This Month in Indigenous History

April 8, 2018

April 3, 1861: White settlers are illegally moving onto Sioux land near New Ulm, Minnesota. They petition President Abraham Lincoln for protection from the Indians.  

April 4, 1840: Comanche Chief Piava arranges a two-prisoner exchange with San Antonio. Two captives from each side are released.    

April 5, 1832: After being removed from Illinois in 1831, Black Hawk and his Sac followers lived in Iowa. Wanting to return to their homeland, Black Hawk and almost 1,000 of his tribe cross the Mississippi River into Illinois. Not much later, they will be attacked by whites.  

April 6, 1875: Black Horse is one of several Southern Cheyenne being sent to prison in St. Augustine, Florida, for uprisings in Indian Territory and Texas. While handcuffed, Black Horse attempts to escape. He is pursued and mortally wounded by the Army guards. Several shots miss Black Horse and hit other Cheyenne, who retaliate with a hail of bullets and arrows, while almost half the group flees to nearby hills south of the Canadian River. The cavalry pursues the Cheyenne, and a fight breaks out when the soldiers catch up to them. The next day, 11 Indians are found dead; 19 wounded. Most of the Cheyenne will eventually return to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency. Another 60 to 70, characterized by the Army as some of the worst criminals in the tribe, flee north to the Platte River country.    

April 7, 1788: The first settlers arrive at the site of Marietta, Ohio. General Arthur St. Clair followed on July 9 as Governor of the Northwest Territory.  

April 8, 1944: Ernest Childers, a Creek from Oklahoma, is awarded the Medal of Honor for his leadership during World War II. He is one of five Native Americans awarded the Medal of Honor in the twentieth century.

April 9, 1754: An Indian slave trader sent a letter to South Carolina Governor J. Glenn asking permission to use one group of Indians to fight another:  “We want no pay, only what we can take and plunder, and what slaves we take to be our own.”

April 10, 1871: Apaches raid the San Xavier Mission south of Tucson, and steal livestock. 

April 11, 1968: Congress passes the American Indian Civil Rights Act. Several titles apply the Bill of Rights to Indians in their relations with tribal government.

April 12, 1870: The Fort Berthold Reservation is created by Executive Order in western North Dakota. It is home to the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes.    

April 13, 1933: Ben Nighthorse Campbell of the Northern Cheyenne is born in Auburn, California. He will become a judo champion, a renowned jeweler, and a US Senator from Colorado (1993 to 2005). For a time, he is the only Native American in Congress.    

April 14, 750: Native peoples in southwest Colorado start building stone houses aboveground. Ruins of these are now scattered over the landscape and look similar to what the Pueblo Indians—the Hopi, Zuni, and others of the Southwest—live in today. They added beans, an important source of protein, to their diet, began making simple grayware pots, and used bows and arrows.    

April 15, 1879: Thirty Apache escape the Army camp of Ojo Caliente, New Mexico, and return to Mexico.

April 16, 1550: Charles V orders a stop to the conquests of Indian land.

April 17, 1683: Representatives of Pennsylvania purchase land near Schuylkill from the Delaware Indians.

April 18, 1818: Andrew Jackson defeats a force of Indians and Africans at the Battle of Suwanee, ending the First Seminole War.

April 19, 1991: Mississippi Choctaw voters reject a referendum—a first—to allow disposal of manufacturing waste on land near the reservation that the tribe proposes to purchase and lease for the landfill. 

April 20, 1537: Hernado de Soto receives royal permission to “conquer, pacify, and people” the land from Río de las Palmas to Cape Fear, Florida.

April 21, 1782: The Presidio overlooking San Francisco is erected by the Spanish to subdue Indians interfering with mail along El Camino Real.

April 22, 1889: At high noon, an estimated 50,000 land-hungry people race to lay claim to some two million acres of unassigned land in Indian Territory in Oklahoma. This land rush, and several more after it, opens up additional Indian land to non-Indian settlement.    

April 23, 1637: Chief Sequin of the Wongunk gave settlers land to establish the Village of Wetherfield on the Connecticut River. The settlers promised Sequin could live there under their protection, but they eventually order him to move. Sequin leads his Wongunk forces and 200 Pequot warriors in an attack on Weatherfield, killing nine settlers and taking two hostage.


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