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A History of Treaty-Making and Reservations

A History of Treaty-Making and
    Reservations on the Olympic Peninsula

  •  A Treaty With the Quileute

Stevens had one more treaty to negotiate on the coast before he turned inland and that was with the several tribes that lived along the ocean south of the Makah. So, on February 24, 1855, Stevens arrived on the banks of the Chehalis River about ten miles from Grays Harbor to meet with representatives from the Quinault, Queets, Satsop, Lower Chehalis, Upper Chehalis, Cowlitz, and Chinook Indians (one scholar has suggested that members of the Copalis or the Wynooche also attended). Missing from the negotiations, however, were the Quileute. Apparently, from haste, "incomplete knowledge" or language barriers, the treaty commission had overlooked the tribe that occupied the stretch of the coast between the Makah and the Quinault. Stevens, however, saw no reason to delay the negotiations with the tribes that had gathered at the treaty council (although he did wait two days for representatives of the Chinook and the Cowlitz to arrive) and opened talks on February 27 without the Quileute. In the end it didn't matter. The Indians gathered on the Chehalis River handed Stevens his first failure in treaty negotiations. Opposed to giving up their land and being forced to relocate to an undefined reservation in the Quinault homeland, several of the tribal leaders refused Stevens's increasingly strident requests for cooperation and, in a fit of pique, the governor abruptly ended the negotiations on March 2.

Four months later, as Stevens was on his way to the Bitterroot Valley to negotiate with the Flathead, Kootenay, and Pend Oreille Indians, his agent Michael T. Simmons met with the Quinault, Queets, Quileute, and Hoh on the Quinault River and successfully salvaged some of the work from the earlier failed negotiations by getting leaders from those tribes to sign a treaty. He later wrote, "July 1 made a treaty with the Kwillehyute and Kwinaiatl tribes and Huh and Quielts band of the later." As anthropologist George A. Pettitt observed, Simmons was a trifle confused: "It is clear that even after this visit the relationship between the tribes was not understood, for the Hoh are a band of the Quileute and the Queets a subdivision of the Quinault." Early the next year, several of the Indian signatories traveled to Olympia to witness Stevens adding his signature to the treaty on January 25, 1856.

The treaty Simmons negotiated was almost identical with that made earlier with the Makah. If differed in the amount of the annuity the tribes would receive over twenty years ($25,000 rather than $30,000), how much they would receive to prepare the reservation for farming ($2,500), dropped any requirement that the four tribes would have to share their reservation with others, and, curiously, added passages regulating the pasturing and upkeep of Indian horses. (See Treaty with the Quinaielt, 1855.) Like each of the treaties negotiated under Stevens' guidance, the treaty with the Quileute and the Hoh provided that the Indians move to the reservation within a year of the treaty's ratification by the U.S. Senate. This presented two problems for the Quileute. First, the treaty was not ratified until 1859. Next, the treaty was deliberately vague on just where and how large the reservation would be, noting only that "There shall be reserved a tract or tracts of land sufficient for their wants within the Territory of Washington and hereafter surveyed or located and set apart for their exclusive use." Until those reservation lands were selected, surveyed, and established by presidential order, the Indians were allowed to remain in their homes. As it turned out, the reservation lands were not selected until 1861 and another 12 years passed before President Ulysses S. Grant issued the executive order establishing the Quinault Reservation-although work on developing the reservation began more than a decade earlier. (See Executive Orders.)

Figure 3. Map of Public Surveys in the Territory of Washington for the Report Of the Surveyor General (1862)
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