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As men began choosing sides and preparing to fight in America's Civil War, men in the West also were preparing to fight for their lands and their way of life: The warriors of America's Indian tribes.

The Indian Wars of 1861-1865 are a little-recognized facet of America's Civil War, but it was a struggle that both Union and Confederate troops faced west of the Mississippi River.

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Cherokee Nation officials broke ground Jan. 7, 2013 to restore the historic Cherokee National Capitol building in Tahlequah, Okla. to its late 1800s appearance. The building served as the first permanent structure to house all three branches of the Cherokee Nation government in the Indian Territory.

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When the federal government at the start of the Civil War ordered regular Army troops to return to the East to fight Confederate forces, it created a power vacuum in the West.

"The Apaches watched the Army ride off, abandoning many frontier forts as they left, and they [the Apaches] thought they'd won, so there was a major increase in raids against the settlers," said Bob Spude, National Park Service historian in the agency's Intermountain Regional Office in New Mexico.
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In 1862, the town of New Ulm, Minnesota was a small, quiet settlement, mostly made up of German immigrants who had come to America eager to find a new life in the New World. They were farmers, shopkeepers and tradesmen. They were families-mothers, fathers and children-busy working and playing, all of them excited about the future ahead of them.

On Aug. 19, war came to New Ulm.
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Celebrate Native American culture at the fourth annual American Indian Arts Fest at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in Arizona on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 11-12, 2012.

Demonstrations, exhibits, and sales of a variety of artistic and cultural items will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Visitors will be able to admire and purchase musical instruments, paintings, jewelry and beadwork, pottery, baskets, katchinas, gourd art, and music CDs.
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Native Trails, a series of free outdoor festivals held in Scottsdale, Ariz. honoring the Native American cultures of the Southwest through song and dance, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2012 with an extended season of 19 performances.

Presented by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and produced by the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts , the noontime festivals will kick off Jan. 19 and run through April 14, 2012.
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Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism will commemorate the American Civil War's 150th Anniversary with an April 16, 2011 tour focusing on how the war impacted the Cherokee Nation.

The tour includes a visit to historic Capitol Square in Tahlequah, Okla., to learn about the destruction by Confederate troops. Guests will also visit the Murrell Home, an antebellum home that survived the fires of the Civil War.
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Honoring those who lost their lives at the Wounded Knee massacre, Badlands National Park and Buffalo Gap National Grasslands ended 2010 by hosting an annual ride that is now renamed to connect with future generations.

Known for the past 23 years as the Bigfoot Memorial Ride, made up Lakota Sioux from the Pine Ridge, Standing Rock, and Cheyenne River Reservations, the new name from the annual ride is now the Future Generations ride (Omaka Tokatakiya).
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Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico is a progressive model of the old customs of a proud culture moving seamlessly into the 21st century.

With the unexplained collapse of the great commercial and spiritual center of Chaco Canyon, legend has it that the Acoma tribe, searching for a home, wandered in the southwest calling out "Haak'u" - which in their native Keresan means "a place prepared." Upon entering this other-worldly valley their words echoed back from the surrounding mesas; they had the sign - they were home.
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The Gathering of Nations, what organizers call the world's largest gathering of Native American and indigenous people, will take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico between April 22 and 24, 2010.

The 27th Annual Gathering of Nations, considered the most prominent Native American powwow in the world, will host more than 150,000 persons and more than 500 tribes from throughout the United States, Canada, and around the world celebrating their culture and traditions through dance, music, food and indigenous dress including feathers, bells, jingles and fringes.
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Native American dancers representing 42 tribes from across the United States will be gathering June 19-20 in Cody, Wyoming for the 29th annual Plains Indian Museum Powwow to be held at the Robbie Powwow Garden at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

The dancers, in handcrafted regalia, will compete for more than $30,000 in cash and other prizes. Competitive dance categories include traditional, jingle dress, fancy, grass, team dancing, tiny tots, and chicken dance.
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Nearly 3,000 visitors enjoyed a weekend of Native American history and culture at the Autry National Center Nov. 6-8, 2009 in Los Angeles, which featured three major events including the annual Intertribal Arts Marketplace.

The other events included the much-anticipated exhibition, "The Art of Native American Basketry: A Living Tradition," and the kick-off of the 10th Anniversary season of "Native Voices" at the Autry with the play Carbon Black by Terry Gomez (Comanche).
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For those who appreciate the history of the West's Native peoples, the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in New York (www.americanindian.si.edu) has a new exhibition that is reason enough to book a flight to the Big Apple.

Opening Saturday, Nov. 14, "A Song for the Horse Nation" vividly details the enduring relationship between Native people and the horse with personal accounts and a spectacular array of objects.
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The Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming has been awarded a Save America's Treasures grant for the preservation of the nationally renowned Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection.

The $350,000 grant provides the funds necessary to continue processing the collection, making it accessible to researchers, tribal members, and scholars, as well as to improve storage conditions for its proper care and preservation.
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November is Native American Heritage Month, and this year's theme is "Celebrating Tribal Nations: America's Great Partners."

Today we can talk about the relationship between the tribes and state and federal governments in terms of being partners, but historically we're not that far from the days of brutal conflict, racism and, in some frontier military campaigns, outright massacre.
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