Military Veterans Project


American Indian Wars

1540-1924

Background

The Indian Wars were intermittent conflicts between European Governments, colonists, the United States Government and American settlers with various North American Indian tribes. The conflicts occurred in the United States and Canada from the first colonization of America through the 1920s. The conflicts were caused by cultural conflicts, land disputes, and criminal acts by both sides. During the early days of colonization North America Indians were also enticed by opposing European powers to attack the other's colonists.

Most Indian Wars were often short-lived and generally caused by incursion by whites onto lands the Indians considered theirs. As the westward movement of settlers began the frequency and length of the conflicts increased. The defeat of a major Indian alliance during the War of 1812 did result in a brief lessening of confrontations. The US government used treaties as a means to resolve situations that arose between the Indians and the settlers. In 1830 the Indian Removal Act was created to enforce Indian removal east of the Mississippi River to the sparsely populated west. This policy was later modified to relocate Indians to federally run reservations. As the westward movement continued Indians were pushed into smaller and smaller territories or moved to new reservations which could not sustain the tribes traditional way of life. This caused an increase in conflicts during and after the Civil War.

The oldest recorded conflict was the Battle of Mabila in October 1540 between Hernando de Soto and the Indians of the Mississippian Culture resulting in the death of Chief Tuskaloosa.

In the 17th Century there were at least nine major conflicts between England, Spain, The Dutch Republic, and the American colonies with at least 20 distinct Indian tribes found along the East Coast of the United States and in New England.

The 18th Century had close to twenty conflicts with the most notable being the Seven Year War which included the French and Indian War, and The Revolutionary War.

The 19th Century had close to sixty conflicts including the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, Geronimo's War, Comanche Wars of 1836 to 1875, Ute Wars of 1849 to 1923, Apache Wars of 1849 to 1924 along with several conflicts in the newly homesteaded Pacific Northwest with Yakama, Klickitat, Rogue River People, Yokut, Yuki, Tlingit, Puyallup and other tribes of the area.

While the Indian Wars were considered to have ended March 1890 with the massacre of the Hunkpapa Sioux at Wounded Knee there were at least five conflicts arising in the 20th Century. They were the Crazy Snake Rebellion (1909), New Mexico Navajo War (1913), Bluff War (1914 - 1915), Colorado Paiute War (1915) and the Posey War (1923) pitting US troops and settlers against the Creek, Ute, and Paiute tribes. Also the 20th Century saw the end to several ongoing conflicts started in the 19th Century.

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Orange County California Genealogical Society
c/o Huntington Beach Central Library
7111 Talbert Avenue
Huntington Beach, California 92648

(714) 536-5549

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