By Francis Paul Prucha
American Indian affairs are a lot within the public brain today--hotly contested debates over such matters as Indian fishing rights, land claims, and reservation playing carry our recognition. whereas the original felony prestige of yankee Indians rests at the ancient treaty dating among Indian tribes and the government, formerly there was no accomplished historical past of those treaties and their position in American life.Francis Paul Prucha, a number one authority at the background of yankee Indian affairs, argues that the treaties have been a political anomaly from the very starting. The time period "treaty" implies a freelance among sovereign self sufficient international locations, but Indians have been continually able of inequality and dependence as negotiators, a undeniable fact that complicates their present makes an attempt to regain their rights and tribal sovereignty.Prucha's impeccably researched booklet, in keeping with a detailed research of each treaty, makes attainable an intensive realizing of a criminal hindrance whose legacy is so palpably felt at the present time.
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Additional info for American Indian treaties: the history of a political anomaly
It is not surprising that the treaties were full of provisions designed explicitly to enhance this process. The treaty with the Creeks in 1790 declared: "That the Creek nation may be led to a greater degree of civilization, and to become herdsmen 19 I have been helped in summarizing elements of treaty making by the section "The Scope of Treaties," in Cohen, Handbook of Federal Indian Law, 3846. Similar material is carried over into later works based on Cohen's book; see Office of the Solicitor, Department of the Interior, Federal Indian Law (Washington: GPO, 1958), 14864; Felix S.
Still, the presence of such provisions in the political treaties enhanced their anomalous character. Another thrust toward bettering the condition of the Indians came in treaty provisions to prohibit or restrict the use of spirituous liquors by the Indians. Control of the liquor trade, with its deleterious effects on Indian society, was a fundamental element of American Indian policy. The trade and intercourse laws became increasingly severe in the matter, and those statutes were augmented by specific treaty provisions.
Page 17 was a principle that neither the legislators nor the courts could openly reject. After powerful arguments against signing any more treaties with Indian groups because they had lost the attributes of sovereignty, Congress in 1871 declared an end to such treaty making. But it could not disregard arguments about the sanctity of the treaties already signed and ratified, and confirmation of those treaties appeared side by side with the prohibition against making any more. On one hand the sovereign political character of Indian communities was denied; on the other, the tribes continued to exist as subjects of the rights the old treaties promised.