American Indian affairs are much in the public mind today—hotly contested debates over such issues as Indian fishing rights, land claims, and reservation gambling hold our attention. While the unique legal status of American Indians rests on the historical treaty relationship between Indian tribes and the federal government, until now there has been no comprehensive history of these treaties and their role in American life.
Francis Paul Prucha, a leading authority on the history of American Indian affairs, argues that the treaties were a political anomaly from the very beginning. The term "treaty" implies a contract between sovereign independent nations, yet Indians were always in a position of inequality and dependence as negotiators, a fact that complicates their current attempts to regain their rights and tribal sovereignty.
Prucha's impeccably researched book, based on a close analysis of every treaty, makes possible a thorough understanding of a legal dilemma whose legacy is so palpably felt today.
List of Illustrations
Abbreviations Used in Footnotes
Introduction: The Anomaly of Indian Treaties
PART ONE. A TREATY SYSTEM
1. The Revolutionary War Years
2. Treaties of Peace after the Revolution
3. Treaty-Making Procedures under the Constitution
4. Confirming the Procedures: Other Treaties in the 1790s
PART TWO. INSTRUMENTS OF FEDERAL POLICY
5. Testing the Treaty System: 1800 to the War of 1812
6. A Position of Dominance: The War of 1812 and After
7. Indian Removal and the Debate about Treaty Making
8. The Removal Period in the North
9. Patterns in Treaty Making
10. Treaties in the Expanding West
11. The Civil War Decade
PART THREE. DETERIORATION
12. The End of Treaty Making
13. Treaty Substitutes
14. The Collapse of the Treaty System
PART FOUR. RENEWAL: THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
15. Treaties in the New Century
16. Treaties before the Supreme Court
17. Treaty-Rights Activism
Francis Paul Prucha, S.J. is Professor Emeritus of Histor at Marquette University. Among his many books is The Indians in American Society: From the Revolutionary War to the Present (California, 1985).