U S Treaty With Navajo Native Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

In contrast, the Treaty Between the United States and the Navajo Tribe of Indians contains far more positive language about native peoples. It concedes that 'bad men' amongst whites exist as well as natives: "From this day forward all war between the parties to this agreement shall for ever cease. The government of the United States desires peace, and its honor is hereby pledged to keep it. The Indians desire peace and they now pledge their honor to keep it." It notes that "If bad men among the whites, or among other people subject to the authority of the United States, shall commit any wrong upon the person or property of the Indians, the United States will, upon proof made to the agent and forwarded to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs at Washington city, proceed at once to cause the offender to be arrested and punished according to the laws of the United States, and also to reimburse the injured persons for the loss sustained" by the crime (I).

The exchange of goodwill is also marked by an exchange of promises. It is not simply the Indians who must give back tolerance, land, and natural resources to the whites, but the Navajo treaty upholds the responsibilities of the American government to the natives: "The United States agrees to cause to be built at some point within said reservation, where timber and water may be convenient, the following buildings: a warehouse, to cost not exceeding twenty-five hundred dollars; an agency building for the residence of the agent, not to cost exceeding three thousand dollars; a carpenter shop and blacksmith shop, not to cost exceeding one thousand dollars each; and a school-house and chapel, so soon as a sufficient number of children can be induced to attend" (II). The Navajo Treaty also creates an office, that of an agent that will live amongst the Navajo and report any abuses to Commissioner of Indian Affairs. This suggests a far more protective attitude on the part of the American government.

It is true that in the Western Shoshone Treaty, "inconvenience" regarding the White destruction and use of Indian game is mentioned. However, the American government's language is not simply vague, but openly disingenuous regarding compensation: "The United States promise and agree to pay to the said bands of the Shoshonee nation parties hereto, annually for the term of twenty years, the sum of five thousand dollars in such articles, including cattle for herding or other purposes, as the President of the United States shall deem suitable for their wants and condition, either as hunters or herdsmen." In short, Article 7 says, in effect -- we will give you what we wish to give you. In contrast, in the Navajo Treaty provisions are made for the natives to obtain their own tracts of land to farm on the reservation, and rather than vaguely imposing good behavior contingent upon the will of the American government, the tribe's good behavior is given specific requirements, like not interfering with the construction of the railroad, for example, not scalping whites, or absconding with settlers' families.

Yet, before one grows too complementary towards the American government and its relationship with the Navajo, it is still important that the U.S. made many treaties whose provisions it did not keep. Still, even by Navajos today, the Treaty is considered a major concession: "The Navajo Treaty of 1868 was the last treaty the Navajos signed with the U.S., and it not only freed Navajos from captivity but returned them to the homeland they were forced to leave" in the wars between whites and natives (Hopkins 2007).

Works Cited

Harring, by Sidney L. White Man's Law: Native People in Nineteenth-Century Canadian

Jurisprudence. Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998

Hopkins, John Christian. "For the Navajo, Treaty is Testimony to Leaders."

The Independent. June 2007. March 30, 2009.


United States Treaty Between the United States of America and the Navajo Tribe of Indians.

Historic Documents. March 30, 2009.


United States Treaty with the Western Shoshoni, 1863. Native Web. October 1, 1863.

March 30, 2009. http://www.nativeweb.org/pages/legal/shoshone/ruby_valley.html

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