The Indigenous Digital Archive’s Treaties Explorer, DigiTreaties.org, was created by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe, New Mexico, in partnership with the US National Archives Office of Innovation and National Archives Foundation. Thanks to a generous anonymous donor, the US National Archives conserved and digitized the 374 Ratified Indian Treaties in its holdings.
The Indigenous Digital Archive is a project of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe, New Mexico, in collaboration with the New Mexico State Library, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and the New Mexico History Museum.
Boundaries on the present day map are drawn from GIS data maintained by the US Forest Service. The land boundaries are mainly from the work of government clerks in the 1890s-1900s to research the history of land transfer treaties or other agreements, in the absence of an official list of all the ratified treaties the US entered into with Native nations. They referred to these as “cessions.” Their maps are included on this site. The boundaries they compiled have been transferred to a modern GIS map with some updates by Claudio Saunt, and further updated in recent years by the US Forest Service. The government’s compilations of cessions did not include much of the Eastern Seaboard, or West Virginia or Kentucky, both formerly part of Virginia. Some treaties related to those areas can still be searched by tribe name or title, while others were treaties made in Colonial times between Native nations and European governments. A summary of Colonial era treaties by eastern seaboard area is given in American Indian Treaties: A Guide to Ratified and Unratified Colonial United States, State, Foreign, and Intertribal Treaties and Agreements, 1607-1911 by David H. DeJong, who notes that
Some 430 treaties were made between American Indian tribal nations and colonial governments, although others likely occurred that were not recorded. British, Dutch, and French traders, as well as Spanish explorers, were known to have acted in quasi-official roles and negotiated treaties with tribal nations that were either not recorded or were only noted in as-yet-undiscovered correspondence. Other treaties are located in the diplomatic transcripts of negotiation but have never been recorded as independent treaties, although they nonetheless represent binding treaties. (p.14)
Further information can be found in Resources.
Our main resource for linking the names of tribes as they appeared in historic documents and the official names of tribes today is a list maintained by the National Park Service. Like the US Forest Service, the National Park Service works with indigenous tribes and researches its cultural resource collections and land under its stewardship in compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
The scans of treaties on this site come from the treaties with native nations from 1722 to 1869 in the holdings of the US National Archives (National Archives Identifier 299798). In some cases, the original treaty (or an official copy thereof) is accompanied by additional historical documents, which are included here. This is not an exclusive list of all treaties. There is as yet no complete official list of all the Indian Treaties the US has entered into.
The Indigenous Digital Archive is supported by two IMLS National Leadership Grants (LG-70-16-0047-16 and LG-36-19-0111-19), a Knight Foundation Prototyping Grant, a collaborative Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) (DHC_2019_000669), an American Philosophical Society Library Digital Knowledge Sharing Fellowship, multiple grants from the New Mexico Historical Records Advisory Board (NMHRAB), and support from the San Francisco Community Foundation.
Throughout the IDA project we gratefully acknowledge also the guidance of our advisory panel of Native scholars, community leaders, and library and archives practitioners, and technical advisory panel, all of nationally and internationally preeminent experts who have been as passionate as us about effectively connecting people to information.
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