The End of Treaty-Making 1871

In 1871, the House of Representatives added a rider to an appropriations bill ceasing to recognize individual tribes within the United States as independent nations “with whom the United States may contract by treaty.” This act ended the nearly 100-year-old practice of treaty-making between the Federal Government and Native American tribes.

This dramatic shift in Federal Indian policy came from a power struggle between the House of Representatives and the Senate over control of Indian affairs. The negative effects of the 1871 Indian Appropriation Act continued for nearly a century, until Federal Indian policy dramatically changed again, encouraging Native American tribes to exercise self-governance over tribal matters.