Dawes Act of 1887, 02/08/1887

Approved on February 8, 1887, “An Act to Provide for the Allotment of Lands in Severalty to Indians on the Various Reservations,” known as the Dawes Act, emphasized severalty, the treatment of Native Americans as individuals rather than as members of tribes.  

The new policy focused specifically on breaking up reservations by granting land allotments to individual Native Americans. At the time it was reasoned that if a person adopted white clothing and ways, and was responsible for his own farm, he would gradually drop his Indian-ness and be assimilated into the population. It would then no longer be necessary for the government to oversee Indian welfare in the paternalistic way it had been obligated to do, or provide meager annuities that seemed to keep the Indian in a subservient and poverty-stricken position.

Read more at Our Documents

DailyPBO: The President & The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation - June 2014

The crowd to President Obama: “We love you President Obama! You’re our hero!” President Obama: “I love you back!”

Obama became only the fourth sitting president to visit an Indian reservation. Attending with the First Lady, it was a truly inspiring event at the Cannon Ball Pow Wow Grounds in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The Native American community was bursting with pride over the president’s visit and when he spoke Lakota during his speech, they were completely moved. It was a wonderful day for a community that never (and I mean NEVER) gets the respect they deserve. Bravo, Mr. President. For more reactions, check the Twitter hashtag: #PrezRezVisit

December 15th 1890: Sitting Bull killed

On this day in 1890, the Native American Lakota Sioux chief, Sitting Bul, was killed. Formal peaceful relations between the Sioux and the United States government had begun in 1868 upon the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty. However, the discovery of gold in the Black Hills in the 1870s, led to a torrent of white prospectors invading the Sioux lands. The Sioux tribes united under Sitting Bull’s leadership, and his people initially secured some major military victories over American forces, most famously at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, where Sioux and Cheyenne warriors defeated the famed General Custer. Sitting Bull then led his people to Canada, only to return in 1881. It was around this time that he joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, but he soon returned to his people to protect the rights of indigenous Americans. Sitting Bull was killed on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in 1890 by police, who were trying to arrest him under fears he would join the Ghost Dance movement.

“I would rather die an Indian than live a white man”

From Delta State University’s Paxton Papers Collection, Series 2. A photograph of a indigenous Filipino man (?) and soldier that are both enlisted in Company “A” of the 45th Infantry at Camp John Hay.

Guess who found out something horrid about what white people did to my tribe?

So I found out the the Osage own oil on our reservations. So in the 1920s white people would marry into the Osage and then kill their spouse to get the oil rights. And yet that isn’t taught to ANYONE here in the US. Isn’t that lovely? Edit: here’s a link for anyone who is skeptical



Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage

William Loren Katz

Black Indian Slave Narratives

Patrick Minges

Red Over Black: Black Slavery Among the Cherokee Indians

R. Halliburton, Jr.

IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas

Gabrielle Tayac

The Black Seminoles: History of a Freedom-Seeking People

Kenneth W. Porter

Minnie Spotted Wolf (1923–1988) was the first Native American woman to serve in the United States Marine Corps.

A member of the Blackfoot tribe, Spotted Wolf spent her childhood working on her father’s ranch in Heart Butte, Montana, where she cut fence posts, drove trucks and broke horses. She first expressed an interest in joining the army when she was aged 18, shortly after the US entered into World War 2 at the end of 1941. However she was initially discouraged by a recruitment officer who told her that the war was ‘not for women’.

Spotted Wolf was eventually accepted into the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in July 1943, making her the first Native American female Marine. She almost did not accept the post as her father was dying from a horse riding accident, however her mother and sister strongly encouraged her to pursue her ambitions. She underwent rigorous boot camp training at Camp Lejeune, during which she gained 15 pounds of weight from the diet and rigorous exercise. She later described the training as “hard, but not too hard” given her background on the ranch.

On completion of her training Spotted Wolf went on to serve 4 years in the Marines in California and Hawaii. She drove trucks loaded with heavy equipment, a job normally reserved for men, and also sometimes worked as a jeep driver for visiting generals. Spotted Wolf’s career quickly gathered media attention and she was featured in numerous news stories, and even her own comic book, to promote the war effort.

Following her discharge in 1947, Spotted Wolf returned to Montana where she married a farmer named Robert England with whom she had four children. She attended college to qualify as a teacher and spent the next 29 years teaching in reservation schools. She died in 1988 aged 65 and was buried in her military uniform.



Zitkala-Ša (1876–1938) (Dakota: pronounced zitkála-ša, which translates to “Red Bird”), also known by the missionary-given name Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was a Sioux (Yankton Dakota) writer, editor, musician, teacher and political activist. She wrote several works chronicling her youthful struggles with identity and pulls between the majority culture and her Native American heritage. Her later books in English were among the first works to bring traditional Native American stories to a widespread white readership.

Working with American William F. Hanson, Zitkala-Ša wrote the libretto and songs for The Sun Dance Opera, (1913), the first American Indian opera. (It was composed in romantic style based on Sioux and Ute themes.)

She was a co-founder of the National Council of American Indians in 1926 to lobby for rights to United States citizenship and civil rights. She served as its president until her death in 1938.

Long live the Navajo Code Talkers

Chester Nez, the last of the original 29 Navajo code talkers, died Wednesday morning, June 4th 2014.

Navajo President Ben Shelly ordered flags be flown at half staff in Window Rock, the Navajo reservation capital.

Nez was the last living member of the U.S. Marines who created the first unbreakable code that baffled the Japanese during World War II.
Nez, 93, died of kidney failure, according to family members. He lived in Albuquerque, N.M., with his son Michael Nez.
“He was a very important man in my life and I will always speak his name,” Michael Nez said in a telephone interview. “I’m going to miss him very much.”

Chester Nez grew up in Chi Chil Tah, among the oaks, in Jones Ranch, N.M. When World War II broke out, young Nez was at Tuba City Boarding School. On a spring day in 1942, U.S. Marines came to the boarding school, looking for Navajo boys.

Nez said he signed up because he was eager for an adventure. He wanted to see what was on the other side of the butte, where he had never traveled.
He and the other 28 Navajo Code Talkers developed a code using their language.

“Sadly, we have lost the last surviving member of the original 29,” Shelly said. “His passing closes another chapter in the annals of Navajo history. Chester Nez and the rest of the original 29 now belong to the ages. We salute their valiant service and memory.
"Since time immemorial, the Navajo language, Dine’ bizaad, has been our shield and protector,” Shelly added. “The power of our language was shared with the world during World War II when the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers stepped forward for service.”

Today, November 20th, marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island. The occupation, carried out from November 1969 to June 1971, was initiated by the Native American group Indians of All Tribes (IAT), and quickly joined by other individuals and groups, like the American Indian Movement (AIM). It is widely considered “the cradle of the modern Native American civil rights movement.” Veterans of the 19-month occupation would go on to play important roles in other Native organizations and campaigns. 

The initial 79 occupiers hoped to establish a Native-controlled cultural center, and to hold the American government accountable for its historical and ongoing oppression of Indians. 

The full text of the Alcatraz Proclamation, released by the IAT at the beginning of the campaign, after the cut. 

For more information, see this archive of primary documents associated with the Alcatraz occupation, this article, and the Wikipedia article.  This Indian Country Today article includes embedded video of original footage and of two documentaries, “We Were There: AIM and Alcatraz” and “The Mouse That Roared.”

Keep reading


November 16th 1885: Louis Riel executed

On this day in 1885, Métis leader Louis Riel was executed. Riel, born at the Red River Settlement in 1844, was an accomplished student who was given a scholarship to study at a seminary in Montreal. However, he later left the seminary and returned to Red River, and became active in the natives’ defiance of attempts by Canada to buy their land. As leader of the Métis National Committee, Riel led efforts to hault Canadian land surveys and coordinate with native groups to defend their land and consider entering confederation with Canada. The process hit a roadblock when a group of Métis, alarmed by the presence of armed Canadians in their land, executed a young Protestant called Thomas Scott by firing squad. However, ultimately an agreement was reached, and in 1870 the Province of Manitoba was created, which including 1.4 million acres reserved for Métis residents. Riel remained a controversial figure for his role in Scott’s death, and he soon fled to the United States, fearing for his safety from the Canadian military. In 1873, Riel left hiding to run for federal election, and became a member of the House of Commons. However, he was never able to take his seat and was soon expelled from the Commons. In 1884 he returned from America to assist Métis people in Saskatchewan to articulate their grievances against Canada, but this confrontation soon broke out into warfare. After the Métis were defeated, Riel was arrested and charged with treason and hanged on November 16th 1885. Riel’s execution made him a martyr for the Métis people, and repeated calls have been made for a retroactive pardon.

Sitting Bull (Tatonka-I-Yatanka), a Hunkpapa Sioux, 1885

Series: Photographs of American Military Activities, ca. 1918 - ca. 1981
Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1985

A prominent figure in the growing “Ghost Dance” movement, Lakota spiritual leader Sitting Bull was killed on December 15, 1890, when Indian Agency police attempted to arrest him.  

Sitting Bull had long been a thorn in the government’s side, going back to 1876 and the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He then led his band to Canada where they remained until 1881 when they surrendered. In 1884 Sitting Bull joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, gaining even more notoriety before returning to the Standing Rock Reservation.

On December 15, 1890, a large contingent of police officers surrounded Sitting Bull’s house. When Sitting Bull refused to comply with the officers’ instructions, shots were fired, and Sitting Bull was killed.

Order to arrest Sitting Bull, December 14, 1890via the National Archives at Kansas City | Facebook 

The incident only further inflamed tensions on the Standing Rock and Pine Ridge Indian Reservations, culminating in the Wounded Knee massacre two weeks later.

More on the 125th anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee 

My first encounter with AIM was at a pow-wow held in 1971 … One man, a Chippewa, stood up and made a speech. I had never heard anybody talk like that. He spoke about genocide and sovereignty, about tribal leaders selling out … He had himself wrapped up in an upside-down American flag, telling us that every star in this flag represented a state stolen from the Indians … Some people wept. An old man turned to me and said, “These are the words I always wanted to speak, but had kept shut up within me.”

Mary Crow Dog, Lakota Women