Native nations from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico experienced the War of 1812 as but a chapter in a much longer struggle to defend their homelands against European encroachment and settlement. The "New World" that Europeans encountered beginning in the 1400s was home to Native civilizations compelled increasingly to adjust to life on a continent becoming dominated by European, then American settlement. As empires moved westward into Native territory, new Native alliances brought together coalitions of nations. Spiritual and cultural renewal combined with military resistance as Native communities attempted to stem the tide of American expansion and maintain independence and autonomy.
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After the American Revolution, the Washington administration embraced a program to “civilize” native peoples, transforming Indians from tribal peoples into individuals who could be easily assimilated into American society. Read more
Immediately the Michigan tribes had to enter into treaty negotiations with the United States in order to stay in their homelands. For the tribes, this meant ceding away millions of acres of ancestral homelands to avoid removal to Kansas and Oklahoma. Read more
The decision for a tribal warrior to strike out on the war path was a decision that rested entirely with the individual. It was an exercise in complete freedom of the warrior. He had no obligation to fight for his tribe, villages or family. Read more
“the bones of our ancestors were thrown away and we could never find them to return them to the ground”
Burial traditions vary from tribe to tribe, but one constant remains among them: caretaking of the dead is something all tribes consider sacred. Read more
Euro-Americans were more interested in settled agriculturethan they were in sustaining the fur trade that had characterized the region for more than a century. Americans aggressively pushed Indians to become virtually indistinguishable from themselves, or failing that, to relocate them from areas of American settlement altogether, a political development that came to characterize US relations in the 1800s with Indian nations westward all the way to the Pacific. Read more