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Native American History For You

Native American History For You
November 19
17:52 2019
Red Cloud

Redcloud 1822-1909

Native American Trivia

By John Christian Hopkins


In recognition of Native American History Month here are some trivia tidbits to pique your interest.

What do you think of the word “squaw?”

Many believe it is a derogatory term used to denigrate native women. But that’s not how it began.

In the Narragansett language squaw simply meant woman. The Rhode Island tribe was led by sachems, often referred to as “kings” by the early settlers. But the Narragansetts highly valued women and they often became leaders.

The female sachems – or queens – were known as saunksquaws.

Did you know that there is one tribe that is still, technically, at war with the United States?

Though it fought three wars with the Seminoles, the U.S. was never able to force their surrender. Tribal members would attack enemy forces and they disappear into the Florida swamps.

Eventually, the U.S. decided it just wasn’t worth it to fight over nothing but swampland. Neither side surrendered or entered into a peace treaty. The fighting just faded away.

The federal government may not have been able to subdue the Seminoles, but it never surrendered to them either. Of all the Indian wars there is only one where the U.S. surrendered.

Known as Red Cloud’s War the 1866-1868 struggle involved the powerful Lakota (Sioux) nation. The Indians were angered when the army built a string of forts through the heart of the Lakota hunting grounds. The war was brief but fierce. It ended with the Treaty of Fort Laramie, where the U.S. gave in to the tribe’s demands.

Indian Girl Hunter Illustration

Oh, and sometimes you should be careful what you wish for.

Captain William Fetterman was fresh out of West Point when he was posted to Fort Phil Kearney, along the Bozeman Trail. With his Euro-centric arrogance, Fetterman was incredulous that the army could not defeat a bunch of stone-age savages.

“With 80 men I could ride through the whole Sioux Nation,” Fetterman boasted.

As fate would have it, Fetterman led a command from the fort on December 21, 1866. It totaled 81 men – none of whom made it back to the fort.


Featured Photo: An unknown Native American woman in the Texas Hill Country

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