Southeastern Woodland Sites
With the spread of maize culture up from Mexico around 1200 BC in the Southwest and 100 BC in the East, vast, highly stratified native empires eventually emerged throughout the American interior, with the Hopewell Culture of the Illinois and Ohio River Valleys and then later along the Mississippi Valley with the Mississippian Culture.
(Further Resources: Hopewell Archaeology; Hopewell Earthworks and Hopewell Culture; Woodland and Mississippian Tradition, Beloit College (WI); NPS Archaeology: Ancient Architects of the Mississippi; Illinois State Museum: Prehistoric and Historic Native Americans; Max Baldia's The Mississippian Period of the Woodland Culture Area in the Eastern US)
The mound-builders of Mississipian Culture featured centralized agricultural chiefdoms and sun-worship ritual.
The town of Cahokia opposite modern St Louis, was the largest of these chiefdom towns, and lasted about 500 years. Cahokia was once the home of nearly 40,000 inhabitants around 1100 AD / CE, and thus stood as the largest city in America until Philadelphia gained a population of 40,000 around 1800. Other cheifdoms persisted in the Mississippi Valley and the Southeast into the contact era, and were visited by early Spanish explorers.
(Further Resources: Index of Native American Archaeology & Anthropology Resources on the Internet; North American Archaeology; Native American Archaeology Resources on the Internet; Center for the Study of the First Americans).
Most contact-era tribes, however, were only a faint echo of these earlier Mississippian mound-building cultures, widely dispersed and sparsely occupying the eastern woodlands and coastal areas with only a few notable confederacy with centralized power. Columbus arrived in the Carribean and the coast of Central and South America in 1492 when the Mississippian cultures were rapidly dissolving into smaller, less centralized groups.
Southeastern Mississippian Sites
(Further Resources: Cahokia Mounds (IL) State Historic Site; Ancient Architects of the Mississippi; The Mississippian and Late Prehistoric Period (A.D. 900 - 1700); Etowah Indian Mounds (GA) State Historic Site; Ocmulgee National Monument (GA); Moundville (AL) Archaeological Park; Town Creek (NC) Indian Mound; Caddoan Mounds (TX) State Historic Site; Pinson Mounds (TN) State Historic Park; Toltec Mounds (AR) Archeological State Park; Dickson Mounds (IL) Museum).
At this time, the original inhabitants of America numbered between six and nine million people (and more than this in Mexico), with over two million east of the Mississippi and another two to three million is Canada, in many hundreds of different tribes and thousands of towns and villages from coast to coast, concentrating generally along river valleys. On the threshold of European contact, these diverse North American tribes spoke nearly 300 different languages.
(Further Resources: Native Languages of the Americas).
From the outset, Spanish conquistadors slaughtered and enslaved the inhabitants of the Carribean, Mexico, South and Central America, and the Gulf Coast, reaching into the Southwest of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona between 1500 and 1700. The entrada conquests of Cortes, Coronado, and De Soto, and others were followed by the Catholic friars and their missions and presidios with the exploitation of native peoples restrained within the royal encomienda system (quas-public plantations granted to imminent subjects investing in settlement efforts operated with forced indigent labor). De Soto's entrada forces in 1540 massacred nearly all the 5,000 inhabitants of the fortress town of Mabila in Alabama (a late Mississippian Culture) in a day-long engagement of guns and steel against arrows and sticks. A great many deaths occurred when De Soto ordered the town burned with the people trapped inside.
The English arrived a century late to North American colonization with the failed Roanoke attempts on the North Carolina outer banks (1580s-1590s) and then Jamestown in Chesapeake Virginia (1607) and Plymouth Massachussetts (1620) establishing presence along the eastern Atlantic seaboard. The French made several abortive efforts in the southeast of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida before concentrating efforts along the St Lawrence in Canada and thence down the Mississippi into Texas and the Gulf States. Incipient efforts by the Dutch (Hudson Valley in New York and New Jersey) and the Swedes (in Delaware and New Jersey) yielded to the British. Of the three empires it was said that the Spanish converted or killed the Indians, the British cheated them and enslaved them, and the French married them.
Between 1650 and 1715, the British enslaved and sold between 24,000 and 51,000 Indians captured by client tribes like the Westos and later the Shawnee on the Savannah River, paying slavers with flintlock rifles and exporting most captives to the Barbados sugar plantations. In 1693 and again in 1738, as a provocation to their neighboring antagonists the British of Carolina and Georgia, Spanish Florida declared that freedom and land would be given to runaway slaves escaping from their British Masters. By 1738, over 100 black former British slaves held Fort Mose as paid Spanish troops two miles north of the Castillo Fort at St Augustine. After the 1739 Stono Rebellion in Charleston, in which 80 rebelling slaves were hunted down and killed as they headed south, the British invaded St Augustine in 1740, with militia troops seeking to recapture or kill the runaways. After the English captured Fort Mose, however, the blacks and Spanish launched a devastating surprise attack and ended the invasion.
By the mid-1600s, the continent was divided by three powerful and warring European empires competing for the economic riches of the newly discovered continents of the west. The British held the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to the Carolinas, the French had riverine trading communities strewn along the St Lawrence, the Great Lakes, and down the Mississippi Valley into the "Old Southwest" of the Gulf Coast, and the Spanish had the gold of Mexico and the Andes funding the Treasure Fleet wealth that sustained dominance of South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Florida, with contested presence in Georgia and the Carolinas. Other than the Spanish borderlands of the Southwest of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, and a scattering of French trading posts extending westward beyond the Great Lakes region, the Trans-Mississipi West was largely terra incognito to the Europeans.
While the three empires contested their claims militarily at their mutual borders, the actual possession of the land differed considerably. Spanish claims on American soil consisted principally of military installations and Catholic missions strung along as a frontier buffer line in northern Florida and the Southwest of Texas and New Mexico. The French concentrated administrative centers near Quebec and Montreal on the St Lawrence but actual settlements in the frontier areas were mostly isolated trading posts without permanent settlement. British settlements were more mercantile in character, with substantial intercolonial trade networks, urbanization, and large-scale agricultural operations, with client tribes in the nearby backcountry serving as defensive buffers. The empires competed fiercely for Indian trade among the tribes between them.
After the advent of European diseases, which decimated the American peoples between 1500 and 1700, the early Eastern Indian wars (Powhatan War, Pequot War, King Philip's War, Iroquois Beaver Wars, Tuscarora War, Yamassee War, and others) and European empire wars conducted partly on the continent (Queen Anne's War, King William's War, King George's War, the War of Jenkins' Ear), next wreaked further death, disorder, and dislocation upon the Indian peoples of the East. The burgeoning European population on the Atlantic seaboard balanced the declining native population at about 250,000 each between 1720 and 1740. The native population had lost 90 to 95% of its people during the first two centuries.
(Further Resources: Timeline of European Disease Epidemics Among American Indians; Population history of American indigenous peoples; David Stannard, American Holocaust (Oxford Univ. Press 1992) (excerpts); Charles C. Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Knopf 2005); Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (W.W. Norton 1997); PBS: Guns, Germs and Steel)
Abigail and Josiah and the Raid on Deerfield Massachussetts, 29 Feb 1704
In February of 1704, Jean-Baptiste Hertel de Rouville led a party of forty-seven French Canadians and two hundred Aln™ba [Abenaki], Pennacook, Kanien'kehaka [Mohawk], and Wendat [Huron] allies 300 miles through the winter snow from Quebec in an attack on Deerfield, Massachussetts, to staunch English expansion northward. Attacking two hours before dawn on February 29, the force massacred 56 townspeople (22 men, 9 women, and 25 children), burned the houses, and carried off 109 captives back to Quebec, with 21 dying or being executed along the month-long journey. Only about half the townspeople remained alive in Deerfield. The remarkable story of two children taken captive indicates volumes about life in early frontier America.
Abigail Nims, age 4 at the time of the Deerfield Raid, was born 27 May 1700, in Deerfield MA to Godfrey Nims and the widow Mehitable Smead Hull. Josiah Rising was born 21 Feb 1694 in Suffield CT to John Rising and wife Sarah Hale, who died 11 Oct 1698, and he was 10 years old living with his uncle Mehuman Hinsdale in Deerfield at the time of the Raid. The two were taken separately and held as adopted captives by the catholic Iroquois -- the Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) -- at Sault-au-Rˇcollet or Nouvelle Lorette mission in Quebec, a fortified Indian school operated by French nuns located just north of Montreal.
Josiah was given the Iroquois name Shoetakani ("he whose home has been taken"), and Abigail was called Touatogouach ("she carries water" or "she picks things out of the water"). Upon baptism as catholics, Josiah was renamed Ignace Raizenne and Abigail was renamed Marie Elisabeth. In 1713 Josiah's Jesuit protector Abbe Maurice Quere arranged the freedom of both Josiah and Abigail. Both Ignace and Marie Elisabeth rejected returning to the English in 1713-1714. Marie Elisabeth was in fact redeemed and returned to Deerfield but refused to stay and returned to Quebec. Elisabeth and Ignace then married at Sault-au-Rˇcollet on July 29, 1715, when she was 15 and he was 21. The couple settled in 1721 on granted lands at the new settlement of Oka, 30 miles west of Montreal on the Ottawa River (homestead pictured below). Marie Elisabeth died 3 Jan 1747 in Oka, Deux Montagnes, Quebec at age 47. Ignace died some 24 years later, 30 Dec 1771, at age 77. Later descendants produced a six-part YouTube narrative of their lives:
Abigial's father Godfrey was one of the earliest settlers in Deerfield, arriving in 1670 as a shoemaker and farmer. He married twice and raised 15 children by two widows he married, Mary Miller Williams, widow of Zebediah Williams, who had been killed earlier by Indians, in 1677 (she died 11 years later in 1688) and then Mehitable Smead Hull in 1692, widow of Jeremiah Hull.
A Summary of the Fate of Godfrey Nims' Family
Spouse #1, [Mary Miller Williams] (died in 1688)
Spouse # 2,
The toll of Godfrey's family members killed or taken captive in the 1704 raid on Deerfield doubtless hastened his death in early 1705: his second wife captured, dying on the forced march to Canada. One son killed, and one captured, to be redeemed ten years later; four daughters killed that day; one daughter captured and taken to Canada, never to return. A step-daughter, Mary Williams Brooks, and a son-in-law, Phillip Mattoon, captured and killed on the march; a grandchild, infant Mattoon, killed in the attack. Earlier in 1703, a son and stepson captured and taken to Canada, where one escaped and the other died captive. Ironically, Godfrey as a youth before moving to Deerfield had teamed up with two other teenages and stolen silver from a neighbor's house on a Sunday in order to fund their running away fom the Puritans to move north and live among the French. Godfrey was sentenced to public whipping and fined triple the value of the silver.
(Further Resources: Suffield (CT) Historical Society, Rising Family History; Geneaology Records of Sˇquin-Laderoute family; Nims Family Association, The Story of Godfrey Nims; Genealogy Josiah-Ignace Raizenne; Wikipedia: Queen Anne's War; Attack on Deerfield; Interactive Map of the 300-Mile March to Montreal; Fate of Deerfield Captives; Indian Massacres; Wikipedia: Raid on Deerfield).
(Books: Charlotte Alice Baker, True Stories of New England Captives Carried to Canada During the Old French and Indian Wars (1897) [online edition] [Abigail Nims: pp 85, 235-241, 243-249, 253, 255] [Josiah Rising: pp 226-227, 235-241, 243-244, 246-249, 253, 255-256]; Emma Lewis Coleman, New England Captives Carried to Canada Between 1677 and 1760 During French and Indian Wars (Portland ME: The Southworth Press, 1925), [Abigail Nims Rising: vol. I, pp 45, 239; vol. II, pp 35, 58, 102, 103-112, 166] [Josiah Rising: vol. II, pp 35, 58, 103, 106, 107-112, 166]).
The above photo was made in 1908.
By the 1720s, the eastern Atlantic seaboard was effectively cleared of major Indian warfare until the outbreak of the very violent French and Indian War in the mid-1750s. During this time, the European emigrant population surged, and the expansion of European towns and settlements overwhelmed the native people in search of cheap land. Colonial elites made vast land grabs of Indian territories in anticipation of selling the land to the migrating settlers. The Virginia-based Ohio Company of Colonel George Washington and Governor Dinwiddle and simlar land speculation companies directed government policies and often supplied military force to wrest vast lands from the Indians, being forced further west with each decade straight into conflict with other native groups.
The European powers continued battling each other for control of native lands and trade supplying tribal proxies with arms and other supplies and pitting tribes against one another, until Britain emerged as the dominant North American regime in 1763 with the conclusion of the French and Indian War (1754-1763). After the French and Indian War ended with the 1763 Treaty of Paris awarding Britain all French possessions in North America, the Pontiac Rebellion in Michigan, Ohio and further east of that same year served to remind the war-weary, treasury-depleted British that conquest of the French did not amount to conquest of the Indian tribes inhabiting the Trans-Appalachian Wilderness. In response, while defeating the rebellion with the assistance of France b cutting off the supply of armaments and food, the British government confined the settlers east of the Appalachian boundary by the Royal Poclamation of 1763 in an effort to avoid settler-Indian conflicts and the expense of another protracted war. This confinement by London authorities denying the colonials access to the coveted Northwest and Kentucky lands of the Indians served as a principal irritant leading to the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1776.
British North America after the Treaty of Paris (1763) --
the shape of the 13 colonies in the run-up to Revolution 1763-1776
(NH, CT, MA, RI, DE, NY, NJ, PA, MD, VA, NC, SC, and GA).
Just before the American Revolution broke out and in the early years of that war, American militia battled the Shawnee in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio (Lord Dunmore's War), and battled the Cherokee in the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennssee. Throughout the Revolution, the British and Americans utilized native tribes as surrogate troops and the Americans under General Washington also took the occasion to dispossess lands controlled by eastern tribes in the Pennsylvania-New York area, principally the Iroquois Confederation with the Sullivan Campaign.
After the American War of Independence, "American Europeans" swarmed across the Appalachian Frontier into Ohio and Kentucky with the backing of the new federal military and dispossessed all Northwest tribes between the 1780s-1790s (Little Turtle's victory at Harmar's Defeat, Blue Jacket's victory at St Clair's Defeat, and General Wayne's defeat of Blue Jacket at the Battle of Fallen Timbers) and 1808-1814 (General Harrison's victory over The Prophet at Battle of Tippecanoe and the defeat of Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames). The British again used tribes to engage the Americans in the War of 1812, and American-Indian warfare took place along with battling the British in the Northwest and the "Old Southwest" of Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana. But with the final defeat of the British, the Indian combatants lost their supply of armaments and other material support for waging war with the on-coming Americans. Late resistance outbreaks nonetheless occurred in the 1820s (Winnebago War) and 1830s (Blackhawk War).
Tecumseh War, the final stage in the Sixty Years' War
against the Indians of the Northwest (1754-1814),
continued an additional 20 years by resistance in
The Winnebago War (1827) and the Black Hawk War (1832)
Indian Leaders in the Sixty Years' Wars in the Old Northwest 1754-1814 & Black Hawk War (1832)
Chief Pontiac (Ottawa)
Chief Blue Jacket (Shawnee)
Chief Little Turtle (Miami)
Joseph Brant (Mohawk)
Chief "Shooting Star" Tecumseh (Shawne)
Black Hawk (Sauk and Fox)
Mop-up campaigns raged in the Southeast in the Creek Wars, the Cherokee Removal, and the Seminole Wars from the early 1800s to nearly 1850. The Seminoles (remnants from the earlier Creek War who sought refuge in the swamps of Florida) defended themselves through three bloody wars with the federal American troops between 1814 and 1858, and were never completely ousted despite removal of several hundred Seminole to a separate reservation in the Oklahoma Indian Territory.
Indian Leaders in the Southeastern Removal Wars 1800-1850
William Weatherford "Red Eagle" (Red Sticks Creek)
Menawa (Red Sticks Creek)
William McIntosh (Creek)
Ceded lands, assassinated
Opothle Yoholo (Creek)
Led migration west
Chief Osceola (Seminole)
Chief Billy Bowlegs (Seminole)
John Ross (Cherokee)
Opposed removal in legal actions
Major Ridge (Cherokee)
Ceded lands, assassinated
The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 sparked a flood of migration beyond the Mississippi, spearheaded by fur trading companies and later by gold rush fever with the protection and support of an expanding network of military fortifications, and this unbridled influx provoked the century-long western Indian Wars.These legendary wars on the Northern and Southern Plains, Texas and the Southwest, and Old California of the Spanish and Mexicans, often entailed explicit genocidal campaigns of ruthless brutality against the women, children, and elderly of Indian communities. State militia forces openly carried out extermination raids on defenseless villagers.
Col. Chivington's Sandcreek Massacre, Nov 29, 1864, Colorado
(50-60 elderly men and over 100 women and children were slaughtered and mutilated
while under peace protection of federal forces by 800 drunken Colorado militiamen)
The Judge at the Court Martial of Chivington pronounced Sand Creek "a cowardly and cold-blooded slaughter, sufficient to cover its perpetrators with indelible infamy, and the face of every American with shame and indignation."
Remnant "hostiles" were imprisoned within reservations located on undesired, harsh lands where the federal government assumed a caretaker role and prevented civilian militia groups from murdering the defenseless Indians. The end of this period of dispossession and tragic conflict coincided with the presentation by Frederick Jackson Turner of his milestone paper on the closing of the American Frontier at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the "discovery" of America by Columbus. William F. Cody staked out the acreage directly across the grand entrance to the Columbian Exposition and staged his Grand Extravaganza called "Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show", featuring Sitting Bull among other notable Chiefs of the recent Wars.
The Midway at the Columbian Exposition (1893 World’s Fair) featured a “Bazaar of Nations” with villages “peopled by natives from every clime.” Among the peoples on display at this “bazaar” were American Indians. This photograph shows a group of Plains Indians, one of whom is dressed in a suit and top hat, greeting a visitor. The display of American Indians as an exotic curiosity is especially poignant in view of Wounded Knee, the last military action directed at Native Americans, which had occurred just three years previously (1890), and historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s pronouncement at the Fair that the frontier was “closed.”
Dispossession of Indian Land 1492-1890
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