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Peace Attempts with Western Prairie Indians, 1833

What was known as the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was entered into in Mississippi with the Choctaw Indians September 27, 1830;1 pursuant to the terms of the treaty, in 1832 the movement of the Choctaw to their new home between the Canadian and Red rivers was under way but they were in danger from incursions of the Comanche and Pani Picts2 or Wichita, and the Kiowa tribe, who came east as far as the Washita and Blue rivers; these Indians had also evinced a hostile attitude toward white citizens and had attacked and plundered Santa Fe traders, trappers, and other unprotected travelers. A party of twelve traders had left Santa Fe in December, 1832, under Judge Carr of Saint Louis for their homes in Missouri. Their baggage and about ten thousand dollars in specie were packed upon mules. They were descending the Canadian River when, near the present town of Lathrop in the Panhandle of Texas, they were attacked by an overwhelming force of Comanche and Kiowa Indians. Two of the men, one named Pratt, and the other Mitchell, were killed; and after a siege of thirty-six hours the survivors made their escape at night on foot, leaving all their property in possession of the Indians. The party became separated and after incredible hardship and suffering five of them made their way to the Creek settlements on the Arkansas and to Fort Gibson where they found succor. Of the other five only two survived. The money secured by the Indians was the first they had ever seen.3 Colonel Arbuckle on May 6, ordered4 a military force to Red...

Washington Irving at Fort Gibson, 1832

The McIntosh Creeks had been located along Arkansas River near the Verdigris on fertile timbered land which they began at once to clear, cultivate, and transform into productive farms. The treaty of 1828 with the Cherokee gave the latter a great tract of land on both sides of Arkansas River embracing that on which the Creeks were located. This was accomplished by a blunder of the Government officials, in the language of the Secretary of War,1 “when we had not a correct knowledge of the location of the Creek Indians nor of the features of the country.” This situation produced much unhappiness and contention between the people of the two tribes. The Indians had other grievances, and the Creeks took the lead in calling the attention of the officials to their needs by the preparation of a memorial in which they complained of frequent attacks upon them by bands of wild Indians from the south and west of their location. They asked the Government to appoint a commission to meet with them for the redress of their wrongs, and to call a council of the different tribes for the adoption of measures to establish peace and security in their new home. The Creek memorial and a long report by the Secretary of War on February 16, 1832, were transmitted to Congress by President Jackson,2 who recommended that three commissioners be appointed as requested in the memorial, and recommended by the Secretary. It appeared from the report of the Secretary of War that there were then west of the Mississippi twenty-five hundred Creeks, six thousand Choctaw, thirty-five hundred Cherokee and...

Earliest Known Traders on Arkansas River

With the help of contemporary records it is possible to identify some of the early traders at the Mouth of the Verdigris. Even before the Louisiana Purchase, hardy French adventurers ascended the Arkansas in their little boats, hunting, trapping, and trading with the Indians, and recorded their presence if not their identity in the nomenclature of the adjacent country and streams, now sadly corrupted by their English-speaking successors.1 French Influence in Arkansas One of the first of the French traders up the Arkansas whose name has been recorded was Joseph Bogy, an early resident of the old French town, Arkansas Post, from which point he traded with the Osage Indians in the vicinity of the Three Forks. On one of his expeditions he had ascended the Arkansas with a boatload of merchandise, to trade to the Osage near the mouth of the Verdigris. There on the seventh of January, 1807, he was attacked and robbed of all his goods by a large band of Choctaw Indians under the famous chief, Pushmataha.2 When charged with the offense, Pushmataha admitted it and justified the robbery on the ground that they were at war with the Osage, against whom they were proceeding at the time; and that as Bogy was trading with their enemies, he was a proper subject for reprisal. Bogy laid a claim before the Government for nine thousand dollars damages against the Choctaw, based on the protection guaranteed by his trader’s license. This claim was pending until after 1835, before it was allowed. Among the interesting papers in connection with the claim, is Bogy’s report of having met on...

Expeditions of Fowler and James to Santa Fe, 1821

When Pike returned from his western expedition and related his experiences in Santa Fe and other places among the Spaniards, his accounts excited great interest in the east, which resulted in further exploits. In 1812, an expedition was undertaken1 by Robert McKnight, James Baird, Samuel Chambers, Peter Baum, Benjamin Shrive, Alfred Allen, Michael McDonald, William Mines, and Thomas Cook, all citizens of Missouri Territory; they were arrested by the Spaniards, charged with being in Spanish territory without a passport, and thrown into the calabazos of Chihuahua, where they were kept for nine years. In 1821, two of them escaped, and coming down Canadian and Arkansas rivers met Hugh Glenn, owner of a trading house at the mouth of the Verdigris, and told him of the wonders of Santa Fe. Inspired by the accounts of these travelers, Glenn engaged in an enterprise with Major Jacob Fowler and Captain Pryor for an expedition from the Verdigris to Santa Fe.2 The members of the McKnight party who had escaped from the Spaniards, continued their journey to Saint Louis, where they repeated their romantic tale to John McKnight, a brother of Robert McKnight who was still a prisoner with the Spaniards, and to others. As a result of their account, McKnight and General Thomas James organized an expedition to go from Saint Louis to Santa Fe. James’s purpose was to trade with the Indians, and John McKnight went to see his brother and procure his release, if possible. The two expeditions got under way the same summer, and both went by way of the Arkansas as high as the Verdigris, which at that...

Narrative of the captivity of Alexander Henry, Esq – Indian Captivities

Narrative of the captivity of Alexander Henry, Esq., who, in the time of Pontiac’s War, fell into the hands of the Huron Indians. Detailing a faithful account of the capture of the Garrison of Michilimacki-Nac, and the massacre of about ninety people. Written by himself.1 When I reached Michilimackinac I found several other traders, who had arrived before me, from different parts of the country, and who, in general, declared the dispositions of the Indians to be hostile to the English, and even apprehended some attack. M. Laurent Ducharme distinctly informed Major Etherington that a plan was absolutely conceived for destroying him, his garrison and all the English in the upper country; but the commandant believing this and other reports to be without foundation, proceeding only from idle or ill-disposed persons, and of a tendency to do mischief, expressed much displeasure against M. Ducharme, and threatened to send the next person who should bring a story of the same kind, a prisoner, to Detroit. The garrison, at this time, consisted of ninety privates, two subalterns and the commandant; and the English merchants at the fort were four in number. Thus strong, few entertained anxiety concerning the Indians, who had no weapons but small arms. Meanwhile, the Indians, from every quarter, were daily assembling, in unusual numbers, but with every appearance of friendship, frequenting the fort, and disposing of their peltries, in such a manner as to dissipate almost every one’s fears. For myself, on one occasion, I took the liberty of observing to Major Etherington that, in my judgment, no confidence ought to be placed in them, and that...

The Tribes West of the Mississippi – Indian Wars

By treaties concluded by the agents of the United State government at different periods, nearly all of the Indian tribes have been induced to remove west of the Mississippi. Those who remain in the haunts of their fathers are chiefly converts to Christianity, and in a half civilized state. Many of the tribes have dwindled into insignificance, yet the few who remain are proud to maintain their distinctive appellation, and support the independence of their old clan. The most powerful and numerous tribes in the northwest are the Sioux, or Dacotahs, the Blackfeet, Crows, and Pawnees. A few of the celebrated Delaware tribe still remain, and are a source of terror to their numerous enemies. The Blackfeet Indians occupy the whole of the country about the sources of the Missouri, from the mouth of the Yellow Stone to the Rocky Mountains. Their number is between forty and fifty thousand, and their general bearing is warlike and ferocious. Their enemies are numerous, yet they maintain their ascendancy. The Crows are a much smaller tribe than the Blackfeet, with whom they are always at war. They are fearless warriors, and seek their enemies wherever they are to be found. In number they are about six thousand. The following is an account of one of their battles with the Blackfeet Indians. Fight Between the Crow and the Blackfeet Indians In June, 1845, a party of about seven hundred Crow Indians were driven from their own country by the Sioux, to the vicinity of Fort F. A. C., near the Falls of the Missouri. On the 17th they encountered a small party of Blackfeet warriors,...

General History of the Western Indian Tribes 1851-1870 – Indian Wars

Up to 1851, the immense uninhabited plains east of the Rocky Mountains were admitted to be Indian Territory, and numerous tribes roamed from Texas and Mexico to the Northern boundary of the United States. Then came the discovery of gold in California, drawing a tide of emigration across this wide reservation, and it became necessary, by treaty with the Indians, to secure a broad highway to the Pacific shore. By these treaties the Indians were restricted to certain limits, but with the privilege of ranging, for hunting purposes, over the belt thus re-reserved as a route of travel. The United States, also, agreed to pay the Indians 850,000 per annum, for fifteen years, in consideration of this right. The boundaries assigned, by these treaties to the Cheyennes and Arrapahoes, included the greater part of the present Colorado Territory, while the Sioux and Crows were to occupy the land of the Powder River route. After a few years gold was discovered in Colorado, upon the Indian reservation, settlers poured in, and, after the lands were mostly taken up by them, another treaty was made, February 18th, 1861, to secure them in peaceful possession. By this compact the Indians relinquished a large tract of land, and agreed to confine themselves to a small district upon both sides of the Arkansas River and along the northern boundary of New Mexico; while the United States was to furnish them protection; pay an annuity of $30,000 to each tribe for fifteen years, and provide stock and agricultural implements for those who desired to adopt civilized modes of life. Until April, 1864, no disturbances had...

Kit Carson, His Life and Adventures – Indian Wars

The subject of this sketch, Christopher “Kit” Carson, was born on the 24th of December, 1809, in Madison County, Kentucky. The following year his parents removed to Howard County, Missouri, then a vast prairie tract and still further away from the old settlements. The new home was in the midst of a region filled with game, and inhabited by several predatory and hostile tribes of Indians, who regarded the whites as only to be respected for the value of their scalps. The elder Carson at once endeavored to provide for the safety of his family, as far as possible, by the erection of that style of fortress then so common on the frontier, a log block house. In this isolated spot, surrounded by dangers of every sort, the little Christopher imbibed that love of adventure and apparent disregard of personal peril, which made him so famous in after years. When he was only twelve years old, being out one day assisting in the search of game, his father sent him to a little knoll, a short distance off, to see if a certain curious looking, overhanging cliff there might not possibly shelter a spring of water. Instead of the spring, however, he found a shallow cave, and in it, sleeping quietly on their bed of moss and leaves, lay two young cubs. With boyish exultation he caught them in his arms and hastened as fast as possible toward his father. In spite of their squirming he had borne them half way down the hill, when the sound of a heavy footfall and a fierce panting of breath warned him...

Indian Hostilities in California and New Mexico – Indian Wars

The Indian tribes of California are in a degraded and miserable condition. The most numerous are the Shoshonee, the Blackfeet, and the Crows. Many of them have been brought to a half civilized state, and are employed at the different ranches. But those in the neighborhood of the Sierra Nevada are untamable, treacherous, and ferocious. They wander about, for the most part going entirely naked, and subsisting upon roots, acorns, and pine cones. Since the discovery of the gold, they have acquired some knowledge of its usefulness, but no clear conception of its value, and they part with their gatherings for whatever strikes their fancy, without much hesitation in bargaining with dealers. They are generally of medium stature, dark skin and hair, (which grow low down over their foreheads,) with ugly countenances, devoid of any intellectual expression, and are immeasurably inferior to the Indians east of the Rocky Mountains, and those of the Atlantic States. Soon after the discovery of the placers, the Indians displayed their hostility by attacking straggling miners, and, growing bolder, committed serious depredations in the neighborhood of the mines furthest advanced towards the Sierra Nevada; at length, the murder of a number of Oregonians led to a destructive warfare between the whites and Indians. It happened that six men of a clan were out “prospecting,” (exploring,) on the Middle Fork, and when they had penetrated a deep canon, (gulf,) a party of some forty Indians attacked them from the heights above. Unsuspicious of an ambuscade, the explorers had left their arms at some distance, and a flight of arrows among them was the first intimation...

Treaty of August 6, 1848

Treaty with the Pawnees; articles of agreement and convention made this sixth day of August, A. D. 1848, at Fort Childs, near the head of Grand Island, on the south side of the Nebraska or Great Platte River, between Lieutenant-Colonel Ludwell E. Powell, commanding battalion Missouri Mounted Volunteers, en route to Oregon, in behalf of the United States, and the chiefs and head-men of the four confederated bands of Pawnees, viz: Grand Pawnees, Pawnee Loups, Pawnee Republicans, and Pawnee Tappage, at present residing on the south side of the Platte River. Article I.The confederated bands of the Pawnees hereby cede and relinquish to the United States all their right, title, and interest in and to all that tract of land described as follows, viz: Commencing on the south side of the Platte River, five miles west of this post, “Fort Childs;” thence due north to the crest of the bluffs north of said Platte River: thence east and along the crest of said bluffs to the termination of Grand Island, supposed to be about sixty miles distant; thence south to the southern shore of said Platte River: and thence west and along the southern shore of the said Platte River to the place of beginning. The land hereby conveyed is designated within the red lines of the following plat: [NOTE.—The red lines in the original plat are designated by dotted lines in this copy.] Article II. In consideration of the land hereby ceded and relinquished, the United States has this day paid, through Captain Stewart Van Vliet, assistant quartermaster United States Army, under an order from Lieutenant-Colonel Ludwell E....
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