Ohio History Journal

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List of Documents Concerning the Negotiation of Ratified Indian

Treaties, 1801-1869. Compiled by John H. Martin. (Special List No. 6.

Washington, National Archives, 1949. iii + 175p., appendix.)

One of the most ambitious archival endeavors in progress today is

being conducted by the United States through its National Archives.

The methods of record keeping employed are efficiently designed to make

possible a maximum use by scholars and government officials. To obviate

the necessity of tediously searching through hundreds of manuscripts in

the records and files of the various governmental agencies and bureaus

therein deposited, the National Archives has established a very laudable

program of compiling "finding aids." The present work is the sixth of

such aids prepared on a special subject.

During the course of its history, the United States has negotiated

approximately three hundred and seventy treaties with the Indians re-

siding within its borders. In point of time these have extended from the

September 17, 1778, treaty with the Delaware to the Appropriation Act

of March 3, 1871, which provided for the termination of treaty-making

with Indian tribes. All of these, except for a few of the earlier ones for

which no significant supporting documents have been found, are in-

cluded within the scope of this work.

One of the primary sources of information of the policy of the

federal government toward the American Indians is to be found in the

ratified treaties between the two groups. In order to study and to under-

stand them it is necessary to determine and to examine the circumstances

leading to, surrounding, and following the accomplishment of these

treaties. Broadly there are three types of documentation, in addition to

the treaty text itself, that are most helpful in this respect.

A first group is made up of instructions issued by the proper federal

officials, usually by the cabinet officer under whose jurisdiction came the

supervision of Indian affairs, to a commissioner or commissioners charged

with the authority to carry out the negotiations. Instructions usually

outlined or perhaps described the desired general character and form

that the treaty was to assume. Secondly, there are the proceedings of

the treaty council itself, which document the course of the negotiations.