At the beginning of the European invasion of North America, there were several hundred—some people say 500, but this is a low estimate—independent, sovereign Indian nations. Through genocide, warfare, and disease, many of these nations had vanished by 1822.
American Indian nations have always had their own form of government, complete with councils and laws. While these governments have not always been recognized by Europeans and by the United States government, they continued to function.
Briefly described below are some of the events of Indian nations 200 years ago, in 1822.
In Georgia, the Cherokee convened a supreme court to hear appeals from the district courts. According to historian Theda Perdue, in her chapter in Cherokee Removal: Before and After:
“National laws and the institutions erected to enforce and implement them gradually superseded traditional kinship groups and local town councils, which except for relatively insignificant matters became superfluous.”
Four judges are appointed to the court: John Martin, James Daniels, Richard Walker, and James Brown.
In Georgia, the Cherokee National Council passed a resolution that the Nation did not intend to make any more land cessions with the United States.
The Onondaga are one of the nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, also known as the League of Six Nations. In New York, the Onondaga sold the state 800 acres from the south end of their reservation.
The Oneida are one of the nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, also known as the League of Six Nations. By 1822, some Oneidas had moved west from their homelands in New York to Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, the Oneida from New York purchased land from the Menominee and Winnebago. This purchase, together with their 1821 purchase, gave them an area 140 miles long and 72 miles wide.
Sauk and Fox
The Sauk and Fox signed a treaty that allowed them to live on lands in Wisconsin and Illinois.
In Missouri, the Iowa moved from their Chariton River village and established a new village on the Grand River.
Lakota and Crow
In Montana, Lakota warriors attacked a Crow village and destroyed several hundred lodges. Oral tradition later reports that half of the village population was killed in the attack.
In Michigan, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, the Indian agent at Sault St. Marie, received an unexpected visit from Canadian Ojibwa chief Shingowaukonse. Anthropologist Janet Chute, in her book The Legacy of Shingwaukonse: A Century of Native Leadership, writes:
“His caller stood just under six feet tall, sported a tuft of beard on his chin, wore a hat, and displayed other traits in his dress and gear which ‘smacked of civilization.’”
In Tennessee, Cherokee War Woman Nancy Ward died at the age of 84.
In British Columbia, Okanagan chief Pelkamulox III was killed by the Lillooet. Anthropologist Peter Carstens, in his book The Queen’s People: A Study of Hegemony, Coercion, and Accommodation Among the Okanagan of Canada, reports:
“He got on the wrong side of the Lillooet people because he threatened Lillooet control over the salmon fishing industry on their section of the Fraser River.”
With the death of Pelkamulox III, his son Nkwala assumed the position of chief.
In New York, Tuscarora artist Dennis Cusick died at the age of 24. Ethnologist William Sturtevant, in his article in American Indian Art, writes:
“Ten watercolors of his are presently known to have survived, and others were mentioned by visitors in 1820.”
All of his works are in ink and watercolor on paper.
Twice each week—on Tuesdays and Thursdays—this series presents American Indian topics. More nineteenth century histories from this series:
Indians 101: The Cherokee Indians 200 years ago, 1821
Indians 101: The Cherokee 200 Years Ago, 1819
Indians 101: The Lowry War
Indians 101: President James Monroe and the Indians
Indians 101: Cherokee Treaty Claims
Indians 101: The Choctaw Removal
Indians 101: Choctaw Education After Removal
Indians 101: The Astorians and the Indians