Indian Agency’s Instructions for the 1854 Treaty

September 26, 2020

Collected and edited by Amorin Mello

 


 

Indian Agency’s Instructions to
Henry C. Gilbert and David B. Herriman
for the 1854 Treaty at La Pointe

from Office of Indian Affairs federal archives

 


 

Department of the Interior
Office Indian Affairs
August 11, 1854

After the 1854 Treaty was signed at La Pointe on September 30, 1854, Congress enacted An act to provide for the extinguishment of the title of the Chippewa Indians to the Lands owned and claimed by them in the Territory of Minnesota, and State of Wisconsin, and for their Domestication and Civilization on December 19, 1854. Shortly afterwards, on January 10, 1855, the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe was ratified by Congress.

Indian Agent
Henry C. Gilbert
~ Branch County Photographs

Gilbert, Henry C.
Indian Agent
Detroit, Michigan

Sir:

The Bill to provide for the Extinguishment of the title of the Chippewas to the lands owned and claimed by them in Wisconsin and Minnesota, which passed the House early in the Sessions, failed in the Senate.

In view however of the importance of extinguishing the Indian title to portions of the Chippewa Country, it is deemed proper to confide to you certain conditional instructions, to the end that if in your judgement it be practicable to conclude a treaty at the period when you assemble the Indians to pay them their annuities this fall, that object may be accomplished.

You will therefore consider yourself in conjunction with Major Herriman as the Officers of the Indian Department designated to make a treaty with the Chippewa Indians of Lake Superior and the Mississippi.

A great number of traders and claim agents were also present as well as some of the persons from St. Paul’s who I had reason to believe attended for the purpose of preventing if possible the consummation of the treaty. The utmost precautions were taken by me to prevent a knowledge of the fact that negotiations were to take place from being public. The Messenger sent by me to Mr Herriman was not only trust worthy but was himself totally ignorant of the purport of the dispatches to Major Herriman. Information however of the fact was communicated from some source and the persons present in consequence greatly embarrassed our proceedings.
~ Indian Agent Gilbert’s Explanation after the 1854 Treaty

When you arrive at La Pointe, if you are satisfied that you can send a runner over to the Mississippi & have Major Herriman come over immediately, with the principal Chief and three or four of the Headmen of each of the bands who receive pay at the Agency, and who reside on or near the Mississippi, or between that stream & the Lake, you will do so.  The design is that the principal Chief and Head Men to the number stated of all the bands, other than those to be paid by you, be present on the Occasion.  The latter will of course be represented.

I am informed that that the Mississippi Indians can be brought over in the way I suggest, as soon as you can assemble yours.  If you are satisfied of this fact you are authorized to send over the runner, but it is not my wish that any attempt be made, and a failure follow.

If delegates from all the bands can be assembled and negotiations had with them, you are authorized to offer the Chippewas the sum of $500,000 for all the country they now own or claim in the territory of Minnesota, the state of Wisconsin or elsewhere excepting and reserving for the future home of said Indians a quantity of land equal to 743,000 acres which may be selected in one body or in two or three locations, as the Indians may desire, and if the reservations be selected in more than one locality, the quantity of land fixed upon, as the Maximum amount of the reserve must be divided between the different locations of the Indians according to the population of the bands who may elect to inhabit such reservation or reservations.  If the Indians could all be placed on one reserve, so that an Agent could always have a perfect Oversight over them it would be much better for their future interests; but if this cannot be effected, the several sub-reserves should be located in such proximity to each other, as to enable the Agent to exercise a watchful care over the Indians.

The future home or reserves should not be in the avenues by which the white population will approach the ceded country, or embrace any of the mineral lands which are now becoming desirable.

Stay tuned for more documents about the 1847 Treaty at Fond du Lac to be published on Chequamegon History.

I send herewith a copy of the instructions of the Secretary of War of the date of 4th of June 1847, when a former Commission attempted to treat with these Indians, but failed.  According to the Estimates of this Office, the Chippewas own about 10,743,000 Acres of land, the greater part of which is of no value to them, and never will be.  Some portions of it will be valuable to the White population.

Nevertheless, the condition of Affairs with the Chippewas is such that it is the duty of the Government to Offer them an Opportunity to dispose of their tenure to their Country, and in lieu thereof, to give them a small tract as a permanent home, with such means of support & neutral & moral improvement, as may be of great advantage to them.

A little over 25 years after their council meeting with Lewis & Clark, the Otoe & Missouria agreed to their first official cession of land to the United States in 1830. Additional cessions followed in 1833, 1836, and 1854.”
~The Otoe-Missouria Tribe

I transmit herewith a copy of the bill alluded to and also a copy of a recent treaty with the Ottoe & Missouri Indians, remarking that if a provision is inserted for allowing individual reservations within the general reservations that Eighty Acres to the family, as provided in the bill is deemed ample.  These documents may be useful as affording you indications of the views of the Department and of such provisions as it may be desirable to have incorporated in a treaty.

In view of the fact that it is necessary to enter upon this business without permitting those adverse influences, which are always at work to thwart the purposes, and objects of the Government, in its efforts to treat with the Indians, you will not divulge the nature of your instructions, or indeed say any thing about them to any person.

Julius Austrian was a signer of the 1847 Treaty at Fond du Lac.  In 1853 Austrian acquired ownership of La Pointe and applied for a passport through personal introductions from Acting Commissioner of Indian Affairs Charles E. Mix.  The Leopold and Austrian family was operating their family business at the former American Fur Company property in La Pointe during the 1854 Treaty.  Leopold and Austrian went on to acquire lands allotted by the 1854 Treaty to Mixed Blood families and capitalize on them as the La Pointe Iron Company.

Julius Austrian
~ Madeline Island Museum

When you get to La Point, if you conclude to send for Maj. Herriman, and the principal Men of his bands, you can do so, leaving the impression on those who may be privy to it, that their presence is necessary, in order that a better understanding may exist as to a proper disposition of the present annuities between the Lake bands and those on the Mississippi.

Mr. Austrian who resides at La Point, and who was here last winter, tendered his services to the Office in collecting Indians etc. etc. at any time, and he is recommended to me as a faithful man.  He would perhaps be a faithful man to whom to confide the message to Major Herriman.

I have caused a remittance, to be made to you, by requisition of this date for the sum of $1900 as follows:

Provisions for Indians  $1500
Presents for 100           $300
Contingencies               $100
$1900

which will be applicable to this object, but to be used only in case negotiations are had with the Chippewas.  Except so far as the provisions & expenses of a runner may be necessary.

As far as these amounts are expended, to be accounted for under the proper heads of account.

George Washington Manypenny
~ Commons.Wikimedia.org

Very Respect’y Your Ob’t Servant

Geo. W. Manypenny

Commissioner

N.B. I learn that a boat leaves the Sault of St Marie on the 21st instant for Lapoint.  If so you should avail yourself of the opportunity to go forward.  The enclosed communication to Maj Herriman, you will forward to him by the runner, if you determine to send one, and be satisfied that the expedition will be successful before you send it states the whole matter to Major H.  From the instructions to the Commissioners of June 4th 1847, and the Ottoe & Missouri treaty, you will form an idea of the necessary stipulations for the payment of the purchase money, the amount of it that should be invested etc. and the necessary provisions for Stock, Agricultural Implements etc. etc. in place of money.  A map showing the country of the Chippewas is also herewith.

Geo. W. Manypenny

Commissioner

 


 

Department of the Interior
Office Indian Affairs
August 12th, 1854

Gilbert, H. C.
Indian Agent
Detroit, Michigan

Sir:

Referring to my letter of instruction to you of the 11th instant, I have to remark that should you succeed in having the proposed negotiations with the Chippewas, and a treaty be made, you will provide to pay the $500,000 as follows:

1854 Treaty with the Otoe & Missouria

One hundred thousand dollars to be invested at five percent interest, which interest shall be expended annually under the President’s direction for purposes of Education, and the moral improvement of the Indians.  The residue to be paid say in twenty annual installments of twenty thousand dollars each without interest, or these deferred payments may be extended over twenty five or thirty years, all of them however to be subject to the President’s discretion, as in Article 4 of the Ottoe & Missouri treaty.

If necessary to accomplish the object, although $500,000 is deemed the value of the Chippewa tenure to the land, you may go as high as $600,000 payments as above.

Should a treaty be made, it is submitted whether the new locations reserved & to the Indians, may not be of such a character as to render some of the smiths, farmers etc. stipulated for under former treaties of no use, and if so, that provisions be inserted cancelling such of these provisions, under former treaties, as can be dispensed with, and providing that a sum equal to the amount, now paid annually for such, may be appropriated for the unexpired term of former treaty stipulations to be expended by the President, for the use of the Indians, as other funds are provided to be expended.

Very Respectfully
Your Ob’t Servant

Geo. W. Manypenny

Commissioner

 


 

Department of the Interior
Office Indian Affairs
August 14, 1854

Gilbert, H. C.
Indian Agent
Detroit, Michigan

Sir:

“We found the points most strenuously insisted upon by them were first the privilege of remaining in the country where they reside and next the appropriation of land for their future homes. Without yielding these points, it was idle for us to talk about a treaty. We therefore agreed to the selection of lands for them in territory heretofore ceded.”
~ Indian Agent Gilbert’s Explanation after the 1854 Treaty

Referring to my letters of instruction of the 11th & 12th instant, both of which were prepared in great haste, I am inclined to the opinion that a state of things may exist that you might feel embarrassed at the suggestions that if the land reserved by the Indians was located in more than one tract the several sub-reserves should be in such close proximity as to enable the agent to have a constant oversight over all the Indians.  It may however occur that there may be partialities and predilections among the different bands for different and widely separated districts, and that these partialities cannot be overcome.  I am clearly of the opinion that all the land reserved should be in one body and every reasonable effort should be employed to impress the Indians with this view; and if it fail the fewest sub-reserves that can be got along with should be allowed and if possible they should be in the same region of Country; but if the Indians have the predilections alluded to, and they cannot be changed in their views, you will accede to their wishes to a reasonable extent in this particular.  And if it should so happen that they select locations widely distant from each other so that it would be more for their interests that one portion might be under one Agent and another under another, it would be well perhaps to adjust all matters between the bands thus located, naming all of them by bands which select a reservation.  Setting apart according to the population their portion of such reserved land, and providing to pay them by the same rule, their proportion of the purchase money at their reserve, and so with the bands on each of the reserves.  And indeed a clause might be inserted, adjusting and dividing by population to the Indians of each reserve the annuities to become due under former treaties, whether of money or in kind so that no difficulties could hereafter arise provided one part should be in one agency and others in another.

Several members of the Indian Committee of the Senate having expressed a wish that a clause or article of the following import should be inserted in all treaties hereafter made.  You will please put it in the treaty which I hope you may be able to enter into with the Chippewas.  It is thus:

Article 9 of the 1854 Treaty:
“The United States agree that an examination shall be made, and all sums that may be found equitably due to the Indians, for arrearages of annuity or other thing, under the provisions of former treaties, shall be paid as the chiefs may direct.”

And; It is agreed between the United States and the said Chippewa Indians, that should it at any time hereafter be considered necessary, and for the benefit of said Indians, it shall be discretionary with the President by & with the advise and consent of the Senate to change the annuities herein provided for or any part thereof into a fund establishing farms among and for them.

Very Respectfully
Your Ob’t Servant

Geo. W. Manypenny

Commissioner

One Response to “Indian Agency’s Instructions for the 1854 Treaty”

  1. Paap, Howard D. said

    Another piece of great work, Amorin, Thank you. I expect to send more commentary once I get a chance to review.

    H. D. Paap

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