About the National Archives

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony of the 1778 Treaty between the United States and the Delawares

Good morning! It is an honor to be here for the welcoming ceremony of the 1778 Treaty between the United States and the Delawares, signed at Fort Pitt, on September 17, 1778.  

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge President Deborah Dotson, Delaware Nation; Chief Chet Brooks, Delaware Tribe of Indians,; and Chief Denise Stonefish, Delaware Nation of Moraviantown who are all here today.

The National Archives and our neighbor on the Mall, the National Museum of the American Indian, have been working together building a partnership even before the museum opened in 2004 when we loaned more than 20 original Indian treaties for the inaugural exhibits. It is evidenced in our programming here in Washington and in New York City at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Old Customs House, and online.

Since 2014, we have worked together to display original treaties between the U.S. Government and American Indian Nations in the exhibit “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.” When we first began working together on the exhibition, the plan was a four-year run with eight treaties. It’s been such a success that we are working together to extend the exhibition and the treaty loans until 2021.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Director Kevin Gover, Deputy Director Machel Monenerkit, Associate Director for Museum Research and Scholarship David Penney, and Associate Director for Museum Learning and Programs Maria Marable-Bunch for their support in this partnership. And thanks to Jennifer Miller, Martin Earring, Cali Martin, and Allison Dixon for their invaluable assistance in rotating the treaties.

This National Archives/National Museum of the American Indian partnership has allowed millions of visitors over the last few years to view and learn about these important documents. But now we are embarking on a new project that can reach an even larger, worldwide audience.

The Indian Treaties at the National Archives are some of our most historically significant records and are considered national treasures. They have long been held in our vault at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC—well protected, but not readily accessible to the public. When an anonymous donor recently proposed funding an effort to digitize material from the vault, we proposed this set of treaties because it is a historically and culturally important collection in need of conservation treatment and also of interest to a wide audience. But more than that, the treaties are still relevant today as tribal leaders and lawyers continue to use them to assert their rights in court, such as in cases over land and water rights.

The gift, through the National Archives Foundation, is allowing us to preserve them and make more widely available the 377 ratified Indian treaties and their accompanying papers: Senate resolutions of advice and consent, Presidential ratifications, and proclamations. The digital images will then be made available online through the National Archives Catalog.

An additional component to the project is public outreach. We are now planning programs and activities related to the treaties and other Native American records, and we have asked staff at the National Museum of the American Indian for their ideas for developing strategies to reach Native American communities.

There are also many new educational programs at NARA and NMAI that teach about our Native American holdings. Education staff at both institutions have collaborated to develop education programs that connect teachers and students with the histories and experiences of Native communities as told through the holdings of the National Archives and the National Museum of the American Indian.

Our education staff have developed a series of webinars for teachers called Native Communities. The series features new resources for locating and using Federal records related to American Indians and Alaska Natives. In the introductory webinar, teachers will learn to use our new “Native Communities” guides and programs. Subsequent topics will include Native voices, making treaties, Native American stories about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and more.

Our education staff is also planning two sleepovers at the National Archives Building for 8- to 12-year-olds. The theme for the upcoming October 2018 and February 2019 Sleepovers will be tied to Native American records and activities.

Thank you for inviting me here today. We look forward to continuing our wonderful partnership with the National Museum of the American Indian.