American Indian Treaties: Supporting Documentation
Between 1774 and 1871, the U.S. government negotiated 377 treaties with American Indian nations. The National Archives Building in Washington, DC (Archives 1), houses the original treaties. These records are available as Microfilm Publication M668 or online through the National Archives Catalog, Ancestry.com, and Fold3.com.
In addition to the original treaties, researchers can find many other documents related to treaty negotiations at Archives 1. These documents include instructions issued to treaty commissioners, minutes of treaty councils, and correspondence between treaty commissioners and other government officials, among other records.
NARA Special List No. 6, List of Documents Relating to the Negotiation of Ratified and Unratified Indian Treaties, 1801–1869, serves as an index to many of these records.
Special List No. 6 is arranged by the number assigned to the treaty by the U.S. State Department (the custodian of the original treaties). As treaty numbers were usually assigned chronologically in the order in which the treaties were signed, Special List No. 6 is effectively arranged chronologically by the treaty date.
Entries in Special List No. 6 generally include the following information:
- Tribes involved in the treaty
- Signing date
- Location where the treaty was signed
Citations for correspondence or other records related to the treaty
Most of the records cited in Special List No. 6 are found in one of two record groups:
- Record Group 75: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Record Group 48: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior
Special List No. 6 is available online through the University of Wisconsin's Digital Collections.
Special List No. 6 includes multiples abbreviations, but a key to the abbreviations is available. The key pinpoints the series of records in Record Group 75 or Record Group 48 in which the cited document(s) can be found.
Many of these series have been microfilmed. All microfilm publications listed are available to view at Archives 1. Some have also been digitized.
|Abbreviations||Series Title||Microfilm||Digital Availability|
|*||Segregated File||T494, others||University of Wisconsin's Digital Collections|
Letters Received by the Office of the Secretary of War Relating to Indian Affairs, 1800–1823
|M271||Not yet digitized|
Letters Sent by the Secretary of War Relating to Indian Affairs, 1800–1824
|M15||Not yet digitized|
Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824–1880
|M234||NARA Catalog (NAID 159715232)|
|OIA, LS||Letters Sent by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824–1881||M21||NARA Catalog (NAID 2105779)|
Selected Classes of Letters Received by the Indian Division of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1849–1880
|M825||Not yet digitized|
Letters Sent by the Indian Division of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1849–1903
|M606||Not yet digitized|
The Treaty of Fort Laramie (Treaty No. 369) was signed on April 29, 1868, by members of multiple Lakota and Dakota (Sioux) bands, as well as members of the Arapaho Nation.
The treaty itself can be found on NARA Microfilm Publication M668, Roll 16. The treaty has also been digitized and added to the National Archives Catalog (National Archives Identifier 299803).
Special List No. 6 identifies nine documents related to this treaty. These documents range from the proceedings of treaty commissions to correspondence reporting the signing of the treaty.
Document No. 5 for this treaty is cited as:
J. B. Sanborn to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, May 28 and June 1, 1868 (telegram), reporting signing of treaty by Oglala and Miniconjou Sioux (OIA, LR, Upper Platte, S-589, S-593, 1868)
The citation OIA, LR, Upper Platte, S-589, S-593, 1868, can be broken down into the following elements:
- “OIA, LR” refers to letters received by the Office of Indian Affairs between 1824 and 1880.
- These records are available as Microfilm Publication M234.
- “Upper Platte” refers to letters received by the Office of Indian Affairs from the Upper Platte Agency.
- These records are available on Rolls 889 through 896 (Upper Platte, 1846–1870) of M234.
- “S-589, S-593, 1868” refers to specific file numbers within the letters received from the Upper Platte Agency in 1868.
- These records are available on Roll 893 (Upper Platte, 1868) of M234.
Sanborn's telegrams to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs about the Treaty of Fort Laramie signing are therefore on Roll 893 of M234.
This roll is available in the National Archives Catalog (National Archives Identifier 164497864). Sanborn's first telegram (File S-589) begins with Image 735. Sanborn's second telegram (File S-593) begins with Image 737.
Other records related to American Indian treaties can be found among the records of Congress. For more information, please email the staff at NARA’s Center for Legislative Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photographs, maps, and other special media related to American Indian treaties can be found in the Still Pictures unit and the Cartographic unit at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. For more information, please email their staff at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.