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The Columbia Press

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This Week in Aboriginal History: Famed Navajo code talker dies in Arizona

By Carl A. Ellis, Thursday, November 22, 2018

Nov. 16, 1811: Tecumseh predicts a “light across the sky” would appear on this date and it appeared as predicted, according to some sources.

Nov. 17, 2004: Navajo code talker Joe Billison dies in Window Rock, Ariz. During World War II, he transmitted messages in his native language, confounding the Japanese. Billison, longtime president of the Code Talkers Association, provided the voice for Hasbro’s GI Joe Code Talker figure in 2000.

Nov. 18, 1825: The Arikara Indians of North Dakota sign a peace treaty with the United States promising not to supply guns, ammunition and other war implements to any nation, tribe or band of Indians who are unfriendly with the U.S.

Nov. 19, 1787: White settlers have been pouring into the Northwest, which had been laid out in the Northwest Ordinance. Violence erupts as indigenous tribes resist the encroachment, which prompts President George Washington’s administration to send armed expeditions into the area. The president’s forces attempt to negotiate a settlement, but the Indians insist on a boundary line the Americans find unacceptable. A new expedition led by Gen. Anthony Wayne is dispatched and his army defeats the Indian confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

Nov. 20, 1831: While looking for rumored lost silver mines near the old San Sabá Mission in Texas, Jim Bowie and 10 companions encounter 150 Caddo and Waco Indians. A fight ensues, which becomes legendary in Texas history. After frontal attacks prove ineffective, Indians set fire to the brush and trees. But this ploy also fails. The Indians retreat after losing 50 warriors to Bowie’s single loss.

Nov. 21, 1850: There are 20 million buffalo on the plains between Montana and Texas, according to government estimates. But in California, an influx of miners who’ve come to find gold have ravaged traditional food sources for Indians. Hunger forces them to raid mining towns and settlements and miners retaliate by killing or abusing local Indians. The California legislature responds with the Indian Indenture Act, which established a form of legal slavery by allowing whites to declare Indians vagrants and auctioning off their services for up to four months. The law also permits whites to indenture Indian children, with the permission of a parent or friend, which led to widespread kidnapping and the sale of “apprentices.”

Nov. 22, 1812: Gen. Samuel Hopkin’s force destroys Prophetstown along with deserted Winnebago and Kickapoo villages along the Tippecanoe River. The Indians ambush and kill 16 of Hopkin’s men on Wildcat Creek, northwest of present-day Kokomo.

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