Osceola Fights to Save the Seminole

In Florida during the 1830s a young Indian warrior led a bold and bloody campaign against the government's plan to relocate his people west of the Mississippi River

The story of Osceola and the Great Seminole War in Florida seems so fantastic at times that it is hard to believe it is all true. One warrior with courage, cunning, and audacity unsurpassed by any Native American leader masterminded battle tactics that frustrated and embarrassed a succession of U.S. Army generals. Read more »

The West

Americans have always envisioned a West. When they won independence from England in 1783, the West lay just beyond the Appalachian Mountains, a West celebrated in the adventures of Daniel Boone. Then people began to thread through the Cumberland Gap to make new homes there. Boone felt crowded, so in 1799 he moved across the Mississippi River to take up residence in Missouri. Read more »

Revolution In Indian Country

AFTER CENTURIES OF CONFLICT OVER THEIR RIGHTS AND POWERS, Indian tribes now increasingly make and enforce their own laws, often answerable to no one in the United States government. Is this the rebirth of their ancient independence or a new kind of legalized segregation?

MICKI’S CAFE IS, IN ITS MODEST WAY, A bulwark against the encroachment of modern history and a symbol, amid the declining fortunes of prairie America, of the kind of gritty (and perhaps foolhardy) determination that in more self-confident times used to be called the frontier spirit. Read more »

Mound Country

Robert Maslowski and I made our way carefully across the tobacco field, trying not to disturb the neat rows of freshly plowed furrows. On the other side of the flat valley, a tractor moved slowly across the horizon “settin’ tobacco,” as they call planting seedlings in this part of West Virginia. Our destination was also far away: an oasis of greenery in the distance that was a prehistoric Indian mound. Read more »

Into The Face Of History

Starting with a single, haunting battlefield image, an amateur photo detective managed to reconstruct a forgotten photographer’s life and uncover a treasure of Indian portraits.

I had waited six months to see it. A long-time collector, I loved to roam the monthly swap meet in Long Beach, California near my home. Half a year before, I’d stopped at the booth of a dealer in old photographs and asked if he had anything related to General Custer or to the Battle of the Little Bighorn, both favorite topics of mine. He told me that he had a stereo view of the Custer Battlefield, but he hadn’t brought it with him, and it wasn’t for sale. “It’s by a photographer I’ve never heard of,” he explained.Read more »

Thomas Gilcrease And His Western Museum

How Creek Indian number 1501 repaid a debt

In August 1902 a twelve-year-old farm boy named Thomas Gilcrease, being one-eighth Creek Indian on his mother’s side, received a 160-acre allotment in the land of the Creek Nation, one of the Five Civilized Tribes, which occupied what yet remained of Indian Territory in America. Not long before, by act of Congress, the Creeks had ceased to be a self-governing tribe.Read more »

Indians In The Land

Did the Indians have a special, almost noble, affinity with the American environment—or were they despoilers of it? Two historians of the environment explain the profound clash of cultures between Indians and whites that has made each group almost incomprehensible to the other.

When the historian Richard White wrote his first scholarly article about Indian environmental history in the mid-1970s, he knew he was taking a new approach to an old field, but he did not realize just how new it was. “I sent it to a historical journal,” he reports, “and I never realized the U.S. mail could move so fast. It was back in three days. The editor told me it wasn’t history.” Read more »

“There Are No Indians Left Now But Me”

So spoke Sitting Bull, greatest of Sioux chiefs, as he bitterly watched his people bargain away their Dakota homeland

If Sitting Bull had not put his faith in a miracle, in the fateful winter of 1890, the American struggle with the Dakota Sioux—the last big Indian “war”—might have faded into a peaceful if pathetic accommodation between conqueror and conquered. But a miracle seemed the only refuge for the great old chief in that bitter season of a bitter year; and he thought he saw one coming.