Sacagawea, her baby, and her husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, join Merriwether Lewis and William Clark on their voyage exploring the territory for the Louisiana Purchase.

1812 [June 18]

President James Madison signs a declaration of war against Britain. This declaration starts a war between U.S. forces and the French, British, and Native Americans over independence and territory expansion.

1814 [March 27]

The Battle of Horseshoe Bend takes place, resulting in Creek Indians ceding over 20 million acres of land. This battle officially ended any Creek resistance to American advances into the southeast territories. As a result, the Mississippi territory became available for pioneer settlement.  


The First Seminole War takes place.

1830 [May 28]

President Andrew Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act. This Act gives sections of land west of the Mississippi River to Native tribes in exchange for the land taken from them.


The journey known as the Trail of Tears occurs. Choctaw Indians were forced off their land and journeyed to Oklahoma by foot without any food or supplies from the U.S. government.


The Second Seminole War takes place, marking it as the longest of the wars of Indian removal. U.S. forces wanted the Seminole Indians to move from a reservation in central Florida to a Creek reservation.


The last of the Creek Indians leave their land as part of the Indian Removal Act. During their journey to Oklahoma, more than 3,500 of the 15,000 Creek Native Americans don’t survive.


Congress passes the Indian Appropriations Act. This Act created the Indian reservation system, in which Native Americans could not leave their designated reservation without permission.


The American Civil War begins.


The Sand Creek Massacre takes place. 650 volunteer forces in Colorado attack Cheyenne and Arapaho encampments, killing and mutilating more than 150 Indians.


U.S. troops ignore a treaty and invade South Dakota’s Black Hills after discovering gold.

1876 [June 25]

The Battle of Little Bighorn occurs between Lieutenant Colonel George Custer’s troops and Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. Custer’s troops are killed and defeated, increasing the tensions between colonists and Native Americans.


The country’s first off-reservation boarding school, Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, sees its first students. The school was created by Richard Henry Pratt. It was designed to assimilate Native American youth into the country’s new culture.

1887 [February 8]

 President Grover Cleveland signs the Dawes Act. This Act gives the president complete authority to divvy up Native American land among individuals.

1890 [December 29]

The Wounded Knee Massacre takes place in South Dakota, resulting in over 100 Native American deaths.