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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys how treaty making involving American Indians developed and changed over time. Early colonial treaties involved a hybrid diplomacy of Native rituals and European protocols, and business was conducted with wampum and oratory as much as with pen and paper. Increasingly, treaties involved land cessions. The United States adopted many of the forms of colonial treaties but employed them primarily as instruments of dispossession and removal. In the nineteenth century, the expanding nation-state made treaties that confined Indian peoples to reservations and that also included measures to “civilize” the tribes. Although Congress ended treaty making in 1871, “agreements” continued to be signed and treaties continued to have the force of law. Treaties were contracts between sovereigns, and tribes have invoked treaties to reassert their rights in modern America.

Keywords: treaties, rituals, wampum, colonial, removal, land cessions, hybrid diplomacy, sovereignty, Native rights

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