OF LITTLE BIGHORN - In June of 1876, the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne
combined forces to resist Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and members of the
7th Cavalry. Known as the Battle of the Greasy Grass, to Native Americans, the
fighting near Little Bighorn River (in eastern Montana Territory) became
"Custer's Last Stand."
- BUFFALO - Scholars believe that ancestors of the American Bison - called "tatanka" by
some Native Americans - originated in Southern Asia. It is believed that these
mammals first made their way to America by crossing the Bering
Land Bridge which once connected the Asian and North American continents. To
learn more about the species so important to Native Americans, see the links in
the third paragraph.
and MOUNTAIN DWELLINGS - In centuries past, people of the Navajo Nation
constructed homes in, or near, shallow caves located on Navajo land. Some of
those dwellings still exist. See examples in this chapter.
- CHEROKEE "TRAIL OF TEARS" - Between 1838-39, the U.S.
federal government forced the relocation of the Cherokee people from their
homelands to the Oklahoma Territory. As the Navajo people tell their children
about The Long Walk, so do the Cherokee tell succeeding generations about
their ancestors’ Trail of Tears.
TREATY with TEXAS (1836) - While Texas was a Republic, Sam Houston
negotiated a treaty with the Cherokee, confirming their land grants. Although
Houston honored those claims, others did not.
- CODE TALKERS - Twenty-nine Navajo men, recruited as United States
Marines, created a code in their own language which was effectively used by other Navajo during World War II. Their code was never broken.
- CODE TALKERS at IWO JIMA - Military leaders agreed that
pivotal battles, such as Iwo Jima, would not have been won by the Allies had it
not been for the Navajo “Code Talkers.” Existence of the code remained a
national secret until 1968. In this story you will see pictures from the
official military record.
TALKERS at SAIPAN - In June of 1944, Navajo Code Talkers were able to
prevent disaster at key moments during the vicious battle of Saipan.
TALKERS: WHO WERE THEY? - Learn the names of the original Navajo Code
Talkers, and virtually meet some of them.
NAVAJO CODE - The Navajo Code was a closely guarded secret for decades.
No longer needed (with the advent of computers), it has now been made
public. See a partial dictionary (by clicking on "the code" in the last paragraph).
NATIVE AMERICANS" - Artists of the American frontier often created
studies of Native Americans whom they met. Some of their work is included in the
The Illustrating Traveler: Adventure and Illustration in North America and
the Caribbean 1760-1895. Examine these works of art by clicking on "own
lands" in the third paragraph of this chapter.
- "FREE LAND" - As the U.S. federal government encouraged
settlers to forge westward, officials gave "free land" to people who completed
the long, difficult journey. Native Americans, whose lives were forever changed
as a direct result, paid a significant price. An animated power-point map,
created by the United States Military Academy, depicts how Native Americans lost
their land when the transcontinental railroad was constructed. (Click on the
first link - “Indians lost their land” - to see the drastically shrinking
landscape of their territory.)
NATION - Native Americans (also known as the Minitari and the Gros
Ventre), the Hidatsa kidnapped Sacagawea (an interpreter for Lewis and Clark)
and sold her to the Mandan Sioux. To learn about the Hidatsa people, see the
fourth paragraph of this chapter.
- HOMELANDS, WESTERN - View a map, depicting the
homelands of the western Native Americans, by clicking on "homelands" in the
last paragraph of this chapter. The map also provides information about
- “THE LONG WALK” - In 1864, during America's war between
the states, the federal government sent soldiers to “tame” the Navajo. More than 8,000 people, uprooted from their ancestral homelands in northeastern Arizona
and northwestern New Mexico, were forced to walk hundreds of miles to Bosque
Redondo, a parched tract of land in eastern New Mexico. Many died. Although
conditions were difficult, it was the first time that various Navajo clans were
together as a people and the idea of a Navajo Nation was first
- NAVAJO LANGUAGE - To hear the Navajo language, go to
the second paragraph of chapter 7 and click on “language.” Each highlighted word
in that link will take you to an audio clip.
- NAVAJO NATION - After keeping the Navajo at Bosque
Redondo four years, the federal government allowed them to return to their
ancestral homelands. They were one of few Native-American nations
allowed to keep some of their own territory. Westward-expanding Americans did
not want to settle on the inhospitable Navajo land. In school, Navajo children
were taught English and were forbidden to speak their native language.
- NAVAJO PEOPLE in the NINETEENTH CENTURY - In the late
19th century, the U.S. government sent a Corps of Engineers to explore and
survey territory west of the 100th meridian. Expedition members took
hundreds of photographs, now at the National Archives, (See chapters 3-5)
- NATIVE-AMERICAN TERRITORIES - Before America's westward
expansion, the United States government hired artists to document the unspoiled
western wilderness. Native Americans lived in many of these beautiful places.
(See chapters 2- 4)
ATTITUDES - As the ninteenth century neared its end, Native Americans no
longer possessed all the lands they had owned at the beginning of the century.
Patronizing attitudes continued toward them, as reflected in contemporary
periodicals. (See the linked New England Magazine.)
- SACAJAWEA - The teenaged Shoshone, whose name is also
spelled "Sacagawea," served as an interpretor for Lewis and Clark.
NATIVE AMERICANS - Who were the people of the Upper Missouri, at the
time Lewis and Clark led the Corps of Discovery? To learn about them, click on
"Mandan-Hidatsa" in the last paragraph of this chapter.