American Indian Wars

frontier conflicts between American, Canadian and European settlers and Indigenous peoples of the Americas
(Redirected from Indian Wars)

The American Indian Wars (also known as the Indian Wars or the First Nations Wars; French: Guerres des Premières Nations) is the name for the various battles that were fought by European, American, and Canadian governments and colonists against various American Indian and First Nation tribes. These conflicts happened in North America from the time of the earliest colonial settlements in the 17th century until the 1920s. The various Indian Wars resulted from a wide variety of factors, including cultural differences, land disputes, and crimes committed by both sides. The European powers and their colonies also enlisted Indian tribes to help them do war against each other's colonial settlements.

American Indian Wars

An 1899 chromolithograph of US cavalry pursuing American Indians (artist unknown)
Date1540–1924 (intermittent)
United States, Canada
  • Sovereignty of various combatants extended or lost
  • Many treaties, truces, and armistices made and broken by combatants
  • Indian reservations established in the United States and Canada

American Indians (1540–1924)

First Nations (1540–1924)

Inuit (1542–1924)

Aleut (1743–1924)

Yupik (1784–1924)

State of Muskogee (1799–1803)

Métis (1799–1924)
Provisional Government of Saskatchewan (1885)

Spanish Empire Spanish Empire (1540–1821)

 Kingdom of France (1540–1763)

Kingdom of England (1607–1707)
Kingdom of Scotland (1621–1707)
British Empire (1707–1907)

Dutch Empire (1614–1664)

Swedish Empire (1638–1655)

Hudson's Bay Company (1670–1924)

Russian Empire (1741–1867)

 United States of America (1776–1924)

Vermont Republic (1777–1791)

North West Company (1779–1821)

Republic of West Florida (1810)

Republic of East Florida (1812)

Denmark Danish Empire (1814–1924)

 Mexico (1821–1867)

Republic of Indian Stream (1832–1835)

Republic of Texas (1836–1846)

California Republic (1846)

Confederate States of America Confederate States of America (1861–1865)

 Dominion of Canada (1867–1924)

 Dominion of Newfoundland (1907–1924)

After the American Revolution, many conflicts were local to specific states or regions. The conflicts were usually about disputes over land use; some had cycles of violent actions. The British Royal Proclamation of 1763, included in the Constitution of Canada, banned white settlers from taking the lands of native peoples in Canada without signing a treaty with them. It is still law in Canada today, and 11 Numbered Treaties, limited the number of conflicts.

As white settlers went west across America after 1780, the size, length of time, and intensity of conflicts increased between settlers and various Indians. The biggest came in the War of 1812, which resulted in the defeat of major Indian coalitions in the Midwest and the South. Conflict with settlers happened less, and treaties became more common. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 allowed the US government to remove natives from east of the Mississippi River to the west. The west was what the government believed to be empty American frontier. (Many tribes had a lot of territory in this area, however.) The federal US policy of removal was eventually changed in the West. It was changed to relocating Indian tribes to specially designated and federally protected reservations.

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