Focus on Treaties for Native American Heritage Month
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Addenda Treaties

The federal government negotiated no fewer than five treaties or addenda to treaties with the Muscogee Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw in the 1850s. These tribes had been forcibly removed from their homelands in the southeastern United States to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) in the 1830s. Not all their tribe members, however, had made the trip. A large number of Choctaw remained in Mississippi, and the Chickasaw had not ceded a four-mile-square parcel of land in Tennessee to the United States. The removal of the Seminole Nation from Florida had started a costly war, and even as late as the 1850s, small bands of Mikasuki Seminole were still living in the Florida back-country and fighting American soldiers.

In 1852, the Chickasaw entered into negotiations with the federal government, primarily to settle several of the tribe's claims to particular lands. Additionally, the cost of the Chickasaw removal had far exceeded the funds allocated for the purpose. The treaty of 1852 was intended to clear up the cost of removal, to clear the title of Chickasaw lands that had not been ceded east of the Mississippi River, and to address the allegations of corruption that had resulted in the override of Chickasaw removal funds. The Chickasaw Nation agreed to forgo claims to territories in the east for money to be held in trust by the United States, provided that the secretary of the interior audit the Chickasaw account "from time to time." The Chickasaw would have the "privilege" to review the audit and submit objections to it within a reasonable amount of time. The cost to the United States was ultimately quite low. The four-mile-square parcel in Tennessee, for example, which had been originally set apart as a reservation under the provisions of the Chickasaw treaty of 1818, was to be purchased at a rate of no more than "one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre."

Two years later, the Chickasaw were back at the negotiating table. When removal took place, the Chickasaw and Choctaw were effectively placed together on one large piece of land that made up most of what would become southern Oklahoma. The Chickasaw and Choctaw leaders more or less agreed to this circumstance, very likely because they recognized that, since they were culturally and linguistically tied, the two nations were once one. By 1854, however, the jurisdictional lines between the two peoples had become unclear. The United States was brought into the dispute over the Chickasaw-Choctaw boundaries, and a new treaty was negotiated. Essentially, the two nations agreed to draw a line between themselves: the Chickasaw jurisdiction was established in the western half of the territory, the Choctaw in the east.

The dispute did not end, and the very next year the Chickasaw and the Choctaw agreed to a redrawing of the boundaries between the two nations and to lease their lands west of longitude 98° to the United States. The two nations separated completely. The Choctaw received a sum of money out of Chickasaw funds and ceded all of the land west of 100° longitude. The nations agreed to the establishment of military forts and roads and to railroad and telegraph rights-of-way.

Similar jurisdictional and national disputes had arisen between the Creek and the Seminole. The United States was still attempting to remove the remnants of the Seminole Nation in Florida to the Indian Territory. Those Seminole who had been forcibly removed were moved, again because of linguistic and cultural ties, onto the lands of the Muscogee Creek Nation. The Creek treaty of 1856 essentially ceded a tract of land to the Seminole. A sovereign Seminole Nation was thus established in the hope of getting the Seminole in Florida to cease hostilities and migrate to the Indian Territory. The Seminole Nation West, as it was called, would send a delegation to Florida "to do all in their power to induce their brethren remaining [in Florida] to emigrate and join them in the west." The usual concessions to the railroads, military posts, roads, and telegraph services were also made. The effort to "induce" the Florida Seminole to remove was not successful. While some Seminole did, indeed, migrate west after the treaty of 1856, the core of the Mikasuki Seminole in the east remained in Florida to this day.

By the end of March 1861, the United States had succeeded in securing the title to nearly all of its claimed territory west of the Mississippi River. Save for a very large tract of land recognized as "the Great Sioux Nation" on the northern plains, most of the Indian Territory, a very large portion of New Mexico Territory, and smaller reservations dotting the land, the Americans now held all of what would become the continental United States. The Cheyenne and Arapaho had ceded eastern Colorado in February of 1861, and on March 6, the united Sauk and Fox and Ioway Nations gave up title to most of Iowa and parts of Nebraska.

Tom Holm


Further Reading
Deloria, Vine, Jr. and Raymond J. DeMallie. Documents of American Indian Diplomacy. Vol. 1. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999; Prucha, Francis P. American Indian Treaties: The History of a Political Anomaly. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994; Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970.
 

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