The Western American Indian: Case Studies in Tribal History

By Richard N. Ellis | Go to book overview

President Grant's Peace Policy

Continued fighting with western and southwestern tribes during and after the Civil War and events such as the Sand Creek massacre of 1864 and the Fetterman massacre of 1866 focused national attention on the Indian problem and stimulated interest in United States Indian policy. Both the Sand Creek and Fetterman massacres brought government investigations, while Congress studied general difficulties with the Indians. In 1865 a committee under Senator James R. Doolittle conducted a broad inquiry into the condition of the Indians, seeking opinions from army officers, Indian agents, and other concerned persons. Two years later Congress created the Peace Commission to continue the investigation, of the Indian problem and to negotiate peace treaties with the western tribes--although, unfortunately, the creation of such commissions did not ensure peace.

Listed among the members of both the Doolittle committee and the Peace Commission were men who were sympathetic to the Indians and critical of, government policies, and after the Civil War, humanitarian groups demonstrated an increasing interest in the American Indian. Religious organizations, too, reflected a growing concern for the welfare of the Indians, although some individuals such as Episcopalian Bishop Henry Whipple of Minnesota, had been critics of federal Indian policy for some

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