May in North American Indian History
by Phil Konstantin


Copyright © Phil Konstantin (1996-2014)

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May 1st

1637: After numerous incidents, and incursions on both sides, English settlers in Connecticut declare war on the Pequot Indians. Most of the fighting take places in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
1833: A census of the Creek upper towns shows 14,142 people, including 445 Negro slaves.

May 2nd

1670: King Charles of England gives all trade rights to "all the Landes Countreyes and Territoryes upon the Coastes and Confynes of the Seas" lying within the Hudson Strait to the Hudson’s Bay Company. This monopoly remains in effect until 1859.
1871: Indians raid settlements near Fort Seldon, in southern New Mexico. According to army records cavalry troops chase them for 280 miles, but they do not catch them.

May 3rd

1493: Today through tomorrow, the Pope divides the "new world" between the Spanish and the Portuguese.

1806: Lewis and Clark meet Nez Perce Chief, Weahkoonut (Bighorn).

May 4th

490: Palenque Maya Lord Kan - Xul I is born according to the museum at Palenque
1863: After the Minnesota uprising of the Santee Sioux, and their subsequent defeat, their lands are forfeited. The surviving Indians, including those who opposed the uprising and helped the whites, are ordered to be shipped to a reservation in Dakota Territory. 770 Santee Sioux board a steamboat in St. Paul for the journey west. Eventually 1,300 Santee Sioux are transported to an area which can hardly support life. During the first year, 300 Santee die.

May 5th

1763: Near Fort Detroit, Ottawa Chief Pontiac addresses a group of Huron, Ottawa, and Potawatomi warriors. He asks them to join him in his fight against the British.
1800: William Augusta Bowles is an adventurer in the southeastern part of the United States. With Creek and Cherokee supporters, he proclaims a new nation, Muscogee, out of lands claimed by Spain along the Gulf coast, with himself as "Director-General". Bowles declares war on Spain, and begins a campaign against their outposts in his "nation." Some sources list this as happening on April 5, 1800.

May 6th

1626: The Purchase of Manhattan takes place. The Shinnecock or Canarsee Indians, according to which source you believe, sell it to Peter Minuit.
1822: As of today, all nonprofit government trading houses are closed on or near Indian lands. All future trading posts are commercial enterprises.

May 7th

1851: Yesterday, the Cherokee Nation opened a seminary (high school) for men. Today they open a seminary for females, north of Park Hill on the Cherokee Reservation in Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma). Some of the required courses include: algebra, arithmetic, botany, geography, grammar, Latin and vocal music.
1973: According to the FBI, at 10:19 A.M. this morning, the occupation of Wounded Knee ended. The occupation started on February 27, 1973.

May 8th

1725: In one of the last battles of Lovewell’s or Father Rasle’s War, Pigwacket Indians defeat a British army under Captain John Lovewell at Fryeburg, Maine.
1820: The Mi’kmaq Acadia First Nation reserve of Gold River is established in Nova Scotia. The Shubenacadie First Nation reserve of Indian Brook #14 is also set up.

May 9th

1735: The first debate on "The Walking Purchase" takes place in Pennsbury. Thomas Penn and James Logan meet with Delaware Chiefs, including Nutimus and Tedyuscung.
1885: Today through the 12th, events in the Second Riel Rebellion take place in Canada. Major General Frederick Middleton and a force of 800 soldiers attack the Metis and Cree holding the village of Batoche. The fighting continues through the 12th until the soldiers finally overrun Batoche.

May 10th

1832: Settlers start construction of what is called Fort Blue Mounds, near modern Madison, Wisconsin, the fort is built to protect the settlers from attacks by the Winnebagos.
1864: Cherokee Stand Watie is promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in the Confederate army. He is the first Indian to reach that rank. He will also be the last Confederate General to surrender at the end of the Civil War.

May 11th

1854: In an effort to end the fighting in the "Walker War" of southern Utah, Paiute Chief Walkara and Utah Governor Brigham Young meet in Juab County, Utah. The meeting would end the onging fighting; however, they would flare up again later.
1974: The Acting Deputy Commissioner of Indian Affairs has authorized an election for amendments to the Constitution and By-Laws of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin. The amendments are voted in.

May 12th

1858: Comanche Chief Iron Jacket (Po-hebitsquash) is killed in a fight with Texas Rangers on the Canadian River.
1860: A battle in the Paiute War takes place in Nevada at Big Bend in the valley of the Truckee River. Major William Ormsby’s Nevada militia are attacked by Paiutes under war Chief Numaga.

May 13th

1540: Hernando de Soto leaves Cofitachequi. He takes the "Lady of Cofitachequi" with him, against her will.
1614: The Viceroy of Mexico finds Spanish Explorer Juan de Ońate guilty of atrocities against the Indians of New Mexico. As a part of his punishment, he is banned from entering New Mexico again.

May 14th

1741: According to some sources, a land cession agreement is reached by representatives of the British in New York and the Senecas.
1880: Lemhi Chief Tendoy and several others sign an agreement to leave the Lemhi Reservation in Idaho. The agree to go to Fort Hall. It will be nine years before Congress approves the agreement. The Lemhi will not actually move until 1909. See the area they left by Clicking Here.

May 15th

1716: French commander Bienville send three Natchez Indians to their village to bring back the head of a Chief, Oyelape, who ordered the killings of five Frenchmen. Bienville holds several other Natchez as hostages. From "friendly" Tonica Indians, Bienville learns that the Natchez are planning an attack on his makeshift fort on an island in the Mississippi River.
1846: A treaty is signed by Texas Governor Pierce Butler, and Colonel M.G. Lewis (Meriwether Lewis' brother), and sixty-three Indians of the Aionai, Anadarko, Caddo, Comanche, Kichai (Keehy), Lepan (Apache), Longwha, Tahuacarro (Tahwacarro), Tonkawa, Waco, and Wichita tribes. It is ratified on February 15, 1847, and signed by President Polk on March 8, 1847.

May 16th

1677: Mugg, an Arosaguntacook Indian Chief, dies in Black Point, Maine. At the outset of King Philip's war, Mugg attempted to arrange a peace treaty with the British. Instead they jail him for a short time, and gain a bitter enemy. He destroys much of Black Point, Maine in a raid on October 12, 1676. Later he captures a few ships and stages a brief naval war before his death.
1760: Creek warrior Chief Hobbythacco (Handsome Fellow) has often supported the English, but, at the outbreak of the Cherokee war, he decides to support the Cherokees. He leads an attack on a group of English traders in Georgia. Thirteen of the traders are killed during the fighting. Creek Chief "The Mortar" also participates in the fighting.

May 17th


1629: According to a deed, Sagamore Indians, including Passaconaway, sell a piece of land in what becomes Middlesex County, Massachusetts.
1673: Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joilet begin their expedition from the "Straights of Michilimackinac." Eventually, they explore much of the Mississippi River.

May 18th

1661: Captain John Odber is order by the Maryland General Assembly to take fifty men and go to the "Susquesahannough Forte." According to a treaty signed on May 16th, Maryland is required to help protect the Susquehannocks from raids by the Seneca. Odber’s force is to fulfill that part of the treaty.
1839: General Alexander Macomb announces the peace terms with the Seminoles. The Seminoles are able to stay in Florida, if they remain near Lake Okechobee.

May 19th

1795: A treaty is signed between the Chippewa and the Canadian government. Second Lieutenant J. Givins represents the crown and several Chippewa Chiefs are present. It is signed at "York, in the Province of Upper Canada" (Penetanguishene, Ontario).
1796: Congress passes "An Act Making Appropriations for Defraying the Expenses Which May Arise in Carrying into Effect a Treaty Made Between the United States and Certain Indian Tribes, Northwest of the River Ohio."

May 20th

1493: A civil war battle among the Cakchiquel (Kaqchikel) Maya takes place today in Guatemala.
1702: Franciscans have established the Mission of Santa Fe de Toluca at one of the largest Timucua villages in northern Florida. Apalachicola Indians fight a battle with Spanish and Mission Indians. Both side lose a considerable number of fighters before the Apalachicolas finally gain the upper hand.

May 21st

1542: Hernando de Soto dies with a high fever in the village of Guachoyo, along the Mississippi River. Before his death, he appoints Luis de Moscoso to be his replacement. Fearing that the Indians might exhume his body, Moscoso has de Soto's body weighted down, and deposited in the Mississippi River.
1832: As a part of Black Hawk’s War, a group of approximately fifty Potawatomis attack a settlement on Indian Creek near modern Ottawa, Illinois. Fifteen settlers are killed in the fighting. This is often called the "Indian Creek Massacre." This is also reported to have happened on May 20th.

May 22nd


1851: As one of the last conflicts in the "Mariposa Indian Wars" in California, a large group of Yosemite Indians are captured at Lake Tenaija.
1863: As a part of the "Owens Valley War" in California, Paiute Chief Captain George arrives at Camp Independence. He tells the soldiers the Paiutes want peace. This effectively ends the war.

May 23rd

1807: The Chickasaw Treaty of July 23, 1805 is publicly proclaimed.
1838: Under the provisions of the New Echota Treaty of December 29, 1835, this the deadline for Cherokees to emigrate to the Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma). Any Cherokees still east of the Mississippi River, after today, are force to leave. Only an estimated 2,000 Cherokees have emigrated to the Indian Territory by today's date, according to government estimates. General Winfield Scott is charged with removing the recalcitrant Cherokees. Many are forced from their homes at bayonet point. The illegal treaty is publicly proclaimed by President Jackson, two years ago, on this date.

May 24th

1513: While exploring the Gulf Coast of Florida. Ponce de Leon encounters Calusa Indians near Charlotte harbor. In a fight with the Calusa, de Leon captures four warriors.
1539: Mexican Viceroy Don Antonio de Mendoza has decided to send an expedition to search for wealthy cities north of Mexico. On March 7, 1539, Friar Marcos de Niza started the expedition from Culiacan. Accordiong to Niza’s journal, he finally sees Cibola, although he never sets foot in the pueblo. His report will lead to future expeditions looking for the "Seven Cities of Gold."

May 25th

1637: "The Battle of Mystic": As a part of the Pequot war Mohegan Chief Uncas is leading approximately 100 Indian allies, but he is doubtful of the ability of Captains John Underhill and John Mason's seventy-seven Europeans to defeat the Pequots. Regardless, they attack a fortified Pequot village near modern Mystic, Connecticut before dawn. Few of the Pequot warriors are in the village, and the allies set fire to the dwellings. According to some accounts, as many as 700 old men, women and children are burned or shot to death. Only about a dozen Pequots in the village survive. Some sources say this happens on May 26th and June 5th.
1776: The United States Congress resolves that it would be "highly expedient" if they can engage Indians to fight on their side of the Revolutionary War.

May 26th

1540: The "Lady of Cofitachequi" has been taken with the de Soto expedition, against her will. With a large quantity of the pearls that de Soto's men took from her village, she escapes.
1728: According to some sources, a peace and friendship conference is held for two days between the representatives of the British in Pennsylvania and the Conestoga, Delaware, Potomac and Shawnee Indians.

May 27th

1607: Virginia has it's first significant battle between Indians and European settlers.
1847: The Oregon Country publication "The Spectator" has an article by its editor, George L. Curry. He blames much of the problems with the local Indians on their use of alcohol. He asks for better enforcement of the laws prohibiting the sale of "intoxicants" to Indians.

May 28th

1830: Andrew Jackson, called "Sharp Knife" by the Indians, has long fought the Indians of the southeast. He believes that the Indians and white settlers will not be able to peacefully live together. His solution to this is to renege on all of the previous treaties, which granted the Indians their lands forever, and to move all Indians west of the Mississippi River. Jackson makes this proposal to Congress during his First Congressional speech on December 8, 1829. Congress makes the proposal into a law on this date.
1851: One in a series of treaties is signed with California Indians at Dent's and Ventine's Crossings. The purpose of the treaty is to reserve lands for the Indians and to protect them from angry Europeans.

May 29th


1677: Pamunkey, Roanoke, Nottaway and Nansemond Tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy sign a treaty with the English in Virginia.
1876: The Interior Department is told to cooperate with the War Department so the military can round up the "hostiles" whenever they may appear on a reservation or an agency.

May 30th

1548: Juan Diego (Cuauhtlatoatzin) is the Nahua who saw the apparition of the Virgin Mary on a hill called Tepeyacac in Mexico. The encounters took place between December 9th and 12th in 1531. He dies at the age of seventy-four.
1650: An ordinance is passed against the making of counterfeit, or "fake," wampum by the Directors of the Council of the New Netherlands. European manufacturers are producing the fakes, which are being used to pay Indians.

May 31st

1796: The Treaty of the Seven Tribes of Canada is signed by three Chiefs at New York City. The tribes give up all claims to lands in New York, except six square miles in Saint Regis. They are paid 1233 pounds, six shillings, and eight pence now, and 213 pounds, six shillings, eight pence annually, if five more Chiefs show up and sign the treaty.
1876: According to the San Diego Union, a San Diego California newspaper, there are disputes over land with the CAMPO Indians. "One Indian took refuge in the rocks . . . and continued firing. They soon discovered his whereabouts and silenced him, shooting him through the head, killing him instantly."





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