many years. One ship, loaded with 1,100 Taino men and
women, crossed the Atlantic to Spain with only 300 Native Americans surviving the journey.
The numbers of Native Americans decreased dramatically during the first century after Columbus “discovered”
America. Native Americans were
captured and transported to Spain as slaves. They were enslaved and forced to work in Spanish mines in the Americas, with the average worker dying by age 26. European diseases also took their toll and thousands were killed
in countless massacres. A population of 80 million peoples
decreased to only 10 million within a century. Mexico’s population of 25 million Indians twindled to barely a million within the century following the arrival of Spaniards in 1519. (Ref.
, William Katz, 1986)
2. Protection of Indian Lands
In 1793 a law was passed which prohibited non
Indians from settling on
Indian lands. This law also exempted Indians from complying with state trade regulations.
3. First Seminole War
The first war with the Seminole Indians was started by a United States attack.
4. Indian Removal Act of 1830
Indians were promised land in Oklahoma in exchange for their ancestral lands east of the Mississippi. “Escorted” by the U.S. Army, Indians were
forced to march up to 2,000 miles. Many thousands died of cholera, measles and starvation en route. The Cherokee called the walk the “Trail of Tears.” The land promised Indians in Oklahoma was later taken away. 5. Bureau of Indian Affai
Congress moved the Bureau of Indian Affairs from the War Department to the Department of the Interior. At that time a civilian corps of physicians was established to serve Native Americans. Many early treaties imposed time limits of 5 to 20 yea
rs on the provisions of health care.
6. Indians Ruled Wards of the State
A law passed in 1871 declared Indians wards of the state. This action tended to break down tribal unity and destroyed the power of the Chiefs. In denying their status as in
dividual tribal nations, the government no longer
needed tribal consent in their dealings with the tribes.
7. Congress Takes Land from Indians
8 February 1887
The General Allotment Act, also called the Dawes Act, provided citizenship rights and 160 acr
es of land to each Native American. A tribal census was
taken, land was parceled out to Indian families and the rest of the land was auctioned off by the Federal government. “Blood quantum” was used to determine whether an individual was a “full Blood In
dian” or “mixed Blood
Indian” which affected land allotments. A succession of massive land transfers was arranged through lotteries, sealed bids and frantic “runs.” In 1889 alone, whites
racing from starting gates in buckboards or riding
horses and mules
staked claim to two million acres of formerly Indian
landholdings. By 1890 the government had acquired 13 million acres of Indian lands through the allotment process, 23 million acres by 1891 and over 30 million acres by 1892. Great emphasis was placed
on the need to
“civilize” and to teach Christianity to Native Americans. To this end, young Native American children were sent to distant government
boarding schools, often thousands of miles from the “detrimental” influences of their home
8. Massacre at Wounded Knee
In the fall of 1890, Indian police killed Sitting Bull in an attempt to stop what they had feared to be an Indian uprising. Five hundred soldiers rounded up 200 Hunkpapa Sioux
mostly women and child
and culled out, lined
up and disarmed the men.
Someone is said to have discharg
ed a weapon
and the calvary open
fire with a Hotchkiss gun, killing most of the men
within the first five minutes.
Within an hour some two hundred...