Native American history is easier to understand if it is broken down into events before the Colonists arrived in the United States of America, During the colonization of America, during the American Revolution (War of Independence) and after these periods when the Birth of the United States of America came into play.
Here we explore the life and times of the Native American Indian People during the Colonial Period when many famous events, battles, events and famous people made their mark on the Colonial Period and Native American period of American history
Christopher Columbus discovered the American Continent in 1492. Before this time, the Europeans didn’t know that an entire continent to the west of Europe existed. Soon after Columbus’ discovery, European explorers started arriving on the continent.
The beginning of the 16th century marked a direct and active contact between Europeans and Native Americans.
The first contact was disastrous for the Native Americans. It brought various European diseases to which the Natives were unfamiliar. And it led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Native Americans over subsequent decades.
In the early 16th century, many Spanish explorers and conquistadors arrived in North America. One of these was Hernando De Soto. During his expedition, De Soto came across the Native American Timucuan warriors in Florida.
His forces were able to defeat the warriors and then proceeded to execute 200 of them. The incident is significant because it was the first large-scale massacre of the Native Indians in America at the hands of the Europeans.
The Tiguex War was fought between the expeditionary forces of Spanish conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado and Native Americans. The war took place from 1540 to 1541 in the New Mexico region.
Coronado arrived in the region to get access to rich and fertile lands, and their produce. Initially, the Spanish and their allies forged a peace agreement with the local Puebloan tribes and Tiwa people.
But they abused the agreement. This led to the Tiguex War. The war resulted in the death of a large number of native Indians. However, it didn’t result to a decisive outcome and Coronado’s forces subsequently withdraw in 1542.
By 1620, an English colony existed at Jamestown, Virginia. This was among the first successful English settlements in North America. During its initial years, the colony struggled and faced the threat of starvation.
At this time, a girl from the Powhatan tribe named Pocahontas was instrument in securing the support and help of the Native Indians for the colony. Pocahontas was the daughter of a powerful Powhatan chief.
In 1620, Pocahontas married John Rolfe who was a planter in the Jamestown colony. She eventually visited London as the first Native American women to do so.
Since its establishment, the Jamestown settlement had steadily grown in size. Over time, English colonists in Jamestown started taking over lands which Powhatan people considered theirs. This created resentment among the Powhatan against the Jamestown colonists.
The resentment ultimately led to a sudden attack on the Jamestown settlement in 1622. The attack claimed the lives of 347 colonists and very nearly brought about the end of Jamestown. A number of women were taken captive by the attacking Powhatan warriors.
The Pequot War was fought between the Native American Pequot tribe and an alliance of British colonies. It took place from 1636 to 1638. The Pequot tribe competed with the English colonies for the fur trade in the region.
Occasional incidents of violence also took place in which many Pequot members or allies and English colonists died.
This ultimately resulted in a war between the two sides. The war dragged on for more than two years and in the end, the Pequot’s were decisively defeated. Their villages were destroyed, many people were taken captives and the tribe effectively ceased to exist.
Beaver Wars were a set of wars and conflicts that effectively began around 1640 and continued for many subsequent decades. These wars were fought between different Native American tribes, with help from their allied European colonies.
At the time, fur trade was the most significant economic activity in the region. Native Indians trapped game animals, gathered their furs and traded them with Europeans for guns, horses and other objects.
This led to a fierce competition among tribes for game animals. The Beaver Wars were fought over the control of the regions where game animals were abundant. The Iroquois Confederacy ultimately proved as one of the victorious tribes in the conflict.
The Peach Tree War took place between the Native American Susquehannock Nation and the New Netherlands settlement. It took place in 1655. The Susquehannock Nation was allied with the New Sweden settlement. This settlement was attacked and taken over by the Dutch colonists from New Netherlands.
This angered the Susequehannock who then attacked the New Netherlands colony. Susquehannock warriors burned many farms, took a large number of prisoners and forced others to abandon their homes and take refuge in Fort Amsterdam. The prisoners were later ransomed by the Dutch colonists.
King Philip’s War took place between an alliance of Native American tribes and the English colonists. The war is named after a Native Indian leader Metacom who was also styled as King Philip. Metacom led an alliance of Pocumtuck, Nipmuck, Narragansett and Wampanoag tribes.
He sought to resist English colonialism as the colonists took up their lands and sough to dominate them. Metacom’s forces were initially successful and a number of frontier towns were destroyed by his warriors. However, the colonists were able to capture Metacom by 1676 and beheaded him. This effectively ended the war.
By the late 17th century, a large Spanish settlement existed in the present-day New Mexico region. The region was also inhabited by the Pueblo Indians who were forced to labor and toil for the Spanish colonists.
This created resentment among Pueblo Indians against the Spanish and ultimately led to the Pueblo Revolt. The Revolt took place in 1680. A large number of Pueblo warriors unanimously rose against the Spanish. In the ensuing fighting, nearly 400 Spanish were killed and the other 2,000 settlers were forced to retreat from the New Mexico region.
The Fox Wars were fought between the Fox Indians and the French. They began in 1711 and continued for the next two decades. The wars were fought over the control of the Fox River system in the Great Lakes region.
The River system was vital for the fur trade in the area and the French wanted to gain access to it. This led to a protracted war between the two sides. The First Fox War ended in 1716 with the defeat of the Fox Indians. The Second Fox War began in 1728 and ended in 1733 with the decisive victory of the French.
The Natchez Revolt was an uprising of the Natchez people against French colonists. The revolt took place in 1729 in the Louisiana Colony of France. One of the local French colonial officials forcefully tried to acquire the Natchez territories. This created resentment against the Natchez who suddenly attacked the French settlement.
Almost all the French men were killed while some of the women were spared. This ultimately led to retaliation by the French colonists in New Orleans. In the retaliation which continued for a long time, the Natchez were forced to retreat from their lands, seek refuge with other tribes and eventually become scattered.
The Yamasee War was a conflict waged by an alliance of Native American tribes against the British settlements in the South Carolina region. The conflict began in 1715 and continued for almost two years. A large and powerful alliance of the Native Indian warriors attacked and killed colonists all along South Carolina.
Hundreds of colonists were killed while others fled to the safety of Charles Town. These refugees soon ran out of food supplies and faced starvation. At this crucial time, the Cherokee came to the aid of the British colonists and sided with them. This ultimately ended the war and brought relief to the besieged settlers.
The Chickasaw Wars began in 1721. These wars were fought between the French and their allies at one side, and the Chickasaw tribe and British colonists. The conflict began over the control of a part of the Mississippi River. Despite repeated French efforts, the Chickasaw were able to withstand the attacks and retain control of their territories.
The French and Indian War was an immensely significant conflict that took place from 1754 to 1763. This conflict deeply affected the fortunes of the Native American tribes in North America. When the conflict began, British colonists were spread along the eastern coast. Towards their west was situated New France, the colonial possessions of France.
The conflict began over the control of the territories and dominance in the region. The French heavily relied on their Indian allies in the war, which is why it is called the French and Indian War. The British were also helped by a number of Native American tribes.
Despite initial setbacks, the British secured a decisive victory in the conflict. France was forced to sign the Treaty of Paris in 1763. According to this treaty, France ceded the New France territories to Britain. This effectively ended French colonial power in North America, giving Britain a clear dominance in the region.