Peace Commission (1867)

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PEACE COMMISSION (1867). The 1867 Peace Commission was an attempt to bring peace to western lands by creating reservations for Indian tribes, enabling white settlers to claim former Indian territories and railroads to continue to lay tracks toward the Pacific, thus fulfilling the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. In 1867, under the leadership of Major Joel Elliot, the U.S. government signed treaties with the Cheyennes, Plains Apaches, Comanches, Arapahos, and Kiowas. Three major reservations were established in present-day South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Later that year, a second series of treaties was signed that governed the southern plains. In addition to reservation land, the tribes were to receive food, blankets, farming implements, homes, and clothing.

The Peace Commission failed to end conflict between western nations' territorial claims and U.S. expansionism. From 1860 to 1890 reservation lands came under extreme pressure from white settlers, leading to increased conflict, while the U.S. army failed to distribute promised annuities. Tribal leaders had agreed to reservations in an attempt to preserve their way of life and to avoid further bloodshed but were not entirely able to compel their people to move onto them. War parties composed mostly of young men opposed to reservation life continued to counter white settlers with violent opposition; the settlers, meanwhile, ignored the provisions of the conference and continued to encroach on Indian lands.


Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. New York: Bantam, 1970.

———. The American West. New York: Scribners, 1994.

Nabokov, Peter, ed. Native American Testimony. New York: Penguin Books, 1978.


See alsoIndian Removal ; Indian Reservations .

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Peace Commission (1867)

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