10 of the Most Important Dates for Native American History

10 of the Most Important Dates for Native American History

Posted By Paul G October 28th, 2020 Last Updated on: October 28th, 2020

Native Americans have a rich heritage and legacy, full of beautiful moments and unexpected calamities. We’re going to go over some of the most important dates for Native Americans today.

Each one of these carries a great deal of significance for them, and are worth knowing about even if you aren’t Native American.

Let's get right into them and dive into the list!

Ghost Dance

January 1, 1899

A Native American named Wovoka had a mystical experience that urged him to tell other natives to change for the better and take part in the Ghost Dance ritual to prepare for an age of peace and prosperity.

Allotment/Dawes Act

February 8, 1887

This law, passed by the US government, said that every head of each Native American family was to get 160 acres of tribal land, while every individual would get 80 acres. This act was predominantly seen as an alternative to mass genocide by US forces.

Trail of Tears

April 5, 1838

President Andrew Jackson ordered the Cherokee off their tribal lands against a ruling by the US Supreme Court.  The path they took became known as the Trail of Tears.

Pontiac’s Rebellion

May 1763

A loosely-knit confederation of Native American tribes in the Great Lakes, Illinois, and Ohio regions rose up against the British forces. They were successful and persuaded the British government to change policies to be more favorable toward Native Americans.

Indian Citizenship Act

June 2, 1924

This law granted US citizenship to Native Americans living in the United States. This act removed the ambiguity of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution regarding who was considered to be a citizen.

Indian Reorganization Act (Indian New Deal)

June 18, 1934

This act helped reversed much of the “cultural assimilation” imposed on Native Americans earlier in US history. Its goal was also to strengthen, encourage, and continue Native American cultures in the US.

Battle of Little Bighorn

June 25, 1876

Native chiefs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull led armies of Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Native Americans to a glorious victory over the vicious assault of US General George Custer and his army.

Native American Heritage Month

August 3, 1990 (Observed every November)

This is a relatively new holiday providing a platform for Native Americans to share aspects of their culture with others. It also offers the opportunity to express their concerns and proposals.

Indigenous People’s Day

October 12, 1992 (Observed on the 2nd Monday of every October)

This is a relatively new holiday celebrating and honoring Native Americans, as well as their history and culture. It has increasingly been replacing Columbus Day in cities and states throughout the United States.

Wounded Knee Massacre

December 29, 1890

US cavalry opened fire on Sioux Native Americans at Wounded Knee Creek, resulting in 300 killed, including women and children. This marked the end of armed Native American resistance to hostile Western forces.

Which one on our list is most significant to you?

Let us know in the comments!

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17 thoughts on “10 of the Most Important Dates for Native American History

  1. Laura Harrison says:

    I just live a few miles from part of the trail of tears that runs through West Tennessee. I walk the area and when the breeze blows through the trees it brings a sound of the anguish that the people who walked there long ago felt. Ranis are mixed with tears and my footsteps on the ground are the heartbeats of souls driven by injustice.

  2. osiyo the trail of tears breaks my heart, I have watched over and over with tears in my eyes, the sad things our people had to go thru, , but we are still here and proud, wado Running Doe

  3. norb Schott says:

    I am not native but thru pow wow s have come to love the Native Americans!
    I often carry a flag at opening because I am a veteran. (of Vietnam war) I am so
    honored by this. thanks and thank you all veterans.

  4. All these dates are significant. The fact that these dates and the history of Native Americans, the indigenous people of this country, is not taught in school is an indication of whites embarrassment for their sins. If I have to pick one, it would be the Citizenship Act of 1924. Which is ridiculous that indigenous people need an Act to become citizens of their own country. Further more, it wasn’t until 1964 that Utah, the last state to received the right to vote.

  5. KarenKay Hutton says:

    All of them have very deep meaning to me, but I know I wouldn’t be here if my Great GrandFather hadn’t been able to escape The Trail Of Tears, as a very young boy.
    He found a family to hide him and adopt him, as long as he never spoke his true name or language again.
    That’s just one of the ‘deadends’ to me finding my true name and real blood familes.

  6. Diana Leanne Roberts-Elza says:

    Just want to say how much I appreciate your site, it is literally the best out there on all topics Native. Very informative, no filler content to take up space. Every subject I’ve looked at contains indispensable information. Thank you!!

  7. Tobie Fletcher says:

    I’d say it’s a toss up between Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears. Both were so significant in showing how relentless the whites were towards the control of the native peoples. I might actually say today since the war never ended. Native Americans are still persecuted and dismissed as humans and citizens.

    • Roberto Barboza says:

      Indigenous day, to be recognized throughout the country that we exist and we are not going to fade away.

    • Marcia Newton says:

      Actually, the purge of the Allotment/Dawes Act is most critical to my family. Though the actual date(s) of that purge nor names removed are not clearly documented so, it’s a constant reminder.

    • Patrick Winter says:

      I would have to go with trail of tears. That strikes me to the core so much that I have my lower legs tattooed with the symbol of the Native American sitting on his horse! The way our relatives were demeaned has always saddened me. We are survivors. We are strong. We are proud. Most of all, we are all brothers and sisters.

    • I say mine would be The Trail of Tears and Indian Citizenship Act. My family has lived in East TN and Western NC for over 400 years. What little I’ve been told my family hid in the mountains. My mom and dad always seem to be ashamed or something of our Cherokee Heritage. I got my looks more from my grandma any way,nose,eyes,darker hair than either of my parents. My mom always made me feel like she was embarrassed by me.


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