Published on July 13, 2014 by Amy
The Treaty of Mississiniwas or the Treaty of Mississinewa is an 1826 treaty between the United States and the Miami tribe.
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After negotiations with the Potawatomi to build the Michigan Road through Indiana by James B. Ray and Lewis Cass on behalf of President John Quincy Adams, Cass negotiated a two more treaties to purchase lands in Indiana and Michigan, including the Treaty of Mississinewa. By the treaty, the Miami leadership agreed to cede to the United States the bulk of Miami reservation lands held in Indiana by previous treaties. In compensation, the families of Chief Richardville and certain other Miami notables were given estates in Indiana, with houses like the Richardville House and livestock furnished at government expense. The federal government agreed to buy out some of the estates granted by the previous Treaty of St. Mary’s. Small reservations were to be carved out along the Eel and Maumee rivers.
The tribe was also to be compensated with $31,040.53, $10,000 of this in silver, the first year; and $26,259.47 in goods the next. Promises were made of a $15,000 annuity thereafter, in addition to monies provided for by other treaties. $2,000 per annum was to be set aside for the “…poor infirm persons of the Miami tribe, and for the education of the youth of the said tribe…” as long as the Congress should “…think proper…” Hunting rights would continue to be enjoyed “…so long as the same shall be the property of the United States.”
One problem with the treaty was language making fulfillment of several US obligations conditional on the will of Congress. No such language limits native obligations pursuant to “the will of the tribal council,” thus, the Miami party is at a distinct disadvantage. The United States, after a vote in Congress, can walk away from some of its obligations without breaking the treaty; the Indians cannot. Since most of the land in Indiana was soon parceled out to settlers, the Miami could not long enjoy the privilege of hunting on open land that was “…the property of the United States.” This seriously curtailed the ability of most Miami to supplement their diet with meat from the hunt.
While the promises to the Miami elite seem for the most part to have been honored, the provisions for the maintenance of the lower orders were later modified to their detriment or ignored. The “commoners” of the Miami tribe, as they might be called, were left helpless in the face of the Indian Removal Act and were often at the mercy of agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, for whom the best interests of natives were not always a priority.