Focus on Treaties for Native American Heritage Month
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Treaty of Cusseta

Signed on March 24, 1832, the Treaty of Cusseta (1832) was a land cession treaty that ceded all remaining Creek lands east of the Mississippi and resulted in Creek removal.

Muscogee Creek leaders responded to Alabama's extension of jurisdiction over their lands by proposing that they cede lands but retain blocks of private reserves within Alabama under the control of individual families. They took these proposals to Washington, D.C., in March 1832. Secretary of War Lewis Cass disagreed with the size and number of the reserves, but he reached a compromise with the eight Muscogee Creek chiefs on March 24.

The resulting treaty was not specifically a removal treaty, for even though the Creek agreed to cede all their lands east of the Mississippi River, they were to receive allotments in Alabama that could be sold or retained under Creek ownership. By April 2, the U.S. Senate had unanimously ratified the treaty. Although the treaty called on the U.S. government both to assist those Creek who wished to emigrate west and to guarantee Creek title to allotted lands in Alabama, the federal government refused to assist Creek in Alabama when whites seized their lands anyway. Land speculators took advantage of the remaining Muscogee Creek and perpetrated frauds resulting in utter turmoil and loss of the Creek's homes.

The Creek wandered around Alabama seeking food and shelter, eventually attacking white settlers and seizing crops and livestock in revenge. In 1836, Cass finally intervened, not as guarantor of Creek rights but instead to forcibly remove the remaining Creek west of the Mississippi. The U.S. military accomplished what diplomacy could not, and by 1837 almost all of the 15,000 or so Muscogee Creek had emigrated to the West.

Dewi I. Ball


Further Reading
Remini, Robert V. The Legacy of Andrew Jackson: Essays on Democracy, Indian Removal and Slavery. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990; Satz, Ronald N. American Indian Policy in the Jacksonian Era. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002; Wallace, Anthony F. C. The Long, Bitter Trail: Andrew Jackson and the Indians. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993.
 

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