Native American Timeline
In lots of textbooks, the history of Native Americans starts with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1491.
This is because, previously, scientists and scholars had the racist belief that life went unchanged for Native Americans for centuries before Europeans arrived.
Sometimes, the study of history is seen as being about changes happening in the past. For this reason, Native Americans were seen to have had ‘no history’.
This is untrue and unfair. There is lots of evidence to show (of course) that Native Americans have a long past that goes back millennia. Lots of changes happened over time and these are shown in this timeline.
There are so many events from the pre-Columbus era, we will just give a short overview here.
1000 BCE- 800 CE
The Norton Tradition. This is a name given to a community discovered by archaeologists. These people lived in the Western Arctic along the Alaskan shore.
They used flake-stone tools and clever technologies like oil burning lamps. They were a marine-based culture which meant they used the resources of the sea and the land. They hunted caribou, mammals and salmon.
Related: Alaska State History
The arrival of Athapaskan-speaking people. Athapaskan is a family of languages. They lived all over North America: in Alaska, on the Pacific Coast (west) and in the south.
1000 BCE- 100 CE
The Adena Culture of the Ohio River Valley. These people were made up of lots of different groups that lived in this region and shared burial mounds. Archaeologists have found fine stone pipes made by these peoples.
500 – 1 BCE
Early Ancestral Pueblo culture in American Southwest.
500 BCE- 1000 CE
Plains Woodland Period on the Great Plains.
200 BCE- 500 CE
Hopewell Tradition. This is a name given for hundreds of different societies throughout the East and around the Great Lakes Region.
500 BCE- 700 CE
Old Bering Sea Culture in western Arctic.
50 BC- 800 AD
Ipiutak Culture in the western Arctic.
Weeden Island culture of Florida. These people produced wood carvings that are well preserved.
Hohokam cultures in Arizona and North Mexico
Cultivation of Corn beings in Southerneastern and Northeastern Woodlands.
Early Pueblo culture. Pueblo was a Spanish word used to describe people with permanent housing.
755 CE-890 CE
Blythe Geoglyphs sculpted by ancestors of the Quechan and Mojave in the Colorado Desert, California. These are giant figures carved into the ground.
First discovery of the Americas by a European, Leif Erikson. Discovery and colonisation of an area of North America by the Norse (Vikings). They called this area far north (‘Vinland’).
Acoma Pueblo and Old Oraibi established.
Fort Ancient Culture in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia.
Plains Village period across North Dakota and Texas.
Great Serpent Mound built. This is a National Historical Site.
Peak of Hohokam Culture.
Scandinavians (Norse) settled in Vinland.
Pueblo II Era in American Southwest
Acoma Pueblo and Old Oraibi societies established.
League of the Iroquois is established. This is a collaboration between lots of groups. Their history is recorded with shells called Wampum.
Pueblo III Era in the American Southwest.
The Innuit peoples are in Arctic Alaska.
Cahokia is the largest city in North America in the 12th Century.
Pensacola culture in Florida.
Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwellings in North America, is thriving.
Cliff Palace is abandoned because of severe droughts.
Middle Mississippian culture in the Eastern Woodlands thrives.
Athapaskan-speaking people migrate from Canada to the American Southwest.
Christopher Columbus sails to India and finds America.
A man called Juan Ponce de Leon explores Florida. He takes 8 Americans as captives when he makes contact with them.
Hernando de Soto kills 100 Native American warriors.
Pueblo peoples take back their homelands from the Spanish.
The French and Indian War begins. It ends in 1763.
Rebellion in the Ohio River Valle from Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa.
Tecumseh , the leader of the Shawnee of Ohio, starts the confederation of Native American Tribes to stop the United States.
Shawnee defeated by William Henry Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe.
Native Americans ally with the British against the United States.
The Seminole War
The establishment of the Office of Indian Affairs by the U.S.
The Indian Removal Act.
The Second Seminole War.
The Cherokee forced out of their homes and to march north in the Trail of Tears.
The Third Seminole War.
The Homestead Act allows settlers onto Native American land in the Midwest.
The Red River War
The Battle of Little Big Horn is won by Sitting Bull and his army. The U.S. under George Custer are defeated.
Sitting Bull is killed because he is thought to encourage the Ghost Dance.
The Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota. The U.S. massacre over 300 Native Americans, including women and children.
Charles Curtis is the first Native American senator.
Indian Citizenship Act.
The National Congress of American Indians is formed.
Civil Rights and Red Power Movement era. This is a fight for Native American justice.
The Voting Rights Act.
The American Indian Movement (AIM) is started.
The Indian Civil Rights Act.