Unit 3: 1650-1800

1650-1800: Native American societies changed as a result of the expanding European settlements and they influenced European societies. European diseases greatly impeded the Indians’ abilities to defend their homelands. Relationships between Europeans and Native Americans varied from place to place and among European groups (Spanish, French, English, Dutch). Indian tribes were sought as allies by competing European colonial interests in order to boost colonial military strength and to provide valuable tactical knowledge. Most Native Americans were loyal to the British during the American Revolution. The British did not repay Native Americans for their loyalty in the Treaty of Paris and left them to continued warfare and struggle for their lands. 


1661 The Spanish raid the sacred kivas of the Pueblo to destroy their culture.

1675-1676 King Phillip, Wampanoag, wages war against the colonies and several other tribes that joined forces with the colonists.

1680 Pueblo Indians revolt against Spanish rule. Spanish return in 1689. Plains tribes acquire the horse.

1689-1697 French and Indian War. The Iroquois sided with the English and the Algonquin nations with the French.

1703-1704 Queen Anne’s War between England and France in the Northeast and England and Spain in the south.

1720 Plains tribes acquire the gun.

1744-1748 King George’s War between French and English divides the Indian tribes.

1751 Benjamin Franklin cites Iroquois League as a model for his plan for government.

1755 Iroquois League sides with the British against the French.

1760 There is war between the colonists and the Cherokee.

1761 The Aleuts of Alaska revolt against the Russians. 

1763-1764 Chief Pontiac rebels against the English in the Great Lakes region.

1769 California is claimed for Spain and missions were established.

1775-1783 The American Revolution. Declaration of Independence signed in 1776.

1778 The first United States – Native American treaty is signed between the United States and Delaware. The Iroquois, under Joseph Brant, and British regulars attack American settlers in New York and Pennsylvania.

1779 A counteroffensive against the Iroquois breaks the power of the League.

1781-1789 The Articles of Confederation include the principle that the central government should regulate Indian affairs and trade.

1784 The Congress orders

the War Office to provide troops to assist the Commissioners in their negotiations with Native Americans.

1787 The Northwest Ordinance includes Native American rights, the establishment of reservations and the sanctity of tribal lands.

1789 Congress establishes a Department of War and grants the Secretary of War authority over Indian affairs.

1787-1789 The Constitution contains the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the states, and with Native American tribes.

1794 The Battle of Fallen Timbers takes place. Miami and Shawnee are defeated.

This unit provides a general overview of what happened in American history during this time period and includes how it affected Native American people. As the unit progresses, information from the following and the timeline should be included. Students should understand that there were some differences in the relationships between Native Americans and Spanish, French, English and Dutch settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

1. Read and discuss the information provided below. Native American societies and cultures were forever changed as a result of devastating disease, genocide and displacement by European settlements.

Spanish interaction with Native Americans can generally be characterized as subjugation by conquest, forced labor, and forced religious conversion. The Spanish attempted conquest of the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest, but the Pueblos successfully rebelled in 1680, forcing the Spanish out of what is now New Mexico; however, within 12 years the Spanish resettled in Pueblo country. Early French interactions can generally be characterized as more benign: for example, French traders married Indian women and often lived in Native American communities. However, later French interactions changed to be more similar to those of the Spanish – in other words, they were centered on the religious conversion of Indians, as well as the exploitation of Native American communities and resources. English interactions with Indians were generally based on exploitation of Native American lands and resources. Since Native Americans were seen as “uncivilized,” English religious sects saw little value in saving “heathens,” and thus had few qualms about dispensing with them in exchange for property. Later, French and English interactions with various Native American groups were based on competing military alliances established to protect their respective colonial and economic interests. 

2. Examine the information provided below on commerece and fur trading between Europeans and Native Americans. Develop a chart that exhibits the flow of goods between Europeans and Native American tribes. 

Early Dutch interactions were primarily based on the

desire to control the fur trade with Native Americans. As English and French alliances with Indians grew, the Dutch influence was marginalized. The nature of the relationships between Native American tribes and European groups varied. While many relationships were adversarial, other relationships were more peaceful and mutually respectful. For example, in his dealings with the Lenape people of Pennsylvania, William Penn attempted to respect the tribe’s rights of land ownership and governing its own people. Unfortunately, after his death in 1718, some of Penn’s followers adopted an adversarial approach in dealing with the tribe. European expansion and economic activities not only created their own conflict with Indians, but also created conflict between Native American groups themselves. European societies were able to sustain larger populations and broaden commerce because of their usurpation and exportation of North American resources – such as foodstuffs and furs. 

3. Examine and determine what kinds of diseases affected Native American people.

4. Read, discuss, and analyze Native Americans siding wth British and war with the Colonists.

The Native Americans were sought as allies by competing European colonial interests in order to boost colonial military strength and to provide valuable tactical knowledge. During the colonial wars, Native American people often had little choice but to form alliances with one or more of the competing entities. For example, in the Northeast the Iroquois allied themselves with the British; in the South, the Cherokee allied themselves with the Spanish; in the Midwest, several tribes including the Ottawas and Ojibway allied themselves with the French. In most cases, these alliances had devastating effects on the respective Native American groups. Many tribes lost large contingents of their men to warfare. There were also other dire consequences for tribes as the colonial wars played out. For example, when the French were ousted by the British, the tribal allies to the French were stunned. For over a century, they had carefully played a diplomatic game of placing one colonial force against another. Now tribes were left to deal with only one force, the bitter legacy of which was a serious loss of bargaining power. Heavy retribution was often levied against Native Americans who fought on losing sides of the colonial wars. Executions and tribal displacements were common outcomes for the tribal allies of the losing colonial power. The perspectives of “fair play” were certainly very different among the different players in the colonial wars. In the early years of the Revolution, both the British and the revolutionaries tried to maintain friendships with Native Americans living on the edges of colonial settlements. Native American tribes, however, realized that the revolutionaries represented the ever-growing number

of farmers who were destroying the Indian way of life. Thus, siding with the British gave Indians a chance to continue fighting the encroaching frontiersman. For this reason, warriors, in cooperation with the British, made extensive attacks along the frontier borders – particularly in Kentucky, western Pennsylvania and New York. At the same time, American patriots were destroying Native American villages in western New York and in what was to later become Ohio and Tennessee. Students should also understand that, despite the fact that the Continental Congress established Indian commissions – in the north, south and middle states – and agents to deal with Native Americans, the states don’t conduct relations with Indian tribes.

5. Read, discuss, and examine the events that led up to the American Revolution below.  

The pro-British Iroquois played an especially significant role during the Revolutionary 90 War. Since they formed a wedge between New England and the mid-Atlantic colonies, the Iroquois were able to assist British troops attacking from Canada. In turn, the colonists tried to court other Indian allies, such as the Delaware and Cherokees. As an incentive for their alliance, the colonists promised Indians their own states or representatives in the new government to be formed. These overtures were, however, usually rejected by the tribes. Additionally, students should understand that it is also unlikely that the new government would have followed through with those promises even if tribes had agreed to the plans. Once the Americans won, whether Indian groups had been their allies or foes, they received much the same treatment. Many eastern tribes lost their freedom and their lands and were slowly displaced or sought refuge with tribes further west. In general, tribal groups were interspersed and many lost their native languages and their cultural distinctiveness changed as they were forced to mix with other tribes. Students should understand that there were many factors affecting Native American loyalties to the British. For example, many tribes had long-established trade relations with the British. These tribes were convinced that the British had greater military strength and, therefore, that tribes had the most to gain for their communities by helping to bring about a British victory. Moreover, based on earlier experiences some tribes felt that their own sovereign power would be diminished by an American victory and, thus, they would fare better by helping the British win the war. These perspectives and concerns for their people’s welfare served as the basis for tribal choices in alliance.

6. Discuss this quote about King George written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence:

“He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless

Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” What do you think of when you hear the term, “savages?" Jefferson was making a generalization and that in referring to tribes in this manner was a way to dehumanize the enemy. In this case, some American Indian tribes were siding with the British. Students should be aware that prior to the Revolutionary War, Great Britain had guaranteed protection – as well as territory – to some of its Indian allies; in fact, the Proclamation of 1763 prohibited European settlement beyond the crest of the Appalachian Mountains. However, the British made no reference to any native land rights when they signed the Treaty of Paris in 1783, in which they surrendered claim to all land east of the Mississippi. When this happened, both the Indians and the British agents representing the crown were shocked at the lack of consideration of Indian rights. The American negotiators, however, felt Indians no longer had rights to any lands. This action was particularly ironic for those tribes who allied with the colonists. The Oneidas – the only Iroquois group allied with the Americans – saw their land base in New York decrease from five million acres, to little more than a thousand even though they had negotiated more than 30 treaties between 1785 and 1842. Students should understand that the Treaty of Paris’ ultimate legacy for tribes was continued warfare, particularly for tribes further to the west as the United States expanded.

MINNESOTA SOCIAL STUDIES CONTENT STANDARD(S): 16. Rivalries among European nations and their search for new opportunities fueled expanding global trade networks and, in North America, colonization and settlement and the exploitation of indigenous peoples and lands; colonial development evoked varied responses by indigenous nations, and produced regional societies and economies that included imported slave labor and distinct forms of local government. (Colonization and Settlement: 1585—1763) Analyze the consequences of the transatlantic Columbian Exchange of peoples, animals, plants and pathogens on North American societies and ecosystems. (Colonization and Settlement: 1585—1763) Analyze the impact of European colonization within North America on indigenous nations; analyze the impact of indigenous nations on colonization. (Colonization and Settlement: 1585—1763)