"As long as grass shall grow and water run": Confederate States treaties with Indian tribes

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
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Jan 12, 2016
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South Carolina
A discussion of whether or not the Confederate States Congress ever signed any treaties led to me doing some searching on the topic, and it turns out that they signed multiple treaties with various Indian tribes. I suppose that makes sense considering that the CS allied with a number of tribes, but I was not aware of the number or specifics of these treaties.

http://treatiesportal.unl.edu/csaindiantreaties/index.html

The Confederate States of America created nine treaties with the tribes in Indian Territory in July, August, and October of 1861. The original documents no longer exist and the generally accepted source for these transactions today is The Statutes at Large of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America . These little known instruments reveal a series of provisions that reached far beyond those offered by the federal government in earlier treaties or in the stipulations found in an array of new punitive treaties enacted by the United States following the Civil War.​
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The creation of the Confederate States of America at the beginning of 1861[6]​ was followed soon afterwards by a request for the creation of a Bureau of Indian Affairs and for a Commissioner to lead it (Richardson, 1905, p. 58). This program was implemented with the appointment in mid-March of Albert Pike as the “Commissioner of this Government to all the Indian Tribes West of Arkansas and South of Kansas” (Message of the President and Report of Albert Pike, Commissioner of the Confederate States to the Indian Nations West of Arkansas, of the Results of His Mission, 1861, p. 3). Pike had been an early advocate of securing the Indian Territory for the CSA (Abel, 1915, pp. 131-132). Two months later, an Act for the protection of certain Indian tribes was passed. CSA President Jefferson Davis tantalizingly described this now-lost[7]​ document as “a declaration by Congress of our future policy in relation to those Indians” that was promptly “transmitted to the Commissioner and he was directed to consider it as his instructions in the contemplated negotiations” (p. 3).[8]​ By the end of May, Pike was at Fort Smith in Arkansas and consummated in Indian Territory on 10 July the initial diplomatic product of this policy, the Treaty with the Creek Nation. This was followed by eight additional contracts, the last with the Cherokee in October 1861.[9]​
Pike’s noted Report thus forms a direct connection between that lost guideline instrument and the reality of his negotiations. In particular, he spoke directly of the ordeal of preparing all the necessary materials required by this task (p. 9): “I found it necessary, on account of the pressure caused by the copying of treaties and the multiplicity of accounts and abstracts, to avail myself of the very valuable and constant services, as a skilled accountant and copyist, of Capt. Johnson, and of those of Mr. Walter L. Pike (for whose labor I have allowed no charge to be made) as a copyist.”[10]​ His description of the events highlights the many situations in which he actually countermanded the specifications of the Act for the protection of certain Indian tribes. In fact, President Davis — in his message that prefaces Pike’s report (p. 4) — specifically identified unauthorized examples of Pike’s unilateral offers of statehood and of representation in the House. Pike’s defense for these decisions was direct: “I do not think there is a single provision in any of the treaties, granting them any right or privilege, recognizing any claim, or providing for any payment, that I would not cheerfully have inserted, if I had been treating with them in behalf of the United States ten years ago” (p. 28).​
The tribes that the CS signed treaties with:
 

Andersonh1

Brigadier General
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Location
South Carolina
Reading through the treaty with the Creeks, some of the things I see are:
  • perpetual peace and friendship and an offensive/defensive alliance
  • the Creeks accept the protection of the CS
  • the boundaries of the Creek nation are laid out and defined
  • the Creeks have perpetual ownership and control over their land
  • States and territories cannot pass laws to regulate the Creeks
  • the CS reserves the right to build forts on that territory and railroads or telegraph lines, with payment for land
  • trade is licensed
  • the Creeks will have an agent and interpreter assigned to them
  • relations with other tribes are regulated to keep the peace
  • a Creek Indian has rights in the courts

And so on.
 

Andersonh1

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South Carolina
Must have been a terrible drought when the grass withered and the waters dried up in April of 1865.

It goes without saying that when the war ended and the CS ceased to exist that the treaties were no longer in effect. That's true of many topics related to the Civil War, so it seems pointless to even bring it up. Regardless, the details of these documents are new to me, and interesting to read. It's an angle of the war I don't know a lot about, and I enjoy learning something new.
 

unionblue

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Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Must have been a terrible drought when the grass withered and the waters dried up in April of 1865.
It goes without saying that when the war ended and the CS ceased to exist that the treaties were no longer in effect. That's true of many topics related to the Civil War, so it seems pointless to even bring it up. Regardless, the details of these documents are new to me, and interesting to read. It's an angle of the war I don't know a lot about, and I enjoy learning something new.
True, interesting documentation, something I didn't know before, but I was thinking how little it had to do with the other thread going on about the Confederacy being recognized as a sovereign nation.

My bad.
 

Carronade

Captain
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Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
Overall these seem like pretty good bases for relations between whites and Indians - assuming they were observed. A lot of the treaties entered into by Americans of one variety or another looked good on paper.....
 

lurid

First Sergeant
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Jan 3, 2019
I don't buy the treaty authenticity because it seems skewed to the south's history. The treaty runs contrary to the south's Indian relations. The south was a settler society with the policy of displacing Native Indians and replacing them with slaves. It started in Virginia and spread to the deep south then went west. Those treaties seem propagated by the Confederacy in order to build an alliance or some kind of anti-racial vibe
 

Lampasas Bill

Corporal
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Actually, the South needed all the help it could get. Making allies of the tribes to their west was necessary to secure their flank, since the Indian Territory already outflanked Arkansas.
 
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