This Day in History: The Treaty of Prairie du Chien; Treaty Rights Test in Minnesota?; Federal Reserve Launches Center for Indian Country Development

On this day in history, August 19, 1825, the United States negotiated a peace treaty at Prairie du Chien between the Sioux, Chippewa, Sacs and Fox, and other tribes. Native nations were coming into increasing conflicts with each other as settlers moved west forcing tribes off of their traditional lands and into other tribal territories.

Article I of the Treaty states the goal:

There shall be a firm and perpetual peace between the Sioux and the Chippewas; between the Sioux and the confederated tribes of Sacs and Foxes; and between the Ioways and the Sioux.

The treaty attempted to set boundaries between tribes. It is not until Article 10 that the United States asserted itself:

All the tribes aforesaid acknowledge the general controlling power of the United States, and disclaim all dependence upon, and connection with, any other power.

The Treaties Matter website gives the following background to the treaty:

The U.S. was ostensibly concerned with violence among the American Indian nations on its western border, and insisted that living within set boundaries for the first time in history would solve the problem. American Indian delegation members pointed out that the game they hunted for their livelihoods did not recognize boundaries, and the arrangement would cause more problems than it solved. The treaty was a compromise: boundaries were set, but articles of the treaty acknowledged that American Indians would ignore the boundaries. …

The treaty gave the various tribes an opportunity to position themselves for access to trade goods. The long-term impact, however, was to make it easier for the U.S. government to acquire more land. According to Treaties Matter:

One affect of the treaty, however, was to “clear the title” to the lands of American Indians, making it easier to purchase specific tracts from single American Indian nations. Within 3 years, the U.S. was purchasing land within the boundaries set in 1825.

Chippewa in Northern Minnesota Announce Treaty Test, Draw Warning

Treaty rights are back in the news today. Minnesota Public Radio reports that a group of Chippewa in Northern Minnesota may test its rights under an 1855 treaty by harvesting wild rice without a state license. It already has drawn a warning from the state DNR.

The group is independent of the state’s tribal governments and includes members of the federally recognized Leech Lake, White Earth and Mille Lacs bands, and the non-recognized Sandy Lake Band, [group attorney Frank] Bibeau said. Its chairman is Arthur “Archie” LaRose, secretary-treasurer of the Leech Lake Band, who wrote to Dayton Aug. 7 to notify him of the harvest plans. …

[DNR Commissioner Tom] Landwehr said the state’s position continues to be that the bands have no special hunting, fishing or gathering rights off their reservations within the ceded territory — a position Bibeau disputes.

Click on the MPR link above for more details.

Minneapolis Fed Launches Center for Indian Country Development

On Monday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis announced the creation of the Center for Indian Country Development, an effort to address the deep poverty in native communities. The opening paragraph in a Pioneer Press story on Center read: 

Only about 30 percent of 567 tribes in the United States have casinos and only about 20 percent of them are profitable enough to contribute a lot to their reservation residents, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. And many reservations are still rife with poverty. …

The Minneapolis Fed has been working with tribes for 25 years and said the Center is the next step. According to the media release, its mission is to help “self-governing American Indians communities to attain their economic development goals.” The Center will serve tribes in the Minneapolis Fed’s district, which covers Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, northwest Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 

The Minneapolis Fed established a Leadership Council for the Center. Members are:

  • Dante Desiderio, executive director, Native American Finance Officers Association
  • Sarah DeWees, senior director, Research, Policy and Asset-Building Programs, First Nations Development Institute
  • Miriam Jorgensen, director of research, Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy, University of Arizona, and Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, Harvard University
  • Elsie Meeks, board of directors, Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines; chairperson, Lakota Funds
  • Jacqueline Johnson Pata, executive director, National Congress of American Indians
  • John Phillips, executive director, First Americans Land-Grant Consortium; land grant program director, American Indian Higher Education Consortium
  • Jaime Pinkham, vice president, Native Nations Programs, Bush Foundation
  • Gerald Sherman, vice president, Bar K Management
  • Cris Stainbrook, president of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation
  • Sarah Vogel, Sarah Vogel Law

Minnesota Public Radio aired a 20-minute interview on the Center’s launch.