In 1775, the Second Continental Congress commissioned Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry to negotiate treaties with Native Americans. At that time, there were three Native American related agencies. The Constitution placed Native American relationships in the jurisdiction of the War Department in 1789. In 1806, Congress established the Factory Trading Network to protect Native Americans from unscrupulous fur traders. On March 11, 1824, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was established to handle Native American concerns.
Chicago’s growth was directly affected by five ratified treaties in 1795, 1816, 1821, 1829 and 1833. These contracts ceded land to the government, commissioned forts to be constructed and approved the construction of roads and portages. These treaties were only as just and ethical as those who signed and approved them.
The Treaty of Greenville (1795) ceded two-thirds of southern Ohio to the government and marked water transportation routes in the Northwest Territory. One route was the mouth of the Chicago River where Fort Dearborn was built in 1803. It established the portage between Chicago and the Des Plaines and Illinois Rivers.
On August 29, 1821, Ottawa, Chippewa and Potawatomi representatives signed a treaty at Chicago, ceding land in southwest Michigan to the government, and a road was to be built from Chicago to Detroit. This road was completed in 1835.
The Treaty of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin (1829) ceded land extending westward to the Rock River to the government. Antoine Ouilmette’s farm, now the site of a lighthouse in Wilmette, marks a corner of that land. It distributed sections of land along the Chicago and Des Plaines Rivers to persons of Native American heritage. Billy Caldwell, Alexander Robinson and Mrs. Archange Ouilmette, Antoine’s wife, benefitted from this provision.
To be continued…
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