This Month in Indigenous History

April 12, 2019

April 9, 1874: President Ulysses S. Grant orders that a tract of land in the New Mexico Territory be set aside for whatever Indigenous people the Secretary of the Interior decides to place there.


April 10, 1571: All eight members of a Jesuit mission in Virginia are killed by a local tribe who had lured them in by pretending to be their friends.


April 11, 1859: The Quinault and Quileute treaties signed on July 1, 1855, and January 25, 1856, are officially proclaimed by the President of the United States.


April 12, 2013: In France, a contested auction of dozens of Native American masks proceeds following a Paris court ruling, despite appeals for a delay by the Hopi tribe, by their supporters including actor Robert Redford, and by the U.S. government.


April 13, 1846: Two Cherokee factions continue to feud over who has legal control of the Cherokee Nation. Based on appeals from the “old settlers” and an agreement by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, President James Polk asks Congress to approve the creation of separate reservations for the two groups. The “new emigrants” oppose this proposal. An agreement will be reached by both sides on August 6, 1846.


April 14, 2007: The Morongo reservation in southern California receives seven-tenths of their casino’s profits, which amounts to roughly $15,000 to $20,000 per person per month. In 1989, the tribe’s average annual household income was $13,000.


April 15, 1777: Colonists in Boonesborough survive an attack by the Shawnee, as the town’s fortifications prove to be too much to surmount. The Shawnee will try again on July 4, 1777.


April 16, 1528: Conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez, who holds Spanish royal title to the land between Rio de las Palmas and the cape of Florida, sights Indigenous homes near present-day Tampa Bay. When he anchors his boats in the area, the tribe flees their village.


April 17, 1818: General Andrew Jackson sets out for Florida to fight the Seminole. A year later, he will defeat an Indigenous and Black regiment at the Battle of Suwann, ending the first Seminole War.


April 18, 1644: Opechancanough, the 99-year-old leader of the Powahatan Confederacy, attacks the English along the Pamunkey and York Rivers, 22 years after his first attack on Jamestown. All told, they kill nearly 400 Virginia colonists.


April 19, 1859:  Fort Mohave is established on the east bank of the Colorado River in present-day Arizona to “protect” the area from the Mojave and Paiutes.


April 20, 2017: The Cherokee Nation files suit against distributors and retailers of prescription opioid medications for contributing to an epidemic of drug abuse in the 14 Oklahoma counties that comprise the Cherokee Nation.


April 21, 1806: The Department of War establishes the office of Superintendent of Indian Trade, to be appointed by the president. The job will entail purchasing goods “for and from the Indians.”


April 22, 1877: Two Moons, Hump, and 300 other Indians surrender to Colonel Nelson Miles. Most of the rest of Crazy Horse’s followers will surrender on May 6, 1877, at the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies.


April 23, 1200: The Anasazi begin building their cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde in present-day southwest Colorado. The tribe will thrive here for 70 years, making corrugated and handsomely decorated pottery.


April 24, 1754: Delaware Chief Teedyuscung leads 70 Indigenous Christians out of the village of Gnadenhuetten to live in Wyoming, Pennsylvania.


April 25, 1838: Abraham, a slave owned by the Seminole, is freed and elevated to the position of “Sense Bearer,” similar to a counselor. He writes a letter to T. S. Jesup, Commander at Tampa, Florida, saying he “will go with the Indians to their new home west of the Mississippi River.” Since Abraham speaks English, he becomes an interpreter for U.S. officials dealing with the Seminole.


April 26, 1300: Some 15,000 to 20,000 Anasazi disappear from the present-day Four Corners region (the area where the Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah borders meet). The Anasazi probably moved south and broke into present-day Pueblo territory. (“Anasazi” means “enemy ancestors” in Navajo.)


April 27, 1877: General George Crook contacts Red Cloud with a message for Crazy Horse. Crook promises that if Crazy Horse surrenders, he will get a reservation in the Powder River area. Red Cloud delivers the message, and Crazy Horse agrees. He heads to Fort Robinson, in northwestern Nebraska, where he surrenders to the U.S. Army.


April 28, 1882: Remnants of Loco’s Chiricahua Apache, who fought in the battles of Stein’s Pass and Horseshoe Canyon, are attacked by U.S troops 25 miles south of Cloverdale, Arizona. Six Apache are killed, and 72 head of livestock seized. The surviving Indians head towards Mexico.


April 29, 1994: President Bill Clinton issues an Executive Memorandum, seeking to “ensure that the Federal Government operates within a government-to- government relationship with federally recognized Native American tribes. I am strongly committed to building a more effective day-to-day working relationship, reflecting respect for the rights of self-government due the sovereign tribal governments.”


April 30, 1871: Anglo and Mexican vigilantes kill 118 Pinal and Aravaipa Apache at Camp Grant, Arizona, also kidnapping 28 of their children.


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