Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Treaty of 1839

New York Indian Removal, Part XIV:
The Treaty of 1839

This modern map of Calumet County, Wisconsin, shows that the eastern half of the Stockbridge Mohicans' two-township reservation became the township of Chilton after the tribe sold it to the federal government in the treaty of 1839.

Not being in the decision-making loop, people like Robert Konkapot may not have really known the things that were going on in the Stockbridge Mohicans' tribal government. The allegations he made (see my previous post) against tribal officials and Rev. Cutting Marsh aren't necessarily accurate. Nevertheless, a deal to sell a township (or one-half of the Stockbridge Reservation), did occur. Ironically, when the actual deal was made with the federal government, the Hendricks-Konkapot faction were involved in the negotiations and it was agreed that the proceeds of the sale of that good land would go towards the moving expenses of their "Emigrant" party.

We would assume that losing half of their good land would be highly upsetting to the Stockbridge Mohicans. However, I have seen no evidence that they were forced into the treaty of 1839. Rather the treaty was something that the two rival factions had negotiated for. As James Oberly (page 66) notes, Austin E. and John W. Quinney spent time in Washington D.C. in 1838 and their visit prompted Thomas Hendricks to tell the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, "Whatever Quinney proposes, we oppose."

So is it true that the two factions wanted to be rid of each other so badly that they voluntarily made a treaty which gave up half (the better half) of their reservation? Not exactly. If the treaty would have been properly implemented by the federal government, the emigration to what is now Kansas could have been successful. As it was, however, at least some and possibly many Indians died along the way and others eventually found their way back to Wisconsin. Others succeeded amongst other tribes in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Further reading:
Read the treaty online.
See pages 66-67 of James Oberly's A Nation of Statesmen.

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