Blog Posts - Indian Tribes



No Discounts on Ration Day

Annuity payments could be a time of festivity (see last post) even though merchants and alcohol traders were often on hand with bad deals for Native Americans with spending money. Ration disbursements, though also eagerly anticipated, could be an opp...

Payments on Reservations

Treaties between the U.S. government and Native Americans almost always stipulated annual payments of money and/or goods to tribes which had signed the treaties. On most reservations, one day was set aside for these annuity payments, and that specifi...

Reservation Food

Native Americans ate what was on hand in the regions where they lived. (See last post.) Once they were forced onto reservations, their freedom to secure food was severely reined in. The government began to issue rations, partly in recognition that mu...

Changes in Native American Diet

Traditional Native American diets depended upon the foods available regionally, with some tribes depending primarily on hunting and others on agriculture. Most foods were minimally processed and fresh, though dried foods certainly played a part in wi...

More Food Changes

As Native Americans were forced onto reservations, they were also forced to abandon their healthy diets of fresh meat and produce in favor of canned goods and poor-quality staples. Their experience has ultimately been echoed throughout the country as...

Spring Planting

Native American tribes pursued different lifestyles depending on where they lived. Though most did not farm in the European sense of having large, established plots owned by one owner/family group, farming was a well-developed practice in many areas.

Division Doesn’t Stop with the U.S.

During the Civil War, Native Americans fought for both the Confederacy and the Union. Tribes found it difficult to decide which government to trust, since their experience had shown that almost all white men in policy-making positions were untrustwor...

Native American Participation in the Civil War

Nearly 8,000 Native Americans joined the Confederate army to serve during the Civil War. The Confederacy actively pursued Native Americans to join its cause against the Union, and signed several treaties with members of the Five Civilized Tribes. Nat...

Battle of Pea Ridge

Knowing that Native Americans were bound to have little loyalty to the United States, the Confederacy wanted to enlist their aid during the Civil War (see last post). In 1861, Brigadier General Albert Pike was assigned to the Department of Indian Ter...

The Enemy of My Enemy

Native Americans resisted white encroachment on their lands and cultures in a variety of ways (see last two posts). They refused to cooperate with these intruders, refused to send their children to their schools to learn new ways, and held on to thei...

Other Forms of Resistance

Parents who did not want to send their children to boarding school could not always fight back, but many parents tried to instill the traditional ways and values of their culture into their children despite the federal government. When children retur...

Resistance to Boarding Schools

Boarding schools hundreds of miles away from reservations served as a primary tool for the federal government in its attempts to assimilate Native Americans into Anglo culture. By taking children from familiar environments and immersing them into a n...

Schooling Considered Essential

Immigrants to the New World almost always considered their cultures superior to that of Native Americans. As these newcomers spread westward, they became determined to “uplift” native peoples into their own beliefs and customs. Met with t...

All in the Blood

Older methods of curing illness often included bloodletting, the practice of purposely lancing a patient’s flesh in order to get blood flowing. Quantities extracted could be quite small or surprisingly voluminous, depending upon the individual...

Medical Attention at Canton Asylum

At many asylums, medical attention was easier to give than psychiatric attention; the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians was no exception. In his 1906 report, the asylum’s physician, Dr. John Turner, describes both the mental and physical conditi...

Agency Report

It is fascinating to read period reports from agents of the federal government (see last post) for insight into conditions and attitudes of the time. In a 1904 report to the commissioner of Indian Affairs, R. J. Taylor, United States Indian Agent, di...

Asylum Activities

When the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians had a small patient population, physical care was very likely good. The asylum’s physician, Dr. Turner, had as thorough a knowledge of general medicine as any other regional practitioner, and was enthus...

Longing for Winter’s End

Solstice celebrations (see last post) helped peoples in cold areas of the world cope with their fear that summer would never return to a dark and dreary world. Later, these celebrations acted as bright spots during a long season of inactivity and dis...

Winter Celebrations

Though Christmas is the winter holiday many Americans celebrate, people over the world and throughout time have celebrated and enjoyed holidays during the winter. The winter solstice, the time when the North Pole tilts furthest away from the sun, has...

Lakota Winter Counts

Winter was an important time of year for Native Americans, partly because it allowed time for reflection, repair, and planning. Plains Indians documented their year through “winter counts,” which were pictorial histories drawn on material...


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