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Indian Treaty - History

Indian Treaty - History

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UNITED STATES, February 13, 1793.

Gentlemen of the Senate:

I lay before you for your consideration and advice a treaty of peace and friendship made and concluded on the 27th day of September, 1790, by BrigadierGeneral Rufus Putnam, in behalf of the United States, with the Wabash and Illinois tribes of Indians, and also the proceedings attending the said treaty, the explanation of the fourth article thereof, and a map explanatory of the reservation to the French inhabitants and the general claim of the said lndians.

In connection with this subject I also lay before the Senate the copy of a paper which has been delivered by a man by the name of John Baptiste Mayee´, who has accompanied the Wabash Indians at present in this city.

It will appear by the certificate of BrigadierGeneral Putnam that the Wabash Indians disclaimed the validity of the said paper, excepting certain tract upon the Wabash, as mentioned in the proceedings.

The instructions to BrigadierGeneral Putnam of the 22d of May, together with a letter to him of the 7th of August, 1792, were laid before the Senate on the 7th of November, 1792.

After the Senate shall have considered this treaty, I request that they would give me their advice whether the same shall be ratified and confirmed; and if to be ratified and confirmed, whether it would not be proper, in order to prevent any misconception hereafter of the fourth article, to guard in the ratification the exclusive preemption of the United States to the lands of the said Indians.


Indian Treaties and the Removal Act of 1830

The U.S. Government used treaties as one means to displace Indians from their tribal lands, a mechanism that was strengthened with the Removal Act of 1830. In cases where this failed, the government sometimes violated both treaties and Supreme Court rulings to facilitate the spread of European Americans westward across the continent.

As the 19th century began, land-hungry Americans poured into the backcountry of the coastal South and began moving toward and into what would later become the states of Alabama and Mississippi. Since Indian tribes living there appeared to be the main obstacle to westward expansion, white settlers petitioned the federal government to remove them. Although Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe argued that the Indian tribes in the Southeast should exchange their land for lands west of the Mississippi River, they did not take steps to make this happen. Indeed, the first major transfer of land occurred only as the result of war.

In 1814, Major General Andrew Jackson led an expedition against the Creek Indians climaxing in the Battle of Horse Shoe Bend (in present day Alabama near the Georgia border), where Jackson’s force soundly defeated the Creeks and destroyed their military power. He then forced upon the Indians a treaty whereby they surrendered to the United States over twenty-million acres of their traditional land—about one-half of present day Alabama and one-fifth of Georgia. Over the next decade, Jackson led the way in the Indian removal campaign, helping to negotiate nine of the eleven major treaties to remove Indians.

Under this kind of pressure, Native American tribes—specifically the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw—realized that they could not defeat the Americans in war. The appetite of the settlers for land would not abate, so the Indians adopted a strategy of appeasement. They hoped that if they gave up a good deal of their land, they could keep at least some a part of it. The Seminole tribe in Florida resisted, in the Second Seminole War (1835–1842) and the Third Seminole War (1855–1858), however, neither appeasement nor resistance worked.

From a legal standpoint, the United States Constitution empowered Congress to “regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.” In early treaties negotiated between the federal government and the Indian tribes, the latter typically acknowledged themselves “to be under the protection of the United States of America, and of no other sovereign whosoever.” When Andrew Jackson became president (1829–1837), he decided to build a systematic approach to Indian removal on the basis of these legal precedents.

To achieve his purpose, Jackson encouraged Congress to adopt the Removal Act of 1830. The Act established a process whereby the President could grant land west of the Mississippi River to Indian tribes that agreed to give up their homelands. As incentives, the law allowed the Indians financial and material assistance to travel to their new locations and start new lives and guaranteed that the Indians would live on their new property under the protection of the United States Government forever. With the Act in place, Jackson and his followers were free to persuade, bribe, and threaten tribes into signing removal treaties and leaving the Southeast.

In general terms, Jackson’s government succeeded. By the end of his presidency, he had signed into law almost seventy removal treaties, the result of which was to move nearly 50,000 eastern Indians to Indian Territory—defined as the region belonging to the United States west of the Mississippi River but excluding the states of Missouri and Iowa as well as the Territory of Arkansas—and open millions of acres of rich land east of the Mississippi to white settlers. Despite the vastness of the Indian Territory, the government intended that the Indians’ destination would be a more confined area—what later became eastern Oklahoma.

The Cherokee Nation resisted, however, challenging in court the Georgia laws that restricted their freedoms on tribal lands. In his 1831 ruling on Cherokee Nation v. the State of Georgia, Chief Justice John Marshall declared that “the Indian territory is admitted to compose a part of the United States,” and affirmed that the tribes were “domestic dependent nations” and “their relation to the United States resembles that of a ward to his guardian.” However, the following year the Supreme Court reversed itself and ruled that Indian tribes were indeed sovereign and immune from Georgia laws. President Jackson nonetheless refused to heed the Court’s decision. He obtained the signature of a Cherokee chief agreeing to relocation in the Treaty of New Echota, which Congress ratified against the protests of Daniel Webster and Henry Clay in 1835. The Cherokee signing party represented only a faction of the Cherokee, and the majority followed Principal Chief John Ross in a desperate attempt to hold onto their land. This attempt faltered in 1838, when, under the guns of federal troops and Georgia state militia, the Cherokee tribe were forced to the dry plains across the Mississippi. The best evidence indicates that between three and four thousand out of the fifteen to sixteen thousand Cherokees died en route from the brutal conditions of the “Trail of Tears.”

With the exception of a small number of Seminoles still resisting removal in Florida , by the 1840s, from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, no Indian tribes resided in the American South. Through a combination of coerced treaties and the contravention of treaties and judicial determination, the United States Government succeeded in paving the way for the westward expansion and the incorporation of new territories as part of the United States.

Treaties between the U.S. and the Northwest Indian tribes

Indian Tribes

Location and Date

Yakama confederated tribes and bands

Camp Stevens,
Walla Walla Valley
June 9, 1855

Treaty with the Walla Wallas

Walla Walla, Cayuse and Umatilla tribes and bands

Camp Stevens,
Walla Walla Valley
June 9, 1855

Quinault, Hoh, and Quileute

Qui-nai-elt River
January 25, 1856

Jamestown S'Klallam, Port Gamble S'Klallam, Lower Elwha, Skokomish

Point No Point,
Suquamish Head
January 26, 1855

Lummi, Nooksack, Stillaguamish, Swinomish, Upper Skagit, Suquamish, Sauk Suiattle, Tulalip, and Muckleshoot

Point Elliott
January 22, 1855

Treaty with the Nez Perces

Camp Stevens,
Walla Walla Valley
June 11, 1855

Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island, Muckleshoot

Medicine Creek
December 26, 1854

Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations

Treaties matter, not only to American Indians, but to everyone who lives in the United States. The United States acquired much of its land through treaties with Indian tribes. These negotiated, bilateral agreements are, therefore, fundamental to understanding how the United States was created, and how its citizens obtained the land and natural resources they enjoy today.

Penn’s Treaty with the Indians, an imaginative rendering of William Penn’s negotiations with the Lenni Lenape in 1683, painted in 1771–72 by Benjamin West (1738–1820). Oil on canvas. 75.5" x 107.75". Courtesy Of The Pennsylvania Academy Of The Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Gift Of Mrs. Sarah Harrison (The Joseph Harrison, Jr. Collection)

Penn’s Treaty with the Indians, an imaginative rendering of William Penn’s negotiations with the Lenni Lenape in 1683, painted in 1771–72 by Benjamin West (1738–1820). Oil on canvas. 75.5" x 107.75". Courtesy Of The Pennsylvania Academy Of The Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Gift Of Mrs. Sarah Harrison (The Joseph Harrison, Jr. Collection)

Wendat (Huron) wampum belt ca. 1612 Quebec, Canada. Whelk shell, quahog shell, hide, bast fiber yarn NMAI 1855 The Wendat gave this belt to the Haudenosaunee to create a peace agreement.

Wendat (Huron) wampum belt ca. 1612 Quebec, Canada. Whelk shell, quahog shell, hide, bast fiber yarn NMAI 1855 The Wendat gave this belt to the Haudenosaunee to create a peace agreement.

The Indians giving a talk to Colonel Bouquet in a conference at a council fire, near his camp on the banks of Muskingum in North America in Oct. 1764. Charles Grignion after Benjamin West. At the treaty conference following Pontiac’s War against the British. Kiyashuta (Seneca), holding a wampum belt, said, “While you hold it fast by one end, and we by the other, we shall always be able to discover anything that may disturb our friendship.” Library Of Congress Prints And Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

The Indians giving a talk to Colonel Bouquet in a conference at a council fire, near his camp on the banks of Muskingum in North America in Oct. 1764. Charles Grignion after Benjamin West. At the treaty conference following Pontiac’s War against the British. Kiyashuta (Seneca), holding a wampum belt, said, “While you hold it fast by one end, and we by the other, we shall always be able to discover anything that may disturb our friendship.” Library Of Congress Prints And Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Treaties rest at the heart of both Native history and contemporary tribal life and identity. Approximately 368 treaties were negotiated and signed by U.S. commissioners and tribal leaders (and subsequently approved by the U.S. Senate) from 1777 to 1868. They enshrine promises our government made to Indian Nations. They recognize Indian tribes as nations – a fact that distinguishes tribal citizens from other Americans and supports contemporary Native assertions of tribal sovereignty and self-determination.

Far from being dusty documents of dubious relevance, treaties are legally binding and still in effect. Although repeatedly recognized by the courts as sources of rights for Indian people and their Native Nations, treaties also carry the weight of a troubled history of broken promises and test the strength of our nation’s commitment to honesty, good faith and the rule of law.

Treaties made by the United States with Indian Nations inscribe solemn vows that cannot lightly be broken or ignored, a verity that Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black recognized in 1960 when he declared, “Great nations, like great men, should keep their word.”

Despite the moral, legal, historical and contemporary significance of Indian treaties, most Americans know little about them. That fact unsettled the late senator Daniel K. Inouye (D. – Hawaii), the longtime chairman, vice-chairman and member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, who lamented: “I would venture to guess that to the extent they have ever had occasion to think about them, most Americans think of treaties as ancient relics of the past that have long since been forgotten and which certainly have no relevance to modern society.”

Said Inouye: “Too few Americans know that the Indian nations ceded millions of acres of lands to the United States, or that…the promises and commitments made by the United States were typically made in perpetuity. History has recorded, however, that our great nation did not keep its word to the Indian nations, and our preeminent challenge today…is to assure the integrity of our treaty commitments and to bring an end to the era of broken promises.”

The National Museum of the American Indian was established by Congress to rectify our nation’s historical amnesia about the role of Native Nations in the making of modern America. Treaties are at the core of the relationship between Indian Peoples and the United States. I have heard many times, from Natives and non-Natives alike, that the Museum must tell the “real story” of the history between the U.S. and the Indian tribes. Telling that story is undoubtedly a part of our responsibility as an educational institution dedicated to increasing and diffusing knowledge about Native history and culture. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of our Museum and the 10th anniversary of the opening of our
flagship Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., it is most fitting that we present Nation to Nation, an exhibition telling the story of treaties between the United States and American Indian Nations.

The exhibit will be marked by a companion book, Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations. The contributors, a distinguished group of Native and non-Native historians, legal scholars and tribal activists, have tapped a vast array of sources, including tribal oral traditions, interviews, historical documents, illustrations, newspaper articles and Native material culture, to recount the evolution of U.S.–Indian treaty making from the 17th century to the present. Their work focused on many different aspects of the treaty story, yet the book is unified by a consistent effort to interpret the history of U.S.–Indian treaty making from the perspective of Native people. This approach, which animates recent scholarship in American Indian history, is consistent with one of the principal canons of American law concerning treaties – that treaties must be interpreted as the Native signers understood them.

From a Native perspective, the story began with American acceptance of tribal self-government and nation-to-nation diplomacy through treaty making. That promising start quickly morphed into disaster through broken and coercive treaties that promoted Indian removal and tribal land loss, as well as government policies that dismantled tribes as political institutions, obliterated tribal land ownership and fostered the forced assimilation of Native people into white culture.

Happily, the story does not end there. For Native people never gave up on their treaties or the tribal sovereignty that treaties recognized. Beginning in the 1960s, Native activists invoked America’s growing commitment to social justice to restore broken treaties, to demand congressional legislation – or modern treaty amendments – that repaired the damages that had been inflicted on tribal communities by U.S. Indian policies, and to rejuvenate tribal governments long subjugated by heavy-handed federal agents. Today, the reassertion of treaty rights and tribal self-determination is evident in renewed tribal political, economic and cultural strength, as well as in reinvigorated nation-to-nation relations with the United States.

The fundamental tenets of early treaty making – the recognition of tribal governments and Indian consent – are alive and well…at least for the moment. The future is untold, and ultimately the gains of Native Nations in modern times are set in fragile beads rather than carved in stone. Yet there is optimism in Indian Country that Americans will better understand their shared history with Indian Nations and that, as a result, they will join Native people in celebrating and upholding the rights enshrined in treaties.

In 1868, Two Nations Made a Treaty, the U.S. Broke It and Plains Indian Tribes are Still Seeking Justice

The pages of American history are littered with broken treaties. Some of the earliest are still being contested today. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 remains at the center of a land dispute that brings into question the very meaning of international agreements and who has the right to adjudicate them when they break down.

In 1868, the United States entered into the treaty with a collective of Native American bands historically known as the Sioux (Dakota, Lakota and Nakota) and Arapaho. The treaty established the Great Sioux Reservation, a large swath of lands west of the Missouri River. It also designated the Black Hills as “unceded Indian Territory” for the exclusive use of native peoples. But when gold was found in the Black Hills, the United States reneged on the agreement, redrawing the boundaries of the treaty, and confining the Sioux people—traditionally nomadic hunters—to a farming lifestyle on the reservation. It was a blatant abrogation that has been at the center of legal debate ever since.

In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. had illegally appropriated the Black Hills and awarded more than $100 million in reparations. The Sioux Nation refused the money (which is now worth over a billion dollars), stating that the land was never for sale.

“We’d like to see that land back,” says Chief John Spotted Tail, who works for the president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He was speaking at the unveiling of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, parts of which are now on display at the National Museum of the American Indian. On loan from the National Archives, the treaty is one of a series that are being rotated into the exhibition “Nation to Nation: Treaties between the United States and American Indian Nations” on view through 2021. Most of the 16 pages of the Fort Laramie Treaty on display are signature pages. They feature the names of U.S. Government representatives and roughly 130 tribal leaders.

Delegates from the Sioux and Northern Arapaho Nations came to the museum to participate in the unveiling. During a small, private event in the exhibition hall on October 26, tribal delegates performed a Chanunpa or sacred pipe ceremony thanking and honoring the treaty’s signers and praying for the peace and welfare of their people and the United States. Among the delegates and roughly two dozen guests were direct descendants of the original signers, including Spotted Tail whose great-great-grandfather was a signatory.

“We’d like to see that land back,” says Chief John Spotted Tail (above left), whose great-great-grandfather was a signatory. (Paul Morigi, AP Images for NMAI)

“It is an honor to see what he did, and it is my wish that the United States government would honor this treaty,” Spotted Tail says. To him and the other delegates who spoke, the treaty represents a hard-won victory meant to ensure the survival of their people, but it hasn’t worked out as intended.

In the five generations since the treaty was signed and broken, the Sioux Nations have steadily lost reservation lands to white development. They now live in small reservations scattered throughout the region. “From the time we signed it, we were put into poverty and to this day our people are still in poverty,” Spotted Tail says. “We’re a third world country out there. The United States does not honor this treaty and continues to break it, but as Lakota people we honor it every day.”

Victory Over the United States

The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 was forged to put an end to a two-year campaign of raids and ambushes along the Bozeman trail, a shortcut that thousands of white migrants were using to reach the gold mines in Montana Territory. Opened in 1862, the trail cut through Sioux and Arapahoe hunting territory (as established by the first Fort Laramie Treaty in 1851). Red Cloud, a leader of the Oglala Lakota people viewed the wagon trains, and the forts that were built to protect them, as an invasive force. He and his allies, the Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho people, fought hard to shut down the trail. And they won.

“This treaty is significant because it really marks the high watermark for Sioux tribal power in the Great Plains,” says Mark Hirsch, a historian at the museum. “The Native Americans were wielding a kind of military power and presence in the plains that forced President Grant to realize a military solution to the conflict wasn’t working.”

The terms of the treaty not only closed the Bozeman trail and promised the demolition of the forts along it, but guaranteed exclusive tribal occupation of extensive reservation lands, including the Black Hills. White settlers were barred from tribal hunting rights on adjoining “unceded” territories. Remarkably, the treaty stated that the future ceding of lands was prohibited unless approval was met from 75 percent of the male adult tribal members. It was a resounding victory for the tribes.

Although some of the tribal leaders signed it in April 1868, Red Cloud refused to sign on promises alone. He waited until the forts had been burned to the ground. Seven months after the treaty was drawn, Red Cloud’s war finally ended when he placed his mark next to his name, on November 6, 1868.

Promises at Odds

Speaking at the ceremony, Devin Oldman, delegate from the Northern Arapaho Tribe says “This treaty is a promise of a way of life. It represents freedom, and that’s what I came to see.” For Oldman, freedom means sovereignty and the right to their traditional beliefs and structures of governance.

“The Sioux nation was sovereign before white men came,” says Hirsch, “and these treaties recognize and acknowledge that.” But in reading the 36-page document, it is clear the United States had an agenda that wasn’t fully consistent with the concept of self-determination for the Native American people.

Nine of the treaty’s 17 articles focus on integration of native peoples into the white man’s way of life. They commit the U.S. to building schools, blacksmith shops and mills. They include provisions of seeds and farm implements for tribal members who settle on the reservation including, “a good suit of substantial woolen clothing” for men over 14, and flannel shirts, fabric and woolen stockings for women.

“This treaty is chockfull of incentives to encourage the Indians to adopt what was considered a proper Jeffersonian American way of life,” says Hirsh. Given the disparity between cultural norms of white men and native people, and the use of many interpreters, it seems unlikely that expectations were uniformly understood by all parties.

The Sioux tribal members who agreed to settle on reservations resisted pressure to adopt farming and came to resent the lousy U.S. Government food rations. Many did not participate in assimilation programs and left the reservations to hunt buffalo on lands west of the Black Hills, as they had done for generations. The treaty allowed for that, but the specter of "wild" Indians living off-reservation deeply unsettled U.S. policy makers and army officers.

And then came the gold. In June 1874 General George Custer led an expedition to search for gold in the Black Hills. By 1875, some 800 miners and fortune-seekers had flooded into the Hills to pan for gold on land that had been reserved by the treaty exclusively for the Indians.

Lakota and Cheyenne warriors responded by attacking the prospectors, which led the U.S. to pass a decree confining all Lakotas, Cheyennes and Arapahos to the reservation under threat of military action. That decree not only violated the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, but it flew in the face of tribal ideas of freedom and threatened to destroy the way of life for the Northern Plains Indians.

The conflict set the stage for the famous "Battle of the Little Bighorn" in 1876 where Custer made his last stand and the Sioux Nations were victorious—their last military victory. The following year, Congress passed an act that redrew the lines of the Fort Laramie Treaty, seizing the Black Hills, forcing the Indians onto permanent reservations and allowing the U.S. to build roads through reservation lands. In the years that followed, the Great Sioux Reservation continued to lose territory as white settlers encroached on their land and the expansion of the United States marched steadily on.

“This is a classic broken treaty,” says Hirsch. “It is such a naked example of a treaty abrogated by the United States in which the U.S. shows profound lack of honor and truthfulness.”

With no official means to seek redress, the Sioux had to petition the courts for the right to argue their case. They won that right in 1920 but the legal battle continued until the 1980 Supreme Court ruling which stated that the land had been acquired by false means and the Sioux were due just compensation. In refusing the payment, the Sioux maintain that the land is theirs by sovereign right, and they aren’t interested in selling it.

One Nation to Another

The financial award could help lift the Sioux Nation tribes from poverty and provide services to address the problems of domestic violence and substance abuse—problems that have followed the breakdown of their traditional societal structure at the hands of the United States. But money alone won’t give the people of the Sioux Nation what they are looking for. As important as the sacred land itself, it is the sovereign right they seek—acknowledgement that just five generations ago, representatives of the U.S. Government met representatives of the tribal nations on a level playing field in the Northern Plains, where one nation made a promise to another.

It would be easy to think of this 150-year-old document as an artifact of America’s uncomfortable past, says Darrell Drapeau, a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribal council who teaches American Indian studies at the Ihanktowan Community College. But it is important to remember, he says, that the U.S. Constitution—a document that governs daily life in America—was signed almost four generations earlier, 231 years ago.

“We have a viewpoint of this treaty as a living treaty being the supreme law of the land and protecting our rights in our own homelands,” says Mark Von Norman, attorney for the Cheyenne River an Great Plains Tribal Chairman Association. “We don’t always think that the courts are the right forum for us, because it’s really nation to nation, and it shouldn’t be a United States court telling our Sioux Nation tribes what the treaty means. It’s based on the principal of mutual consent.”

A 2012 UN report on the condition of indigenous people in America seems to support that stance in spirit. It noted that U.S. courts approach the inherent sovereignty of tribes as an implicitly diminished form of sovereignty, and that monetary compensation can reflect an outdated “assimilationist frame of thinking.” The report specifically cited initiatives to transfer management of national parklands in the Black Hills to the Oglalal Sioux Tribe as examples of a more equitable and modern approach to justice.

“One thing I know about Indians, they don’t give up, and I suspect that this issue will continue into the future,” says museum director Kevin Gover, who is a member of the Pawnee tribe. “And I really do believe that one day something at least resembling justice will be done with regard to the Sioux nation’s right to the Black Hills.”

The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 is on view in the exhibition “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations,” at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. through March 2019. The entire 36-page agreement can be seen online.

About Kimbra Cutlip

Kimbra Cutlip is a freelance science writer, covering natural history, atmospheric sciences, biology and medicine. She is a contributing editor for Weatherwise magazine.

Treaty Finding Aids

U.S. National Archives, Documents Relating to the Negotiation of Ratified and Unratified Treaties with Various Tribes of Indians 1801-69. Available on HeinOnline (UW Restricted) and at the UW's Suzzallo Library's Microform Collection (Microfilm A8207). Included in this collection are handwritten transcripts of the treaty negotiations/proceedings.

Consists of 10 microfilm reels, containing the following:

  1. Introduction and ratified treaties, 1801-26
  2. Ratified treaties, 1827-32
  3. Ratified treaties, 1833-37
  4. Ratified treaties, 1838-53
  5. Ratified treaties, 1854-55
  6. Ratified treaties, 1856-63
  7. Ratified treaties, 1864-68
  8. Unratified treaties, 1821-65
  9. Unratified treaties, 1866-67
  10. Unratified treaties, 1868-69

Hint: The best way to find the underlying treaty proceeding documents for a particular tribe's treaty is to focus on the date it was signed and whether it was ratified. For instance, Treaty of Neah Bay (the Makah Treaty) was signed on January 31, 1855, and it was ratified, so the underyling treaty proceedings can be found on Reel 5.

Native Perspectives

The readings below provided by tribal educators and historians illuminate aspects of the past and present of Native Americans in Washington state:

The U.S.-Indian treaties of 1854 through 1856 left native groups with only a fraction of their former homelands. Tribes ceded millions of acres in Washington Territory alone, in exchange for a guarantee or promise that their rights would be protected, that some lands would be reserved, and that many services would be provided for them. To see these changes, access the maps below:

Important Wars and Treaties in Indian History. Wars and battles fought in India have long influenced the country’s cultural and linguistic ethos. The main wars and battles were fought between different dynasties, kingdoms and empires. There are some Important Wars and Treaties in Indian History that can never lose significance. Questions based on these Wars and Treaties in Indian History are widely asked in General Awareness section of exams like UPSC, RPSC, SSC and other PCS & Railways Exams.

Today we are providing you a “List of Important Wars and Treaties in Indian History”. Go through the list and enrich your knowledge of History. Besides, it can help you score better in various competitive exams such as IAS/ PCS, Banking and SSC.

You should also see our previous articles of History here:-

So here is the compilation of important wars and treaties You must remember for exams


Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land within the United States of America reserved for the forced re-settlement of Native Americans. Therefore, it was not a traditional territory for the tribes settled upon it. [1] The general borders were set by the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834. The territory was located in the Central United States.

While Congress passed several Organic Acts that provided a path for statehood for much of the original Indian Country, Congress never passed an Organic Act for the Indian Territory. Indian Territory was never an organized incorporated territory of the United States. In general, tribes could not sell land to non-Indians (Johnson v. M'Intosh). Treaties with the tribes restricted entry of non-Indians into tribal areas Indian tribes were largely self-governing, were suzerain nations, with established tribal governments and well established cultures. The region never had a formal government until after the American Civil War.

After the Civil War, the Southern Treaty Commission re-wrote treaties with tribes that sided with the Confederacy, reducing the territory of the Five Civilized Tribes and providing land to resettle Plains Indians and tribes of the Midwestern United States. [2] These re-written treaties included provisions for a territorial legislature with proportional representation from various tribes.

In time, the Indian Territory was reduced to what is now Oklahoma. The Organic Act of 1890 reduced Indian Territory to the lands occupied by the Five Civilized Tribes and the Tribes of the Quapaw Indian Agency (at the borders of Kansas and Missouri). The remaining western portion of the former Indian Territory became the Oklahoma Territory.

The Oklahoma organic act applied the laws of Nebraska to the incorporated territory of Oklahoma Territory, and the laws of Arkansas to the still unincorporated Indian Territory, since for years the federal U.S. District Court on the eastern borderline in Ft. Smith, Arkansas had criminal and civil jurisdiction over the Territory.

Indian Reserve and Louisiana Purchase Edit

The concept of an Indian territory is the successor to the British Indian Reserve, a British American territory established by the Royal Proclamation of 1763 that set aside land for use by the Native American tribes. The proclamation limited the settlement of Europeans to lands east of the Appalachian Mountains. The territory remained active until the Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolutionary War, and the land was ceded to the United States. The Indian Reserve was slowly reduced in size via treaties with the American colonists, and after the British defeat in the Revolutionary War, the Reserve was ignored by European American settlers who slowly expanded westward.

At the time of the American Revolutionary War, many Native American tribes had long-standing relationships with the British, and were loyal to Great Britain, but they had a less-developed relationship with the American colonists. After the defeat of the British in the war, the Americans twice invaded the Ohio Country and were twice defeated. They finally defeated the Indian Western Confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 and imposed the Treaty of Greenville, which ceded most of what is now Ohio, part of present-day Indiana, and the lands that include present-day Chicago and Detroit, to the United States federal government.

The period after the American Revolutionary War was one of rapid western expansion. The areas occupied by Native Americans in the United States were called Indian country. They were distinguished from "unorganized territory" because the areas were established by treaty.

In 1803 the United States of America agreed to purchase France's claim to French Louisiana for a total of $15 million (less than 3 cents per acre). [3]

President Thomas Jefferson doubted the legality of the purchase. However, the chief negotiator, Robert R. Livingston believed that the 3rd article of the treaty providing for the Louisiana Purchase would be acceptable to Congress. The 3rd article stated, in part: [4]

the inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States and in the meantime they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion which they profess.

This committed the US government to "the ultimate, but not to the immediate, admission" of the territory as multiple states, and "postponed its incorporation into the Union to the pleasure of Congress". [4]

After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson and his successors viewed much of the land west of the Mississippi River as a place to resettle the Native Americans, so that white settlers would be free to live in the lands east of the river. Indian removal became the official policy of the United States government with the passage of the 1830 Indian Removal Act, formulated by President Andrew Jackson.

When Louisiana became a state in 1812, the remaining territory was renamed Missouri Territory to avoid confusion. Arkansas Territory, which included the present State of Arkansas plus most of the state of Oklahoma, was created out of the southern part of Missouri Territory in 1819. Originally the western border of Missouri was intended to extend due south all the way to the Red River, just north of Louisiana. [ clarification needed ] However, during negotiations with the Choctaw in 1820 for the Treaty of Doak's Stand, Andrew Jackson ceded more of Arkansas Territory to the Choctaw than he realized, from what is now Oklahoma into Arkansas, east of Ft. Smith, Arkansas. [5] The General Survey Act of 1824 allowed a survey that established the western border of Arkansas Territory 45 miles west of Ft. Smith. But this was where the Choctaw and Cherokee tribes had just begun to settle, and the two nations objected strongly. In 1828 a new survey redefined the western Arkansas border just west of Ft. Smith. [6] After these redefinitions, the "Indian zone" would cover the present states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and part of Iowa. [7]

Relocation and treaties Edit

Before the 1871 Indian Appropriations Act, much of what was called Indian Territory was a large area in the central part of the United States whose boundaries were set by treaties between the US Government and various indigenous tribes. After 1871, the Federal Government dealt with Indian Tribes through statute the 1871 Indian Appropriations Act also stated that "hereafter no Indian nation or tribe within the territory of the United States shall be acknowledged or recognized as an independent nation, tribe, or power with whom the United States may contract by treaty: Provided, further, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to invalidate or impair the obligation of any treaty heretofore lawfully made and ratified with any such Indian nation or tribe". [8] [9] [10] [11]

The Indian Appropriations Act also made it a federal crime to commit murder, manslaughter, rape, assault with intent to kill, arson, burglary, or larceny within any Territory of the United States. The Supreme Court affirmed the action in 1886 in United States v. Kagama, which affirmed that the US Government has plenary power over Native American tribes within its borders using the rationalization that "The power of the general government over these remnants of a race once powerful . is necessary to their protection as well as to the safety of those among whom they dwell". [12] While the federal government of the United States had previously recognized the Indian Tribes as semi-independent, "it has the right and authority, instead of controlling them by treaties, to govern them by acts of Congress, they being within the geographical limit of the United States . The Indians [Native Americans] owe no allegiance to a State within which their reservation may be established, and the State gives them no protection." [13]

Reductions of area Edit

White settlers continued to flood into Indian country. As the population increased, the homesteaders could petition Congress for creation of a territory. This would initiate an Organic Act, which established a three-part territorial government. The governor and judiciary were appointed by the President of the United States, while the legislature was elected by citizens residing in the territory. One elected representative was allowed a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives. The federal government took responsibility for territorial affairs. Later, the inhabitants of the territory could apply for admission as a full state. No such action was taken for the so-called Indian Territory, so that area was not treated as a legal territory. [7]

The reduction of the land area of Indian Territory (or Indian Country, as defined in the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834), the successor of Missouri Territory began almost immediately after its creation with:

    formed in 1836 from lands east of the Mississippi and between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Wisconsin became a state in 1848
      (land between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers) was split from Wisconsin Territory in 1838 and became a state in 1846.
        was split from Iowa Territory in 1849 and part of the Minnesota Territory became the state of Minnesota in 1858
        and South Dakota became separate states simultaneously in 1889.
      • Present-day states of Montana and Wyoming were also part of the original Dakota Territory

      Indian Country was reduced to the approximate boundaries of the current state of Oklahoma by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854, which created Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory. The key boundaries of the territories were:

      Kansas became a state in 1861, and Nebraska became a state in 1867. In 1890 the Oklahoma Organic Act created Oklahoma Territory out of the western part of Indian Territory, in anticipation of admitting both Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory as a future single State of Oklahoma.

      Civil War and Reconstruction Edit

      At the beginning of the Civil War, Indian Territory had been essentially reduced to the boundaries of the present-day U.S. state of Oklahoma, and the primary residents of the territory were members of the Five Civilized Tribes or Plains tribes that had been relocated to the western part of the territory on land leased from the Five Civilized Tribes. In 1861, the U.S. abandoned Fort Washita, leaving the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations defenseless against the Plains tribes. Later the same year, the Confederate States of America signed a Treaty with Choctaws and Chickasaws. Ultimately, the Five Civilized Tribes and other tribes that had been relocated to the area, signed treaties of friendship with the Confederacy.

      During the Civil War, Congress gave the U.S. president the authority to, if a tribe was "in a state of actual hostility to the government of the United States. and, by proclamation, to declare all treaties with such tribe to be abrogated by such tribe"(25 USC Sec. 72). [14]

      Members of the Five Civilized Tribes, and others who had relocated to the Oklahoma section of Indian Territory, fought primarily on the side of the Confederacy during the American Civil War in Indian territory. Brigadier General Stand Watie, a Confederate commander of the Cherokee Nation, became the last Confederate general to surrender in the American Civil War, near the community of Doaksville on June 23, 1865. The Reconstruction Treaties signed at the end of the Civil War fundamentally changed the relationship between the tribes and the U.S. government.

      The Reconstruction era played out differently in Indian Territory and for Native Americans than for the rest of the country. In 1862, Congress passed a law that allowed the president, by proclamation, to cancel treaties with Indian Nations siding with the Confederacy (25 USC 72). [15] The United States House Committee on Territories (created in 1825) was examining the effectiveness of the policy of Indian removal, which was after the war considered to be of limited effectiveness. It was decided that a new policy of Assimilation would be implemented. To implement the new policy, the Southern Treaty Commission was created by Congress to write new treaties with the Tribes siding with the Confederacy.

      After the Civil War the Southern Treaty Commission re-wrote treaties with tribes that sided with the Confederacy, reducing the territory of the Five Civilized Tribes and providing land to resettle Plains Native Americans and tribes of the mid-west. [16] General components of replacement treaties signed in 1866 include: [17]

      • Abolition of slavery
      • Amnesty for siding with Confederate States of America
      • Agreement to legislation that Congress and the President "may deem necessary for the better administration of justice and the protection of the rights of person and property within the Indian territory."
      • That the tribes grant right of way for rail roads authorized by Congress A land patent, or "first-title deed" to alternate sections of land adjacent to rail roads would be granted to the rail road upon completion of each 20 mile section of track and water stations
      • That within each county, a quarter section of land be held in trust for the establishment of seats of justice therein, and also as many quarter-sections as the said legislative councils may deem proper for the permanent endowment of schools
      • Provision for each man, woman, and child to receive 160 acres of land as an allotment. (The allotment policy was later codified on a national basis through the passage of The Dawes Act, also called General Allotment Act, or Dawes Severalty Act of 1887)
      • That a land patent, or "first-title deed" be issued as evidence of allotment, "issued by the President of the United States, and countersigned by the chief executive officer of the nation in which the land lies"
      • That treaties and parts of treaties inconsistent with the replacement treaties to be null and void.

      One component of assimilation would be the distribution of property held in-common by the tribe to individual members of the tribe. [18]

      The Medicine Lodge Treaty is the overall name given to three treaties signed in Medicine Lodge, Kansas between the US government and southern Plains Indian tribes who would ultimately reside in the western part of Indian Territory (ultimately Oklahoma Territory). The first treaty was signed October 21, 1867, with the Kiowa and Comanche tribes. [19] The second, with the Plains Apache, was signed the same day. [20] The third treaty was signed with the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho on October 28. [21]

      Another component of assimilation was homesteading. The Homestead Act of 1862 was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. The Act gave an applicant freehold title to an area called a "homestead" – typically 160 acres (65 hectares or one-fourth section) of undeveloped federal land. Within Indian Territory, as lands were removed from communal tribal ownership, a land patent (or first-title deed) was given to tribal members. The remaining land was sold on a first-come basis, typically by land run, with settlers also receiving a land patent type deed. For these now former Indian lands, the General Land Office distributed the sales funds to the various tribal entities, according to previously negotiated terms.

      Oklahoma Territory, end of territories upon statehood Edit

      The Oklahoma organic act of 1890 created an organized incorporated territory of the United States of Oklahoma Territory, with the intent of combining the Oklahoma and Indian territories into a single State of Oklahoma. The citizens of Indian Territory tried, in 1905, to gain admission to the union as the State of Sequoyah, but were rebuffed by Congress and an Administration which did not want two new Western states, Sequoyah and Oklahoma. Theodore Roosevelt then proposed a compromise that would join Indian Territory with Oklahoma Territory to form a single state. This resulted in passage of the Oklahoma Enabling Act, which President Roosevelt signed June 16, 1906. [23] empowered the people residing in Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory to elect delegates to a state constitutional convention and subsequently to be admitted to the union as a single state. Citizens then joined to seek admission of a single state to the Union. With Oklahoma statehood in November 1907, Indian Territory lost its "independence" and was extinguished.

      Featured Collection

      Indian Land Cessions in the U.S., 1784-1894

      Indian Land Cessions in the United States, 1784-1894. United States Serial Set Number, 4015, part two of the Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1896-1897. 1899. Compiled by Charles C. Royce, U.S. Bureau of American Ethnology. 18th Annual Report, 1896-97. Washington, D.C. Library of Congress. Geography and Map Division. Call number G1201 .G6R7 1899.

      This online resource includes the "Schedule of Indian Land Cessions" and the "Schedule of Treaties and Acts of Congress Authorizing Allotments of Land in Severalty," as well as sixty-seven maps outlining those land cessions as the second part of the two-part Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1896-1897.

      The "Schedule of Indian Land Cessions," which comprises 709 entries with links to the related maps, notes in its subtitle that it "indicates the number and location of each cession by or reservation for the Indian tribes from the organization of the Federal Government to and including 1894, together with descriptions of the tracts so ceded or reserved, the date of the treaty, law or executive order governing the same, the name of the tribe or tribes affected thereby, and historical data and references bearing thereon."

      Watch the video: Η ιστορία της Ινδίας (July 2022).


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