Wherever He leads I'll go

Native American History

Native Americans and the Gospel

God’s Promise – Jeremiah 24: 6, 7

For over 500 years, missionaries have tried to take the Gospel to Native Americans and the result has been that only 5% have become believers.  But things are changing!  As Dr. Billy Graham has stated, “One of the most encouraging developments on the Native American’s scene has been the express desire of many mature Indian men and women to exert Christian leadership in all areas of Native American life and culture.”

The “Medicine Wheel” symbol on a grave marker at Wounded Knee.

Numbers are very important with respect to Nature and the Indian way of life. The number 4 is held sacred by most tribes in respect to the Four Cardinal Directions, as well as the Creator, in the context of the symbol of the cross. The cross has always been synonymous with the Great Spirit, even before the first Christian missionaries came to North America, and is referred to by Aboriginal peoples as the “Medicine Wheel.” This gives us proof that God was speaking to the Native American long before the first white missionaries came to this country.

Spokane Garry – A man of God before his time

The following story is an historically accurate one found in both Native American history and in the records of European missionaries who ministered in the American Northwest.

Spokane Garry 1892

 An old chief was highly respected by his tribe until the day that his favorite son accidently died. His pain was obvious as he cried out to God, questioning God’s goodness. The other chiefs confronted him and told him to decide whether or not he was going forward with God or giving up on Him.

He ran, with little clothing or supplies, up into the foothills until reaching the snowy top of the mountain that today is called Mount Spokane. He prayed and fasted for three days begging God for guidance until finally he heard God’s word. “Your son is happy here with me, so you should have faith.” God spoke again. “This world will not go away until people with white flesh come and bring a book with them. This book will have many words about me in it. Do not kill these people even if they harm you.”

The chief went back to his people, happy in the knowledge that God is indeed good. He was unsure of how his people would react to the words concerning the white people so when he arrived at the camp he only told them the good news.

Years later this same tribe encountered an incident that caused them to believe that the world was coming to an end. The old chief remembered his vision and shouted, “This is not the end of the world! God told me this world will not go away until many white skinned people come here with a book holding many words about God in it. This has not happened yet, so the world could not be ending!”

This led to an interest among the people; one being the son of a chief, a five year old boy who would later take the name Garry, chief of the Spokanes. Garry listened with awe and felt that somehow, this was his vision. He anxiously awaited the people with the white skin and their book.

Within a few years some priests with white skin came with a book. After spending time with the tribe the priests asked if they could take Garry and two other young native men back to a place called Red River to learn the “words about God.” Garry was permitted to go only after he reminded his father of the prophecy.

Garry eventually returned to his tribe with a new found love for God and His word. He discovered that the people were anxiously awaiting his return so they too could know and understand the words of God. They didn’t return to their camps for one month. Instead they listened to him and learned. Prayer became increasingly important to them. They desperately wanted to know God and it changed them quickly.

Just as it always does when God is at work, word spread. Other tribes noticed that this tribe had something rich and desired it for themselves. Representatives were sent to learn and return to their camps with the knowledge they had obtained.

 God used the grief of an old chief to prepare His people to receive His word. He used the obedience of a young boy to spread His word. What a beautiful picture of God’s love for all mankind and His desire that all men should be saved. It gives us hope that although weeping may endure for a night, joy does come in the morning.


The PowWow processional

The word pow-wow derives from the Algonquian for a gathering of medicine men and spiritual leaders in a curing ceremony. A’ PAUAU! or “PAUWAU.”

Historically, nations in North America held ceremonies celebrating successful hunts, food gathering or warfare. These ceremonies allowed the people to give thanks, honor their deceased relatives or deal with special honors such as name-giving ceremonies, adoptions, and coming of age rites. They were also conducted by “Medicine Men” or the spiritual leader of the tribe for healing. Many times they were held to renew allegiances and maintain friendships with members of visiting tribes. The ceremonies often involved dancing and feasting.

 The Regalia

This young dancer may add to his regalia for years to come.

The dance outfits worn in the circle during the Powwow are called regalia or outfits. Though highly decorative, these outfits are never referred to as “costumes”. The term costume denotes artificiality and wear that is donned for an event that is not a part of one’s ongoing life. To the contrary, these Native American outfits are very personal and artistic expressions of the dancers’ lives, feelings, interests, family and spiritual quest. Often elements of the regalia are gifts from elders or treasured people in the dancers’ lives and are honorings to be worn with pride and responsibility. The regalia evolves and changes as the dancer evolves and changes in life. Each season, changes are made depending on the fashion of the time or the personal change in taste. There is no contradiction in blending historic elements with very modern elements. For example-interweaving traditional beadwork with Minnie Mouse braid holders.

Since the regalia expresses the life of each individual dancer, design elements from many different sources are appropriate. As Ron Davis, an Objibwe Grass Dancer, explains “It takes a long time to make an outfit, you know. You can go through life and keep adding on to that outfit. Because there are different circumstances that surround different items that you add to your outfit. When you’re dancing, these things that are in the regalia, they bring out a shine. You actually shine out there, and you feel good about yourself.”

Etiquette for Visitors and Newcomers

  1. Bring your own seating when attending pow wows, because public seating is the execption rather than the rule. Lawn chairs are the most common way of solving this.
  2. Do not sit on the benches around the arena. These benches are reserved for the dancers only. You may set up your chairs directly behind the benches, and it is usually good courtesy to ask the permission of the dancer whose bench you are sitting behind, as he/she might have family who are going to sit by him or her.
  3. Ask permission before taking pictures of dancers.Many people are sensitive about pictures, so it is always good to be on the safe side and ask.

    PowWow Drum

  4. Always stand during special songs. This includes Grand Entry, Flag Songs, Veteran Songs, Memorial Songs, Prayer Songs, or any other song that the M.C. designates. It is also customary to remove any hats that you have on for the duration of that song.
  5. Always listen to the M.C. He will give all of the information you need, as well as entertain you and keep you posted on news. Any questions you have can be answered by him.
  6. Remember you are a guest. Have fun, ask questions and meet people. Everyone there is welcome!

Wounded Knee Massacre

Entrance to the mass grave at Wounded Knee

The Wounded Knee Massacre happened on December 29, 1890, near Wounded Knee Creek (Lakota: Čhaŋkpé Ópi Wakpála) on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, USA. On the day before, a detachment of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment commanded by Major Samuel M. Whitside  intercepted Spotted Elk’s (Big Foot) band of Miniconjou Lakota and 38 Hunkpapa Lakota near Porcupine Butte and escorted them 5 miles westward (8 km) to Wounded Knee Creek where they made camp.

The rest of the 7th Cavalry Regiment arrived led by Colonel James Forsythe and surrounded the encampment supported by four Hotchkiss guns.

On the morning of December 29, the troops went into the camp to disarm the Lakota. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota, a deaf tribesman named Black Cayote was reluctant to give up his rifle claiming he had paid a lot for it. A scuffle over Black Coyote’s rifle escalated and a shot was fired which resulted in the 7th Cavalry opening fire indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women and children, as well as some of their own fellow troopers. Those few Lakota warriors who still had weapons began shooting back at the attacking troopers, who quickly suppressed the Lakota fire. The surviving Lakota fled, but U.S. cavalrymen pursued and killed many who were unarmed.

The spot where Chief Big Foot surrendered.

By the time it was over, at least 150 men, women and children of the Lakota Sioux had been killed and 51 wounded (4 men, 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300. Twenty-five troopers also died, and 39 were wounded (6 of the wounded would later die).  It is believed that many were the victims of friendly fire as the shooting took place at close range in chaotic conditions.

American Horse (1840–1908); Chief, Oglala Lakota:
“There was a woman with an infant in her arms who was killed as she almost touched the flag of truce…A mother was shot down with her infant; the child not knowing that its mother was dead was still nursing…The women, as they were fleeing with their babies, were killed together, shot right through…and after most all of them had been killed a cry was made that all those who were not killed or wounded should come forth and they would be safe. Little boys…came out of their places of refuge, and as soon as they came in sight a number of soldiers surrounded them and butchered them there.”

 Lac Du Flambeau

The ancestors of the Lac du Flambeau Band, the Waaswaaganininiwag (the “Torch Lake Men”) constituted the eastern group of the Biitan-akiing-enabijig (Border Sitters), a sub-Nation of the Gichigamiwininiwag (Lake Superior Men). Others members of the eastern Biitan-akiing-enabijig included bands located on Pelican Lake, Lac Vieux Desert, Turtle Portage, Trout Lake and Wisconsin River.

For centuries, Waaswaagani-zaaga’igan served as the trade hub connecting the waterways between  Lake Superior (via Montreal River) and Wisconsin River and Flambeau River.

Under the Treaty of La Pointe of 1854 as part of the Lake Superior Chippewa, the bands at Pelican Lake, Turtle Portage, Trout Lake and Wisconsin River were consolidated into the Lac du Flambeau Band and Waaswaaganingwas established.

The band has inhabited the Lac du Flambeau area since 1745 when Chief Keeshkemun led the band to the area. The band acquired the name Lac du Flambeau from its gathering practice of harvesting fish at night by torchlight. The name Lac du Flambeau  or Lake of the Torches refers to this practice and was given to the band by the French traders and trappers who visited the area.

Being signatories to the Treaty of St. Peters of 1837, and the Treaties of La Pointe of 1842 and 1854, Lac du Flambeau Band enjoys traditional hunting, fishing and gathering practices guaranteed in these treaties.


  • Lac du Flambeau is the location of sacred Strawberry Island “the place of the little people,” a site recognized by the National Register of Historical Places. This island is the place where the last battle between the Sioux and the Ojibwe was fought in 1745. In 1966, the island was identified through an archeological survey as a place with artifacts and remains dating back to 200 B.C.
  • The Lac du Flambeau reservation has 260 lakes, 65 miles of streams, lakes, and rivers and 24,000 acres of wetlands. The lakes and other waterways are regularly restocked by the tribal fish hatchery with over 200,000 fish per year. Over the last 30 years the tribal fish hatchery has restocked the lakes with well over 415 million walleye fry.
  • The world’s largest sturgeon to be speared was hauled in on the shores of Lac du Flambeau’s Pokegama Lake. It measured 7 feet and 1 inch, weighed 195 pounds and 40 inches around. This world record fish is located in the local museum.

 Menominee Reservation

The Menominee Tribe’s history is unique because their origin or creation begins at the mouth of the Menominee River, a mere 60 miles east of the present Menominee Indian Reservation. They believe this is where their five clans: ancestral Bear, Eagle, Wolf, Moose, and Crane were created. Not many tribes in this region can attest to the fact their origin place exists close or near to their present reservation.

The Menominee Indian Tribe’s rich culture, history, and residency in the area now known as the State of Wisconsin, and parts of the States of Michigan and Illinois, dates back 10,000 years.  At the start of the Treaty Era in the early 1800’s, the Menominee occupied a land base estimated at 10 million acres; however, through a series of seven treaties entered into with the United States Government during the 1800’s, the Tribe witnessed its land base erode to little more than 235,000 acres today.

The Tribe experienced further setbacks in the 1950’s with the U.S. Congress’ passage of the Menominee Termination Act, which removed federal recognition over the Tribe and threatened to deprive Menominee people of their cultural identity.  Fortunately, the Tribe won back its federal recognition in 1973 through a long and difficult grassroots movement that culminated with the passage of the Menominee Restoration Act on December 22, 1973.

Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation

Established in 1888, the reservation is what remains of the vast ancestral territory of the Blackfeet and Nakoda Nations. The A’aninin, as members of the Blackfoot Confederacy, and the Nakoda Nation signed the Fort Laramie treaties of 1851 and 1855 with the United States Government establishing their respective territories within the continental United States. The Fort Belknap Reservation is part of what remains of these two nations ancestral territory that included all of central and eastern Montana and portions of western North Dakota. The Blackfeet, and Fort Peck Indian Reservations are also part of this territorial boundaries.

The A’aninin, (meaning the White Clay People) believe that they were made from the White Clay that is found along the river bottoms in A’aninin Country. Early French fur trappers and traders named this tribe “Gros Ventre” because other tribes in the area referred to them as “The Water Falls People.” The sign for water fall is the passing of the hands over the stomach and the French though the Indians were saying big belly so they called them “Gros Ventre” – meaning “big belly” in the French language.

The Nakoda (meaning the Generous Ones) split with the Yanktonai Sioux in the seventeenth century and migrated westward onto the northern plains with their allies, the Plains Cree. The Chippewa called the NakodaAssiniboine“, which is a Chippewa word meaning “One who cooks with stones”. The Nakoda are located on both the Fort Belknap and Fort Peck Indian Reservations in Montanan and on several reserves in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The A’aninin and Nakoda were nomadic hunters and warriors. They followed the buffalo which provided them with all the necessities of life. Their food, clothing and teepees all came from the buffalo. The buffalo was the Indian staff of life and the Nakoda and A’aninin and other plains tribes lived a good life with the buffalo. The last herd of buffalo in the continental United States in the nineteenth century existed between the Bear Paw Mountains and the Little Rocky Mountains in the lush Milk River valley.

Today, the two tribes are united as one government called the Fort Belknap Indian Community. Together, the tribes have formed and maintained a community that has deep respect for its land, its culture, and its heritage. Fort Belknap derives its name from the original military post that was established on the Milk River, one mile southwest of the present town of Chinook, Montana. The Fort, named for William W. Belknap, who was the Secretary of War at that time, was a military fort combined with a Trading Post. It became a Government agency for the A’aninin and Nakoda Tribes living in the area.

Mashantucket Pequot Nation

When the Pequot War formally ended, many tribal members had been killed and others placed in slavery or under

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. The center offers engaging experiences for all ages, from life-size walk-through dioramas that transport visitors into the past, to changing exhibits and live performances of contemporary arts and cultures. Extensive interactive exhibits depict 18,000 years of Native and natural history, while two libraries, including one for children, offer a diverse selection of materials on the histories and cultures of all Native peoples of the United States and Canada

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. The center offers engaging experiences for all ages, from life-size walk-through dioramas that transport visitors into the past, to changing exhibits and live performances of contemporary arts and cultures. Extensive interactive exhibits depict 18,000 years of Native and natural history, while two libraries, including one for children, offer a diverse selection of materials on the histories and cultures of all Native peoples of the United States and Canada

the control of other tribes. Those placed under the rule of the Mohegans eventually became known as the Mashantucket (Western) Pequots and were given land at Noank in 1651. In 1666, the land at Noank was taken from the Tribe, and it was given back property at Mashantucket.

In the ensuing decades, the Pequots battled to keep their land, while at the same time losing reservation members to outside forces. By 1774, a Colonial census indicated that there were 151 tribal members in residence at Mashantucket. By the early 1800s, there were between 30 and 40 as members moved away from the reservation seeking work. Others joined the Brotherton Movement, a Christian-Indian movement that attracted Natives from New England to a settlement in upstate New York and later, Wisconsin. As for the remaining land in Connecticut, by 1856 illegal land sales had reduced the 989-acre reservation to 213 acres.

In the early 1970s, there were only two tribal members left living on tribal lands. They were two women, one being Elizabeth George.  Elizabeth was afraid that the state was going to seize the land and create a park so she convinced her grandchildren to move back to the reservation.  One was “Skip” Hayward, a young man who took on his grandmother’s cause.  Through his and a handful of other’s encouragment, tribal members began moving back to the Mashantucket reservation, hoping to restore their land base and community, develop economic self-sufficiency, and revitalize tribal culture. By the mid-1970s, tribal members had embarked on a series of economic ventures, in addition to instituting legal action to recover illegally seized land.

With the assistance of the Native American Rights Fund and the Indian Rights Association, the Tribe filed suit in 1976 against neighboring landowners to recover land that had been sold by the State of Connecticut in 1856. Seven years later the Pequots reached a settlement with the landowners, who agreed that the 1856 sale was illegal, and who joined the Tribe in seeking the state government’s support. The state responded, and the Connecticut Legislature unanimously passed legislation to petition the federal government to grant tribal recognition to the Mashantucket Pequots and settle the claim. With help from the Connecticut delegation, the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Land Claims Settlement Act was enacted by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Reagan on Oct. 18, 1983. It granted the Tribe federal recognition, enabling it to repurchase and place in trust the land covered in the Settlement Act. Currently, the reservation is 1,250 acres.

As the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation sought to settle its land claims, it also actively engaged in a number of economic enterprises, including the sale of cord wood, maple syrup, and garden vegetables, a swine project and the opening of a hydroponic greenhouse. Once the land claims were settled, the Tribe purchased and operated a restaurant, and established a sand and gravel business. In 1986, the Tribe opened its bingo operation, followed, in 1992, by the establishment of the first phase of Foxwoods Resort Casino.  The Foxwoods Resort Casino is the largest in the world and, for many years, made the Mashantucket Pequot people a very wealthy tribe.

The ceremonial groundbreaking for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center took place on Oct. 20, 1993, in a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of federal recognition of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. The new facility, opened on August 11, 1998, is located on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation, where many members of the Mashantucket Pequot tribal members continue to live. It is one of the oldest, continuously occupied Indian reservations in North America.

Cheyenne River ReservationScenery c smaller

The Cheyenne River Indian Reservation was created by the United States in 1889 by breaking up the Great Sioux Reservation following its victory over the Lakota in a series of wars in the 1870s. The reservation covers almost all of Dewey and Ziebach counties in South Dakota.

The total land area is 4,266.987 sq mi (11,051.447 km²), making it the fourth-largest Indian Reservation in land area in the United States. Its largest community is unincorporated North Eagle Butte, while adjacent Eagle Butte is its largest incorporated city. The Land Acts of 1909 and 1910, opened up the Cheyenne River Reservation to non-Native settlement.

The Treaty of Ft. Laramie of 1868 created the Great Sioux Reservation, a single reservation covering parts of six states, including both of the Dakotas. Subsequent treaties in the 1870s and 1880s broke this reservation up into several smaller reservations. The Cheyenne River Indian Reservation was created in 1889.

Chief  Sitting Bull lived on the Cheyenne River Reservation. He was fond of the Grand River area which in the 1880s, was the boundary between the Cheyenne River Reservation and the Standing Rock Reservation. In 1890, the United States became very concerned about Chief Sitting Bull who they learned was going to lead an exodus off the Reservation.

Several hundred Indians gathered near the Grand River on the Cheyenne River Reservation in December of 1890, preparing to flee the reservation. A force of 39 Indian policemen and four volunteers were sent to chief Sitting Bull’s residence near the Grand River on December 16, 1890, to arrest him.

Initially, Sitting Bull cooperated but became angry once led out of his residence and noticed around 50 of his soldiers were there to support him. During some point while outside of chief Sitting Bulls residence, a battle commenced in which the legendary leader was assassinated. A total of 18 casualties occurred in the battle. Among the killed were Sitting Bull and his son.

Sitting Bull’s half brother, Spotted Elk, led an exodus of 350 people off the Cheyenne River Reservation to the south. They were captured on December 28, 1890 on the Pine Ridge Reservation, about 30 miles to the east of the settlement of Pine Ridge. Next day they were massacred by over 500 white soldiers. Almost 150 Indians were killed and 50 wounded during the massacre, halting the exodus. Survivors settled on the Pine Ridge Reservation or returned to the Cheyenne River Reservation. Since then, the Cheyenne River Reservation’s northern border has changed. It is no longer the Grand River. However, the present day settlements located along the Grand River, are predominantly Algonquian.

The CRIR is the home of the federally recognized Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) or Cheyenne River Lakota Nation (Oyate). The members include representatives from four of the traditional seven bands of the Lakota, also known as Teton Sioux: the Minnecojou, Sans Arc, Blackfoot and Two Kettles.

The 2000 census reported a population of 8,470 persons. Many of the 13 small communities on the Cheyenne River Reservation do not have water systems, making it difficult for people to live in sanitary conditions. In recent years, water systems have been constructed that tap the Missouri Main Stem reservoirs, such as Lake Oahu, which forms the eastern edge of the Reservation.

With few jobs available on the reservation or in nearby towns, many tribal members are unemployed. Two-thirds of the population survives on much less than one-third of the American average income. Such dismal living conditions have contributed to feelings of hopelessness and despair among the youth.  Indian Country Today reports than one in five girls on the Cheyenne River Reservation has contemplated suicide and more than one in ten has attempted it.

Colville Indian ReservationColville Tribe smaller

The Colville Indian Reservation is an Indian reservation in the north-central part of the U.S. state of Washington, inhabited and managed by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, which is federally recognized. The reservation is located primarily in the southeastern section of Okanogan County and the southern half of Ferry County, but it includes other pieces of trust land in eastern Washington, including in Chelan County, just to the northwest of the city of Chelan. The reservation’s name is adapted from that of Fort Colville, which was named for Andrew Colville, who was a London governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The Confederated Tribes have 8,700 descendants from 12 aboriginal tribes. The tribes are known in English as: the Colville, the Nespelem, the Sanpoil, the Lakes (after the Arrow Lakes of British Columbia or Sinixt), the Palus, the Wenatchi, the Chelan, the Entiat, the Methow, the southern Okanagan, the Sinkiuse-Columbia, and the Nez Perce of Chief Joseph’s Band. Some members of the Spokane tribe also settled the Colville reservation later on.

The most common of the indigenous languages spoken on the reservation is Colville-Okanagan, a Salishan language. Other tribes speak other Salishan languages, with the exception of the Nez Perce and Palus, who speak Sahaptian languages.

Before the influx of British and Americans in the mid-1850s, the ancestors of the 12 aboriginal tribes followed seasonal cycles of food availability; moving to the rivers for fish runs, mountain meadows for berries and deer, or the plateau for roots. Their traditional territories were grouped primarily around waterways, such as the Columbia, San Poil, Nespelem, Okanogan, Snake, and Wallowa rivers.

Many tribal ancestors ranged throughout their aboriginal territories and other areas in the Northwest (including British Columbia, Canada), gathering with other native peoples for traditional activities such as food harvesting, feasting, trading, and celebrations that included sports and gambling. Their lives were tied to the cycles of nature, both spiritually and traditionally.[1]

In the mid-19th century, when settlers began competing for trade with the indigenous native peoples, many tribes began to migrate westward. Trading became a bigger part of their lives.

For a while, there was an ownership dispute between Great Britain and the United States over what the latter called the Oregon Country and the former the Columbia District. Both claimed the territory until the Oregon Treaty of 1846 established United States title south of the 49th Parallel. They did not consider any of the indigenous peoples living in those territories to be citizens or entitled to the lands by their own national claim. However, according to the religions and traditions of the indigenous peoples, this territory had been their home land since the time of creation.

President Fillmore signed a bill creating the Washington Territory, and he appointed a Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Major Isaac Stevens of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, to meet with the Indians during his exploration for railroad routes. Stevens wrote a report recommending the creation of “reservations” for the people in the Washington Territory. The report said, “contrary to natural rights and usage,” the United States should grant lands that would become reservations to the Indians without purchasing from them.

In 1854 negotiations were conducted, “particularly in the vicinity of white settlements, toward extinguishment of the Indian claims to the lands and the concentration of the tribes and fragments of tribes on a few reservations naturally suited to the requirement of the Indians, and located, so far as practicable, so as not to interfere with the settlement of the country.”

During this time, continued American settlement created conflicts and competition for resources; it resulted in the Yakima War, which was fought from 1856 to 1859. Negotiations were unsuccessful until 1865. Superintendent McKenny then commented:

From this report, the necessity of trading with these Indians can scarcely fail to be obvious. They now occupy the best agricultural lands in the whole country and they claim an undisputed right to these lands. White squatters are constantly making claims in their territory and not infrequently invading the actual improvements of the Indians. The state of things cannot but prove disastrous to the peace of the country unless forestalled by a treaty fixing the rights of the Indians and limiting the aggressions of the white man. The fact that a portion of the Indians refused all gratuitous presents shows a determination to hold possession of the country here until the government makes satisfactory overtures to open the way of actual purchase.

President Grant issued an Executive Order on April 9, 1872, to create an “Indian Reservation” consisting of several million acres of land, containing rivers, streams, timbered forests, grass lands, minerals, plants and animals. People from 11 tribes (the Colville, the Nespelem, the San Poil, Lakes, Palus, Wenatchi, Chelan, Entiat, Methow, southern Okanogan, and the Moses Columbia) were “designated” to live on a new Colville Indian Reservation.

That original reservation was west of the Columbia River, but less than three months later, the President issued another executive order on July 2, 1872 moving it west, to reach from the Columbia River on the west and south to the Okanogan River on the east and the Canadian border to the north. The new reservation was smaller, at 2,852,000 acres (11,540 km²). The Tribes’ native lands of the Okanogan River, Methow Valley, and other large areas along the Columbia and Pend d’Orielle rivers, along with the Colville Valley, were excluded. The areas removed from the reservation were some of the richest in terms of natural resources.

Twenty years later, the dissolution of Indian reservations throughout the United States begun by the General Allotment Act (Dawes Act) of 1887 came to the Colville reservation. An 1892 act of Congress removed the north half of the reservation (now known as the Old North Half) from tribal control, with allotments made to Indians then living on it and the rest opened up for settlement. In 1891, the tribes had entered into an agreement with the federal government to vacate the Old North Half, in exchange for $1.5 million ($1 per acre) and continued hunting and fishing rights, but the 1892 act was based only loosely on that agreement. The payment was, however, ultimately made 14 years later and the hunting and fishing rights for tribe members (superior to those of non-members) endure to this day. As was normal in reservation allotments, individual Indians living on the Old North Half who chose not to move to the remaining south half were given 80 acres of land.

The remainder of the reservation was allotted out, in the same 80 acre amounts, and tribal authority ended, by act of Congress in 1906, with the land not allotted to individual Indians opened for settlement by Presidential proclamation in 1916. The allotment act was based on an agreement negotiated between the tribes and Indian agent James McLaughlin, signed by 2/3 of the adult male Indians then living on the reservation (of whom there were approximately 600). It is important to remember that the Dawes Act enacted a policy of terminating reservations and did not require any consent by or compensation to Indians, so agreements that Indians did sign were not entirely mutual. The concerned more the details of the allotment than the fact of it.

The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 reversed the policy of dissolution of reservations and immediately halted the ongoing transfer of reservation land to private ownership. In 1956, Congress restored tribal control over all land in the south half that was not yet privately owned. In the time since then, the tribe has gradually purchased private land on the reservation and had it placed back into trust status as tribal land. Some of the funds for this has come from the federal government, pursuant to lawsuits, as compensation for the government’s mismanagement of the trust lands and insufficient compensation to Indians for former reservation land.

Choctaw%20of%20MississippiChoctaw Nation, Mississippi

Copied from “The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians” website

The Choctaw Indian Reservation consists of 35,000 acres of trust land scattered over 10 counties in east central Mississippi. The nearly 10,000 members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians live in the eight reservation communities of Bogue Chitto, Bogue Homa, Conehatta, Crystal Ridge, Pearl River (the site of tribal headquarters, the industrial park, Pearl River Resort, the Choctaw Health Department/Center, and other main tribal services), Red Water, Standing Pine, and Tucker.

When Europeans began settling America in the 16th century the Choctaw were living in the south-eastern United States, largely in the area that was to become Mississippi. The Choctaw lived off both agriculture and hunter gathering. Their principal source of food was corn, beans and pumpkins, nuts, fruit, fish, bear and deer. In the wars between the French and the British during the 18th century the Choctaw allied themselves with the French. Consequently, following the defeat of the French in the French and Indian war (1754-63), some of the Choctaw land was taken from them by the British, forcing some to move westwards in search of new land.

Mississippi Choctaws have a strong tradition of doing business. As early as 1700, the tribe had developed a strong economy based on farming and selling goods and livestock to the Europeans who were beginning to venture into Choctaw territory. Trade between the Choctaws and other Southeastern tribes had long been established. Throughout the 18th century, the Choctaws were a prosperous people with large land holdings. Their lands spread over what is now central Mississippi.

As the United States of America came into being, however, the expansion of the new nation brought pressures for more land and the federal government turned its attention to land held by American Indians. Like other Southeastern tribes, the Choctaws were placed in the position of negotiating over their lands. In fact, after the formation of the Mississippi Territory in 1798 and the election in 1800 of Thomas Jefferson to the U. S. presidency, the federal government had an increasing hunger for Choctaw land. President Jefferson issued his military strategy that the federal government acquire all the lands bordering the east side of the Mississippi River for purpose of defense against France, Spain, and England.

Shortly thereafter, in 1801, the Treaty of Fort Adams was signed in which the Choctaws ceded to the United States 2,641,920 acres of land from the Yazoo River to the thirty-first parallel. That was the first in a series of treaties between the Choctaws and the United States. More and more Choctaw land was ceded to the federal government with each successive treaty — between 1801 and 1830, the Choctaw ceded more than 23 million acres to the United States. The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830 marked the final cession of lands and outlined the terms of Choctaw removal to the west. Indeed, the Choctaw Nation was the first American Indian tribe to be removed by the federal government from its ancestral home to land set aside for them in what is now Oklahoma.

When the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed, there were over 19,000 Choctaws in Mississippi. From 1831 to 1833, approximately 13,000 Choctaws were removed to the west. More followed over the years. Members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians are descendants of the proud Choctaw individuals who refused to be removed to Oklahoma in the 1830s.

Choctaw Culture

At first glance, a visitor to the Reservation might think that Mississippi Choctaws are focused on what is new. Choctaw school children attend classes in modern, well-equipped buildings. Many of their parents work at jobs that didn’t exist on the Reservation thirty years ago. Each autumn sees Choctaw graduates leaving the Reservation for colleges around the country so they can return to take their places in a growing, thriving Tribal community.Still, no matter how much change comes to the Reservation, one constant remains – the traditional culture of the Choctaw people. Choctaw culture is a vital aspect of community life. The entire community turns out for school spring festivals to watch children dance and enjoy a traditional meal of hominy, frybread, and fried chicken. The beadwork of Choctaw artists is proudly displayed each year at the Choctaw Indian Fair. Also, the skills of Choctaw dressmakers are evident each year at the Choctaw Indian Fair, where community dance groups perform for friends and visitors. Traditional dress is an important element of the Choctaw Princess Pageant. Social dance, stickball, basket making, traditional clothing, foodways, and other cultural traditions are places where the generations intersect, passing on wisdom along with recipes, advice about life as well as dance steps, and Choctaw words along with basket patterns, each generation teaching the next what it means to be Choctaw.

The Umatilla Reservation

Before European contact, the members of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla people were 8,000 members strong. Their people lived in the Columbia River region for more than 10,000 years, moving in a large circle from the lowlands along the Columbia River to the highlands in the Blue Mountains to fish, hunt and gather food.

Until the early 1900’s, their ancestors moved in a yearly cycle, from hunting camps to fishing spots, to celebration and trading camps. The three tribes spent most of their time in the area that is now northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington, subsisting on salmon, roots, berries, deer and elk.

In 1855, the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes and the U.S. Government negotiated a treaty in which 6.4 million acres were ceded in exchange for a reservation homeland of 250,000 acres. As a result of federal legislation in the late 1800s that reduced its size, the Umatilla Reservation is now 172,000 acres — 158,000 acres just east of Pendleton, Oregon plus 14,000 acres in the McKay, Johnson, and McCoy Creek areas southeast of Pilot Rock, Oregon.

Also reserved within the treaty are inherent rights to fish in usual and accustomed sites, and to hunt and gather traditional foods and medicines on public lands within the ceded areas. Today, the three tribes of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have an enrollment of nearly 3,000 members.

While their lands and way of life have changed in the years since European contact, they hold strong to our ancestry and culture. The traditional religion Washat, or Seven Drums, is still practiced by some tribal members. In the way of their elders who came before them, they worship, dance, drum, sing and continue to gather foods, treading along some of the same paths they did to find food for their families and tap into a rich heritage.

The Hoopa ReservationScenery 2 smaller

The Hupa people migrated from the north into northern California around 1000 BC and settled in Hoopa Valley, California. Their heritage language is Hupa, which is a member of the Athabaskan language family. Their land stretched from the South Fork of the Trinity River to Hoopa Valley, to the Klamath River in California. Their red cedar-planked houses, dugout canoes, basket hats, and many elements of their oral literature identify them with their northern origin; however, some of their customs, such as the use of a sweat house for ceremonies and the manufacture of acorn bread, were adopted from surrounding indigenous peoples of California.

Hupa people had limited contact with non-native peoples until the 1849  God Rush brought an influx of miners onto their lands. In 1864, the United States government signed a treaty that recognized the Hupa tribe’s sovereignty to their land. The United States called the reservation the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation where the Hupa now reside. The reservation is next to the territory of the Yurok at the connection of the Klamath and Trinity Rivers in northeastern Humboldt County.


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