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American History Timeline
Clashes Between US Soldiers and Native Americans In the Wild West

1824 The Bureau of Indian Affairs is established.
The US Army establishes outposts in Oklahoma to prepare for the relocation of Cherokee and Choctaw tribes to the new Indian Territory.
1825 The federal government establishes its policy of trading land Indian land in the east for territory in the west.
1830 The Indian Removal Act is passed.
1833 The Choctaw complete their removal to the west.
1834 Congress reorganizes the Bureau of Indian Affairs into the Department of Indian Affairs with expanded responsibilities.

The Seminoles reject forced removal to the west and begin a seven year war.
The Cherokee finally agree to removal to the west.

1838 General Winfield Scott oversees the Cherokee on the 'Trail of Tears'.

The Fort Laramie Treaty is signed between the US and several Indian tribes of the plains. It was designed to give land to the tribes and create peace between the Indians and the white settlers. It is a failure because neither side had the power to uphold the agreement.

1854 Conquering Bear of the Lakota tribe is killed along with many others by troops from Fort Laramie.
1862 The Five Civilized Tribes are divided over the Civil War, most join the Confederacy.
1864 Colonel Kit Carson lead a campaign again raiding Navajos. After their capture he forces them on the 'Long Walk' across New Mexico.
Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle and 200 men, women, and children are massacred by a volunteer force led by John M. Chivington while meeting at Fort Weld to discuss their return to the reservation.
1866 General Philip H. Sheridan takes command of forces in the west and vows to bring down the Indian way of life by destroying the buffalo.
Chief Red Cloud of the Lakota attacks a supply train heading to Fort Phil Kearney. They then lead Captain William J. Fetterman and his men from the fort and massacre them to the last man.
1868 The Medicine Lodge Treaty is signed between the US and the Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other southern Plains tribes. The treaty restricts them to reservations in Oklahoma.
General William Tecumseh Sherman and Chief Red Cloud of the Lakota sight the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.
Colonel George Armstrong Custer attacks a Cheyenne village on the Washita River and kills Black Kettle and over 100 men, women, and children. He was sent out by General Philip Sheridan.
1871 Congresses passes the Indian Appropriations Act which essentially makes all Indian wards of the federal government and dissolves the status of Indian tribes as nations.
Cochise, Apache chief ends his decade long guerilla war, only to escape back to his mountain stronghold rather than agreeing to send his people to a reservation.

Cochise, Apache chief surrenders again and agrees to the creation of the Apache reservation in Arizona.


Custer announces the discovery of gold in the Black Hills of Dakota, land given to the Lakota tribe. This creates a massive influx of white settlers into the land guaranteed to the Lakota as part of the Fort Laramie Treaty.


The Lakota War begins over the violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty by the US Government.

1876 Custer's Last Stand or the Battle of Little Big Horn takes place as Lakota Indian massacre his force to the last man.
1877 Crazy Horse surrenders at Fort Robinson. Unfortunately, many believe he will rebel again so he is arrested and killed a few months later.
Congress repeals the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and takes back the Black Hills region and millions of additional acres of Lakota land.
Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce surrenders and declares he will fight no more.
1881 Sitting Bull surrenders to General Alfred Terry.
1886 Geronimo surrenders at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona and agrees to settle with his people in Florida.
1890 Lakota Chief Big Foot and 350 followers are massacred at Wounded Knee. This is traditionally considered the end of armed conflict in the Indian Wars.

Source: Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M., ed. "The Almanac of American History." Barnes & Nobles Books: Greenwich, CT, 1993.

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