Millard Fillmore and the Indians of California

March 30, 2010

Some of the most interesting stuff of history can only be found accidentally.   You don’t know what you don’t know, and so the only way to find it is to stumble into it in the dark.

Pamela Bumsted sent me a link to this site, which describes the travails of the Winnemem Wintu, a band of people native to the area of California from Sacramento, going north.  It is an American Indian tribe, except under the view of the U.S. government.

Their troubles relate to their giving up claims to their traditional lands in a treaty with the U.S. government, during the administration of Millard Fillmore.  Alas for the Winnemem Wintu, the treaty was not ratified by the U.S. Senate, and their own claims to their own lands fell out of law and out of history.

In the 1851 Treaty at Cottonwood Creek, the Winnemem (represented by the signature of Numterareman), along with other Wintu bands, ceded a vast territory from Sacramento to near the Oregon border to the United States in exchange for a 25-square-mile reservation along the Sacramento River. The California legislature lobbied against the treaty to the U.S. Senate which, in turn, pressured President Millard Fillmore to refuse ratification of any of the 18 treaties signed “in peace and friendship.” As a consequence, the Winnemem never got their reservation and started losing their traditional lands to encroaching settlement and the designation of the Shasta National Forest in 1906.

Eighteen treaties were not ratified by the Senate?  Which 18?  What happened to those bands? Were they all California bands?

We know the Winnemem Wintu are fighting for recognition  now.  What happened to the other 17 nations, and the other 17 treaties?  Got resources?  List them in comments

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