Early America—American Indian

1540 to 1890
De Soto Expedition to Wounded Knee Massacre

Era Summary       Characters       Timeline       Reading Assignments      

Era Summary—American Indian

The American Indian unit of Heritage Academy's Early American course is under development. At this time, most study questions about American Indians are interspersed with those of the Colonial Era, Early Republic, and Westward Expansion units. We plan to add additional books on this topic and develop a more comprehensive approach in the future. For the time being, however, we have completed a core reading list, a timeline, and a list of prominent characters.


Characters—American Indian


Character/Date Short Biography

Virginia Indians

Pocahontas
1595–1617
Daughter of an Indian Chieftain who helped the early settlers in the Jamestown Colony in Virginia.
Powhatan
d. 1618
Chief of the Powhatan confederacy and father of Pocahontas. Kept an uneasy peace with Jamestown settlers.
Cockacoeskie
d. 1685
Queen of the Pamunkey, following the Powhatan wars, who made an alliance with the Virginia government during Bacon's rebellion.
Opechancanough
1554–1646
Leader of the Powhatan confederacy who led an Indian massacre against Jamestown beginning in 1622, which killed hundreds of white settlers.

New England Indians

Squanto
1580–1622
New England Indian who helped the pilgrims their first year in Plymouth Colony.
Samoset
1590–1653
First American Indian encountered by the Pilgrims at the Plymouth colony.
Massasoit
1581–1661
Indian chief who befriended the pilgrims and lived in peace with them for forty years in Massachusetts.
Hiawatha
~ 1550
Indian leader of Iroquois Indians who was the subject of a famous Longfellow poem.
King Philip
1639–1676
Leader of the Wampanoags who led the first serious uprising against the white settlers in New England.

Northwest (Great Lakes) Indians

Cornstalk
1720–1777
Indian leader who tried to be neutral during the Revolutionary War, but was murdered.
Pontiac
1720–1769
Leader of a Great Lakes tribe who planned a rebellion. His attempt to take fort Detroit was thwarted by an Indian who warned the garrison.
Chief Logan
1725–1780
Indian chief who was friendly to white settlers until his family was killed. He then warred against the U.S.
Little Turtle
1747–1812
Indian chief from the Ohio Valley who first fought against the U.S. but later counseled Peace.
Tecumseh
1768–1813
Shawnee Hero. Tried to unify tribes against the colonists. Fought for Britain during War of 1812.

Southeast Indians

Tuscaloosa
d. 1540
Choctaw chieftain who resisted de Soto at the Battle of Mauvila during his expedition through the southwest.
Billy Bowlegs
1810–1864
AmerIndian chief who frustrated warred against the United States in the Seminole Wars.
Osceola
1804–1838
Half-breed Seminole Warrior who resisted the settlement of Florida.

Western Indians

Black Hawk
1767–1838
Important Indian chief in the Illinois territory. Inspired the Sauks to resist the Americans during the Black Hawk War.
Sacajewea
1787–1812
Indian woman who accompanied Lewis and Clark during their explorations of the Louisiana Purchase.
Black Kettle
1801–1868
Cheyenne chief who tried to make peace, but was sabotaged by aggressive acts of his own Indians as well as the white settlers.
Washakie
1804–1900
Shoshone Indian War Chief
Cochise
1805–1874
Apache Indian War Chief.
Manuelito
1818–1893
Navajo Indian War Chief.
Winnemucca
1820–1882
Chief of a Piute tribe. First befriended the white settlers, but rebelled when his tribe was mistreated.
Red Cloud
1822–1909
Sioux Indian War Chief.
Geronimo
1829–1909
Last Apache Warrior to hold out against the U.S. Army. Finally capitulated and became a celebrity.
Sitting Bull
1831–1890
Medicine man who organized resistance to U.S. Army. His warriors defeated Custer at Little Bighorn.
Standing Bear
1834–1908
Ponca chieftain whose tribe was forcibly removed from their settlement. He later 'sued' the government and won.
Captain Jack
1837–1873
Led a tribe of Modocs off the Klamath reservation to their native home, where they held out caves for several months.
Crazy Horse
1840–1877
Dakota Indian chief who fought against the American army at Rosebud and Little Big Horn.
Chief Joseph
1840–1904
Led Nez Perces in a resistance against the encroachment of white settlers. Finally surrendered.
Sarah Winnemucca
1841–1891
Daughter of Chief Winnemucca. Served as translator between Piutes and U.S. Army. Wrote a book.

Timeline—American Indian


AD YearEvent

Spanish contacts in North America: 1492-1800

1513 Ponce de Leon makes his first expediton to Florida.
1539-41 Hernando De Soto leads and expedition through the Southeast, discovers the Mississippi.
1540-42 Francisco de Coronado leads a Spanish expedition to New Mexico.

Early Colonies: 1600-1700

1608 Pocahontas, daughter of chief Powhatan, saves the life of John Smith.
1617 Pocahontas marries John Rolfe and travels to England.
1622 Indian massacre led by the Powhatan Confederacy kills 350 Jamestown colonists.
1644 Second Indian massacre of settlers leads to Powhatan Wars against Virginia tribes.
1676 Nathaniel Bacon leads a rebellion because of the governor's failure to protect settlers from Indians.
1711-17 Tuscarora and Yamasee Wars decimate native tribes in the Carolina colony.
1634-38 Pequot War in Connecticut decimates the Pequot tribe.
1675-78 King Philip's War is the most deadly conflict between Massachusetts settlers and New England tribes.
??? New England Indian Wars

Northwest Indian Wars: 1763-1832

1775 Daniel Boone's family and 50 other settlers settle in Boonesborough, Kentucky.
1788 Rufus Putnam founds the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territories in Marietta, Ohio.
1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers brings Indian War in the Northwest Territories to a close.
1804-06 Merriwether Lewis and William Clark lead an expedition to explore Louisiana Purchase.
1811 Battle of Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison defeats Shawnees in Indiana Territory.
1763-1832 Northwest Indian Wars

Florida/Alabama Indian Wars

1813-14 Andrew Jackson fights Creek Wars in Alabama.
1835-38 Osceola leads Seminole Rebellion in Florida.

Sioux Wars: 1854-1890

1854-1890 Plains Indian Wars
1862 Dakota War drives Santee Sioux out of Minnesota Territory
1863-65 Colorado War devastates Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, and Cheyenne tribes of the Rockies.
1866-68 Lakota and Cheyene fight for their tribal lands in Red Cloud's War in Montana/Wyoming.
1876 General Custer's army of six hundred whiped out at Battle of Little Bighorn in Sioux territory.
1890 300 Lakotas killed at Wounded Knee Massacre, when army attempts to confiscate guns.

Western Indian Wars: 1865-1896

1804-06 Merriwether Lewis and William Clark expedition.
1840-46 Jesuit Pierre deSmet travels throughout Oregon Territory setting up Indian missions.
1847-1896 Western Indian Wars
1847 Whitman Massacre kills 14 early settlers in Washington State.
1877 Nez Perce War led by Chief Joseph

Recommended Reading—American Indian

Read chapters from "core" texts before reviewing study questions.


Book Title
Selected Chapters (# chapters)

Core Reading Assignments

Drake - Indian History for Young Folks    entire book

Highly Recommended

Burton - Massasoit    entire book
Eastman - Indian Heroes and the Great Chieftains    entire book
Eastman - Indian Boyhood    entire book
Perry - Four American Indians    entire book
Sabin - Boy's Book of Indian Warriors    entire book
Sabin - Boys' Book of Border Battles   The Battle of Adobe Walls to When Ghost Shirts Failed (7)
Sabin - Frontier Fighters   Hugh Glass and Grizzly Bear to The Sibley Scout (10)
Schultz - With the Indians in the Rockies    entire book
Abbott - King Philip    entire book
Abbott - The Adventures of Kit Carson    entire book
Ober - Ferdinand De Soto and the Invasion of Florida   The Landing in Florida to Last Days of De Soto (14)
Ober - Juan Ponce de Leon   The Fount of Perennial Youth to Juan Ponce's Last Campaign (8)
Grinnell - Trails of the Pathfinders    entire book
Schultz - Bird Woman —Guide of Lewis and Clark    entire book

Also Recommended

Grinnell - Blackfeet Indian Stories    entire book
Grinnell - When Buffalo Ran    entire book
Howard - Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known    entire book
Hudson - The Famous Missions of California    entire book
Eastman - The Soul of the Indian    entire book
Fitch - Junipero Serra    entire book

I: Introductory, II: Intermediate, C: College Prep