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The 1829 Prairie du Chien Treaty is the 16th treaty to be displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, on loan from the National Archives and Records Administration. The treaty can be seen in the “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations” exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian’s Washington, D.C., location starting Nov. 9. The treaty will be on display until April 2023.
The Prairie du Chien Treaty was one of 12 major treaties in which Potawatomi people relinquished most of their land in the southern Great Lakes to the United States. During the treaty negotiations at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, in 1829, U.S. officials pressured Native leaders to cede territories in northern Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin, parts of which were already occupied by American intruders. Ultimately, 35 tribal representatives signed the treaty, including five women who are thought to be widows or heirs of deceased chiefs. Under the agreement, Potawatomi and associated Ottawa and Ojibwe groups relinquished 3.5 million acres of tribal land. In return, the U.S. government exchanged trade goods, barrels of salt, annual payments in silver, a blacksmith shop in Chicago and land parcels for tribal leaders and their Indigenous-French (Métis) descendants, and $11,601 was set aside to settle Native American debts to traders. The treaty furthered the U.S. government’s gradual removal of the Potawatomi people to lands west of the Mississippi River.
About “Nation to Nation”
Displaying original treaties in “Nation to Nation” is made possible by the National Archives, an exhibition partner. Several of the treaties required extensive conservation treatment by the National Archives’ conservator prior to loan. Treaties can only be displayed for a short amount of time in order to conserve them for the future. There are a total of over 370 ratified Indian treaties in the National Archives. The current treaty on display at the National Museum of the American Indian is the 1868 Treaty with the Nez Perce, which was intended to address grievances from a prior 1863 treaty that reduced Nez Perce land from a 7.5-million acre reservation in Washington state, Oregon and Idaho to 750,000 acres in Idaho.
The next treaty to go on display at the National Museum of the American Indian will be determined by curators at the museum in collaboration with conservators and staff at the National Archives and Record Administration.
September 2014–February 2015: Treaty of Canandaigua, 1794
March 2015–August 2015: Muscogee Treaty, 1790
September 2015–February 2016: Horse Creek (Fort Laramie) Treaty, 1851
March 2016–August 2016: Treaty with the Potawatomi, 1836
September 2016–February 2017: Unratified California Treaty K, 1852
March 2017–August 2017: Medicine Creek Treaty, 1854
September 2017–January 2018: Treaty of Fort Wayne, 1809
February 2018–April 2018: Navajo Treaty, 1868
May 2018–October 2018: Treaty with the Delawares, 1778
November 2018–March 2019: Fort Laramie Treaty, 1868
April 2019–September 2019: Treaty of New Echota, 1835
October 2019–March 2020: Treaty of Fort Stanwix, 1784
October 2020–March 2021: Treaty of Fort Jackson, 1814
November 2021–May 2022: Treaty of Fort Harmar with the Six Nations, 1789
May 2022–November 2022: Treaty with the Nez Perce, 1868
November 2022–April 2023: Prairie du Chien Treaty, 1829
About the Museum
In partnership with Native peoples and their allies, the National Museum of the American Indian fosters a richer shared human experience through a more informed understanding of Native peoples. The museum strives toward equity and social justice for the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere through education, inspiration and empowerment. For additional information about the museum, visit americanindian.si.edu. Follow the museum via social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About the National Archives
The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. Its holdings include vast resources on Native Americans from as early as 1774 through the mid-1990s, including records from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in addition to the hundreds of original treaties between the U.S. and Native American tribal nations, now freely available online through the National Archives Catalog. Follow the National Archives on social media at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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