Have you ever wondered what, exactly, is in the treaties between the US government and the various Indian tribes? I was searching for the Shawnee treaty of 1835 when I came across a wonderful site that has most, if not all, of the various Indian treaties. I didn’t count, but it looks like there are hundreds of them. These of course are federal treaties which doesn’t include anything done by various states. For example, the treaties that set forth reservations for the Mattamuskeet and Tuscarora in North Carolina were executed by the state, not the federal government, which at time was British. For that matter, before the Revolutionary War, there was no “United States” in existence.
Of course, these treaties were repetitively broken, which then necessitated a new treaty, which then too was broken as the white man’s lust for land pushed the Indians further and further west. This constant cycle of betrayal instilled in the Indian an imminent distrust of the white man and his government that is still very evident today. It is exactly this reason that caused many Native families to be leery of European things and people like census takers and those who demanded that Native people list themselves and their families on the official tribal rolls. They saw no upside and lots of potential negative consequences, judging from past experience.
One interesting aspect of each of these treaties is that they were signed by the Chiefs within the tribe, in some cases, giving a translated Native name or occasionally an English name.