Congress ended the treaty-making ear with Indians in 1871. The last treaty the Senate ratified was with the Nez Perce, but it would not take long before the terms of that treaty were violated by white settlers with depredations to Indian lands that soon led to the Nez Perce Wars.
The last treaty was made with
the Nez Perce and was broken just a few years later, leading to the
Nez Perce War.
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A move to end
the treaty system was in full swing in the House of Representatives
by the late 1860s. Caleb H. Smith, commissioner of
Indian affairs, supported an official repudiation of treaties and
the imposition of an allotment program. Smith urged Congress
to declare that the Indians were the dependent wards of the
government and to let his bureau be the primary authority over
Indian land and lives.
plenty of congressmen of the day who would have voted for such
legislation, but the end of treaty making came about as a pragmatic
solution to the jealousy of members of the U.S. House of
Representatives who resented the relationship between the president
and the U.S. Senate in the business of making treaties and
executing Indian policy. They also felt that tribes should be
dealt with in general legislation rather than through treaties that
were protected by the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution
which had the odious effect of formally recognizing tribes as
semi-autonomous governments bodies with independent powers.
In order to achieve the ends of Manifest Destiny, the American
landscape needed to be cleared of savages who still had a legal
right to self-rule.
The end of the
process was little more than a way of resolving petty jealousies
between the House and the Senate. Tiring of having to pay out
annuities to tribes who signed treaties ratified by the U.S.
Senate, the House demanded an end to the process through an
amendment it attached to the appropriations bill of 1871.
brought an end to the second treaty era, but not to removals, which
continued until the western tribes had been corralled on