Arikara Treaties


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The Arikara signed three treaties with the United States. They were a semi-nomadic people who lived on the Great Plains of the United States of America for several hundred years. The Arikara separated from the Pawnee before White contact. 

The Arikara (also known as Aricara, Arickaree, Ricara or Rees) lived primarily in earth lodges during the sedentary seasons. They created portable tipis as temporary shelter while traveling from their villages, or on seasonal bison hunts.

They were primarily an agricultural society, whose women cultivated varieties of corn (or maize). The crop was such an important staple of their society that it was referred to as “Mother Corn.”

This tribe suffered a high rate of fatalities from smallpox epidemics in the late 18th century, which so reduced their population as to disrupt their social structure. Due to their reduced numbers, the Arikara started to live closer to the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes in the same area for mutual protection.

They migrated gradually from present-day Nebraska and South Dakota into North Dakota in response to pressure from other tribes, especially the Sioux, and European-American settlers.

The three tribes are settled on the Fort Berthold reservation in North Dakota and are known today as the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation.  These Indians were at their present reservation location 140 years ago, when Lewis and Clark went through that country. They have never been removed, as many other Indian tribes have, from their original homeland.

The first major treaties made with tribes in this region were made in 1825. A group under Indian Agent Benjamin O’Fallon and General Henry Atkinson traveled up the Missouri to the Yellowstone with nine keelboats and a large military escort, making treaties with the Teton, Yankton, and Yanktonai Dakota, Cheyenne, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara.

In these treaties the Indians acknowledged the supremacy of the United States, which in turn promised them its protection. The Indians agreed not to trade with anyone but authorized American citizens. They also agreed to the use of United States law to handle injury of American citizens by Indians and vice versa.

Arikara Treaties

Treaty With The Arikara Tribe, 1825

Agreement At Fort Berthold, 1866

Treaty Of Fort Laramie With Sioux, Etc., 1851

July 31 – The Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara and Assiniboine delegation leave Fort Union and follow the Yellowstone River to the southwest. They are accompanied by Alexander Culbertson, Agent in charge at Fort Union, and Fr. Jean-Pierre DeSmet, Jesuit Missionary

Aug. 7 – In the evening sky, the delegation observes four circles of azure, purple, black, and white around the moon. This causes the travelers some concern.

Aug. 11 – The delegation arrives at Fort Sarpy at the mouth of the Rosebud. They wait 6 days for Crow leaders who do not show up.

Aug.17 – They leave Fort Sarpy following the Rosebud River.

Aug. 22 – Reach headwaters of the Rosebud and follow what will later become the Bozeman Trail. Camped north of what is now Buffalo, Wyoming, by a small lake now named Lake DeSmet. They then crossed the Big Horn Basin.

Aug. 27 – Travelers reached the Powder River and met 3 Crow Indians. They follow the serpentine Powder on an arduous journey through what they would later call “The Valley of a Thousand Miseries.”

Sept. 1 – Arrived at the Red Buttes east of what is now Casper, Wyoming. Fr. DeSmet estimates they are 160 miles west of Fort Laramie.

Sept. 2 – Reach the Oregon Trail which the Indian leaders call “The Great Medecine Road of the Whites.”

Sept. 7 – Delegation arrives at Fort Laramie at sunset and finds that treaty site has been moved to Horse Creek about 30 miles southeast.

Sept. 8 – The Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara and Assiniboine delegation arrive at the Treaty Grounds on Monday and take their place at the Council completing their journey of 800 miles.

Sept. 17 – Fort Laramie Treaty is signed by the Chiefs, the Commissioners and interpreters.