Archive for the ‘Native Americans’ Category

Native Americans and the Civil War

Your book implies on page 465 that the Five Civilized Tribes actively supported the Confederacy. Here are some important facts:

Soldiers from the tribes fought on both union and Confederate sides.

Stand Watie, a Cherokee, owned over 100 slaves, and fought on the side of the South as a general. In fact he was one of the last Confederate generals to surrender after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. He was installed as Cherokee chief after the then- chief, John Ross, was captured by the Union.

John Ross, chief of the Cherokees since before removal from the East, attempted to keep the tribe neutral, but after Confederate general and diplomat Albert Pike came to Indians territory, with a threat of an invasion by Confederate forces from Arkansas and civil war within the Cherokee nation by those affiliated with Stand Watie, Ross reluctantly signed a treaty with the Confederacy. However, a federal force invaded Indian territory in the summer of 1862, and Ross was captured and paroled to Philadelphia, where he pointed out that many Cherokee had fled to Kansas as refugees rather than affiliate with the pro-Confederate faction.

The Creek Indians also split during the Civil War, with a faction signing a treaty with the Confederacy while those who did not wish to do so fled north toward Kansas in the dead of winter, pursued by the fellow tribesmen. The refugee Creek maintained that they were loyal. Most Creek Indians attempted to maintain loyalty to the Union.

The Seminole Nation also maintained loyalty to the Union.

The Choctaw and Chickasaw from southern Indian territory were predominately pro-Confederate.

For the story of the Sioux uprising in Minnesota in 1862, go here:

For more information, see Laurence M. Hauptman, Between Two Fires: American Indians in the Civil War (1995)

The Plains Indians

For more info see:

Papal bull “Sublimis Deus” and the humanity of Native Americans

By 1512, the system of encomienda was under serious attack by missionaries who were more concerned with saving the souls of Native Americans than of exploiting their potential as laborers. In that year, the Spanish crown issued the groundbreaking the Laws of Burgos, which were meant to modify the system of encomienda to ensure that the encomenderos Christianized the Indians. By 1515, nearly all of the native inhabitants in Jamaica were dead, and by 1536, all of the indigenous people in the Bahamas had become extinct. Forty-five years after Columbus made landfall on Hispaniola, a debate raged within the Catholic Church about whether it was right to enslave the Indians. Pope Paul III issued a decree in 1537 which attempted to settle this dispute. Although generally understood as addressing slavery, this bull is also important for declaring that Indians were human beings, and therefore endowed with human rights, contrary to the arguments of those who claimed that indigenous people were incapable of understanding Christianity, and therefore suitable for lives only as slaves.

This bull certainly did not settle the issue of enslaving the Indians. In 1542, the Spanish government issued the “New Laws,” which forbade the enslavement of Indians within its territories– the need for laws demonstrates that the problematic practice had not ended. In 1555, Father Bartolomé de Las Casas engaged in a debate with theologian Juan Gines de Sepúlveda at Valladolid, Spain, over whether enslavement of the Natives was philosophically justified.

As you read, address the following questions:
1. What characteristics are listed as being necessary to be considered human?
2. What two methods are to be used to convert the “Indians?”

Sublimis Deus, (The Sublime God), 1537
Pope Paul III

To all faithful Christians to whom this writing may come, health in Christ our Lord and the apostolic benediction.

The sublime God so loved the human race that He created man in such wise that he might participate, not only in the good that other creatures enjoy, but endowed him with capacity to attain to the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good and behold it face to face; and since man, according to the testimony of the sacred scriptures, has been created to enjoy eternal life and happiness, which none may obtain save through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is necessary that he should possess the nature and faculties enabling him to receive that faith; and that whoever is thus endowed should be capable of receiving that same faith. Nor is it credible that any one should possess so little understanding as to desire the faith and yet be destitute of the most necessary faculty to enable him to receive it. Hence Christ, who is the Truth itself, that has never failed and can never fail, said to the preachers of the faith whom He chose for that office ‘Go ye and teach all nations.’ He said all, without exception, for all are capable of receiving the doctrines of the faith.

The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, beholding and envying this, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God’s word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic Faith.

We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of His flock who are outside into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic Faith but, according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it. Desiring to provide ample remedy for these evils, We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.

By virtue of Our apostolic authority We define and declare by these present letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, which shall thus command the same obedience as the originals, that the said Indians and other peoples should be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ by preaching the word of God and by the example of good and holy living.

Links for more information:
The system of encomienda
The Popes and Slavery
The Laws of Burgos

Vocabulary for this post:
wise (definition 2)

2 page overview of Native American policy

From Dr. Angela A. Gonzales and Melanie A. Stansbury of Cornell University:indian_history timeline

Some content on this page was disabled on September 15, 2017 as a result of a DMCA takedown notice from Melanie Stansbury. You can learn more about the DMCA here:

Virdeo Overview: The Dawes Act



The Significance of the Frontier in American History

Here it is plus the questions: Turner’s Frontier Thesis + questions

This is here because somebody whose name rhymes with “Zach” didn’t come and get it, that turkey.

The story of the Apache Wars

Chief Joseph Surrenders, 1877

Here is the link. The speech is very brief– perhaps 200 words– but is considered one of the great speeches of American history. Go to