- 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
Treaties are the foundational center of federal Indian law and policy. Designed as a comprehensive and accessible collection of American Indian treaties, David H. DeJong's American Indian Treaties is an excellent reference for scholars and researchers of relations between the United States and American Indian tribes. Part 1 of the well-researched book serves as a sixty-five-page overview, broken into eight chapters that introduce the treaty-making process. DeJong separates Indian treaties into six categories: intertribal relations; the colonial era; ratified treaties; unratified treaties; treaties made with individual states or foreign nations; and nontreaty agreements made following the close of the official treaty era. Within each chapter, representative examples are highlighted of each treaty category to illustrate relevant points.
DeJong's brief but thorough first chapter is particularly useful for researchers looking for an introduction to the political and legal history of treaty making in Indian Country. While the chapters on tribal diplomacy with the American colonies and United States are vital to an understanding of the contemporary relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes, DeJong's inclusion of intertribal treaties signals a key insertion into the historiography of tribal treaty making. DeJong highlights the work of several scholars who have begun to unpack the nuanced diplomatic protocols of intertribal relations as separate from the individual states and federal government. DeJong acknowledges that much more research is needed into intertribal treaty making and cautions that while European and American records can be used for this scholarship, the use of tribal sources offers even more intriguing opportunities for future research.
Also included in the text are chapters on unratified treaties between [End Page 185] the United States and Indian tribes and treaties made with individual state and foreign entities. Though often overlooked in favor of ratified federal treaties, unratified treaties—those treaties with completed negotiations but rejected by the United States Senate—help illuminate the internal congressional debates over federal Indian policy. DeJong writes that while unratified treaties were not valid in the federal government's view, many were honored by the tribes involved, and some, especially land cession treaties, ended up benefiting the United States. Similarly, the section on state treaties and foreign treaties demonstrates that federal power in Indian affairs continued to develop slowly, even after the passage of the Nonintercourse Act of 1790 made it illegal for individual states to make treaties. In the contemporary era, tribes have had success in recovering lands and rights associated with treaties made with states in violation of the Nonintercourse Act. DeJong's overview continues beyond the end of the official treaty era in 1871 to include nontreaty agreements and acts through 1911.
DeJong's overview chapters of each era and treaty serve as a solid introduction to the history of treaty making. Part 2 is equally beneficial, as it contains the extensively researched tables, which comprehensively list each tribal treaty made in the United States and provide researchers with an organized listing of the treaties. The first section of tables includes thematically categorized listings of treaties from the 1600s through 1911. The tables include the date, location, tribal participants, and purpose of each treaty. DeJong has also included in the tables source locations pointing out where to locate the listed treaties. In order to further ease the process of research, DeJong has included a table of alphabetically listed tribal nation participants. Each tribe is designated by its federally recognized name, but, when available, individual bands are also included.
Of further use to researchers is DeJong's bibliographical essay, found at the very end of the book. Besides listing a location for the primary sources of the included treaties, the essay includes several secondary sources that offer more detailed histories of the subsection of treaties that DeJong highlights in his introductory...