This was a big year for history, including important anniversaries for the signing of the Dawes Act and the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre. There was also some fascinating research that further debunks the Bering Strait Theory, and ICTMN took a hard look at artifact collection and talked a lot about why Andrew Jackson is still honored on the $20 bill.
A Dawes era poster.
The anniversary of the Dawes Severalty Act being signed into law got readers talking in February. The act, which introduced private land ownership to American Indians, was signed into law by U.S. President Grover Cleveland in 1887. Also known as the General Allotment Act, it was arguably one of the most devastating U.S. laws for Natives, slashing millions of acres from the existing land base, breaking up many tribes, and threatening tribal sovereignty.
What if someone like Sequoyah replaced Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill?
In 2012, Andrew Jackson was ICTMN’s top pick for worst U.S. president—this year we nominated 10 Natives who could replace him on the $20 bill, including Sequoyah, who came up with a written syllabary for the Cherokee language and Seminole leader Osceola.
New scientific discoveries rekindled the debate over the Bering Strait Theory this year. Alex Ewen wrote about Vine Deloria Jr.’s book, Red Earth, White Lies, and the scientists who question the theory. The Bering Strait Theory continued to unravel this year as dendrochronology—a dating system using tree rings—poked holes in previous radiocarbon data. A 22,000-year-old mastodon skull and tool (a stone blade or spear point) dredged from the seafloor of the Chesapeake Bay by fishermen in 1974 came to light this year, and raised more questions about the validity of the Bering Strait Theory.
FBI agents work around a home in Rush County, Indiana on April 2, 2014, to confiscate thousands of artifacts from a private collector.
A vast collection of artifacts that took a 91-year-old Indiana man eight decades to amass was seized by the FBI on April 2, suggesting that U.S. law enforcement might finally be taking this issue seriously.
Archives and Special Collections, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA
The caption reads: WOUNDED YELLOW ROBE. HENRY STANDING BEAR. CHAUNCY YELLOW ROBE. SIOUX BOYS AS THEY ENTERED THE SCHOOL IN 1883. THREE YEARS LATER. This image appears in John N. Choate's Souvenir of the Carlisle Indian School Carlisle, PA: J. N. Choate, 1902).
Did you know it is still legal to withhold food and clothing from Indian children who don’t attend school? Or that Indian children can be placed in reform schools without parental consent? While they are unlikely to be enforced, these and other boarding school laws are still on the federal books.
AP Photo/Roberto Chavez Arce via Science
Divers use lights to illuminate Hoyo Negro, an underwater cave in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula where the remains of “Naia,” a teenage girl who lived 12,000 to 13,000 years earlier, were found.
The discovery and scientific examination of one of the oldest human remains found in the Americas confirms what Native people have known all along, that they are the original inhabitants of this hemisphere.
Buffalo still roam a pristine landscape that must be protected for future generations.
Values and integrity have always been respected by traditional Native peoples, but when colonization swept across North America, dishonesty and treachery took a terrible toll. Even many mainstream Americans are tired of it, but still don’t understand where they went wrong.
Estimates about the age of Serpent Mound are changing.
Serpent Mound in rural Adams County, Ohio, is one of the premier Native American earthworks in the hemisphere. Estimates of the age of the earthwork were radically revised as the result of a new radiocarbon analysis, suggesting that the mound is about 1,400 years older than conventionally thought.
Parks Canada/Canadian Press
Sea floor scan showing one of the missing ships from the Franklin expedition.
Inuit oral history proved correct when a ship, missing since 1846, was discovered in shallow waters in an area called Utjulik, just as Inuit oral accounts had maintained. The Inuit had an oral account of what had happened to the two ships under the command of Sir John Franklin, which had been discounted for decades.
Keith Brave Heart
Four horses wearing regalia designed by a youth program in Rosebud.
Horse regalia has begun a comeback as a means of cultural revitalization. This was an idea that came to James Star Comes Out when looking at historic images of the Oceti Sakowin (Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota) and seeing many photos of horses dressed in regalia. Horse regalia disappeared within the Lakota culture for many years. “After the time when tribes were placed on the reservations, the use of horse regalia dwindled out,” Star Comes Out said. “In the parade in 2011, the response to seeing horse regalia was pretty awesome because a lot of people hadn’t seen that in years. I had never seen it in Pine Ridge.”
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
George Armstrong Custer and Elizabeth Bacon Custer-Brady-Handy.
In his book, Bloodshed At Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull, Custer, and the Destinies of Nations, Rocky Mountain College history professor Tim Lehman wrote that George Armstrong Custer had a son with a Cheyenne woman. Recorded Native oral history has several sources that say Custer had a son named Yellow Swallow with Meotzi.
National Park Service
The site of the Sand Creek Massacre as seen today.
November 29, 2014 marked the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, a tragic event of 1864 that forever changed Indian relations with the U.S. government. Many commemorative events were held to honor those lost, and remember the events of the past.