By Francis Paul Prucha
American Indian affairs are a lot within the public brain today--hotly contested debates over such concerns as Indian fishing rights, land claims, and reservation playing carry our consciousness. whereas the original felony prestige of yankee Indians rests at the historic treaty courting among Indian tribes and the government, beforehand there was no accomplished heritage of those treaties and their function in American life.Francis Paul Prucha, a number one authority at the historical past of yankee Indian affairs, argues that the treaties have been a political anomaly from the very starting. The time period "treaty" implies a freelance among sovereign self reliant international locations, but Indians have been continually able of inequality and dependence as negotiators, a incontrovertible fact that complicates their present makes an attempt to regain their rights and tribal sovereignty.Prucha's impeccably researched booklet, according to an in depth research of each treaty, makes attainable an intensive realizing of a criminal drawback whose legacy is so palpably felt this day.
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But the combination of the two elementsenhanced tribal sovereignty and increased dependence on a paternal governmentis part of the anomaly of Indian treaties. Page 21 PART ONE A TREATY SYSTEM The Indian treaty system of the United States did not spring forth full-blown from some statesman's brow. No federal commission or task force proposed a blueprint for relations with the Indians who inhabited aboriginal lands within the territorial boundaries of the United States. To be sure, there were precedents of colonial and British imperial policy, and the idea of formal treaties with Indian tribes had roots in European practice.
The trade and intercourse laws became increasingly severe in the matter, and those statutes were augmented by specific treaty provisions. Many chiefs recognized the evil of the liquor traffic and easily acquiesced in restrictive articles entered in the treaties. " In 28 Kappler, 2:613, 663. , 1000. 30 The desire to direct the Indians into the path of peaceable white civilization was well summed up in an article inserted in Manypenny's treaty with the Winnebagos signed in Washington in 1855: The said tribe of Indians, jointly and severally, obligate and bind themselves, not to commit any depredation or wrong upon other Indians, or upon citizens of the United States; to conduct themselves at all times in a peaceable and orderly manner; to submit all difficulties between them and other Indians to the President, and to abide by his decision; to respect and observe the laws of the United States, so far as the same are to them applicable; to settle down in the peaceful pursuits of life; to commence the cultivation of the soil; to educate their children, and to abstain from the use of intoxicating drinks and other vices to which many of them have been addicted.
General Records of the United States Government. Royce, CessionsCharles C. Royce, Indian Land Cessions in the United States. Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 18961897, part 2. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1899. Page xvi Senate Ex. Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America. Vols. 13, Washington: Duff Green, 1828; vols. 4, Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1887. Senate (RG 46)Records of Executive Proceedings, Presidents' MessagesIndian Relations.
American Indian treaties: the history of a political anomaly by Francis Paul Prucha