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.
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.
The creation of the Confederate States of America at the beginning of 1861 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 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). 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.
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.” 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:
- Treaty with the Creek Nation
- Treaty with the Choctaws and Chickasaws
- Treaty with the Seminole Nation
- Treaty with the Comanches and Other Tribes and Bands
- Treaty with the Comanches of the Prairies and Staked Plain
- Treaty with the Osages
- Treaty with the Senecas and Senecas and Shawnees
- Treaty with the Quapaws
- Treaty with the Cherokees