Also known as the American-Indian Wars, the American Frontier Wars were fought by European governments and colonists, and later by the United States and Canadian governments and American and Canadian settlers, against various American Indian and First Nation tribes.
This genocidal driving out of the indigenous populations of the Americas by white conquerors and settlers is among the darkest chapters of world history. A succession of bloody conflicts, many Native American groups were forced to relocate and saw their populations decimated.
Today, there are a number of battle sites and museums which offer an insight into the wars and commemorate those who died. Here are 5 of the most poignant in North America.
Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana played an important role in the Great Sioux War, a conflict between the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne Native Americans and the US government, as part of the American Frontier Wars. On 25 June 1876, Custer and around a quarter of his men – he had divided them into four units – converged on Little Bighorn. The entire unit, including Custer, were killed in the clash, leading to the battle being known as ’Custer’s Last Stand’.
Little Bighorn Battlefield is now a National Park, dedicated to commemorating the events of the battle and the conflict of which it formed part.
On 27 November 1868 Washita Battlefield, then a Native American settlement of Peace Chief Black Kettle, was attacked by 7th U.S. Cavalry led by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer. The attack was in retaliation for tribal attacks on white settlements known as the ‘Kansas Raids’, despite the fact that Chief Black Kettle had signed several peace treaties with the US government and had cooperated with the Americans.
The number of casualties is disputed, the Americans claiming 100 were killed while Indian figures claimed 11 warriors and 19 women were killed. Tens of prisoners were also taken. Chief Black Kettle and his wife were amongst those who died.
The Wounded Knee Museum in South Dakota both memorialises and tells the story of the Wounded Knee Massacre, in which up to 300 Lakota men, women, and children died in a hail of bullets from rifles at the hands of the US 7th Cavalry. Those who escaped were hunted down and murdered, or died later of exposure or hypothermia, while 20 members of the US Cavalry were awarded medals for their participation in the massacre.
The Wounded Knee Museum uses a series of photographs and artefacts to explore the events of the massacre and its aftermath. It offers a tour map and scale model of the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre, over 30 exhibits, a remembrance room, free peace feathers, and a museum store.
The Daniel Boone Homestead is the birthplace of this American pioneer. A legendary frontiersman, Boone was one of the most famous explorers of his lifetime and achieved iconic status within US folklore.
Located near Reading, Pennsylvania, the Daniel Boone Homestead contains a number of historic buildings including the restored main house and an eighteenth century blacksmith’s shop. Exhibitions on display at the Daniel Boone Homestead tell the story of Boone’s youth and of the lives of the settlers who lived in the area at the time. Displays focus on the lives of the families who lived at the Homestead: the Boones, the Maugridges, and the DeTurks.
Natchez is an historic town in Mississippi which contains a number of interesting historic sites and locations. Sites to visit include a Natchez Indian village, Jefferson College and the Natchez Museum of African American Heritage.
Other sites to visit in the surrounding area are the Emerald Mound as well as a number of historic churches and homes which populate the area.