American Indian Treaties with the United States

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Treaties Between the U.S. Government and Native American Tribes

It was determined, even during the Colonial period in North America, that it was desirable to reach agreements with the Native American tribes, rather than fight them. The European countries who had interests in North America all tried to reach such agreements during the time periods they had those interests.

When the federal government was established, efforts were made to persuade the various Indian tribes to give up their claims to land and to remain loyal to the colonists. These agreements were called treaties.

Treaties were negotiated between the federal government and the respective tribes as if the tribes were independent nations. According to the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, such treaties had to be ratified by the U.S. Senate.

Representatives of the federal government and of the particular tribe signed the treaties, so at least some of the tribal members are listed on the treaty. Normally, one of the provisions of a treaty was an annual payment called an annuity.

Copies of treaties are a part of the Congressional Record and have been copied and printed in many places (see Bibliography below). They have also been made available on the internet.

In general, treaties with Native American tribes ceased by about 1873, although there were a few after that date. After 1873, most agreements between the federal government and the tribes were handled by a more informal method.


  • Early Recognized Treaties with American Indian Nations, published by the University of Nebraska Libraries - Lincoln Electronic Text Center. Available online.
  • Kappler, Charles J. Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. 7 volumes. WorldCat 74490963; FHL book 970.1 K142i. Available online.
  • United States Department of the Interior. Executive Orders Relating to Indian Reservations. Washington: [United States] Government Printing Office, 1912 (v. 1), 1922 (v. 2). Vol. 1 – May 14, 1855 to July 1, 1912. Vol. 2 – July 1, 1912 to July 1, 1922. FHL film 1440543 Items 8-9.

See also

Indians of the United States and Their Records