Lower Chinook and Clatsop
Traditional Culture
  Since Time Immemorial
Who's Who
Village Life
Inter-Village Relations
Seasonal Round
"Celiast" and "Ilchee"
Intertribal Trade Network
Canoe People
References Cited

  Contemporary Culture
Environmental History
Cultural History
Recommended Websites

  Relationship with U.S.
  Early Coastal Exploration
Strangers Arrive
Maritime Fur Trade
Fort Clatsop Winter
Overland Fur Trade
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Fisheries, Missions, and Settlements
Shrinking Land Base
Making Treaties
Recognition and U.S. Relations
References Cited

Portion of 1845 map "Oregon Districts" by James Wyld, Geographer to the Queen.
Courtesy the University of Oregon Library, Maps and Aerial Photography Collection
Portion of 1857 "Map of the Indian Nations and Tribes of the Territory of Washington"
by Isaac Stevens.
Courtesy of The University of Montana Mike and Maureen Mansfield Library, Map Collection.
Portion of J.G. Swan's Map of the Western Portion of Washington Territory.

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Dick Basch

Read the Treaty of
Olympia, courtesy of the NWIFC website.

July 1, 1855, on Qui-nai-elt River, and on Jan 25, 1856, at Olympia, the Treaty of Olympia is negotiated. Ratified in 1859, this treaty established a 10,000 acre tract of land set aside for the Quinault tribe.

July 8, 1864, Secretary of the Interior J. P. Usher creates the Chehalis Indian Reservation, using the authority of articles in the Treaty of Olympia.

September 22, 1866 Executive Order establishes the tiny 320 acre Shoalwater Bay Reservation for Willapa Bay Chinook, also under authority from the Treaty of Olympia.

November 4, 1873 Ulysses S. Grant's Executive Order expands the Quinault Reservation from 10,000 acres to 220,000 acres. This order sets apart land for the use of "Quinaielt, Quillahute, Hoh, Quit, and other tribes of fish-eating Indians on the Pacific Coast". This is the basis under which the Chinook and other tribes were later (1931) allotted lands on the Quinault Reservation.

Fort Clatsop > Culture > Making Treaties

1851 Anson Dart Treaties

1855 Chehalis
River Treaty

Treaty of Olympia

1864 Ruling
1851 Anson Dart Treaties

"The first of the treaties were called the Anson Dart Treaties in 1851, and there was a whole series of them written with the different tribes. Each of the five groups that now make up the lower Chinook Indian nation, signed a treaty, and the United States Senate never acted on, or signed or ratified those treaties " (Gary Johnson interview: 2002).

Anson Dart negotiates 19 treaties in August of 1851, on treaty grounds at Tansy Point, on the south shore of the Columbia at the mouth of Lewis & Clark River (see map below). Treaties are drawn up with the Clatsop, Wau-ki-kum, Konnaacc, Kathlamet, Klatskania, Wheelappa, and Lower Chinook bands of the Chinook peoples, as well as the Tillamook and other bands. None of these is ratified by the Senate. (Beckham 1987:7)

Section of 1887 Army Corps of
Engineers map showing location of
Tansy Point, 1851 treaty grounds.

University of Washington Archives
#UW128. -- University of Washington
Library Archives Website, 2002
Adapted from portion of 1881 Symons
map to show approximate boundary of
Lower Chinook territory cession,

as described in Anson Dart
treaty at Tansey Point in 1851.

The geographical area described in the treaty for the cession of the Lower Band of the Chinook Tribe to the United States was as follows:

“Beginning at the mouth of a certain stream entering Gray’s Bay on the north side of the Columbia River which stream forms the western boundary of lands ceded to the United states by the Waukikum band of Chinooks, running thence northeroly on said western boundary to lands of the Wheelappa and of Indians thence westerly along said lands of the Wheelappa band to the Shoalwater Bay, thence southerly and easterly following the Coast of the Pacific Ocean band the northern shore of the Columbia to the place of beginning, the above description is intended to embrace all the lands owned or claimed by said Lower Band of Chinook Indians. [See Chinook Tribe and Bands of Indians v. United States, 6 Ind. Cl. Comm. 177, 184 (1958))]. (Bureau of Indian Affairs 1851: 32-35, Ex. 9). (Beckham 1987:8)

Read Anson Dart's 1851 letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Courtesy of the Center for Columbia River History.


1855 Chehalis River Treaty

Camp on the Treaty Ground. James G. Swan sketch (Swan:1857).
Courtesy of The University of Montana, K. Ross Toole Archives, Special Collections.

“Then there were further treaty negotiations that went on as Washington became a territory, the Chehalis River Treaty in 1855.

"With the early treaties, the U.S. first wanted to push or send all the Indian people to eastern Washington, which is a totally different climate, without the rivers and the water of our homeland. This was asking people to leave their ancestors and their villages, and people wouldn't go, didn't want to go. So the second treaty, this Chehalis River Treaty, they asked people to go up north and they didn't specify an area, and it turned out to be near the Quinault Indian Reservation. Multiple tribes attended and none of them would agree to the terms. Governor Isaac Stevens, the person in charge, left the treaty grounds and everyone went home without a treaty signed" (Gary Johnson: 2002).

Washington Territory is created in 1853, and now the U.S. government wants to include the Chinook in negotiations with tribes to the north and east of them, and not their relatives across the river in what is now Oregon Territory. Isaac Stevens is the new governor of Wash. Terr. and is anxious to establish treaties with all of the tribes.

Indian Agent William H. Tappan reports in 1854: “It is a great misfortune that a treaty was made with these people some years ago and not being ratified by Congress the payments were not made as promised. This has given rise to a feeling of distrust" (Tappan 1854b, Ex.458, in Beckham 1987:23). And in January of 1855: “ At Chenook I found the Indians sullen and not willing to talk to the purpose (of disposing of their lands)... they would be afraid to live there [north, in the country of the Quinaults]...In short they were not willing to go far from home into a strange land" (Tappan 1855a, Ex.498, in Beckham 1987:23).

Swan reports that 843 Indians representing the Upper and Lower Chehalis, Queniults, Chenooks and Cowlitz are in attendence on the Chehalis River treaty grounds(Swan 1857:346). Interpretation at the treaty council on the Chehalis was a challenge, with several languages and cultural understandings present. After Gov. Stevens expressed the intentions of the proposed treaty to move all of the tribes attending to one reservation in the Quinault homelands,

“Several of the chiefs spoke, some in Jargon and some in their own tribal language, which would be interpreted into Jargon by one of their people who was conversant with it; so that, what with this diversity of tongues, it was difficult to have the subject properly understood by all. But their speeches finally resulted in one and the same thing, which was that they felt proud to have the governor talk with them; they liked his proposition to buy their land, but they did not want to go on to the reservation. The speech of Narkarty, one of the Chenook chiefs, will convey the idea they all had" (Swan 1969:345).

“When you first began to speak," said he to the governor, “we did not understand you; it was all dark to us as the night; but now our hearts are enlightened, and what you say is clear to us as the sun.

“We are proud that our great father in Washington thinks of us. We are poor, and can see how much better off the white men are than we are. We are willing to sell our land, but we do not want to go away from our homes.

“Our fathers, and mothers, and ancestors are buried there and by them we wish to bury our dead and be buried ourselves. We wish, therefore, each to have a place on our own land where we can live, and you may have the rest; but we can’t go to the north among the other tribes. We are not friends, and if we went together we should fight, and soon we would all be killed" (Narkarty in Swan 1969:345).

"This same idea was expressed by all, and repeated every day. The Indians from the interior did not want to go on a reservation with the Coast or Canoe Indians.

“The governor certainly erred in judgment in attempting to place these five different tribes on the same reservation; but his motive was, that as they were so few, being mere remnants of once powerful bands, it would be better to have them concentrated at one point. They, however, did not think so; their ancient prejudices were as strong as ever, and they well knew that they never could agree to live together. They were willing to concentrate at a given place on their own lands, and it is a pity the governor did not see the benefit that would arise to them by so doing. A hundred Indians, all that remained of the Chenook tribe, if located at any one point, would be in nobody’s way, and certainly there is plenty of room in their possessions. So of each of the other tribes" (Swan 1969:345).

“The Chehalis River Treaty Council proved a disastrous event. Unlike prior treaty councils in western Washington...the conference on the Chehalis River included many disillusioned Indians...Discontent also mounted when Stevens named ‘chiefs’ and tried to force all of the bands...onto a single reservation. The conference erupted in angry exchanges and Stevens stormed from the session" (Beckham 1987:24).

Treaty of Olympia

"The government negotiated what was called the Treaty of Olympia, establishing a reservation within the homeland of the Quinault Tribe. This treaty was signed only with the Quinault and Quilliut tribes, and none of the lower Columbia river tribes signed that.

“By Presidential Proclamation, that reservation was expanded from ten thousand acres to two hundred and twenty thousand acres. The Chinooks and the Cowlitz and Chehalis, Shoalwater, and many other tribes were then given land on the expanded reservation.

“An interesting point is that people were given 80 acre allotments, and the Chinooks were given about 54 percent of them, because there were so many Chinook people. The Quinaults were a smaller tribe, and they only received six percent. This distribution of land has resulted in a lot of, a lot of controversy and debates and court rulings.

"We have court rulings that give us treaty rights on the Quinault Indian Reservation, as one of the tribes of the Quinault, and this speaks to our acknowledgement also. People cannot be given land allotments on an Indian reservation unless they are an Indian of a federally recognized tribe. All of our families were given allotments on that reservation, so this is another example of our recognition. And there's a Supreme Court case called the Halvert Decision that confirmed Chinook allotments there. So it's been to the Supreme Court and the rulings have always been favorable for the Chinook people" (Gary Johnson interview: 2002).

1864 Ruling

"The next extremely important government action, to us, was in February of 1864, when Secretary of Interior, John P. Usher, just wrote out a ruling of taking all of Chinook territory for the United States. This was an illegal action. Nowhere in the Constitution of the United States does the Secretary of Interior have that power to take land. In international law, there's no provision for any country to take land in that way, so it was clearly an illegal action.

"The illegal taking of our land in 1864 probably remains a concern of the U.S. to this day, of what to do with the Chinook. If we are formally recognized and acknowledged by the government, will they have to return our land" (Gary Johnson interview: 2002)"

Background: Portion of 1881 Symons map “Department of the Columbia"
Courtesy of the University of Oregon Library Map and Arial Photography collection.