A Breakdown of the Treaty at Neah Bay


In this blog post I would like to break down the details of the treaty at Neah Bay as simply as possible. I want to focus on the main points and interpret them in a more simple manner.

First of all, the treat at Neah Bay was signed on the 31st of January 1855, ratified on the 8th of March 1859, and finally proclaimed on the 18th of April, 1859.

Article one on the treaty outlines that the Native people agree to give up all the land they, at the time, occupied. This land went from the mouth of the Oke-ho River then running west to Cape Classet, from Cape Classet or Cape Flattery as it is more popularly known now, running southward along the coast down to Ozette. Essentially their entire homeland that they have occupied since time immemorial. This also included any islands lying off the same straights and coasts.

Article two outlines the parameters of the Makah reservation. The Makah were forced into a small area to the north by Neah Bay, at the site of an old Spanish fort. The article also states that white men are not allowed to reside on the reservation unless permitted by the local native tribe. The United States government reserved the right to run roads through the reservation if they felt it was needed, and it states that the Makah people would be compensated for any damages. Lastly, it is made clear that the president of the United States reserves the right to place any other tribe into the reservation as he sees fit.

Article three outlines that the tribe agrees to move onto the reservation within one year of the treaty being ratified. Until then it remains lawful for the native people to live on any land they see fit, as long as it is known privately owned by an american citizen.

Article four is perhaps the most important article, especially to the Makah people themselves. The fourth article reserves the right for the tribe to continue fishing, whaling, and sealing at their accustom stations and grounds. They are also allowed to build houses for the purpose of holding, curing, and processing anything they catch. The only acceptation in this article is the the Makah people are not permitted to any shellfish that is laid in the beds of another American citizen. They are also allowed to hunt game and pick berries and roots in public places.

Article five says that the United States Government will pay the Makah tribe a total sum of $30,000 for their compliance. They will do so by giving the tribes $3,000-1,500 every year for ten years, with the amount lowering every year.

Article six says that the government will give the tribe a sum of money to help move their people to reservation and to start cultivating the lands.

Article seven outlines how the president of the United States reserves the right to move part of all of the tribe again to another site if he sees fit. He also reserves the right to combined the Makah tribe with other friendly tribes or move other tribes into the Makah territory.

Article eight simply states: “The annuities of the aforesaid tribe shall not be taken to pay the debts of individuals.”

Article nine says that the Makah tribe acknowledges its dependance on the United States government. It also adds that this means that they will be friendly with any other American citizen and not wage war or attack any neighboring white villages. They are also not to wage war on any other friendly tribe, unless in self defense. Breaking these rules will result in the removal of the reservation under their name and the treaty will not be ratified. They are also not allowed to conceal any offenders against the United States.

Article ten says that the Makah people are not allowed to consume alcohol, or bring any alcohol onto the reservation. If a person does so then their benefits from the United State will revoke their annuities.

Article eleven says that the government will provide certain agencies and support them for 20 years until the tribe can do so by themselves. This includes schools, carpentry workshops, physicians, a black smiths, and other resources. They also agree to provide medical vaccines.

Article twelve says that the Makah people must free any slaves they now posses and not to posses any in the future.

Article thirteen says that the Makah people are not allowed to trade with the natives from Vancouver Island or any other international tribes. It also states that out of country natives are not allowed to reside on the Makah reservation either.

Article fourteen says that all partied are obligated to follow the rules of the treaty as soon as it is ratified. The following is also stated: “In testimony whereof, the said Isaac I. Stevens, governor and superintendent of Indian affairs, and the undersigned, chiefs, headmen and delegates of the tribe aforesaid have here unto set their hands and seals at the place and on the day and year herein before written.”

After this the treat is signed by Isaac I. Stevens as well as 41 Native Makah tribes men and chiefs. The native people signing only with “X’s”.

Hopefully this explanation breaks down what one of the Native treaties looked like and what it contained!

Works Cited:

Treaty with The Makah, 1855 , http://www.fws.gov/pacific/ea/tribal/treaties/MAKAH_1855.pdf

Photo credit: http://americanindiantah.com/Makah/Makah%20Research/images/OriginalMakahReservation.jpg


2 thoughts on “A Breakdown of the Treaty at Neah Bay

  1. Hi Alexa! I really loved the organization of your post, breaking them up by articles really helped me understand the Treaty of Neah Bay. Seeing that the Makah signed off the treaty in X’s, it’s clear they didn’t quite understand what they were getting into. Great job!


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