Treaty of Laramie Fort
Laramie, Fort, Treaty of (1868)
LARAMIE, FORT, TREATY OF (1868)
LARAMIE, FORT, TREATY OF (1868). Established in 1863 and running through some of the richest game lands on the Northern Plains, the Bozeman Trail (an emigrant trail linking Fort Laramie, Wyoming, to the Montana gold fields) sparked renewed conflict between the United States and Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho bands in the region. In 1866 the United States attempted to negotiate an agreement with the tribes to permit use of the trail, but the arrival of troops sent to occupy the trail before the conclusion of negotiations led to a walkout of prominent Indian leaders and a collapse of the proceedings. In the subsequent conflict—often termed "Red Cloud's War"—hostile Indians inflicted heavy casualties on U.S. troops, particularly in the Fetterman Fight, but were unable to force the abandonment of the forts along the trail. Peace advocates in the East, however, proved unwilling to support a protracted Indian war. In 1867 and 1868 commissioners were sent out to attempt to end the conflict. The 1868 commission drafted a treaty calling for the abandonment of the Bozeman Trail and the recognition of the country north of the North Platte River and east of the Bighorn Mountains in northern Wyoming as "unceded Indian territory" in which no whites might settle. Additionally, all of present-day South Dakota west of the Missouri River was defined as the Great Sioux Reservation. The treaty also provided for the creation of a "civilization" program for the Sioux. It promised annuities, including food, clothing, and educational and technical assistance, to Indians who settled on the new reservation.
The treaty also stipulated that any future land cession by the Lakotas would need to be ratified by three-fourths of all Lakota males. The failure of the United States to obtain the required three-fourths consent following the discovery of gold in the Black Hills in the 1870s and the subsequent invasion of the Hills by whites would spark renewed fighting and become the basis for an ongoing Lakota grievance against the federal government.
Gray, John S. Custer's Last Campaign: Mitch Boyer and the Little Big Horn Reconstructed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991.
Laramie, Fort, Treaty of (1851)
LARAMIE, FORT, TREATY OF (1851)
LARAMIE, FORT, TREATY OF (1851), represented an attempt to halt intertribal warfare and safeguard travel routes to California and Oregon. Emigration along the Oregon Trail had aggravated conflicts between tribes over access to the fur trade and increasingly scarce resources. Fears that emigrants' destruction of game would provoke Indian retaliation led the Upper Platte agent Thomas Fitzpatrick in 1849 to request funds for a general treaty council. In February 1851 Congress responded with a $100,000 appropriation. Couriers were sent to the Indians appointing a council for 1 September at Fort Laramie in what would become Wyoming. More than 10,000 Indians representing the Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Shoshoni, Crow, and other tribes gathered for twenty days of negotiations, feasting, and visiting. In the treaty, Indians agreed to allow emigration along the Oregon Trail and to permit the government to build forts to protect the trail. Signatories also pledged to maintain intertribal peace and respect the territorial boundaries set by the treaty. In return, the government agreed to distribute a $50,000 annuity to cooperating tribes for fifty years. In ratifying the treaty the Senate unilaterally reduced the annuity provision to ten years, with an option for an additional five at the discretion of the president. Although the treaty succeeded in reducing conflict—both between tribes and between Indians and whites—for a time, competition for resources and the militaristic, decentralized nature of Plains Indian communities undercut the effectiveness of the treaty. More importantly, the treaty marked the end of the concept of a "permanent Indian frontier" separating Native Americans and whites, and set the stage for future treaties that confined Indian communities to legally defined reservations.
Trennert, Robert A., Jr. Alternative to Extinction: Federal Indian Policy and the Beginnings of the Reservation System, 1846– 1851. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1975.
Utley, Robert M. The Indian Frontier of the American West, 1846– 1890. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984.