Treaty of Prairie du Chien

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The Treaty of Prairie du Chien may refer to any of several treaties made and signed in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin between the United States, representatives from the Sioux, Sac and Fox, Menominee, Ioway, Winnebago and the Anishinaabeg (Chippewa, Ottawa and Potawatomi) Native American peoples.


Prairie du Chien Lines. Subsequent boundary modifications shown as dashed lines.

The first treaty of Prairie du Chien was signed by William Clark and Lewis Cass for the United States and representatives of the Sioux, Sac and Fox, Menominee, Ioway, Winnebago and the Anishinaabeg (Chippewa and the Council of Three Fires of Chippewa, Ottawa and Potawatomi) on August 19, 1825, proclaimed on February 6, 1826, and codified as 7 Stat. 272.

Due to the overall tribal movements toward the western direction under pressure of encroaching settlers, the Sioux Nation resisted and came into conflict with other tribes moving west into their traditional territory. The United States negotiated the treaty to try to reduce inter-tribal warfare.

The treaty begins by establishing peace between the Sioux and their neighbors: Chippewa, Sac and Fox, and Ioway peoples. The treaty continues by demarcating formal boundaries among each of the tribal groups, often called the "Prairie du Chien Line." For peoples accustomed to ranging over a wide area, the Prairie du Chien Line served as a hindrance, as it provided that tribes were to hunt only within their acknowledged limits. Due to the vast scope of the Treaty of Prairie du Chien and the fact that not all of the necessary tribes had representatives at its signing, the treaty provided for additional councils to be held the following year in 1826 (see Treaty of Fond du Lac). Along with these additional councils, the Chippewa agreed to additional meetings.

The US used the series of Prairie du Chien Lines to serve as the land cession boundaries in later treaties.


Two treaties were negotiated simultaneously at Prairie du Chien in the summer of 1829, both signed by General John McNeil, Colonel Pierre Menard, and Caleb Atwater for the United States. Both treaties were proclaimed on January 2, 1830.

Land ceded to the U.S. at Prairie du Chien in 1829 by the Three Fires Confederacy (in yellow) and the Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) tribe (in orange).

The first of these, the second Treaty of Prairie du Chien, concluded on July 29, 1829, was between the United States and representatives of the Council of Three Fires (also known as the "United Nations of Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi Indians"). By this treaty, the tribes ceded to the United States an area in present-day northwestern Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin, as well as the areas currently occupied by the cities of Wilmette and Evanston. This treaty established reservation areas in western Illinois for the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation. Later the US removed them further west to Kansas. This treaty also preserved the rights of the Council of Three Fires to hunt in the ceded territory. The U.S. also received many acres of timber.

The second of these, the third Treaty of Prairie du Chien, concluded on August 1, 1829, was made between the United States and representatives of the Winnebago tribe. They also ceded land in northwestern Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin.


The fourth Treaty of Prairie du Chien was negotiated between the United States and the Sac and Fox, the Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Wahpeton and Sisiton Sioux, Omaha, Ioway, Otoe and Missouria tribes. The treaty was signed on July 15, 1830, with William Clark and Willoughby Morgan representing the United States. Through additional negotiations conducted in St. Louis on October 13, 1830, Yankton Sioux and Santee Sioux agreed to abide by the 1830 Treaty of Prairie du Chien. The US government announced the treaty and its numerous adherents on February 24, 1831.

In this treaty, the tribes agreed to land cession of three large tracts of land: two strips of land 20 miles wide each on either side of the boundary established by the first (1825) Treaty of Prairie du Chien (roughly from La Crosse, Wisconsin to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin), extending from the Mississippi River to the Des Moines River in what today is southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa; and a large triangular tract of land in southeastern Nebraska and northwestern Missouri, western Iowa and southern Minnesota, from Kansas City, Missouri due north to the Des Moines River, to the area about Spirit Lake, Iowa to Worthington, Minnesota, down Rock River, down the Missouri River and back to Kansas City. Additional tribes later ceded the large triangular tract as the Platte Purchase in 1836.

The treaty also established the Nemaha Half-Breed Reservation, which provided land in southeastern Nebraska to the mixed-race descendants of European/American fur trappers and their Native American women companions from several involved tribes. Without this provision, the mixed-race descendants were often kept from being allocated land on newly established reservations, and were caught between cultures.

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