Native Americans and the Inland Northwest:

National and Local Events

(Early 18th Century to Early 20th Century)

Compiled by Ronald P. Glowen


1730-By this time the Spokane had begun incorporating horses into their lifestyle.

1775-Smallpox reached the Plateau region thirty years before the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled through the area. It is estimated that in this time the disease reduced the indigenous populations of the region by fifty percent.

1778-The first treaty was struck between the United States and an Indian nation, the Delaware (earlier treaties had been negotiated between the British North American colonies and various Indian tribes.)

1781-89-The Articles of Confederation gave the power to regulate Indian affairs and trade to the central government not the states.

1782-3-A smallpox epidemic spread through the Sanpoil tribe of the Plateau region.

1783-Continental Congress prohibited whites from unlawfully settling on Indian lands.

1787-The Northwest Ordinance asserted the need for the creation of reservations, and the protection of Indian rights while setting the precedent for the systematic settlement of the West by whites.

1787-9-The new U.S. Constitution reserved the sole power to regulate trade with Indian tribes for the federal government.

1800-Twenty percent of what is now the Continental United States was claimed by white settlement.

1805-The Nez Perce encounter the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

1806-The Office of Superintendent of Indian Trade was created. Its purpose was to oversee government established Indian trading posts.

1810-Jaco Finlay and Finan McDonald established Spokane House at the confluence of the Spokane and Little Spokane Rivers. This marked the beginning of trade between the Spokane Indians and European traders.

1823-Johnson v. M'Intosh U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government has the sole power to manage Indian lands. This ruling established the rights of white settlers as being held above those of the native inhabitants of the land.

1824-The Bureau of Indian Affairs (Indian Office) was established within the War Department.

1825-The Hudson's Bay Company established Fort Colville.

1825-Sons of Spokane and Kutenai Indian leaders are sent to the Red River mission school by the Hudson's Bay Company.

1830-The Indian Removal Act was passed by Congress.

1830-Christianity was introduced to the Spokane by [Chief] Gary (Ilumhu-spukani).

1830-Influenza epidemics struck tribes in British Columbia, Canada.

1830-3-Tribes throughout California and Oregon suffered numerous outbreaks of European diseases.

1836-The Whitmans established a mission at Waiilatpu along the Walla Walla River among the Cayuse tribes.

1836-The Spauldings established a mission at Lapwai Creek among the Nez Perce tribes.

1842-Father Pierre Jean De Smet established the Mission of the Sacred Heart on the St. Joseph River among the Coeur d'Alene tribe.

1846-The Chronic flooding of the St. Joseph River forced the move of the Sacred Heart mission (also called the Coeur d'Alene or Cataldo Mission) to higher ground.

1847-Whitman Massacre-Members of the Cayuse Indians massacred members of the Whitman party at Waiilatpu. This started the Cayuse War.

1848-Cornelius Gilliam led over 500 white settlers in attacks against tribes in central Oregon in response to the Whitman Massacre.

1850-Five members of the Cayuse tribe were tried and hung for the murder of the Whitmans bringing and end to the Cayuse War.

1850-Land Donation Act was passed opening land in the Oregon territory (including aboriginal lands) to white settlement.

1853-The Washington Territory was created.

1854-The U.S. Office of Indian Affairs called for an end to the Indian Removal policy.

1854-5-Isaac Stevens, governor of Washington Territory held treaty councils inviting many of the tribes of the Pacific Northwest region hoping to place them on reservations. In 1855 five separate treaties were formed with tribes of the Plateau (Inland Northwest) at the Walla Walla, Flathead, and Blackfoot (Fort Benton) councils.

1855-Gold was discovered on the Yakima reservation, and conflict erupted between encroaching white miners and tribes of the Plateau marking the start of the Yakima War. Chief Kamiakin was singled out as the leader of a coalition of Yakima, Walla Walla, and Cayuse tribes in the fight against the U.S.

1858-The Coeur d'Alene War was fought (also called the Spokane War or the Steptoe-Wright War) involving an alliance of Coeur d'Alene, Spokane, Palouse tribes. Some historians consider it a second phase of the Yakima War.

1858-Colonel Wright ordered the destruction of 700 Palouse horses at "Horse Slaughter Camp," hanged Chief Qualchan, and several Palouse Indians. This concluded the Coeur d'Alene/Yakima Wars.

1859-Oregon was admitted to the Union.

1860--Elias D. Pierce discovered gold on the Nez Perce Reservation.

1860-The first government school for Indians was established on the Yakima Reservation, Washington Territory. The primary goal of the school was the acculturation of Indians into mainstream culture.

1863-The Thief Treaty deprived the (Lower Nez Perce) Non-Treaty bands of the Nez Perce of their lands that included the Wallowa Valley of Oregon.

1864-November 29th-Massacre at Sand Creek carried out by federal troops.

1866- Indian lands were appropriated by the U.S. Congress in the building of the transcontinental railroad.

1868-The 14th Amendment of the Constitution guarantees suffrage to all U.S. citizens. Indians were excluded, as they were not recognized as citizens by the federal government.

1868-U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs approximated that Indian Wars in the West were costing taxpayers $1 million per Indian killed.

1869-The first Indian (a Seneca), Ely Parker, was appointed head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

1871-U.S. Congress abolished the treaty process recognizing tribes as sovereign nations.

1871-Orders were issued, by the U.S. Army, which prohibited Indians from leaving their reservations without approval.

1871- Old Chief Joseph died, leader of the band of Nez Perce, which had resisted Christianity and the treaty that gave their homeland to white miners. His son, Young Joseph, and Young Looking Glass inherited leadership of the band.

1872-The Colville Reservation was formed by Executive Order. Ten distinct tribes, which had not previously signed treaties with the U.S., were forced to move there.

1873-In United States v. Cook the Supreme Court asserts that tribes must seek government approval to harvest timber on tribal lands.

1873-President Grant reserved land in the Wallowa Valley or Oregon for the group of Nez Perce led by Young Chief Joseph.

1873- By Executive Order U.S. Grant established the 600,000-acre Coeur d'Alene Reservation in northern Idaho.

1875-President Grant took back the land in the Wallowa Valley that he had given, in 1873, to the band of Nez Perce led by Young Chief Joseph and opened it to white settlers.

1876-June 25th-U.S. forces led by General George Custer were wiped-out by Sioux and Cheyenne warriors at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

1877-A group of Nez Perce led by Chief Joseph (Hein-mot-Too-ya-la-kekht) defeated attacking Union soldiers at White Bird Creek. This began the Nez Perce War or what is called "Flight of the Nez Perce" that lasted from June17th to October 5th.

1879-President Rutherford B. Hayes established the Moses Reservation (Columbia) in north-central Washington state.

1881-The Lower Spokane moved onto the newly formed Spokane Reservation.

1883-Chief Moses and the Columbia agreed to move to the Colville reservation and relinquish the Columbia reservation.

1884-In Elk vs. Wilkins the Supreme Court denies Indians the right of U.S. citizenship.

1885- In an agreement arranged by the U.S. government, Chief Moses invited the Chief Joseph band of Nez Perce to live on the Colville Reservation.

1887-Dawes Act (General Allotment Act) passed. Its purpose was to aid the assimilation of Native Americans. The act was designed to end the tribal practice of holding land in common by dividing reservations into 160-acre allotments to be held by individual families. This also opened "surplus" reservation lands for white settlement.

1889-Washington State was admitted to the Union.

1890-December 29th-Massacre at Wounded Knee took place with approximately 300 Indian men, women, and children being killed along with 31 federal soldiers.

1890-Idaho was admitted to the Union.

1891-The U.S. Congress allowed for Indian lands to be leased by whites.

1896-In Talton v. Mayes the Supreme Court asserted that the U.S. Constitution did not pertain to tribal governments.

1903-In Lone Wolf vs. Hitchcock the U.S. Supreme Court asserted that tribes held no rights in the decision to "open" reservation lands. That, it ruled was the prerogative of Congress alone.

1904-Chief Joseph died on the Colville Reservation.

1908-The U.S. Supreme Court secured water rights for Indian tribes.

1914-A reservation of over 4,500 acres in eastern Washington was given to the Pend d'Oreille Indians after 59 years without lands to call their own.

1915- A Winnebago Indian, Roe Cloud, opened the American Indian Institute, the fist college preparatory school established by a Native American.

1924-Native Americans were granted U.S. citizenship with the passage of the Indian Citizen Act.




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