1851 - Treaty Council at Horse Creek

Map drawn by Pierre DeSmet showing territories owned by Indian tribes at the conclusion of the 1851 treaty at Horse Creek.

         The largest and most colorful peace treaty in the history of the United States begins in September.  Attendance exceeds 15,000 Indians.  The council, attended by interpreters Jim Bridger, Fitzpatrick (co-commissioner), Pierre deSmet and Alexander Culbertson, lasted about three weeks.

         The tribes made pledges of peace among themselves and with the United States, and agreed to mutual understandings for the indemnification of damages committed by any tribe against another, or by any tribe against citizens of the United States.  Also, settlers were guaranteed right of way and safe passage across Indian lands by the tribes. 

         The territory of each tribe was defined and detailed on a map drawn by 'the Black Robe,' Father deSmet.  All of the tribes retained usufructory rights to other lands where they hunted and fished, even if it was owned by another tribe.

         This treaty, ratified the following year (1852) by the U.S. Senate, formally recognized the western tribes as the titled owners of 1 million square miles of the American west, an area larger than the entire Louisiana Purchase.