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Treaties

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TREATIES, Indian. In a limited sense the Indian tribes of North America have al ways been treated by the government to which they were subject as foreign nations. Before the Revolution the king maintained diplomatic Intercourse with those tribes residing within the limits of the territory claimed by Great Britain, and after the colonies became independent the relations between them and the Indians contin ued to be regulated through formal treaties, ne gotiated with their chiefs and approved by the tribe. The Articles of Confederation made pro vision for maintaining diplomatic intercourse with the Indian tribes by vesting in Congress the power to negotiate treaties with them. By the Federal Constitution the treaty-making power was vested in the President, and from the foundation of the government until a recent day the relations between the United States and the several Indian tribes occupying the ter ritory embraced within the limits of the Union were regulated exclusively through regular dip lomatic channels. These treaties were negotiated by commissioners or agents with the chiefs on terms of theoretical equality, and were ratified by the Senate according to the usual methods. Considering the actual dependent status of the Indians there was an element of absurdity in the practice of regulating the relations between them and the government to which they were subject, through diplomatic channels. Be sides, this method proved inconvenient and at times embarrassing to the government. Finally by an act of Congress passed in 1871 it was de clared that thereafter Indian affairs should be regulated directly by Congress and not by treaty. Since 1871, therefore, no treaties have been con cluded with Indian tribes, but those existing at the time of the act were continued in force. The majority of the treaties between the United States and the various Indian tribes have been treaties of friendship or of cession, those of the latter class providin:g for the extinction of the right') of the Indians to the lands which they occupied and in some cases for the removal of the Indians to the territory espe cially set apart for their use west of the Missis sippi River. Among the more important and best-known Indian treaties were those of Fort Stanwix of 1784 with the Iroquois, providing for the cession to the United States of western lands claimed by them; the Treaty of Greenville of 1795 with the Wyandots, Delawares, Shaw nees, Ottawas, Chippewas, Pottawattomies, Miamis, Eel Rivers, Weas, Kickapoos, Pianke shaws and Kaskaskias by which a large part of the territory embraced in the present State of Ohio was ceded to the United States; the treaty of 1826 with the Creeks for the cession of lands in Alabama and Georgia; various treaties be tween 1791 and 1835 with the Cherokees for the cession of lands occupied by them in Georgia; the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek of 1830 with the Choctaws for the cession of lands in Mississippi, and the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek of 1832 with the Chickasaws for the relinquish ment of their claims to lands in the same State.

Between 1828 and 1832 treaties were made with the so-called five civilized tribes, the Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, Seminoles and Chicka saws, as well as several other tribes of lesser importance, providing for their removal to the Indian territory west of the Mississippi. These treaties usually contained provisions for the payment of a lump sum to each tribe in consid eration of the relinquishment of its lands, for the payment of annuities to the chiefs and the promise of various articles such as rifles, hoes, kettles, blankets and tobacco to each Indian who emigrated. Provision was also generally made for means of transportation to the Indian Territory and for supplying them with wagon makers, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, millwrights, etc. Heads of families desiring to remain and become citizens were usually allowed to do so and were given 160 acres of land.

Down to 1837, at which time most of the In dians formerly residing east of the Mississippi River had emigrated to the Indian Territory, the government had concluded 349 treaties with 54 Indian tribes distributed as 'follows: For the full text of these treaties with the date of the conclusion and ratification of each, together with the names of the commissioners and signatories consult 'Treaties Between the United States and the Several Indian Tribes from 1778 to 1837' (Washington 1837) ; consult also Weil, 'Legal Status of the Indian)