Article Series

Series: American Indians and the War of 1812

Kathryn Braund of Auburn University examines the American Indian experience in the War of 1812. The Indian war which broke out in the Ohio country in 1811 and the Red Stick or Creek War of 1813 are commonly viewed as part of the War of 1812, but in reality, the Indian wars were concurrent conflicts that had their origins in long-standing grievances over land and the right of Indian peoples to self-determination.

  • Chapter 1: "Civilizing" Native Peoples: American policies to remake tribal worlds

    Portrait of William McIntosh

    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

  • Chapter 2: Breaking rugged boundaries: American expansion onto Indian lands

    Speech from Shawnee Chief Tecumseh to governor William Henry Harrison

    From the earliest settlement of the United States, American settlers have conflicted with American Indian neighbors over border and land disputes. Boundary lines established with the American Indians by the British leading into the American Revolution began chafing the American state after independence. This resulted in hostilities and eventually war as the United States dedicated itself to pressing westward at any cost. Read more

  • Chapter 3: Confederation in a new world order: Tenskwatawa's vision for Indian destinies

    Portrait of Shawnee religious leader Tenskwatawa

    Following increasingly restrictive and exploitative land cessation treaties between the United States and Indian nations, tribal people were faced with difficult choices. Would Natives follow the restrictions of the Americans or fight them? Would they remain an independent people, or assimilate into white society? Would they remain on ancestral lands at the risk of enraging land-hungry Americans, or leave home in the interest of keeping peace? Read more

  • Horseshoe Bend National Military Park

    Chapter 4: Creek War in the Southeast: A civil war and an enemy occupation

    Painting of the Battle of Tippecanoe

    Following the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 and the destruction of Prophet's Town by the Americans, Shawnee chief Tecumseh intensified his cry for a united Indian confederacy. This influence and the divisive line it drew over assimilationism began echoing throughout tribal lands, even as far away as Alabama. This split populations along ideological lines, forcing them to choose allegiances. Read more

  • Horseshoe Bend National Military Park

    Chapter 5: Losing ground: The wages of war in Indian Country

    Portrait of Creek leader Menawa, with painted face and feathered hat

    Although the conclusion of the War of 1812 brought little change in the life of most American citizens, for American Indians it was disastrous. The loss of influential tribal chiefs and millions of acres of territory left tribal communities weakened and at the mercy of American expansionism. Read more