Lot 257

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J.Q. Adams Petition Signed by 32 Native American Leaders Claiming Promised Land for the Tribes

Important document in Native American history, a petition by the Brothertown Indians to President John Quincy Adams to honor the 1821-1822 treaties that carved out land for them in Wisconsin, November 6, 1827, 6pp on four sheets measuring 8" x 13", affixed along top margin. The document is signed by 32 tribal "Peacemakers", including many of the Fowler, Dick and Johnson families who led the tribe. The document is the retained copy for the tribe and is noted on verso of the last page as "The Petition of the Brothertown Indians. Separation starting along center horizontal fold. Expected wear; foxing and toning; creasing; worming to last sheet, not affecting text; else, very good condition with bold handwriting.

Called the "praying Indians" for their early conversion to Christianity, the Brothertown sought to relocate from New York to Wisconsin, so as to make themselves "remote from the temptations [of] the white people". The two treaties however were hotly contested, and despite the tribe's belief that "the Government is too pure to permit the helpless to be so wronged", the treaties were never ratified, and the tribe ultimately received less than one percent of the land it was promised. While conventional wisdom dictates that other tribes were the source of dissatisfaction with the treaties, here, the Brothertown petitioners claim it was French and American settlers that caused "mischief" amongst the other tribes.

In part, with spelling errors corrected for ease of reading:

"To His Excellency John Quincy Adams Esquire President of the United States and to the Hon The Senate of the United Sates...The petition of the undersigned Chiefs or Peace makers...of the Brothertown Tribe of Indians formerly called the Mohegan, Montauk, Naragansets, Pequoits and Nahantucks Indians of New England...they saw with satisfaction the communication to the Six Nations residing in the State of New York by the Honorable Wm. Crawford Acting Secretary of War in the year 1816 in which he informed them that the government of the United States would confirm to the New York Indians any lands which they might purchase of their Brethren to the West. And after the Treaty between the New York Indians and the Menominee and the Winnebago Indians for the purchase of a tract of Land in 1821. And the treaty between the Menominee Indians and the New York Indians for an extension of this purchase of Lands at Green Bay in the year 1822 and seeing the ratification of the said Treatys by the President of the United States confirming the purchase of the Land to the New York Indians and the communication of his Hon. Mr. Calhoun Secretary of War in the year 1823 expressing the Presidents satisfaction in the two purchases and that the Government of the United States considered the New York Indians to have a title to the Lands so purchased.

Your memorialist fondly anticipated that the time had arrived when the Indian tribes could again be settled in a Country by themselves remote from the temptations incident to the Settlements amongst the white people, and…with this expectation purchased some of the Land on the east side of Fox River about ten miles from its mouth for which your memorialist paid to the Menominee Nation Nine hundred and fifty Dollars it being a part of the consideration due them for the Land mentioned in the Treaty of 1822 between the New York and the Menominee Indians. And this sum is but a small part of the expense your memorialist has been at in negotiating the purchase and running out their Lands and they had made arrangement with the Government of the State of New York for the sale of their Treaty possessions at Brothertown in the State of New York, and was making every preparation for removing to Green Bay and settling on their Lands, when to their surprise your memorialist understood there had been a representation made to the President of the United States by some mischievous person that the Menominee and Winnebago Indians were dissatisfied with the New York Indians relative to the Treatys made with them.

But your memorialist are of opinion that there was no dissatisfaction with the Menominee and Winnebago except what originated from some mischievous persons whose object is to prevent your memorialist and the rest of our Brethren of the State of New York from removing to Green Bay and possessing their Land which they had so fairly purchased and paid for and which the Government had confirmed. But at the late Treaty held at the Butte des Morts by his Excellency Governor Lewis Cass and Col Thos L. McKinney with the Winnebago, Menominee & Chipeway Tribes of Indians in August last your memorialist was more convinced probably than ever that all the uneasiness between the Menomimee and Winnebago Nations against the New York Indians originated in the intrigues of some of the French and American Settlers near the mouth of Fox River. At that Treaty the Hon Commissioners thought proper to direct the said French Settlers to counsel with the Menominee & Winnebago Indians and the latter to Council with the former who had the advantage of the New York Indians in as much as they could convene familiarly with each other in a language which the New York Indians could not understand. There was no difficulty in persuading the Menominee and Winnebagos to deny that they had sold the Land to the New York Indians hoping that they could recover the Land back and sell it to the United States although they had been fairly and honestly paid for it before by the New York Indians.

But your memorialist would enquire whether it is not common for the Indians after having sold Lands to a State or the United States and received their pay for the same for some of them to be dissatisfied and want to get the Lands back. Your memorialist are acquainted with several cases of this kind but they believe the Indians were always bound to the sale. But although it was admitted by the Menominee and Winnebagos at the Late Treaty that their Chiefs did sign the Treaty of Conveyance to the New York Indians. Yet to the surprise of your memorialist the Hon. Commissioners took a session of Land of the Menominees in the Treaty of six miles wide on each side of Fox River up to the upper part of the grand…your memorialists will be without a plan to spread their blankets after having exhausted all their funds to procure a place to sit down…amongst their Brethren, But your memorialist have always put the fullest confidence in the government of the United States and firmly believe it will not permit them to be thus wronged although individuals who may be the agents of the government may err, yet your memorialist confidently believe that the Government is too pure to permit the helpless to be so wronged.

Therefore your memorialist respectfully and earnestly pray that his Excellency the President and the Hon. the Senate of the United States would disapprove of the said late Treaty so far as it relates to the said session of Land or at least that part of it which lies on the east side of Fox River and which was ratified to the New York Indians by the President of the United States in the Treaty of 1822 which includes the Country between Fox River and Lake Michigan as far north as Sturgeon Bay. Your memorialist are sensible of the interest, the ambition and the prejudice which press against them. But they confidently rely on the magnanimity and justice of the government for the protection of their rights and as your memoralist have no other source to look to but our Great Father the President and his Honorable Council the Senate of the United States and from the many assurances the government has given to the New York Indians that they should be protected in their rights. Your memorialist humbly pray that the Country which they have fairly purchase under the agents appointed by government and fairly paid for and which purchase was sanctioned by the President of the United States may be confirmed to your memorialist and the rest of their Brethren in the State of New York and your memorialist as in duty bound will ever pray."

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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