U. S. American Indian Policy and Its Impacts

  • Period: 12,000 BCE to

    Tribal Independence

    From 12,000 BCE until European settlement in North America, Native American tribes had established as many as 400 independent nations with distinct cultures, languages, and governmental systems. Immediately following the Revolutionary War, the United States dealt with Indian tribes as sovereign nations. Treaties were negotiated by Indian Agents under the Department of War.
  • Treaty Of Paris 1783

    Treaty Of Paris  1783
    The Treaty of Paris formally ended the Revolutionary War and is signed by representatives of Great Britain and the United States. In the treaty, the British cede all of their North American territories south of Canada and east of the Mississippi River to the U.S. Former agreements between Britain and the Indian occupants of the territories are implicity voided. The United States now claims all Indian lands east of the Mississippi River by right of conquest.
  • Northwest Ordinance Guarantees Tribal Land Rights

    Northwest Ordinance Guarantees Tribal Land Rights
    The Second Continental Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 which created the first organized territory in the US. The Ordinance directs that “the utmost good faith shall always be observed towards Indians; their land and property shall never be taken from them without their consent.” The Northwest Ordinance also provided a method for admitting new states to the union which would lead to taking land from tribes.
  • First U.S. Census

    First U.S. Census
    The first official U.S. Census count included slaves and free African-Americans, but Native Americans were not included.
    https://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/overview/1790.html
  • Indian Trade and Intercourse Act

    Indian Trade and Intercourse Act
    The first federal Indian law passed by Congress required Federal government permission to trade with Native Americans. George Washington interpreted the law saying, "The general Government only has the power, to treat with the Indian Nations, and any treaty formed without its authority will not be binding. Here then is the security for the remainder of your lands...The government will never consent to your being defrauded. But it will protect you in all your just rights." The goal was peace.
  • Treaty of New York

    Treaty of New York
    The Senate ratifies the Treaty of New York between the United States and the Creeks. Negotiated by Secretary of War Henry Knox and Creek Chief Alexander McGillivray. Knox sought with the treaty to reverse the premise of the Treaty of Paris that Native Americans were a defeated and subject people. Instead, he based treaties on the idea that tribes were prior occupants of certain territories and possessed rights to the land that could only legally be aquired by purchase or negotiation.
  • Creek-Spanish Alliance

    Creek-Spanish Alliance
    Disappointed by the federal government's poor enforcement of the Treaty of New York, Creek chief Alexander McGillivray negotiates a new treaty with Spain. Under the treaty of New Orleans, Spain and the Creeks agree to collectively resist American encroachment against Creek lands.
  • Cherokee Delegation

    Cherokee Delegation
    Cherokee Leader Major Ridge and a delegation of other Cherokee leaders travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Thomas Jefferson. The Cherokee delegation rejects government proposals to relocate west of the Mississippi River but promises to continue on the path toward "civilized life" by developing "fixed laws and regular government."
  • Cherokee Constitution

    Cherokee Constitution
    The Cherokee Tribe adopts a national constitution completing a decade of political development. Modeled after the United States Constitution, with three branches of government and an abbreviated bill of rights, the Cherokee constitution furthers the tansfer of Cherokee poitical power from the villages to a national government.
  • Georgia Sovereignty Law

    Georgia Sovereignty Law
    A bill is introduced to the Georgia state legislature asserting the sovereignty of state government over all land and people within its geographical boundaries, including the Cherokees who maintain that they enjoy territorial and legal autonomy through treaties negotiated with the federal government.
  • Indian Removal Act

    Indian Removal Act
    Congress passes the Indian Removal Act, authorizing the president to pursue ownership of all Indian lands east of the Mississippi River. Under the act, Native Americans will be compensated with new lands drawn from the public domain west of the Mississippi River. Forcible removal of Indians by President Andrew Jackson is known as the Trail of Tears.
  • Worcester V. Georgia

    Worcester V. Georgia
    The Supreme Court rules that the state of Georgia has no authority over the Cherokees living on territory held by the Cherokee Nation. Chief Justice Marshall wrote that despite the fact that the Cherokee lands lay within the geographical boundaries of Georgia, only the federal government had authority to make treaties with sovereign Indian nations. After the Court's ruling, President Andrew Jackson said, "Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it."
  • Trail Of Tears

    Trail Of Tears
    The Cherokee Nation removal in 1838 (the last forced removal of the Five Civilized Triibes east of the Mississippi) was brought on by the discovery of gold near Dahlonega, Georgia. The Native Americans were forced to march across land to their destinations by state and local militias. Over 10,000 died of starvation, exhaustion, and exposure.
  • Dawes General Allotment Act

    Dawes General Allotment Act
    On February 8, 1887, Congress passed the Dawes Act, Also known as the General Allotment Act, the law allowed the President to break up reservation land, which was held in common by the members of a tribe, into small allotments to be parceled out to individuals. Thus, Native Americans registering on a tribal "roll" were granted allotments of reservation land. Excess land was allowed to be sold to white settlers.
  • Charles Curtis, First American Indian U.S. Senator

    Charles Curtis, First American Indian U.S. Senator
    Following legislative service as a Representative in Congress from the state of Kansas, Charles Curtis is chosen as the first Native American Senator. He later serves as Vice President under Herbert Hoover. Based on his personal experience, Curtis believed that Indians could benefit by getting educated, assimilating, and joining the main society. Curtis sponsored and helped pass the Curtis Act of 1898; it extended the Dawes Act to the Five Civilized Tribes of Indian Territory.
  • Indian Citizenship Act

    Indian Citizenship Act
    Until now, Native Americans had an unusual status under federal law. Some had acquired citizenship by marrying white men. Others received citizenship through military service, by receipt of allotments, or through special treaties or special statutes. However, many were still not citizens, and they were barred from the ordinary processes of naturalization open to foreigners. Congress took the final step and granted citizenship to all Native Americans. President Coolidge signed the bill.
  • Indian Reorganization Act

    Indian Reorganization Act
    Congress established a new policy to protect Native Americans from loss of their lands and provide funds for economic development by passing the Indian Reorganization Act. Its purpose was to "rehabilitate the Indian's economic life and to give him a chance to develop the initiative destroyed by a century of oppression and paternalism." It established tribal self-government under the oversight of the Secretary of the Interior.
  • Indian Civi Rights Act

    Indian Civi Rights Act
    The Indian Civil Rights Act is a federal law saying that tribal governments cannot enact or enforce laws that violate certain individual rights. Like the Bill of Rights, which guarantees personal freedoms against actions of the federal government, and the 14th Amendment which extends those protections to actions of state governments. Congress adopted the ICRA to make sure tribal governments respect basic rights of Indians and non-Indians.
  • Indian Self-determination and Education Assistance Act

    Indian Self-determination and Education Assistance Act
    The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act authorized government agencies to make grants to federally recognized Indian tribes. The tribes would have authority for how they administered the funds, which gave them greater control over their welfare. The Act reversed a 30-year effort by the federal government under its preceding termination policy to sever treaty relationships with and obligations to Indian tribes.
  • Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act

    Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act
    United States requires museums and federal agencies to return human remains, sacred objects, and objects of cultural significance to tribes that can show they had belonged to the tribe and had been removed without the tribe's consent. A program of federal grants assists in the repatriation process and the Secretary of the Interior may assess civil penalties on museums that fail to comply.