ix American Indians hold a unique status in having signed the most treaties of any In- digenous people in the world. After negotiating more than 400 treaties with Ameri- can officials, a total of 374 were ratified by the U.S. Senate. After an act in 1871 stopped treaty making with the Indian nations, the U.S. government made an ad- ditional 97 agreements with American Indian tribes from 1870 to 1904. Together, there are 471 American Indian treaties and agreements. There is an important question raised about why the United States has negotiated such an enormous number of Indian treaties and agreements. In the early forma- tion of the U.S. government following the American Revolution in 1776, the new government had an exhausted volunteer army with almost no resources to protect its people. Most American Indian nations were stronger than the new union of 13 states. George Washington, John Hancock, and other founding fathers wanted the Indian nations to recognize the sovereignty of the new United States. England and France, who had previous treaties with Indians, continued to court trade relations with the Indian nations, so they still posed as threats to the United States. For the new United States, establishing peace and friendship with American Indians was essential for survival in the late 1700s. One of the reasons for this book is to explain both what an Indian treaty is and more importantly what it means. These are two basic questions are for those who are unfamiliar with U.S.‑Indian relations, which has a long history dating back to the first treaty with the Delawares in 1778, also referred to as the Fort Pitt Treaty. This treaty set an important precedent for the U.S. government in dealing with In- dian nations, whose histories dated back hundreds of years. For example, in the first treaty the Delawares recognized the new sovereign status of the United States that had won its independence from Great Britain. Most importantly, the Delaware treaty established a mutual responsibility for both nations to recognize the rights of the other and to act as allies when needed. In other words, the United States needed the military strength of the Delawares—a powerful military force at the time—against the continued threat of Great Britain, which led to the War of 1812. Preface
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