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Native American Heritage Month: The Oldest Valid Treaty Between Indian Nations and the U.S. Is 218 Years Old Today

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November is recognized as Native American Heritage Month and Indian Country Today Media Network is celebrating every day of the month. Please continue to look for our special Native American Heritage Month coverage. Each day ICTMN will be presenting dedicated stories, photos, information about events and causes and more. And we welcome your participation. What does Native American Heritage Month mean to you? Send us your poems, stories and photos for possible publication to Together, we hope to foster a collective understanding and sense of unity among all peoples around the celebration of Native peoples during the month of November.

November 11 is Veterans Day, a day to recognize those who have served in the armed forces. Historically, Native Americans have volunteered to serve at a per capita rate greater than any other ethnic group. November 11 is also the anniversary of the oldest extant treaty between Indian Nations and the United States: the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. Here are some facts about the treaty.

Treaty With The Six Nations, 1794
A Treaty between the United States of America, and the tribes
of Indians called the Six Nations

This document between the United States and American Indian nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (Iroquois).

Signed on Nov. 11, 1794 and established peace between the new United States and all of the Six Nations following the Revolutionary War, in which only the Oneidas and some Tuscaroras supported the colonists.

Also known as Pickering Treaty or the Treaty of Canandaigua.

Ratified on January 21, 1795 and signed by President George Washington.

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One of the paramount issues addressed by the treaty was that the United States acknowledged the lands reserved to the Oneidas and others in the confederacy.

Within the lines of this treaty the United States and Oneida Nation agree to their boundaries and commit never to interfere with each other’s land:

“The United States acknowledges the lands reserved to the Oneida… to be their property; and the United States will never claim the same, nor their Indian friends residing thereon and united with them, in the free use and enjoyment thereof …”

In accordance with its terms, the United States still delivers bolts of cloth – known as treaty cloth or annuity cloth – to the Oneida Nation and the other members of the Confederacy every year.

Although each Oneida Member’s portion of treaty cloth has diminished over the years, it remains an important symbol of the continuing government-to-government relationship between the Oneida Nation and the United States.

The Treaty of Canandaigua is the oldest valid treaty in the U.S. The original treaty signed by President Washington is housed at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

To read the full treaty, click here.