Treaty of Medicine Creek

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Treaty of Medicine Creek was an 1854 treaty between the United States, and the Nisqually, Puyallup and Squaxin Island tribes, along with the "S'Homamish, Stehchass, T'Peeksin, Squi-aitl, and Sa-heh-wamish", as designated by the treaty.


The site of the treaty was near the Nisqually River delta, along a creek then known as She-nah-num by the natives, or Medicine Creek by white settlers. The creek is now known as McAllister Creek.

The signing took place in Thurston County, Washington, on December 26, 1854,[1] in a grove of Douglas fir trees well known to the tribes. The single tree remaining on the site from the original grove at the Nisqually River Delta was a de facto monument, known as Treaty Tree. On June 14, 1922 (Flag Day) the Sacajawea Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a bronze tablet on the Medicine Creek Treaty Tree bearing the following inscription: "Site of the Medicine Creek Treaty between Governor Isaac I. I. Stevens and Puget Sound Indians 1854 Marked by Sacajawea Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution 1922." [2] Though not recognized as an official historical location, the site was avoided during the creation of Interstate 5 in the 1960s, and a monument erected on the hillside overlooking the creek, pointing at the site in 1976, by students of nearby Timberline High School. The monument is in the shape of a peace sign when viewed from the air, contains an old Navy buoy which represents the spherical thinking of Native Americans, a rusty railroad rail representing the white mans rusted straight thinking and a time capsule to be opened in 2076. The DAR Plaque disappeared from the site during the 1970s. The large Treaty Tree, which had been languishing for decades, was formally recognized as diseased by 1975, and by 1979 was dead. Seeds from Treaty Tree that were gathered in the 1970s were re-planted in a circle 40 feet from it. The dead snag was left standing and still visible from the Interstate until 2007, finally falling during severe windstorms.[3] In June 2013, a new plaque was dedicated in front of a tree growing from a seedling of the last Treaty Tree. The off-spring tree is growing on the bluff of the Thurston County Courthouse campus. Representatives of local treaty tribes joined Thurston County Commissioners for the ceremony. The plaque is inscribed as follows: "The treaty of Medicine Creek was signed December 26, 1854 by representatives of the United States Government and the leaders of the Nisqually, Puyallup and Squaxin Island Indian Tribes. The treaty established the future formal relationship between the U. S. and the Indian Nations. The Treaty Tree was located in the Nisqually delta where the 1854 treaty was signed. The treaty tree was lost in the winter of 2007, but several seedlings were propagated, including this offspring. These living trees stand testimony to the ongoing responsibilities agreed to among the signatories." The Thurston County Historic Commission was instrumental in working with the Tribes and Thurston County in arranging for the plaque and the dedication ceremony.[4][5]


The treaty granted 2.24 million acres (9,060;km²) of land to the United States in exchange for establishment of three reservations, cash payments over a period of twenty years, and recognition of traditional native fishing and hunting rights.[1] Those rights were ignored by the territorial and later state government, until the Boldt Decision in 1974. Since that decision, the tribes named in the treaty have had a recognized right to half of the fish caught on traditional lands throughout south Puget Sound. The original Nisqually reservation was in rocky terrain and unacceptable to the Nisqually, who were a riverside fishing people. They went to war in 1855.[6] An unfortunate outcome of a year of skirmishes that followed was that Nisqually Chief Leschi was hanged for murder.[7] (He was exonerated in 2004.)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b, Native American tribal leaders and Territorial Gov. Stevens sign treaty at Medicine Creek on December 26, 1854
  2. ^ Daughters of the American Revolution Volume I.I September, 1922 No. 9 Pages 615 and 616
  3. ^
  4. ^ Thurston County Connection Newsletter June 2013
  5. ^
  6. ^, Nisquallys and Klickitats battle Territorial Volunteers in Pierce County beginning October 27, 1855
  7. ^, Nisqually Chief Leschi is hanged on February 19, 1858