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Unratified Treaties

Since its initial publication in 1904, Charles Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws, and Treaties has been the standard reference work for those interested in American Indian treaties and treaty-making. Despite its size, however, Kappler's work is by no means comprehensive. Scattered among various national and state archives, university and historical society collections, topical monographs and articles are dozens of treaty documents pertinent to an understanding of American Indian legal issues and history not included in Kappler's volumes. It had long been the ambition of the noted American Indian scholar and advocate, Vine Deloria, Jr., to compile and publish these treaty documents in a convenient, accessible format. To that end, Professor Deloria enlisted the aid of Raymond J. DeMallie as co-editor, and the resources of the American Indian Studies Research Institute.

Using Professor Deloria's extensive, preliminary research and continuing input as a guide, AISRI was responsible for confirming and obtaining authoritative copies of each treaty, verifying and correcting source citations, and in many cases, researching alternative or more reliable sources. This project often involved working from handwritten documents, some of which were in Spanish. AISRI undertook the translation of these, and of a number of other treaties that had been published only in Spanish. Finally, AISRI staff were responsible for computerizing, proofreading, and formatting each of these documents. The 1600-page manuscript was submitted to the publisher fully formatted and virtually ready to publish.

The result of this effort is Documents of American Indian Diplomacy: Treaties, Agreements, and Conventions, 1775-1979, a two-volume collection that illustrates the full range of American Indian treaty activity. Along with the usual ratified treaties, there are chapters covering less well-known and seldom considered treaties and agreements, such as those with foreign nations, with other Indian tribes, with state governments, with railway companies for rights-of-way, and with individuals for land grants and sales. In addition, the work documents the considerable number of negotiated treaties and agreements which were rejected and never ratified. Each chapter begins with an introductory essay by Professor Deloria which provides essential context for the treaties collected therein. Thus, the work is simultaneously a illustrative study of American Indian diplomacy and a valuable reference source for difficult-to-obtain treaty documents.