California Indian Treaties -- they exist (sort of)

In 1861-52 -- that is while the slaughters by American settlers, miners and the U.S. Army were just revving up on California natives -- a treaty commission was sent from Washington to get the indigenes out of the way of expansion into the newly-conquered (from Mexico) territory. They signed 18 treaties with more than 500 Indian leaders of the many tribes whose territories patchworked the land. Those treaties set aside -- reserved -- 8.5 million acres of less desirable land, away from seacoasts, in scattered parcels, none containing more than 25,000 acres. Nothing was heard of those treaties until 1905 -- the U.S. Senate never ratified them, and no land at all was set aside for the Indian people. Below, you'll find dates and descriptions of the treaties that made the cessions -- and reserved the maroon areas -- shown on this map. I have insufficient info as to what treaty ceded what area to make this an imagemap. The grey area (mountains and desert) was not subjected to treaty cession negotiations. The colored areas were all ceded by various tribes whose territories they were. The scattered maroon areas represent the supposed-to-have-been-reserved (reservations) Indian lands, also negotiated in the 18 treaties.

In 1905 there was beginning to be concern about the surviving landless desperately poor California Natives. The unsigned treaties turned up about then. They had been sent to a Senate archive -- a storage dump -- and lost therein for 50 years. But gee whilikers! the land, the 8.5 million acres they ceded all the rest in return for having undisturbed possession of -- that land's all taken . . . hey, too bad. Well, said the reformers and helpers, let's give Lo, the Poor Injun, some land! We've got desert, rocky and waterless areas and such, they're really not farmers anyway.

And thus began the unique California "rancheria" Indian reservation system, where tiny patches of generally very poor, isolated land were federally purchased from time to time for landless Indians, from a variety of swindlers, and "given" to Lo, the Poor Injun. That's the astonishing landscape of Native California you see on the main page to this section Ignoring cities, roads, settlements, farmlands of the state, it looks as if Indian reservations are all over the map, as indeed they are, in parcels ranging from 0 to a few hundred acres, which are supposed to support several hundred people. Mostly on isolated and agriculturally undesirable land.

TREATY Material prepared by Russ Imrie, Costanoan-Ohlone Website

Article I, Section 8, Clause 3, the Commerce Clause "Powers delegated to congress" ...To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes

Article VI, Clause 2, The Supremacy Clause states as follows: ...2. This Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made pursuant thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding...

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Feb. 2, 1848

Guaranteed United States citizenship to Mexican citizens in California and recognition of their land titles. Indigenous Californians were citizens in Mexican and Spanish Law. Their absolute title to the State of California was clear...and acknowledged by the united States. In this statement...

Senator John Fremont made this report to the President on Sept 16, 1850

"...statements I have given you, Mr. President that ...Spanish law clearly and absolutely secured to Indians fixed rights of property in the lands that they occupy...and that some particular provision will be necessary to divest them of these rights." "Our occupation is in conflict with render this occupation legal and equitable...I have introduced this bill (to enact negotiations)...which recommends...the favorable consideration of the its obvious necessity...because it is right in itself...because it is politic...and because it is conformable to the established custom of this Government."

But the new citizens were needed for slaves, as assets of the squatters (oops, we mean pioneers) ...

Opponents to negotiated treaties in the U.S. Senate "....saw a policy...deeply affecting the present and future prosperity of the State." "...they (treaty commissioners) have undertaken to assign to the Indian Tribes, a considerable portion of the richest of our mineral lands." "...gentlemen have undertaken to assign a considerable portion of the latter to the Indian tribes, wholly incapable, by habit or taste, of appreciating its value." (We must ask ourselves why indigenous Californians fought and struggled) "...they, to a great extent, what is so much needed, the labor, without which it will be long before California can feed herself." "To take of the Sierra Nevada...for the home of the wild and generally hostile Indians...we claim an undoubted remove all Indian tribes beyind(sic)...limits of the State..."

Eighteen treaties were negotiated to secure legal title to public domain land and guaranteeing reserved lands and protection from white violence for indigenous Californians in 1851-1852. Here is a list of them, corresponding to the 18 sifferently-colored map areas. There is unfortunately insuficient info to connect each treaty to an area, making it an imagemap; that may be done later. Russ didn't provide a citation for the book from which he obtained his map originally.

A. Treaty of Camp Belt, May 13, 1851

B. Treaty of Camp Keyes, May 13, 1851

C. Treaty of Camp Persifer F. Smith, June 10, 1851

D. Treaty of Dent's and Ventine's Crossing, May 28, 1851

E. Treaty of Camp Union, July 18, 1851

F. Treaty of Camp Bidwell, August 1, 1951

G. Treaty of Reading's Ranch, August 16, 1851

H. Treaty of Camp Colus, September 18, 1851

I. Treaty of Camp Cosumnes, September 18, 1851

J. Treaty of Temecula, January 5, 1852

K. Treaty of Santa Isabel, January 1, 1852

L. Treaty of Camp Fremont, March 19, 1851 (covered southern Costanoan territories)

M. Treaty of Camp Barbour, April 29, 1851

N. Treaty of Lipayuma, August 20, 1851

0. Treaty at the Russian River (Camp Fernando Felix), August 22, 1951

P. Treaty of Lower Klamath, October 6, 1851

Q. Treaty of Upper Klamath, November 4, 1851

These treaties were never openly and publically debated (thus not appearing in the Congressional Record) and instead were hidden and remained so until discovered in the early 1900's, then denied. Meanwhile, indigenous Californians enjoyed the "protection" of the 1850 ACT which made slaves of them and turned life in the so-called land of the free into a horror, a travesty of the Constitution...the population of these people, about 200,000 -300,000 in 1848, was reduced to 15,238 by 1890.

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Text, maps and graphics copyright -- Paula Giese, 1996, 1997 except where elsewhere attributed.

CREDITS: The treaties map was adapted with permission from one prepared by Mohawk Russ Imrie for his Costanoan-Ohlone California Natives Resource, the largest web resource of California Native info. His treaties map was an early experiment with graphics that is not successful. I traced Russ's map in FreeHand and altered the colors so there are 18 distinguishable ones. I drew and animated the monarch butterfly, an outtake from the one on my "Indian Signs on Red North America" map which is the theme of this MAPS section. The brief treaty descriptions are adapted from another of Russ's pages, which has an experiment in animation (an aerial treaty that breaks up) that is 257K and takes far too long to load, preventing users from reading about the treaties themselves un.ess they have a lot of time to spare.

Last Updated: 1/23/97