Haywood, Carl N. (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume 75 (1987)
Clifton, James A.
Wisconsin death march: explaining the extremes in old northwest Indian removal, pp. 1-40 PDF (18.7 MB)
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters ily assimilable Indians might be avoided War of 1812, declining British invitations by relocating them "permanently" in a to join in active military operations. huge western Indian Territory on lands Thus, not considered enemies by Amenthat would be forever theirs. By 1850, this can authorities, they did not participate in was no more a realistic plan than was the any of the several subsequent peace abortive parallel policy of reducing sec- treaties pressed on neighboring Indians— tional tensions over slavery by repatniat- including related Chippewa bands—when ing Afro-Americans to Liberia.'6 hostilities ended. These postwar compacts The political pressure for Indian Re- restored the status quo antebellum and removal was effectively removed by events quired a fresh acknowledgement of of the latter 1840s, which saw the American authority in the region, which emergence of a geographically larger, the Lake Superior Chippewa had yet to socially more complex United States. The deliver. Moreover, throughout the renew continental nation was far more moval era, the Lake Superior Chippewa diverse ethnically than it had been when continued a century-old pattern of warthe removal and repatriation schemes fare against their Dakota neighbors, as were conceived. Nevertheless, through the good a measure as any of their autarchy 1830s and 1840s the promise of perma- and a major concern of Americans atnency of tenure on tribal lands in an ex- tempting to impose peace on this frontier. clusively Indian Territory legislated in the Such concerns were expressed between 1830 Removal Act (essentially a segre- 1825 and 1827, when three treaties were gated native homeland or apartheid required at last to bring all these small, policy) was confirmed in every proper scattered Chippewa bands under some removal treaty. No such stipulation was measure of American authority.'7 These included in those negotiated with the Lake agreements established the meets and Superior Chippewa in 1837 and 1842 for bounds of Lake Superior Chippewa the cession of their lands east of the lands, declared a "peace" between the Mississippi. The 1850 effort to dislodge Chippewa and their Indian neighbors, them from Wisconsin and to resettle them defined a new subordinate political status near Sandy Lake—east of the Mississippi for them, and included provisions for —involved a temporary location only, be- modest educational services and the paycause of their specific history of dealings ment of a minor annual annuity. So far as with the United States. American authorities were concerned, Occupying the farthest northwestern these Chippewa thereby became depenreaches of the Old Northwest, the Lake dent client societies. Superior Chippewa were the last Indians Yet for a decade these agreements had of that Territory to have their indepen- little consequence for the daily lives of dence erased by formal treaty agreement these Indians. No lands were ceded, while with the United States. Although placed the small annuity fund and scanty Indian under nominal American sovereignty in Office services provided were delivered the 1783 Treaty of Paris and again in the mainly to those Chippewa living near Treaty of Greenville in 1795, this was a Sault Ste Marie. For another full decade, status unknown to these Indians—who re- contacts between the Lake Superior Chipmained in a position of unqualified pewa and Americans, other than traders political autonomy. The degree of their and a few ineffective missionaries, recontinuing independence was marked by mained occasional and minor. However, two developments. Unlike other foraging these three treaties expressed the legal bands near them, they had sat out the foundation for the Chippewa's political 6
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