This Month in Native American History
by Phil Konstantin




 December 1, 524: Palenque Maya Lord Chaacal I dies according to the museum at Palenque.

 December 2, 1794: A treaty is concluded with the Oneida, Tuscarora, and Stockbridge Indians at Oneida, New York. The treaty is a "gift" to the tribes for their help during the Revolutionary war. They receive $5000 for damages from the war and $1000 to build a church. They also receive grist and saw mills with three years salary for tribal workers.  The treaty is signed by Thomas Pickering for the United States, and by eleven Indians.

 December 3, 1598: Juan de Zaldivar "discovers" the Acoma.

 December 4, 1833: Twenty-one Chickasaw Chiefs arrive at Fort Towson, Oklahoma to assess the land where they will move when the U.S forces them out of Alabama.  A meeting with local Choctaws about a land purchase proves to be unfruitful.

 December 5, 1855: The Columbia River volunteers, under Nathan Olney, encounter Pio-pio-mox-mox's (Yellow Serpent) band of WallaWallas in southeastern Washington.  Advancing under a flag of truce, Pio meets Olney to discuss Pio returning items stolen from the Hudson Bay Company's Walla Walla store.  An agreement cannot be reached and Pio refuses to fight, so Olney's men take Pio and four other Indians as prisoners.

December 6, 1866: Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, Yellow Eagle and High Back Bone lead their warriors in several raids and ambushes along the road from the Fort Kearny (WY) to the nearby woods.  Colonel Carrington leads his troops in a fight where several soldiers are killed. This skirmish sets the stage for the "Fetterman Massacre" on December 21, 1866.

December 7, 1868: Sheridan and Custer leave Camp Supply for Fort Cobb.  With 1,600 soldiers and 300 supply wagons, the troops movements are to show local Indians the U.S. Army's force and their ability to march during the winter months.

December 8, 1818: Secretary of War John C. Calhoun presents a report to the House of Representatives. Among the report’s proposals: tribes should no longer be treated as sovereign nations; Indians should be saved from extinction; and Indians should be taught the correct concept of land ownership.

December 9, 1861: Colonel Douglas Cooper encounters the pro-Union Creeks and Seminoles, under Chief Opothleyahola, in a battle on Bird Creek, Oklahoma.  Many of his Cherokee troops defect and join the pro-Union forces. Cooper withdraws to Fort Gibson. This is often called the "Battle of Chusto-Talasah," or the "Battle of Caving Banks."

December 10, 1850: Federal agents sign a treaty with the Lipan Apache, Caddo, Comanche, Quapaw, Tawakoni and Waco Indians near the San Sabá River in Texas.

December 11, 1833: Captain Page and almost 700 Choctaws reach Fort Towson, Oklahoma, after the forced march from their homelands. Many other Choctaw had split off and gone to Fort Smith.

December 12, 1531:  Juan Diego (Cuauhtlatoatzin), a Nahua, sees the apparition of the Virgin Mary on a hill called Tepeyacac in Mexico for the second time.  The Virgin Mary instructs him to carry some roses in his macehualli (a cloak) to the local Bishop as proof of her appearance. When the macehualli is opened before the Bishop, an image of the Virgin Mary appears on the cloak among the rose petals.  (View Juan Diego's macehualli:

December 13, 1640: A deed for Indian land is signed in New England. It says, "It is agreed that the Indians above named shall have liberty to break up ground for their use to the westward of the creek on the west side of Shinecock plaine." (In 1641: "It is agreed that any person that hath lotts up on Shinecocke playne in which there are any Indian Barnes or wells lying shall fill them up.")

December 14, 1763: A band of almost five dozen frontiersmen, called "the Paxton Boys," attack a peaceful Susquehanna Indian village in Conestoga, Pennsylvania. They kill eight of the twenty-two inhabitants in this unprovoked raid. "The Boys" continue their rampage during the next two weeks.

December 15, 1890: Sitting Bull is killed while being arrested at Fort Yates. Later this week, the editor of the "Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer," wrote later that week "[With the death of Sitting Bull] the nobility of the Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them. The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians." The author of this editorial is L. Frank Baum, best known as the author of "The Wizard of Oz."

December 16, 1811: The New Madrid earthquake takes place on the Mississippi River around 2:30 am. For generations, many tribes talk about this event along with Tecumseh, who is said to have predicted this earthquake.

December 17, 1890: Sitting Bull and the police killed during his arrest are buried with honor. An arrest warrant was also issued for Big Foot, himself, for his part as a "trouble maker" in the ghost dance religion.

December 18, 1892: Congress approves a monthly pension of thirty dollars for Lemhi Chief Tendoy.

December 19, 1980: Chaco Canyon, (NM), is officially designated as the "Chaco Culture National Historic Park." It is the home of many Anazasi ruins.

December 20, 1812: According to some sources, Sacajawea dies at Fort Manuel, South Dakota.

December 21, 1866:  Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, Yellow Eagle, and High Back Bone, stage several raids and ambushes along the road from the Fort Kearny to the nearby woods. C had once said. "a company of regulars could whip a thousand, and a regiment could whip the whole array of hostile tribes."  Following up on his claim that he "could ride through the Sioux Nation" with just 80 men, Captain William J. Fetterman pursues Indian decoys away from the fort.  The Indians’ trap is sprung, and Fetterman’s entire force of 80, including himself, are killed in the fighting. The Indians call it the "Battle of the Hundred Killed." The soldiers call this the "Fetterman Massacre." See photos:

December 22, 1898: President McKinley establishes the Hualapai Indian School Reserve to educate the Hualapai Indians in Arizona Territory.

December 23, 1855: Whites surround a Rogue River Indian village they had visited the day before. The village is mostly unarmed. The whites attack, and nineteen Indian men are killed. The women and children were driven into the cold. The survivors arrive at Fort Lane, in southwestern Oregon, with severe frostbite and frozen limbs.

December 24, 2012: One interpretation of the Maya calendar predicts today will be the end of world or the present creation.

December 25, 1839: After the July defeat at the Battle of the Neches, Cherokees under Chief "The Egg" attempt an escape to Mexico. They make to the Colorado River before they are met by Colonel Edward Burleson and his Texan and Tonkawa forces. A fight ensues; 7 Cherokee warriors are killed and 24 women and children are captured. Among the dead is The Egg.

December 26, 1862: The thirty-eight Santee Sioux condemned for their actions in the "Santee Uprising" are hanged at Mankato, Minnesota. This is the largest mass hanging in American History.

December 27, 1875: President Grant establishes reservations for the Portrero, Cahuila, Capitan Grande, Santa Ysabel, Pala, Agua Caliente, Sycuan, Inasa, and Cosmit Mission Indians primarily in San Diego County, California.  The order is later modified many times.

December 28, 1520: According to some sources, Hernán Cortés and his army start their second excursion to Tenochtitlán (modern Mexico City) from Tlascala, Mexico. This time they bring small boats to use on the lake surrounding the city.

December 29, 1890: The Wounded Knee Battle or Massacre (depending on which version you read) takes place. According to army records, one officer, 24 soldiers, and 128 Indians are killed. 35 soldiers, and 33 Indians are wounded in the fighting. The army will give Congressional Medals of Honor to almost two dozen soldiers.

December 30, 1950: A Constitution and By-Laws for the Eskimos of the Native Village of Buckland, Alaska is ratified.

December 31, 1590: Spaniard Gaspar Castaño de Sosa briefly fight with some of the residents of the Pecos Pueblo (NM).  Sosa takes some of the Indians captive. Sosa would later return to the pueblo and get a better reception.

Dates reprinted with permission by Phil Konstantin:

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