In 1492 when Christopher Columbus came to America, there were 10 million indigenous peoples living in U.S. territory. By 1900, the number had reduced to less than 300,000.
There were 10 million Native Americans living in America in 1492
By the 1900s there was less than 1 percent still alive.
The colonists that came to America were paid for each Penobscot Native they killed
In 1830, the Federal Indian Removal Act called for the removal of the ‘Five Civilized Tribes’ – the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.
Federal officials forced nearly 100,000 Indians out of their homeland. The journey from the southern states to “Indian Territory” in current Oklahoma is referred to as the Trail of Tears.
Trail of Tears
The Trial of Tears that some Indians had to journey along killed about 4,000 Cherokee people who died of cold, hunger, and disease.
U.S. Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act, giving Native Americans a ‘dual citizenship’.
Native Americans gained voting rights in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Indian Civil Rights Act was passed that Natives gained the right to free speech, the right to a jury, and protection from unreasonable search and seizure.
“White Americans have the most rancorous antipathy to the whole race of Indians; and nothing is more common than to hear them talk of extirpating them totally from the face of the earth, men, women, and children.”
- British Traveler, 1784
Since the early 1900’s, advancements in Native American rights have been slow and gradual. The U.S. federal government had the right to overturn all Cherokee laws. The new laws improved healthcare, education, and land rights for Native Americans. This was a step forward for the protection of a minority who was still without voting rights.
The U.S. government took a step back towards 19th-century bigotry, as the Hoover Commission urged the assimilation of the Natives, by taking some of the children away from their parents to church run schools to assmiliate the children into society. This was a dark time for the Native Americans and for the government.