CHRONOLOGY AND TIMELINE FOR AMERICAN INDIAN HISTORY

1999 Minnesota et. al. v. Mille Lacs band of Chippewa Indians et. al. in a 5:4 decision the United States Supreme Court narrowly upholds off-reservation treaty rights for Minnesota’s Chippewa Indians.  A decade earlier, a very different Supreme Court refused to issue a writ of certiorari allowing a lower court ruling upholding treaty rights to stand.  The treaties and facts in both cases were nearly identical.

 

1998  The Makah conclude a successful gray whale hunt.

 

1994  The Makah announce their interest in resuming their traditional grey whale hunts

 

1990 Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (Public Law 101-601), United States, requires museums and federal agencies to return human remains, funerary and sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony to tribes that can show they had belonged to the tribe and had been removed without the tribe's consent. Trafficking in human remains is prohibited.

 

1990 Elijah Harper, Cree member of the Manitoba Legislature, prevents ratification of Canadian federal-provincial accord that fails to give Indian nations full standing.

 

1987 Congress passes the Indian Gaming Act limiting tribes to gaming ventures allowed by states.

 

1983 Voight Decision in Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Chippewa Indians v. Wisconsin, Chippewa retain rights to subsistence activities in territories ceded by treaties stipulating these rights.

 

1982 Canada's Constitution Act sets up Part II, sections 25, 35, and 37 "Rights of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada," separate from Part I Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 

1978 American Indian Freedom of Religion Act (P.L. 95-341),  stated "American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Native Hawaiian . . . inherent right" to the free exercise of their traditional religions. That this law can be very narrowly interpreted appeared in the 1990 Supreme Court decision upholding the State of Oregon's prohibition against the ingestion of peyote even by members of the Native American Church (Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon, et. al. v. Smith et. al.), and the 1988 ruling in Lyng, Secretary of Agriculture, et. al. v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protection Assn., et. al. that the U.S. Forest Service could cut a logging road through a mountain area held sacred and used for religious worship by the Karok, Tolowa, and Yurok tribes of northern California.

 

1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, United States, protecting Indian tribes' interest in retaining custody of their children.

 

1978 Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, Supreme Court ruled that tribes do not have jurisdiction over non-Indians residing on Indian reservations.

 

1978 Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, United States; Supreme Court ruled that the United States could not enforce its law contrary to tribal government rulings (in this case, the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act was held not to infringe upon the pueblo's right to limit membership to children of Santa Clara men; Santa Clara women such as Julia Martinez, who married a Navajo, could not enroll their children).

 

1975 Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, establishing policy to permit greater governmental and administrative powers to Indian tribes.

 

1974 Menoninee Warrior Society occupies the empty Alexian Brothers Novitiate near Gresham, Wisconsin.

 

1973 Indian takeover at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

 

1973 Menominee Restoration Act (P.L. 93-197), United States; repealed the 1954 act terminating the tribal status of the Menominee. In effect, this nullified the 1953 federal policy promoting termination of Indian status.

 

1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.  Provided for the “permanent fund,” allowed for the establishment of tribal corporations, and bridged the last hurdle to the construction of the Alaska Pipeline.

 

1968 American Indian Movement founded in Minneapolis

 

1960 Canada grants citizenship to Indians.

 

1959 Williams v. Lee, the Supreme Court ruled that a tribal court has jurisdiction over a contract entered into by a non-Indian with reservation Indians.

 

1953-1954 House Concurrent Resolution no. 108, United States, states its policy "to end [Indians'] status as wards of the United States;" Public Law 280, United States, gave five states (California, Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska) civil and criminal jurisdiction over most Indian lands within their borders. 

 

1949-1960 Relocation.  The Bureau of Indian Affairs relocated some 35,000 Indians from reservations to cities.

 

1946 United States Indian Claims Commission Act; deadline for filing cases was 1951, cases heard until 1974.

 

1939-1945, World War II

 

1934 Wheeler-Howard (Indian Reorganization) Act, permitted tribes to organize and write constitutions for self-government, and directed the government to consolidate and conserve Indian lands, and encouraged education and economic plans for Indians; the Johnson-O'Malley Act authorized contracts with states to administer educational, medical, and welfare programs on Indian reservations. In 1974, the Johnson-O'Malley Act was amended to encourage Indian direction of such programs.

 

1928, The Brookings Institute publishes The Problem of Indian Administration, a.k.a. “The Meriam Report.”

 

1924 United States Indians given citizenship, although right to vote denied by several states; Utah the last to enfranchise Indians, in 1960, in state elections.

 

1914-1918 World War I

 

1908 Winters v. United States,  Supreme Court ruled that irrigation water rights accrued to Indian reservations.

 

1906 United States Antiquities Act establishes national jurisdiction over antiquities.

 

1903 Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, the Supreme Court ruled that Lone Wolf, a Kiowa, could not obstruct the implementation of allotment on Kiowa land, regardless of Kiowa consent: the case established Congress' power to unilaterally break treaties. The Court declared the Indians to be "an ignorant and dependent race" that must be governed by the "Christian people" of the United States.

 

1902 Cherokee Nation v. Hitchcock, the Supreme Court held the United States has the power to overrule Cherokee laws.

 

1896 Talton v. Mayes, ruled that Indian courts were not bound by United States Constitution provisions.

 

1890 Ghost Dance Movement led by the Paiute prophet Wovoka gains influence among western Indians. At Wounded Knee, United States troops massacre 300+ Sioux Indians en route to a Ghost Dance celebration.

 

1889 Two million acres of the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) are bought from Indians and given to white settlers for the Land Run.

 

1887 Dawes Allotment Act, authorizes the break-up of Indian reservations into individual allotments usually of 160 acres, and the sale of "surplus" lands remaining after enrolled tribal members had received allotments (no provision for later generations)

 

1886 United States v. Kagama,  Supreme Court narrowly established federal jurisdiction over a Hupa murderer; the Hupa had not signed a treaty with the United States as the Brule Lakota had (the Hupa had been taken over as part of California with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed with Mexico).

 

1885 Congress passes the Major Crimes Act extending federal and state jurisdiction over major crimes to Indians on reservations.

 

1884 Congress acknowledges the rights of Eskimos to Alaskan territorial lands.

 

1883 Ex parte Crow Dog, established tribal court jurisdiction over tribal members. (Crow Dog, a Brule Lakota, had murdered Chief Spotted Tail.)

 

1882 United States v. McBratney, Supreme Court ruled that state jurisdiction over crimes committed by non-Indians against non-Indians, although on Indian land.

 

1881 Sitting Bull and his band of 187 surrender to officials at Fort Buford, North Dakota.

 

1881 Helen Hunt Jackson publishes A Century of Dishonor.

 

1879 Richard Pratt founds the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, with the philosophy of assimilating Indians into white culture.

 

1879 Bureau of American Ethnology, a branch of the Smithsonian, is founded for anthropological studies.

 

1879 Federal Court at Omaha, Nebraska, responding to a habeas corpus trial brought by Standing Bear, a Ponca, gives Indians the right to sue.

 

1879-85 Many "Friends of the Indian" organizations are founded, including Indian Protection Committee, Indian Rights Association, Women's National Indian Association, and National Indian Defense Association.

 

1878-79 Flight of the Northern Cheyennes under Dull Knife on the plains.

 

1878 Congress makes appropriation to provide for Indian Police, a policy which in 1883 brings about the Court of Indian Offenses with authorization for tribal units to administer justice in all but major crimes. In the Major Crimes

 

1877 Flight of the Nez Perce under Chief Joseph in the Northwest.

 

1876 Canada enacts Canadian Indian Act which defines Indian policy and gives individual Indians the right to seek enfranchisement as Canadian citizens by renouncing their rights and privileges as Indians.

 

1876-77 Sioux War for the Black Hills, involving the Sioux, Cheyennes, and Arapahos, under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. In 1876, the Battle of Little Bighorn.

 

1874-75 Red River War on the Southern Plains, involving the Comanches, Kiowas, and Cheyennes, under Quanah Parker.

 

1871 Treaty-making period formally ends as Congress passes law forbidding further negotiations of treaties with Indian tribes. The Cherokee Tobacco Case of 1870, ruling that the Cherokees are not exempt from taxes on produce (as established in an earlier treaty), sets the stage for the new law. Indians are now to be subject to acts of Congress and executive orders.

 

1871 Gold discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Treaties protecting Indian lands ignored by miners.

 

c. 1870-90 Use of peyote spreads from Mexican Indians to Comanches, Kiowas, and other tribes.

 

1869-72 John Wesley Powell, geologist and ethnologist, explores the Colorado River and Grand Canyon.

 

1869 Brigadier General Ely Parker (Donehogawa), a Seneca, becomes the first Native Commissioner of Indian Affairs, serving until 1871.

 

1869 Transcontinental railroad completed; the Union Pacific and Central Pacific join up at Promontory Point, Utah.

 

1869-70 Smallpox epidemic among Canadian Plains Indian including Blackfeet, Piegans, and Bloods.

 

1868-69 Southern Plains War (also called the Sheridan Campaign), involving the Cheyennes, Sioux, Arapahos, Kiowas, and Comanches.]

 

1868 President Grant gives control of Indian agencies to 12 different Christian denominations instead of army officers.

 

1868 Indians are denied the right to vote as a result of the 14th Amendment.

 

1868 President Grant's so-called "Peace Policy" is inaugurated and lasts until 1874.

 

1868, Washita, Oklahoma –Black Kettle’s camps attacked while asleep

 

1867 United States purchases Alaska from Russia, adding Eskimo and Aleut population to its own.

 

1867 "Peace Commission" makes a survey of Indian affairs and recommends that the current treaty process be abandoned. This commission and the Nez Perce Indians negotiate the last of 370 treaties between the federal government and tribes.

 

1867 British North American Act establishes Confederation of Canada. First Dominion Parliament assembled. In 1868, an Indian Act shapes new administrative machinery for Indian affairs.

 

1866-68 War for the Bozeman Trail in Wyoming and Montana, involving the Sioux, Cheyennes, and Arapahos under Chief Red Cloud. A second Fort Laramie Treaty resolves the conflict in 1868.

 

1864-65 Cheyenne-Arapaho War in Colorado and Kansas. In 1864, Chivington's Colorado Volunteers kill more than 300 Indians in the Sand Creek Massacre.

 

1862-63 Santee Sioux stage an uprising in Minnesota under Chief Little Crow. In 1863-64, it spreads to North Dakota and involves the Teton Sioux as well. Thirty-eight Indians are sentenced and hanged.

 

1862 Homestead Act opens up Indian land in Kansas and Nebraska to white homesteaders, who are deeded 160-acre plots after inhabiting them for five years.

 

1861-65 Civil War. In 1861, the Confederate government organizes a Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most tribes remain neutral. The South, however, makes promises to Indians concerning the return of their tribal lands to encourage their support. After the war, as punishment for their support of the Confederacy, the Five Civilized Tribes are compelled to accept a treaty relinquishing the western half of the Indian Territory to 20 tribes from Kansas and Nebraska.

 

1860 British government transfers control of Indian affairs to the Canadian provinces.

 

1860 Paiute War (also called the Pyramid Lake War) in Nevada, involving the Southern Paiutes.

 

1853-56 United States acquires 174 million acres of Indian lands through 52 treaties, all of which are subsequently broken by whites.

 

1854 The “Trade of 1854” creating four Chippewa reservations established in Wisconsin.

 

1853-54 Liquidation of northern portion of the Indian Territory, with creation of the state of Kansas and Nebraska Territory.

 

1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie between whites and tribes of the northern plains.

 

1851 Treaty of Travers de Sioux, Minnesota

 

1850-60 Cholera epidemic among the Indians of the Great Basin and southern plains.

 

1849 Bureau of Indian Affairs transferred from the War Department to the Department of the Interior.

 

1846 Oregon Country becomes part of the United States as a result of a settlement with England.

 

1845-48 War between the United States and Mexico over the American annexation of Texas. With the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the Spanish Southwest and its many Indian tribes become part of the United States.

 

1844 The first issues of the Cherokee Advocate are published in Oklahoma. Federal soldiers confiscate the press.

 

1843 Russian-Greek Orthodox Church establishes the first mission school for Eskimos in Alaska.

 

1837 Smallpox epidemic among Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes of the upper Missouri. From 1837-70, at least four different smallpox epidemics ravage western tribes.

 

1835-37 Toledo War among the whites (also called the Ohio and Michigan Boundary Dispute).

 

1835 Texas declares itself a republic independent from Mexico. The Texas Rangers are organized to campaign against the Comanches.

 

1834 Congress reorganizes the Indian offices, creating the U.S. Department of Indian Affairs (still within the War Department). The Trade and Intercourse Act redefines the Indian Territory and Permanent Indian Frontier, and gives the army the right to quarantine Indians.

 

1832 Black Hawk War in Illinois and Wisconsin between combined Sauk and Fox tribes and the United States.

 

1832 Worcester v. Georgia, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the states do not have jurisdiction over Indian nations within their borders; that the United States comprises three jurisdictional entities, the federal, the states, and Indian tribes. Worcester v. Georgia is one of the most cited cases in United States law because of its impact on questions of states' rights.

 

1831 Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Indians form "domestic dependent nations" over which the United States is guardian, as over wards.

 

1830 Indian Removal Act narrowly passes Congress, calling for relocation of eastern Indians to an Indian territory west of the Mississippi River. Cherokees contest it in court, and in 1832, the Supreme Court decides in their favor, but Andrew Jackson ignores the decision. From 1831-39, the Five Civilized tribes of the Southeast are relocated to the Indian Territory. The Cherokee "Trail of Tears" takes place in 1838-39.

 

1830 Influenza epidemic among tribes of British Columbia. In 1830-33, there are outbreaks of European diseases in California and Oregon.

 

1825 Treaty of Prairie du Chien, identifies borders between the resident tribes in what is to become Wisconsin.

 

1823 Johnson v. McIntosh, Chief Justice John Marshall recognized Indian title, and that the United States, like its predecessor Britain in the 1763 Royal Proclamation, holds the fee in tribal lands.

 

1812-1815 The War of 1812, Tecumseh killed at the Thames.

 

1800 The Code of Handsome Lake—Seneca—begins.

 

1794 Jay Treaty gave Indians along the United States-Canada border the right to freely cross.

 

1790 Trade and Intercourse Act, establishing federal jurisdiction over Indian title and commerce with Indians.

 

1789 U.S. Constitution, several clauses relate the importance and place of American Indians in the new republic.

 

 1787 Northwest Ordinances,  “The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians, their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in their property, rights and liberty, they never shall be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded in justice and humanity shall from time to time be made, for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them…”

 

1763 Royal Proclamation (Britain) reserving to the Crown the right to extinguish Indian title. Also prohibited non-Indian settlement in advance of land cession treaties.  And We do hereby strictly forbid, on Pain of our Displeasure, all our loving Subjects from making any Purchases or Settlements whatever, or taking Possession of any of the Lands above reserved, without our especial leave and License for that Purpose first obtained.  And We do further strictly enjoin and require all Persons whatever who have either willfully or inadvertently seated themselves upon any Lands within the Countries above described. or upon any other Lands which, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us, are still reserved to the said Indians as aforesaid, forthwith to remove themselves from such Settlements.”

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