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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1851

[Report of treaty with prairie tribes at Fort Laramie],   pp. 27-29 PDF (1.2 MB)

Page 28

I left St. Louis on the 24th of July, and reached Fort Laramie on the 
31st of August, where I found the above named tribes assembled, and im- 
patiently expecting my arrival. Up to this, the different tribes had no in-
tercourse with each other, and had remained encamped on both sides of the
river some distance apart. I at once called as many of the principal men
together as could be speedily assembled, and explained the objects of the
proposed treaty. On this occasion I succeeded in prevailing upon them to
agree upon a place that should be occupied as a general camping ground 
during the pendency of the council. This was done with less difficulty 
than I anticipated, considering the number of conflicting interests among
the whites, and the jealousies and prejudices among the Indians, that had
to be reconciled. 
We were eighteen days encamped together, during which time the In- 
dians conducted themselves in a manner that excited the admiration and 
surprise of every one. The different tribes, although hereditary enemies,
interchanged daily visits, both in their national and individual capacities;
smoked and feasted together, exchanged presents, adopted each other's 
children according to their own customs, and did all that was held sacred
or solemn in the eyes of these Indians to prove the sincerity of their peace-
ful and friendly intentions, both among themselves and with the citizens
the United States lawfully residing among them, or passing through the 
The most important provisions in the accompanying treaty I consider 
to be the following: 1st. The right acknowledged and granted, on the part
of the Indians, to the United States, to establish roads, military and other
posts throughout the Indian country, so far as they claim or exercise owner-
ship over it. 2d. The solemn obligations they have entered into to main-
tain peaceful relations among themselves, and to abstain from all depreda-
tions upon the whites passing through the country, and to make restitution
for any damages or loss that a white man shall sustain by the acts of their
people. 3d. The settling up of all former complaints on the part of the 
Indians for the destruction of their buffalo, timber, grass, &c., caused
the passing of the whites through their country; the presents received at
time were considered as full payment. 4th. The promised annuity of 
$50,000 for fifty years, to be delivered in such articles as their changing
condition may, from time to time, require. As this is the only article in
treaty that will cost money to the Government, I will briefly state the 
reasons by which I was influenced, and the good results which I believe 
it will ultimately produce. 
Fifty thousand dollars for a limited period of years is a small amount 
to be distributed among at least fifty thousand Indians, especially when
we consider that we have taken, or are rapidly taking, away from them 
all means of support, by what may be considered a partial occupancy 
of their soil. On the score of economy, to say nothing of justice or hu-
manity, 1 believe that amount would be well expended. In the opinions 
of the best informed persons, (who had an opportunity of judging,.) it will,
in all probability, save the country from the ruinous and useless expenses
of a war against the prairie tribes, which would cost many millions, and
productive of nothing but increased feelings of hostility on the part of
Indians, and annoyance and vexation to the Government. The lessons of 
experience taught us during the Florida war, and which are now being 
taught us by the Indian wars in New Mexico, all admonish us of the neces-

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