota under Chief Little Crow ends
with the hanging of 38 Santees on Dec. 26, 1863, the largest mass execution
in U.S. history
- 1863-66 - Navajo War in New Mexico and Arizona. In 1864, 8,000 Navajo
prisoners are forced on the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo. War chief Manuelito
surrenders in 1866
- 1864 - Indians are declared competent witnesses under a new federal law and
allowed to testify in trials against whites
- 1864-65 - Cheyenne-Arapaho War in Colorado and Kansas. On Nov. 29, 1864,
Col. John M. Chivington's hastily assembled volunteers massacre more than
300 Indians camped at Sand Creek
- 1866 - U.S. Congress appropriates Indian lands as right-of-way for
construction of transcontinental railroad
- 1866-68 - War for the Bozeman Trail in Wyoming and Montana pits Cheyenne,
Sioux, and Arapaho forces led by Chief Red Cloud against the U.S. Army. It
will remain the only full-scale "Indian War" won by the Indians, a
victory formalized in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty
- 1867 - U.S. purchase of Alaska from Russia adds Eskimo, Aleut, and
Athabascan groups to the U.S. population - Hancock Campaign against the
Cheyenne and Arapaho on the Plains - British North America Act creates the
Dominion of Canada, which takes responsibility for native affairs - U.S.
Peace Commission surveys Indian affairs and recommends that the existing
treaty process be abolished; in 1871 Congress formally does so. Between 1778 and
1871 the U.S. Senate approves 372 treaties with Indian tribes
- 1868 - Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution gives blacks the vote but
specifically excludes Indians - U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs
estimates that Indian Wars in the West are costing the government $1 million
per Indian killed
- 1868-69 - Southern Plains War involves Cheyenne, Sioux, Arapaho, Kiowa, and
- 1869 - President Grant's Peace Policy is inaugurated and lasts until 1874.
In 1870 Grant transfers control of Indian agencies from army officers to
Christian missionary groups of various denominations - Brig. Gen. Ely
Parker, a Seneca, becomes first Native American to head Bureau of Indian
Affairs (BIA); he serves until 1871 - First Riel Rebellion in Canada
Launched by Red River Metis - Transcontinental railroad completed: the Union
Pacific and Central Pacific join up at Promontory Point, Utah
- 1869-70 - Smallpox epidemic strikes Canadian Plains tribes, including
Blackfeet, Piegan, and Blood.
- 1871 - Congress ratifies last of 372 treaties made with Indian tribes since
1778; later accords will not have treaty status, which recognizes tribes as
sovereign nations - General Sheridan issues orders forbidding western
Indians to leave reservations without permission - White hunters in Unites
States begin wholesale killing of buffalo
- 1872-73 - Modoc War in California and Oregon. Modoc leader Kintpuash
(Captain Jack) is hanged in 1873
- 1874 - Gold discovered in Black Hills of South Dakota, sacred to the Sioux.
Treaties protecting them ignored by whites
- 1874-75 - Read River War on the southern Plains, involving the Comanche,
Kiowa, and Cheyenne, is led by Quanah Parker, Satanta, and others
- 1876 - Canadian Indian Act gives individual natives the right to seek
Canadian citizenship by renouncing their rights and privileges as Indians
- 1876-77 - Sioux War for the Black Hills waged by Sioux, Cheyenne, and
Arapaho forces under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. On June 25, 1876,
Custer's 7th Cavalry is crushed at Battle of the Little Bighorn. Sitting
Bull and followers seek refuge in Canada; in 1877 Crazy Horse is killed
while in custody
- 1877 - Nez Perce War - Blackfoot tribes cedes land to the Dominion of
- 1877-80 - Apache resistance in the Southwest under Victorio
- 1878 - Fort Coeur d'Alene, Later Fort Sherman established - The Bannock War
in Idaho and Oregon involves the Bannock, Northern Paiute, and Cayuse -
Congress votes funds for Indian police and in 1883 empowers tribal units to
administer justice in all but major crimes. In 1885, federal courts are
given jurisdiction over Indian cases involving major crimes on reservations
- 1878-79 - Flight of Northern Cheyenne under Dull Knife from Oklahoma to
homeland in Dakota Territory
- 1879 - The Sheepeater Troubles - Carlisle Indian School founded in
Pennsylvania, with the goal of assimilating Indians into white culture - In
ruling on lawsuit filed by Ponca chief Standing Bear, U.S. federal court in
Nebraska upholds right of Indians to sue
- 1880 - Camp Spokane, later Fort Spokane, established at the mouth of
Spokane River on the Columbia River
- 1881 - Sitting Bull and 187 followers surrender to U.S. officials at Fort
Buford, North Dakota - John Slocum, a Coast Salish laborer and Catholic
convert, begins to preach a gospel of clean living and spiritual renewal. So
is born Tschadam, the Indian Shaker religion
- 1881-86 - Apache resistance continues under Geronimo in the Southwest until
Geronimo's surrender in 1886, which marks the end of the Indian Wars
- 1884 - Canadian Parliament passes the Indian Advancement Act, encouraging
democratic elections of chiefs. Mohawks at St. Regis, Ontario, resist the
provision, preferring their traditional method of choosing leaders -
Congress acknowledges the rights of Eskimos to Alaskan territorial lands
- 1885 - The last great herd of buffalo in the United States is exterminated
- Canada outlaws the potlatch ceremony among Northwest Coast tribes. The
law, often ignored, is repealed in 1951 - Second Riel Rebellion is launched
in Metis along the Saskatchewan River in Canada
- 1886 - Mohawk men of the Caughnawaga Reserve in Quebec are trained to help
build a bridge across the St. Lawrence River. so begins a tradition of high
steel construction work among the Iroguois
- 1887 - Congress passes the General Allotment Act (the Dawes Act), which
ends communal ownership of reservation lands, distributing 160-acre "allotments"
to individual Indians and disposing of the surplus. Tribes lose millions of
- 1889 - Two million acres of Indian Territory (later Oklahoma) are bought
from Indians for distribution to white settlers; the first Land Run quickly
- 1890 - Ghost Dance movement led by the Paiute prophet Wovoka gains
influence among Plains Indians. On Dec. 15, 1890, Sitting Bull is killed at
Pine Ridge, South Dakota, increasing tensions there. On Dec. 28, U.S. troops
massacre more than 200 Sioux preparing for a Ghost Dance at Wounded Knee
- 1890-1910 - U.S. Indian population reaches low point: less than 250,000
- 1891 - Congress authorizes the leasing by whites of allotted Indian lands
- 1896-98 - Klondike Gold Rush to the Yukon Territory and Alaska
- 1898 - Curtis Act seeks to extend allotment policy to "Five Civilized
Tribes" by dissolving tribal governments, requiring abolished Indian
nations to submit to allotment, and instituting civil government in Indian
- 1899 - Fort Spokane becomes a school for Indian children
- 1901 - Snake uprising in Oklahoma Territory; Creek Indians under Chitto
Harjo resist allotment
- 1902 - Entire Eskimo population of Southampton Island in Hudson Bay is
wiped out by typhus - U.S. government offers first oil and gas leases on
Indian Lands in Oklahoma - Reclamation Act encourages settlements of the
West by whites through subsidies for water development
- 1903-1906 - Roald Amundsen becomes the first to navigate the Northwest
Passage, and in 1911 first to reach the South Pole, this Norwegian explorer also
sailed the Northwest Passage from Norway to Alaska and crossed the North Pole by
- 1906 - Federal Government seizes 50,000 acres of wilderness land, including
Blue Lake in New Mexico, sacred to Taos Pueblo Indians, as part of a
- 1907 - Seventy high-steel works of the Iroquois Caughnawaga Band killed
while working on the Quebec Bridge
- 1908 - Supreme Court defines rights of the federal government to reserve
water for the use of Indian tribes
- 1909 - Captain John Mullan dies December 28 - Theodore Roosevelt, two days
before leaving the presidency, issues eight executive orders transferring
2.5 million acres of timbered Indian reservation lands to national forests
- 1910 - Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) starts first regular Indian medical
service - Federal government forbids the Sun Dance among the Plains Indians,
giving the use of self-torture as the reason
- 1911 - Society of American Indians, committed to Pan-Indianism and
citizenship for Indians, is founded
- 1912 - Anti-allotment Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws from the
Four Mothers Society go to Washington to argue their case before Congress -
Jim Thorpe, Sauk and Fox athlete of the Carlisle School, wins pentathlon and
decathlon at Stockholm Olympic Games. In 1913 he is stripped of medals
because he previously played semiprofessional baseball; they are reinstated
- 1913 - Federal government issues Indian Head nickel with composite portrait
of three Indian chiefs--Cheyenne, Seneca, and Sioux--on one side and a
buffalo on the reverse side
- 1914 - Fort Spokane becomes an Indian hospital and tuberculosis sanatorium
- 1915 - Congress authorizes Bureau of Indian Affairs to buy land for
landless natives in California
- 1916 - Thompson's Narrative of Travels in Western North America,
1784-1812 published by Champlain Society in Toronto
- 1917 - Papago (Tohono O'odham) Indian Reservation in Arizona is the last to
be established by executive order
- 1918 - Native American Church, with rites that include the scramental use
of peyote, is incorporated in Oklahoma by members of the Kiowa, Comanche,
Cheyenne, Apache, Ponca, and Oto tribes
- 1928 - Charles Curtis, a Kansa Indian and U.S. senator, is elected
vice-president under Herbert Hoover
- 1934 - U.S. Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) reverses U.S. policy of
allotment, providing for tribal self-government and landholding and
launching an Indian credit program. In 1936 Congress extends provisions of
the IRA to Alaska natives
- 1939 - The Seneca of Tonawanda, New York, issue a Declaration of
Independence from the state of New York
- 1953 - Congress repeals special Indian alcohol prohibition laws
- 1964 - U.S. Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination for reasons of color,
race, religion, or national origin
- 1965 - Voting Rights Act ensures equal voting rights
- 1969 - Red Power activists occupy Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to
call attention to the plight of contemporary Indians. The occupation lasts
- 1972 - White vigilantes beat Raymond Yellow Thunder to death in Gorden,
Neb. A ruling of death by suicide causes protests by more than 1,000 Sioux
from Pine Ridge Reservation. Officials, forced to perform an autopsy, change
their finding to manslaughter; two of the killers are subsequently tried and
convicted - Yakima tribe is returned 21,000 acres in the state of Washington
- 1973 - Members of AIM and about 200 armed Oglala Sioux occupy site of the
Wounded Knew Massacre on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for 71 days.
A siege results, with outbreaks of gunfire and the killing of two Indians
- 1974 - In Minnesota, the first trial steming from the occupation of Wounded
Knew takes place. In 1975 AIM leaders Dennis Banks and Russell Means are
convicted on assault and riot charges. In 1978 Gov. Jerry Brown gives Banks
sanctuary in California
- 1975 - Shoot-out on Pine Ridge Reservation between AIM members and FBI
agents results in the death of two agents. Leonard Peltier is later
convicted, a verdict that remains controversial
- 1983 - Dennis Banks, the AIM leader, still under indictment in South Dakota
for 1973 Wounded Knee occupation, takes refuge on the Onondaga Reservation
in New York State. In 1984 Banks surrenders to officials in South Dakota; he
is sentenced to three years in prision
- 1985 - Wilma Mankiller becomes Princpal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, the
first woman in modern times to lead a major tribe
- 1994 - President Clinton invites leaders of all 547 federally recognized
American Indian and Alaska native tribes to the White House, the first-ever
meeting of its kind. Tribal leaders and U.S. officials identify issues for