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Indians go to Reservations - History

Indians go to Reservations - History


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The overall policy of the US government evolved into a plan of settling all the Indians in reservations.

Indians go to Reservations - History

Mattaponi History

Official Site of the

Mattaponi Indian Reservation

We are the Mattaponi, the “people of the river.” We have been in this region for over 15,000 years. The Mattaponi River will always remain the lifeblood of our tribe and an important part of our culture. Contemporary Mattaponi tribal life is still based deeply in the traditions of our ancestors, such as being faithful to our treaties and living in harmony with the natural world, while at the same time we have adapted to an ever-changing life in the Tidewater Virginia.

The Mattaponi were one of the original core tribes of the Powhatan chiefdom and the Great Chief Powhatan Wahunsenakah, the father of Pocahontas, who ruled most of Tidewater Virginia when the Europeans arrived in 1607. The Mattaponi agreed to the articles of peace with the European colonists in 1646, which was later ratified in 1677. Since 1646, the Mattaponi people have fulfilled their treaty obligations by presenting an annual tribute to the governor of Virginia as set forth by the original treaty. Each year at Thanksgiving time, the Mattaponi Tribe presents a tribute of wild game, fish, or turkey to the Governor of Virginia, keeping with their obligations to the 1646/1677 Peace Treaty.

The Mattaponi Tribe is state-recognized and continues to maintain its own sovereign government. The governing body today consist of the Chief, Assistant Chief, and Council.

T​he Mattaponi Indian Reservation was created from land long held by the Mattaponi by an act of the General Assembly in 1658, making it one of the oldest reservations in the country. Through the years both the Reservation’s physical size and the number of tribal members have diminished. The reservation presently encompasses approximately 150 acres, a portion being designated as wetlands. Although the tribal roll numbers 450 people, only 75 actually live on the Reservation.

The Reservation sits on the banks of the Mattaponi River, one of the most pristine rivers in the eastern United States. Facilities on the Reservation today include living quarters, a Baptist Church, a Museum, a Trading Post, a Fish Hatchery, a Marine Science Center, and a Community Tribal building that was formerly the Reservation school.

The Mattaponi Indian Reservation School building served as a school and church from 1890 to 1932. The school taught grades 1 through 8. The Baptist church was built in 1932, where the Mattaponi people continue to worship today. The school remained active until the 1960s, when Mattaponi children were able to attend public schools. The schoolhouse is currently used as the tribal center and pottery shop.

[Heritage/Culture]

Since the Assembly’s designation of the Reservation in 1658, the Mattaponi Tribe has maintained its heritage and many of its customs despite strong pressures to assimilate completely into mainstream culture.

The Mattaponi River, which bears the same name, has kept the Mattaponi alive for centuries. A wide variety of fish live in the Mattaponi River and provide the Mattaponi people with food. These include American Shad, Striped Bass (also called Rockfish), Catfish, Herring, and Perch. These fish are a staple of the Mattaponi diet.

​​ ​ The Mattaponi River bank also supplies the Mattaponi with clay for pottery. The Mattaponi people have perfected the art of pottery making. Replicas of ancestral pottery, as well as creative contemporary expressions, are made much the same way as in the 17th-century.

​Although many Mattaponi maintain jobs in nearby cities, tribal members still farm the reservation land. Traditionally, Powhatan woman performed farming. Now, gardening, such as planting soybeans, peas, corn and other grains, is a activity enjoyed by all. The Mattaponi people also fish, hunt, trap, and turtle.

​Efforts are also being made by tribal members to revitalize the Mattaponi Powhatan Algonquin language. ​​


Broken Promises On Display At Native American Treaties Exhibit

Suzan Shown Harjo points to a signature on Treaty K at the National Archives. The document will be on display in 2016 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian for an exhibit on treaties curated by Harjo. James Clark/NPR hide caption

Suzan Shown Harjo points to a signature on Treaty K at the National Archives. The document will be on display in 2016 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian for an exhibit on treaties curated by Harjo.

For centuries, treaties have defined the relationship between many Native American nations and the U.S. More than 370 ratified treaties have helped the U.S. expand its territory and led to many broken promises made to American Indians.

A rare exhibit of such treaties at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., looks back at this history. It currently features one of the first compacts between the U.S. and Native American nations – the Treaty of Canandaigua.

The Treaty of Canandaigua is one of the first treaties signed between Native American nations and the U.S. Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration hide caption

The Treaty of Canandaigua is one of the first treaties signed between Native American nations and the U.S.

Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Also known as the Pickering Treaty, the agreement was signed in 1794 between the federal government and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, or the Six Nations, based in New York. The deal secured an ally for the young U.S. government after the Revolutionary War and returned more than a million acres to the Haudenosaunee. But their territory has been cut down over the years. More than two centuries later, the U.S. has kept one promise.

"Article 6 says that they will provide goods in the amount of $4,500, 'which shall be expended yearly forever,' " explains museum director Kevin Gover, a citizen of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma.

Every year, those goods from the U.S. government include bolts of cloth to distribute to tribal citizens. Haudenosaunee leaders have said that cloth is more important than money, because it's a way to remind the U.S. of the treaty terms, large and small.

Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian, stands inside the "Nation to Nation" exhibit. Paul Morigi/AP hide caption

Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian, stands inside the "Nation to Nation" exhibit.

"The physical treaty, like all things, will eventually fade," Gover says. "But that doesn't mean the commitments that were entered into are completed or are undone."

At least seven other original paper treaties will be featured in rotation at the museum before the exhibit "Nation to Nation" ends in the fall of 2018. For now, the documents not on display are kept at the National Archives, where one almost-forgotten treaty is stored underground.

The light-blue pages of Treaty K are signed without ratifying seals or ribbons — like 17 other unratified treaties signed by representatives of the U.S. government and Native American nations in California during the Gold Rush.

California lawmakers pressured the U.S. Senate not to ratify the treaties, which promised reservation land to the Native American nations. There was one reason the lawmakers didn't want the treaties, according to the exhibit's curator Suzan Shown Harjo of the Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee Indian nations.

"The answer is always gold," she says. "And if it's not gold, it's silver. And if it's not silver, it's copper. And if it's not, go right through the metal chart."

A museum visitor views wampum belts, fans and other diplomatic tools used during the treaty-making process. Paul Morigi/AP hide caption

A museum visitor views wampum belts, fans and other diplomatic tools used during the treaty-making process.

Harjo says many American Indians in California suffered without treaty protection.

"They were not only scattered from their lands, and lots of people murdered during the Gold Rush, but they were erased from history," she explains.

While many treaties resulted in tragedies, Harjo says she hopes museum visitors will take away the full span of this diplomatic history.

"People always think of broken treaties and the bad paper and the bad acts, and that is our reality. But it didn't begin there. It began on an honorable footing," she says.

Anyone who wants a strong grounding in American history, Harjo adds, needs to understand the history of these treaties.


At war with the U.S.

Run-ins with white settlers were becoming more regular by the turn of the century. Settlers wanted Indian land and their former slaves back.

In 1817, these conflicts escalated into the first of three wars against the United States. Future U.S. President Andrew Jackson invaded then-Spanish Florida, attacked several key locations, and pushed the Seminoles farther south into Florida

After passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, the U.S. government attempted to relocate Seminoles to Oklahoma, causing yet another war -- the Second Seminole War.

After defeating the U.S. in early battles of the Second Seminole War, Seminole leader Osceola was captured by the United States in Oct. 20, 1837, when U.S. troops said they wanted a truce to talk peace.

By May 8, 1858, when the United States declared an end to conflicts in the third war with the Seminoles, more than 3,000 of them had been moved west of the Mississippi River. That left roughly 200 to 300 Seminoles remaining in Florida, hidden in the swamps.

For the next two decades, little was seen of Florida Seminole. At least not until trading posts opened in late 19th century at Fort Lauderdale, Chokoloskee and other places, that's when some Seminoles began venturing out to trade.


Indians go to Reservations - History

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is a tribal unit that originated in the Great Lakes area many years ago. During this time, the tribe was an autonomous and prosperous group living off the bountiful natural resources of the Great Lakes. What they couldn’t catch in the lakes or hunt in the forests, they acquired through trade with other tribes and later with the non-Indians.

After the first contacts with non-Indians in 1641, land became a central issue that intensified with the expansion of the 13 colonies or “13 Fires.” Non-Indians wanted the land for mines, timber and the growing number of towns, cities and ports.

During this time of advancing settlement, the Potawatomi people held no real concept of land ownership. Their beliefs taught them that land belonged to all living things alike. However, the U.S. Government, in its first treaties with the Indians, established boundaries for tribal land. In the numerous treaties that followed, known as “cession treaties,” the Potawatomi agreed to sell land to the U.S. Government. Those early concessions soon led to more drastic policies.

The 1830 Removal Act was a governing policy of the United States government. The policy revolved around a dream that the Indian “problem” could be eliminated forever by persuading the eastern Indians to exchange their lands for territory west of the Mississippi. The exchange would leave the area between the Appalachians and the “Father of Waters” free for white exploitation and settlement.

However, the 1829 Treaty of Prairie du Chien reserved two sections of land near Paw Paw Grove, Illinois for Potawatomi Chief Shab-eh-nay and his Band. In 1849, the land was illegally sold through public auction by the U.S. Government. Since an act of Congress or a subsequent treaty is necessary to extinguish the Tribe’s rights to the reservation and it wasn’t included in the cession treaties, it continues legally to belong to the Prairie Band.

During this forced migration west, the Potawatomi made temporary stops in Missouri’s Platte Country in the mid-1830s and the Council Bluffs area of Iowa in the 1840s. The tribe controlled up to five million acres at both locations. After 1846 the tribe moved to present-day Kansas, a new region which was once called the “Great American Desert.” Although the area lacked the beauty of the Great Lakes, the circumstances of removal left the tribal people little choice. It amounted to another period of adjustment for the tribe, just like so many times in the past. At that time, the reservation was thirty square miles which included part of present-day Topeka.

Even this temporary settlement changed with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Opening this territory to white settlement initiated a stream of immigrating white settlers. The settlers, without even waiting for the land to be officially taken from the Indians by treaty, moved onto Indian lands known as “squatter sovereignty.”

Additional white migration to Santa Fe and Oregon areas made land like the Kansas Territory suddenly doubly appealing. In this context, Indians posed a threat to this expansion and were, as a result, victimized by less-than-ethical land deals.

Soon after, railroad interests, religious groups and politicians got involved in new treaty negotiations. But the tribe also experienced an internal divide: 1,400 members wanted the land divided into allotments coupled with the promise of eventual citizenship. However, a small group of 780 Potawatomi stood firm for communal holdings. They were neither interested in obtaining citizenship nor rejecting their heritage, and they held firm in their belief that no single person owned the land. This group became what is now the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.

Two treaties, one in 1861 and another in 1867, carved the existing reservation with a land base of 568,223 acres into portions that accommodated individual interests. The railroad received over 338,000 acres, Jesuit interests 320 acres, Baptist interests 320 acres, and the rest was divided into separate plots. The Jesuits, although failing ultimately to make Kansas a center of Catholic interest, did eventually settle approximately 2,300 acres around St. Mary’s Mission.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation initially constituted 11 square miles in the northeast corner of the original reservation. Here, as elsewhere, the exploitation of the Indian lands became the key to the development of the white man’s economy. The total Potawatomi holdings began at 568,223 acres in 1846 and by 1867 had decreased by 87 percent to only 77,357 acres.

With the conclusion of the railroad treaties of the 1860s, the Potawatomi settled upon the 11 square-mile reservation expecting to live in peace. But, as so many times in the past, continued development overlooked the interests of the tribe.

“The reservation must go!” became the cry of eastern reformers determined to fashion Indians in their own image and therefore to proclaim them self-reliant citizens. As a result, in 1887 Congress passed the Dawes Act or the General Allotment Act of 1887. The government deemed this law a “virtual necessity.” They said they could no longer protect Indian lands from further settlement and the demands of the railroads and other enterprises. The basic premise of the General Allotment Act was to give each Indian a private plot of land on which to become an industrious farmer. To hasten assimilation, the law provided for the end of tribal relationships, such as land held in common. It stipulated that reservations were to be surrendered and divided into family-sized farms which would be allotted to each Indian. The supreme aim was to substitute white civilization for tribal culture.

The Potawatomi still persistently refused to recognize their allotments of land or the right of the government to make such a disposition. Persuasion consisted of withholding federal payments due the Prairie Band and giving double allotments of their land to whites, Indians from other tribes, and the residing agent’s relatives. Furthermore, much of the land allotted to them was too poor to farm, and they received no financial credit and little help of any kind.

Many Indians, including the Potawatomi, were totally unaware of non-Indian economic motivations and customs. They leased or sold their lands to whites for a fraction of its true value. Others were swindled out of their land holdings under the Dawes Act and later legislation designed to accelerate the sale and lease of the Indians’ allotments to whites. Conditions on reservations became scandalous. Indians received little or no education and were treated as wards, incapable of self-government or self-determination.In the years following the Dawes Act, the Potawatomi weathered these injustices along with the Great Depression by virtue of their ability to adapt to economic conditions. However, the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 was another matter.

The Reorganization act dealt with Indian self-government, special education for Indians, Indian lands and a Court of Indian Affairs. The Potawatomi looked favorably on the termination of the allotment policies of the Dawes Act and the return of surplus lands to the Potawatomi because, by this time, the tribe had lost close to fifty thousand acres as a direct result of this law. Indians living on the Potawatomi Reservation, however, greatly opposed self-government. Basically, the tribe opposed the foreign concept of the formation of a new governing body.

In the history of the tribe, most decisions were made by the entire tribe, not a few individuals. Many tribal members were older people who were suspicious of anything they didn’t fully understand.

Another stumbling block for tribal members was that the Indian Reorganization Act wasn’t designed to recognize sovereignty, nor did it encourage it. Most decision-making had to be approved by the Secretary of the Interior or Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Nevertheless, this particular bureaucratic mechanism was installed against the wishes of the Potawatomi and remained a problem for years. A tribe couldn’t embark on any business venture, handle its own trust money, or pass any major change in their government without first seeking bureau approval.

All future dissent of the tribe can be directly traced to a form of government imposed on the tribe. A ruling body was never part of the Potawatomi story, and though changing times dictated this concept, it was never accepted nor were the leaders that became part of the new tribal body politic.

The issue became almost a moot point in 1947 when a conservative Republican Congress wanted to reduce the expenditures of the federal government. Acting Indian Commissioner William Zimmerman was asked to testify on Indian programs, evaluate tribal conditions and list those tribes that could immediately succeed without further federal help. This laid the groundwork for the hectic 1950s and the next commissioner Dillon Myer who advocated the immediate government withdrawal from the Indian business.

Myer had many people in Congress who shared his sentiments. Hence, this period became known as the Termination Period. This was another assimilation effort on the part of “friends” in Washington — a campaign similar to the allotment policies of the 1800s, but far more serious. Now the entire Indian system was slated for elimination.

In 1954 the House of Representatives drafted a resolution called HR 4985 with the express purpose of withdrawing federal supervision over five Indian tribes as soon as possible. This list included the Potawatomi Tribe. Potawatomi strategy to avoid termination included a grassroots campaign. It included signing and sending petitions of protest to the government. Multiple delegations from the Potawatomi Tribe went to Washington D.C. to testify in front of congressional committees and to lobby policy-makers. Thankfully the message of Potawatomi unity came across strong and clear, and Congress withdrew the Potawatomi name from the termination list.

There is much more to the Potawatomi story than what’s described in these last few paragraphs, but it can serve as some background information. Other material goes into more depth on the contributions of individual nation members. Within the last decade, the nation has experienced a revitalization: The introduction of gaming activities has initiated an improvement in social, educational and cultural leadership programs. As a result, the nation is able to provide a wide range of opportunities for employment and business development while contributing to the economic viability of the region. Today, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation can once again look optimistically to the future and to the preservation of a valued culture.


American Indians in Texas Today

American Indians from diverse tribal nations continue to live and work in Texas today. Regardless of their tribal affiliations, many keep their ancestors&rsquo memories, traditions, cultures, and languages alive.

Only three federally recognized tribes still have reservations in Texas, the Alabama-Coushatta, Tigua, and Kickapoo. The state recognized Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas has its headquarters in McAllen. The Caddo, Comanche, and Tonkawa are officially headquartered in Oklahoma.

Banner image Comanche Feats of Horsemanship, 1834&ndash1835, by George Catlin. Image courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr., 1985.66.487


Choctaw Indians

The Choctaw Indians were originally from the southeastern states of Mississippi, Louisiana, or Alabama. Pushmataha was the most famous Choctaw. The chief of the Choctaws, he negotiated treaties with the United States government and fought on the American side in the War of 1812.

The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830 removed the Choctaw Indians from their land to reservations allotted for them. The United States government had the Choctaws moved to Oklahoma. Thousands of Choctaw walked the 500 miles journey to Oklahoma and there was much suffering. A bad blizzard in the region, combined with suffering due to lack of food, a wagon shortage, and suffering and death led this to become known as the Choctaw&rsquos Trail of Tears. More than half of those that started out on the journey died before reaching Oklahoma.

The Choctaw Indians are responsible for giving America its oldest field sport, Stickball. Stickball was often used between Indian tribes as an alternative to war when settling disputes.

In both World War I and World War II, the Choctaw Indians proved to be very useful to the United States Army. Along with the Navajo, they were used as radio operators, broadcasting information in their native language. These &ldquocode talkers&rdquo were able to transmit secret military information over the radio because the enemies could not break their language, the &ldquocode.&rdquo It is believed that Albert Billy was the Choctaw Indian responsible for suggesting to his commanding officer that the Choctaw language be used to keep the enemy from stealing important military information. A story goes that one night a general in the German army was captured. His only request was to know &ldquowhat nationality was on the phones that night.&rdquo The general was only told that it had been Americans talking on the phones that night.


Indians go to Reservations - History

Ql’ispé (Pend d’Oreille or Kalispel) and Séliš (Salish or Flathead) People

“Our stories teach us that we must always work for a time when there will be no evil, no racial prejudice, no pollution, when once again everything will be clean and beautiful for the eye to behold—a time when spiritual, physical, mental, and social values are inter-connected to form a complete circle.” – Salish and Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee

The Salish and Pend d’Oreille are the two easternmost tribes of the people comprising the Salish language family, which extends from Montana to the Pacific Coast, generally north of the Columbia River. The Salish-speaking people were separated thousands of years ago into different bands. These individual bands then became separate tribes in different parts of the Northwest eventually speaking different dialects of the Salish language. The territories of the Salish and Pend d’Oreille tribes originally encompassed parts of over 22 million acres (8,903,000 hectares) of land straddling the east and west sides of the Continental Divide in parts of British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Today, the Flathead Indian Reservation encompasses just over 1.3 million acres (526,000 hectares).

The cultures and life practices of the Salish and Pend d’Oreille were very similar. In the traditional way of life, they gathered roots from early spring through the growing season including bitterroot, camas bulbs, carrots, onions, and potatoes. Camas was a staple that was baked and dried for preservation. They also picked chokecherries, hawthorne berries, huckleberries, serviceberries, and strawberries. Fish provided an important source of protein and a buffer of stability for the people of the region. They caught many types of fish including bull trout, cutthroat trout, mountain whitefish, long-nosed sucker, large scale sucker, northern pikeminnow, salmon, and sturgeon some of which they dried for use throughout the year.

In the fall, the men hunted mostly deer and elk, and the women dried meats and prepared hides for clothing. They also hunted buffalo which provided food, clothing and important tools for the Tribes. Their medicines and flavoring herbs all came from the earth. They made clothing from animal skins, colored them with natural dyes, and decorated them with porcupine quills. They fashioned tools from stone, bones, and wood.

The Salish and Pend d’Oreille survived the seasons and the changes that came to them in closely knit families and tribes, sharing the burdens of survival as well as the joys of life in their dances, music, games, and all-important story-telling. Their communal way of life was part of an inter-tribal system through which they enjoyed a vibrant and critical network of exchange. Their deep spirituality was part of all aspects of life. They believed then, as they continue to today, that all things—humans, animals, plants, rocks, and soil—are interconnected and should be respected individually and as a whole.

The Pend d’Oreille are known in their own language as Q’lispé which is anglicized as “Kalispel.” They were once organized in several bands in British Columbia, Plains, Montana and west along the Clark Fork River, Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho, and the Pend Oreille River in Eastern Washington. One tribe was located throughout all forks of the Flathead River, the Swan River, the Flathead Lake area and the land that is now the Flathead Reservation. They were known as “People of the Broad Water,” referring to Flathead Lake. Others lived in today’s northern Idaho, western Montana, and eastern Washington.

The upriver bands tended to be referred to as the Pend d’Oreille and the downriver bands as the Kalispel. Because of the distinctive round shell earrings worn by both male and female tribal members, early fur trappers called the tribe the Pend d’Oreille which means “hangs from ears” in French. They lived in tipis during the summer and lodges in the winter. The lodges were typically built from structural mats woven from large cattails and framed with branches.

In the Salish language, the people the Europeans named the “Flathead” called themselves Séliš (pronounced SEH-lish) which is anglicized as Salish. There are a number of possible historical explanations for why the Salish were referred to as Flatheads, but the name is a misnomer.

Extraordinary Change
The Salish and Pend d’Oreille were profoundly affected by a number of changes that came with non-native people. Over the course of the 18th century, horses, infectious diseases and firearms altered the landscape and had cataclysmic impacts on the people. Horses brought greater mobility, easier access to hunting and gathering, and expanded inter-tribal relationships and marriages. They also brought about a new type of power and wealth from the accumulation of material goods, and the subsequent raiding and warfare that came with them.

After horses came the sweeping epidemics of European diseases against which the tribal people had no immunity. Horses made the tribal people and therefore the diseases far more mobile, wiping out half or more of the Salish-speaking tribes of the Northwest. Some researchers have estimated that there was a population of 20,000 to 60,000 combined Salish and Pend d’Oreille people prior to the onslaught of diseases. When Lewis and Clark arrived in the territory, it is estimated that between 2,000 to 8,000 people remained.

By 1780, the Salish and Pend d’Oreille’s main tribal enemies, the Blackfeet, gained access to firearms through the Hudson’s Bay Company. They waged a long and effective war on the Salish and Pend d’Oreille people until 1810 when the Salish and Pend d’Oreille gained access to their own firearms. The Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and associated bands were forced to move their winter camps west of the Continental Divide although they continued to use their traditional hunting grounds.

The fur trade exploded across Salish and Pend d’Oreille territories in the early 1800s, taking hold after the Lewis and Clark expedition. Trappers eliminated countless animals, profoundly changing the ecology of the area. The tribal people maintained their way of life in spite of these losses. Between 1815 and 1820, the Iroquois came to the territory bringing word of the powerful “Blackrobes,” the Jesuit missionaries who had been with the Iroquois in Canada since the 1600s. Prior to the arrival of non-Indians, the Salish prophet, Shining Shirt, had a vision of men in long black robes coming to teach them a new way of prayer. Through the 1820s and 1830s, the Salish sent delegations to seek out the Jesuits. Unbeknownst to the tribes, the Jesuits were intent on religious conversion and elimination of the Indian spiritual practices as well as their traditional modes of sustenance.

In 1855, officials of the United States government convened treaty negotiations with leaders of the Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai Nations. The government’s aim was to secure legal title to most of the tribes’ territories in order to facilitate the development and settlement of those lands by non-Indians. The terms of what became known as the Treaty of Hellgate resulted in one of the most important documents in the history of the area and its people.

On July 16th of 1855 at Council Grove near Missoula, eighteen tribal leaders reluctantly signed the agreement with the U.S. government which established the Flathead Indian Reservation with headquarters in the Jocko Valley near present day Arlee. It is important to note that the purpose of a reservation is to “reserve” particular lands from cession—the transfer of lands through treaty. The Hellgate Treaty not only reserved land from cession, but also reserved specific rights on ceded land to gather plants, fish, hunt, and pasture livestock.

This treaty laid the legal foundation that would shape the relationship between the government and the Tribes long into the future. The treaty negotiations were plagued by serious translation problems and by power inequities. While many of the broad treaty concepts were well understood by tribal leaders, some of the basic non-Indian treaty concepts of land as a commodity and natural resource ownership were foreign to them. Tribal people came to the negotiation believing they were there to discuss and establish peace between themselves and the Blackfeet, not surrender their land to the government. The U.S. government came with the goal of making official claims to lands and resources and moving the Tribes to designated reservations. The final treaty language left the tribes with a fraction of their original territory set in two reservations, the “Jocko Reserve” (the land of today’s Flathead Reservation) and a “Conditional Reservation” in the Bitterroot Valley.

By 1891, after a long struggle led by Salish Chief Charlot, the last of the Salish people were removed by U.S. troops to the Jocko Reserve from the land the government had claimed from them. The Bitterroot remains a place of great significance to the Salish and Pend d’Oreille people. Although much of the territory is now the private property of non-Indians, tribal people return often to gather food and medicine, to fish and hunt, and to pray and honor their ancestors. After Chief Charlot died in 1910, the government evicted his wife Isabel who died at the age of 99, destitute.

Despite their losses, the Tribes began anew on the Flathead Reservation. They established farms and ranches and worked to rebuild their lives. The people continued to suffer disempowerments and many broken promises over the years to come. They continued to be punished for practicing their traditions. The government failed to honor a number of their rights and guarantees of the treaty. And finally the Flathead Reservation itself—the area reserved from ceded lands by the treaty for “exclusive use and benefit of the tribes” began to be taken and sold through the Flathead Allotment Act in 1904. This area was not “given” to the Tribes by the U.S. government as a result of the Hellgate Treaty, but was withheld from the U.S. government by the Tribes. It was the unceded, sovereign land of the Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai nations.

(click to enlarge)
Figure 3.7: Sources: Base map - Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Natural Resources GIS Division. Place names and content - Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee. The map is part of a larger tribal land history funded by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and the Salish Kootenai College Tribal History Project.

Governmental policy makers had decided they no longer wanted to honor their agreement with the Indians. They also did not comprehend the tribal relationship with the land or the traditional ways of life and felt the tribal people had too much land. Through the Flathead Allotment Act—one of the most devastating pieces of legislation for Indians in U.S. history—the reservation was opened to homestead by non-Indians in 1910. Prior to the Act, traditional cultures were thriving in spite of their enormous challenges. Between 1910 and 1929, over 400,000 acres (162,000 hectares) of the best agricultural land was made available to homesteaders.

The native people had been gathered up, moved off their traditional lands and forced into learning and practicing the European way of life. Later, generations of Indian children were sent to boarding schools to learn new ways, a new language, and to be stripped of their cultural traditions. There was a dramatic loss of native language on the reservation as Jesuits focused on creating a new generation of English-speaking Indian children. In many instances they were punished for practicing their cultural traditions. Some surviving tribal elders relate their memories of good experiences from their time in the schools, while others suffered abusive and destructive experiences.

The Treaty of Hellgate, however, which had numerous negative effects on the population, later provided the Tribes with legal cause to fight to keep their reservation open, to protect their land use rights, and to receive certain basic assistance promised by the government. The U.S. Indian Court of Claims ruled in 1971 that the Flathead Allotment Act constituted a “breach” of the Hellgate Treaty.

Change came to everything. Even the natural flow and availability of water were altered on the reservation. The Tribes natural systems knowledge had long been applied in their careful use of waterways for drinking, gardening, and fishing without damaging the natural flows critical to fish and wildlife. Eventually, the federal Flathead Indian Irrigation Project (FIIP) brought an engineered system of reservoirs, dams, and canals into play, changing the natural flow of water on the reservation and devastating traditional fisheries the Tribes had long relied on.

The project ran over and replaced small-scale Indian irrigation ditches that had supplied tribal families with water to grow life-sustaining gardens. The water that was once free now came with a price tag that led to the loss of land for unpaid “debts” to the project. Like most federal irrigation projects, the costs of constructing the FIIP were supposed to have been paid for over time by farmers. However, in the 1920s many farmers went broke, leaving the project millions of dollars in debt.

In the 1920s, the U.S. government along with the Anaconda Copper Mining Company and the Montana Power Company proposed building a dam at the falls of Flathead River to generate electricity for their copper smelters. The proposal eventually led to the Kerr Dam being built in Polson. The income from the sale of electricity would be split three ways: some for the indebted irrigation project, some for non-Indian water users, and some for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Debates about the dam excluded traditional tribal people, some of whom opposed the dam because the falls were a sacred spiritual site and an important fishing place. The proposed dam would exploit a tribal resource and the tribes would receive no money from the deal. After much protest and a national scandal, the tribes succeeded in garnering a share of the proceeds—a “rental fee”—from the dam.

The Great Depression slowed the start of construction, but the project was finished in 1938. Although the Tribes had an unsuccessful bid to gain control of the dam at the time of its license renewal in the 1980s, they will have a purchase option on the dam in 2015.

The Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934 allowed tribes the option to govern themselves. The IRA had both positive and negative impacts on the tribes. Locally, it recognized the Salish and Kootenai chiefs as permanent, non-voting members, but excluded the Pend d’Oreille and Kalispell chiefs from the council. At the same time that the IRA gave the tribes a stronger voice with the government to reconstitute their sovereign powers, it in other ways further marginalized traditional people.

In 1935, the tribes had organized under the terms of the IRA adopting a new constitution and becoming the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation, governed by an elected tribal council. Over the years that followed, they worked hard to regain control over their resources and developed a new power of self-governance. Among other things, the IRA ended the Flathead Allotment Act.

In the 1950s, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes also faced a proposed “termination” by the federal government of their relationship with the reservations, a move that would equate to termination of reservation rights. Although this proposed termination was nationwide, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes were the number one target for this government policy. Tribal members employed well organized lobbying to defeat this threat to their survival. Fortunately, the “termination” idea—originally a Republican policy—became so publicly unpopular, it was renounced by President Nixon.

The late 1960s and early 1970s brought a renewed interest in culture and languages by Salish and Pend d’Oreille youth. In the mid 1970s the Tribes established the Flathead (now called Salish-Pend d’Oreille) and Kootenai Culture Committees to preserve and revitalize their cultural traditions and languages. These initially modest education efforts have grown into full-fledged departments of the tribal government. Over the past several decades, the Tribes have put great efforts into educational programs including the Two Eagle School which teaches tribal culture, and the establishment of the Salish Kootenai College in the 1970s. The successful college now has a number of two- and four-year programs.

Figure 3.8: Indian firefighter. Source: Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

In the 1970s Congress passed a series of laws, including the Indian Self-Determination Act, the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Health Care Improvement Act, which aimed to improve the quality of reservation life without dismantling or interfering in tribal government. Along with these laws came a broader application of Indian culture in governance and the growth of tribal governments.


Over the past several decades, the Tribes have developed a large and sophisticated tribal government, including a Natural Resources Department widely recognized as among the most accomplished in the U.S. The department has managed to wed the technical prowess of its scientific staff with the Tribes’ traditional cultural values and understanding—the knowledge and wisdom of the earliest practitioners of conservation biology in the Flathead Watershed—rooted in generations of observations and interactions with the natural world.

The Tribes’ deep commitment to environmental protection has led to a number of dramatic improvements to and protections of the land and of threatened and endangered species. The Natural Resources Department oversees the Environmental Protection Division, the Fish, Wildlife, & Recreation Division, and the Water Management Division. The Forestry Department manages numerous forestry and fire programs, and the Tribal Lands Department guides land and resource use.

Figure 3.9: Firescar. Source: Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

By learning and passing on the stories of their Elders, the Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kalispell people have kept their ancient histories, languages, and connections to the land alive. The people have navigated unimaginable obstacles while causing their cultures and traditions to continue to flourish. The Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kalispell people lived a vibrant and sustainable life before the arrival of Europeans. Today they live and work to ensure a future where people, animals, plants, and all parts of the earth have a place and are respected.

“. everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.”
- Mourning Dove Salish, 1888 -1936


SC Indians – Native Americans in South Carolina

For thousands of years before Europeans arrived in present-day South Carolina, our state was occupied by Indians, also called American Indians or Native Americans. At least 29 distinct groups of Indians lived within South Carolina. These groups are called tribes. Today, the many places in our state that bear the names of tribes attest to the important role Indians played in South Carolina's history.


Santa Elena Indian Village
[Courtesy of Parris Island Museum]

Sadly, the Indian population in South Carolina and throughout the United States greatly declined after the arrival of Europeans. Tribes were weakened by European diseases, such as smallpox, for which they had no immunity. Epidemics killed vast numbers of Indians, reducing some southeastern tribes by as much as two-thirds. Populations declined even further due to conflicts with the settlers over trade practices and land.


Indians at Santa Elena
[Courtesy of Parris Island Museum]

Many of the tribes that once lived in South Carolina are now extinct. This means that there are either no surviving members or that they no longer organize themselves as a tribe. A few tribes, however, still exist and are active today. This means that descendants of the original tribe organize themselves, either socially or politically, as a group.


Princess Xualla, Queen of the Cofachiqui
[Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division ]

The Catawba, Pee Dee, Chicora, Edisto, Santee, Yamassee, and Chicora-Waccamaw tribes are all still present in South Carolina as are many descendants of the Cherokee. These pages provide information on tribes that currently live or at one time lived in South Carolina, as well as general information on native life and customs.


Welcome to the Hopi Tribe

The Hopi Tribe is a sovereign nation located in northeastern Arizona. The reservation occupies part of Coconino and Navajo counties, encompasses more than 1.5 million acres, and is made up of 12 villages on three mesas.

Since time immemorial the Hopi people have lived in Hopitutskwa and have maintained our sacred covenant with Maasaw, the ancient caretaker of the earth, to live as peaceful and humble farmers respectful of the land and its resources. Over the centuries we have survived as a tribe, and to this day have managed to retain our culture, language and religion despite influences from the outside world.

We invite and encourage you to visit our Hopi lands. However, please be respectful of our laws, culture and way of life. It is our hope that this website will provide current and useful information about the Hopi Tribe.

Thank you for visiting. Please check this site often, as it will be updated regularly.


Watch the video: Vanaja Τρέιλερ Greek. (June 2022).


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