Indian Massacres

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A list of specific incidents in which Native American people were killed by agents of the United States government. By compiling a list of incidents we can hope to estimate the total number of people recorded as killed.

It is assumed that each instance would have some kind of documentation, however it is understood that there are cases for which no documentation is available either because it was never recorded or because the record was lost through history. This assumption is justified because these events occurred in modern history, in an area with a relatively free press and a relatively literate (if perhaps somewhat racist) population. We know from other instances of genocide that evidence abounds, even with the official attempts to suppress it, but also know from the archaeological record that there have been instances genocides for which we have no such solid written evidence.

This method does not account for Native Americans who died due to the presence or encroachment of Europeans but who were not killed directly, such as the estimated millions who died due to starvation from displacement or from disease brought by or exacerbated by the presence of the immigrated americans (which by definition are unlikely to have been recorded at all.) One might argue that these deaths were accidental, or due to the inferiorness of the native culture, medical knowledge, or immune systems.

This method also does not include native americans killed during military engagements. Certainly Native American culture and European culture are not 100% congruent on the definition of military engagement, since for the Native Americans war was a much more personal affair than for Europeans (for whom it was more of a state-affair), however it is possible to broadly generalize that in situations where both sides were armed and where the majority of deaths were of people who entered the engagement with the knowledge that they might die but who fought anyway, that this is not a "massacre". We do not count such cases. History judges deaths of soldiers in warfare to be an outcome of larger matters.

This system also does not intend to show that the deaths were one-sided or unjustified. In fact, the documented record includes many instances of deaths of Europeans (innocents as well as provocatures) at the hands of the native americans. Also, while the Europeans did much to exacerbate or incite animosity of the Native Americans, the reverse is likewise true. The native populations frequently warred among themselves, and held life and death in a significantly different context than the europeans did. This method merely intends to demonstrate a pattern of direct, state-sponsored mass killing of native populations during peace time, directly associated with expansion into native lands.

  • 1777 - deliberate devastation of Six Nations as British allies (estimated killed?)
  • April 22, 1818 - Chehaw Affair - 7 men killed (estimates from 7-40 killed), American troops attack friendly Indian village during First Seminole War
  • 1832 - Black Hawk War - 850 men, women, children killed in war many at Bad Ax Massacre, Bad Ax Wisconsin by American militia and Indian allies
  • 1838-1839 - Trail of Tears - 4,000 Cherokees, mainly died from disease and exposure during forced relocation. (see Indian Removal)
  • March 3, 1860 - Eureka, California - 80-100 men, women, children, Wiyot tribe killed by local hooligans
  • January 29, 1863 - Bear River Massacre - fewer than 250 killed
  • April 24, 1863 - Keyesville Massacre - Keyesville, California - 53 military age men, Tehachapi tribe
  • November 29, 1864 - Sand Creek Massacre - Sand Creek, Colorado - 150 men, women, and children killed, Cheyenne Indians
  • November 27, 1868 - Washita Massacre - Washita River, Oklahoma - 100 people killed; this is often considered a battle, not a massacre
  • January 23, 1870 - Marias Massacre - 200 Piegans, mainly elderly, women, and children
  • December 29, 1890 - Wounded Knee Massacre - Wounded Knee, South Dakota - 300 (est.) people killed.

Running Total: 6043