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17 - The Plains Indian Wars
Transcript of 17 - The Plains Indian Wars
Reserving Lands for the Indians
From an early stage the United States signed treaties with Indian tribes
Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851 guarantees right of passage of Americans traveling through Indian lands in order to reach California
This begins the process of 'reserving' lands for the Indians
Areas which the US specifically recognises as under direct Indian control
Treaties are signed but they do not necessarily reflect the legitimate will of the peoples named therein
How did European American and Native American interactions in the second half of the nineteenth century differ from those in the colonial period?
Politics in Indian Country
Power is non-coercive among Native American groups
A chief could not make or compel his or her followers to do as they were told
They gained their positions only with the tacit consent of the people
They led by example and gained followers
But they could just easily lose their followers and, with it, their authority
The Gold Keeps on Rushing
Discovery of gold in Colorado, in areas protected by the Fort Laramie treaty, created a need to circumvent the lands reserved for the Indians
It was not necessarily possible to control of regulate the gold rushes. Many nascent settlements exist outside of U.S. jurisdiction - think of Texas in the 1830s
This was a pattern that was repeated over time
The Double Threat
Territorial incursions by Americans looking for gold and other resources
American attacks on the buffalo herd was proving highly disruptive to the Plains tribes who had, over the previous centuries, adapted their culture around the hunting of that animal
The Dakota Go to War
1851, Treaty of Fort Laramie defines Indian territories
1850s, increasing encroachment onto Indian lands + widespread destruction of animals upon which the Dakota relied
1861-62, poor harvests leads to a significant food shortage among the Dakota
1862, August 15th, Indians reportedly told to ‘eat grass and...dung’
1862, August 17th, Dakota begin raids upon American settlements
1862, August 18th, Andrew Myrick (‘eat dung’) is killed in a raid upon the agency in which he was residing. Agency is burned to the ground
1862, August 23rd, town of New Ulm is attacked, partially burned.
1862, September 2nd-3rd, Battle of Birch Coulee, between Dakota and US army. Assault left 13 Americans dead and a further 47 injured.
1862, Battle of Woodlake, September 23rd last significant battle. US army reinforcements defeat the Dakota.
1862, September 26th, Surrender of large number of Dakota who are taken prisoner ahead of military trials
1862, November. More than half of the Dakota prisoners (over 300) were sentenced to death. The accused received no (legal) council.
The Sand Creek Massacre
November 29th, 1864
More than 200 peaceful Indians, mostly women and children, massacred under the orders of John Chivington
'Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians ... Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice.'
Congress responds: 'can hardly find fitting terms to describe his conduct. Wearing the uniform of the United States, which should be the emblem of justice and humanity'
The Sioux Address President Grant
'You speak of another country, but it is not my country; it does not concern me, and I want nothing to do with it. I was not born there... If it is such a good country, you ought to send the white men now in our country there and let us alone.'