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Study Notes

The Fort Laramie Treaty 1851

Level:
GCSE
Board:
Edexcel

Last updated 24 Oct 2017

The US government created a treaty to attempt to ease the growing tension between white settlers and Plains Indians. The US government’s aim was to guarantee the safety of white settlers travelling through Indian Territory and to stop tribal fighting amongst the Plains Indians.

The US government created a treaty to attempt to ease the growing tension between white settlers and Plains Indians. The US government’s aim was to guarantee the safety of white settlers travelling through Indian Territory and to stop tribal fighting amongst the Plains Indians.

 

However, there were several problems in creating the agreement. Firstly, the US government found it difficult to get an individual from each tribe to effectively represent their whole tribe. Remember, Plains Indian society did not have someone who could dictate the actions of the whole tribe. Secondly, some tribes did not attend the meetings and most of the Plains Indians who did attend had no real respect or interest in the US government. Thirdly, it was difficult to set clear territorial boundaries for each Indian tribe. Indian society did not set fixed boundaries on land as they usually travelled extensively to hunt buffalo and gather food. Finally, the treaty as written in English and many of the Indian representatives did not fully understand what they had agreed to.

 

Nevertheless, on 17 September 1851 the First Fort Laramie Treaty was signed. It stipulated that Plains Indians would stop inter-tribal fighting, let white migrants and railroad surveyors travel safely through their lands, allow the US government to build roads and army posts in their land, and to pay compensation to the US government if their tribe members broke these rules. In return, the US government stated they would protect Plain Indians from any white Americans and pay the tribes a $50,000 annuity providing they stuck to the treaties terms. 

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