The 1851 Treaty Commission Journal: The Clackamas Treaty

In November 1851 Dart finally is ready to return to Washington DC with the treaties to present them to Congress. Earlier in the year, when Dart arrived in Oregon, he first visited the Umatilla basin to try to work a deal with the Umatilla regional tribes for the removal of some 4,000 western Oregon Indians to the Umatilla. In the council, the Umatilla regional tribes refuse. Dart seemed undaunted and establishes an Indian Agency Office in Umatilla.

He then returns to western Oregon and first visits the Clackamas Indians to settle their land claims. Dart makes no progress with the Clackamas treaty and decides to proceed with the Willamette Valley treaties first, mainly because he was originally ordered to settle the land in the valley first, to prepare for increasing settlement of white Americans. He then visits Tansey Point and Port Orford to negotiate and sign treaties with the Chinook, Tillamook, Coquille and Rogue River Indians.  In November, just before undertaking the voyage back to the United States, he negotiates and completes the treaty with the Clackamas.

By this time the treaty making is very much refined, Dart had learned lessons from the other negotiations. He learned not to ask what the tribes wanted, and just to tell them what they can have. This tended to save lots of time, as the tribe never got their hopes up.

The Clackamas at this time are much reduced as a tribe. There were perhaps 25-30 people altogether remaining in the Clackamas tribe. The rest had died by malaria or other diseases. Those tribes closest to the American settlements and the fur trade suffered the most change to their culture, and exposure to diseases, liquors, and opportunities to have conflicts with Americans, caused many losses.

Oregon City was the metropolis of the Oregon territory at this time, the largest American city and the base of American governance, the Catholic Church, most of the merchants and hotels, and the U.S. Land Surveyors office. Oregon City was the literal End of the Oregon Trail, the tracks still visible today coming from the east into the north part of downtown (The End of the Oregon Trail Museum). Many Oregon pioneers would rest in Oregon City for a day or so and make a claim at the land office and hire a guide to take them to their claim. The location, next to Willamette Falls, was a hubbub of activity as industries were beginning to be built to use the constant current to power grist, woolen, and limber mills alongside the river.

On the west side, there were settlers that were the beginnings of West Linn, but there remained a small Indian village, with at least one Longhouse, near the ferry, as mentioned in the treaty.


Clackamas Treaty

Proceedings of a Council held at Oregon City between Anson Dart Superintendent of Indian Affairs and the chiefs and headmen of the Clackamas Tribe of Indians commencing on the fifth and ending on the sixth day of November 1851.

Nov. 5th The Chiefs and Headmen were not in council by the superintendant who proposed a willingness to sell their tract of country provided they were permitted to make a large reservation- one that included several valuable claims now occupied by white settlers- The Superintendent said to them that there were so many difficulties in the way of carrying out a treaty in which so large a reservation was made, that he could not think of concluding such a treaty- but suggested to them the propriety of allowing him to say what privileges they ought to reserve. He then explained to them that he thought would be a sufficient reservation and told them to talk over the matter among themselves and come again in the morning and he would further propose an annuity to be paid them. The council adjourned till tomorrow morning.

Nov 6th The council met in the morning pursuant to adjournment. The Superintendent proposed to pay them an annuity in goods and money for ten years. The list of articles consisting of clothing, provisions, etc. was read and explained to them.


Articles of the Treaty

Made and concluded at Oregon City, Oregon Territory this sixth day of November eighteen hundred and fifty one between Anson Dart Superintendent of Indian Affairs on the part of the United States of the one part, and the undersigned chiefs and headmen of the Clackamas tribe of Indians of the other part.

Article 1

The said tribe of Indians ceded to the United States the tract of land included within the following boundaries viz: Beginning at the mouth of the Willamette River on the East side thereof where the said river empties into the Columbia River, and running thence easterly following the Columbia River to the summit of the Cascade Range of Mountains, thence southerly along the summit of said Cascade Range to the line which forms the Northern boundary of lands recently claimed by the Moolalle to the Willamette River; thence northwardly following down the Willamette River to the place of beginning: Containing all the land claimed or owned by the said Clackamas Tribe of Indians.

Article 2

The said Clackamas Indians reserve the privilege of residing upon the grounds now occupied by them at the ferry of the Clackamas River, during the natural lives of the signers of this treaty. They also reserve the privilege of fishing without molestation, at all their former fishing grounds on the Clackamas river: together with the privilege of passing freely from one to the other along the river. It is understood by the parties subscribing hereto that the grounds as now occupied by the said Clackamas Indians, and upon which they now reside, are not to be encroached upon by white persons during the time for which they are reserved by said Indians: except in passing to and from the ferry across the Clackamas River; in building a bridge or bridges and in making necessary roads or highways through said grounds.

[note: this is not a reservation but only a right of occupation for the remainder of their lives]

Section of John Mix Stanley painting of Oregon City about 1841, Left is a salmon drying scaffold, far right is likely a Plankhouse, and some of the small buildings are likely tribal huts, while those against the bluff are clearly settler houses. In the river, is the ferry which crossed the Willamette here. This may be the last image of the Clackamas village at the falls.

Article 3

There shall be perpetual peace and friendship between all the citizens of the United States, and all the Individuals composing said Clackamas tribe of Indians and there shall be a free and friendly intercourse between the contracting parties hereto, and it is distinctly understood and agreed by the said tribe that the citizens of the United States are freely permitted to pass and repass through their settlement without molestation or injury, and that the said tribe further agree to pay the full value for any injury their people may do to the goods or property of the citizens of the United States taken or destroyed by them. And the United States hereby guaranty to any Indian or Indians of the said tribe a full indemnification for any horses or other property which may be stolen from them: Provided, that the property so stolen cannot be recovered, and that sufficient proof is produced that it was actually stolen by a citizen of the United States, and within the limits thereof.

Article 4

In consideration of the Cession made in the foregoing articles of this treaty, the United States agree to pay to the said Clackamas Tribe of Indians the following annuity for the term of ten years, from the date of ratification of this treaty viz: Five hundred dollars in money and two thousand dollars in goods as follows, Twenty woolen coats, twenty pairs of pants, twenty vests, Forty pairs shoes, Twenty hats or caps, Sixty shirts, One Hundred blankets, Twenty linen coats, Twenty five linsey plaid dresses for women, Twenty five plaid shawls, Twenty five calico drop patterns, Two hundred yards domestic cotton, Twenty five pairs women’s shoes, Two hundred pounds soap, One hundred and fifty pounds tobacco, Twenty five bags flour (one hundred pounds each) Two barrels molasses, One barrel rice, Two hundred pounds sugar, Twenty pounds tea, Five eight-quart brass kettles, Ten eight-quart tin kettles, Ten Frying pans, Ten six quart tin pans, Thirty pint cups, Three rifles, Three Indian horses. The above goods are to be of good quality and the first payment is to be made as soon after the ratification of this treaty as practicable.

Article 5

This treaty shall be binding upon both parties from the date of its ratification by the President and Senate of the United States.

In testimony whereof the said Anson Dart Superintendent of Indian Affairs and the Chiefs and Headmen of the Clackamas Tribe of Indians aforesaid have herewith set their hands and seals the day and year first above written.

(Signed)                                              Anson Dart {L.S.}

Joe (his x mark) {L.S.}                      Watcheno (his x mark) {L.S.}

Tummahcus (his x mark) {L.S.}      Washkai (his x mark) {L.S.}

Whyna (his x mark) {L.S.}               Wallahpicah (his x mark) {L.S.}

Kachumult (his x mark) {L.S.}         Lomus (his x mark) {L.S.}

Signed in presence of

Nicholas Du Bois Secretary

David McLoughlin Interpreter




RG 75 Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs, 1848-1873, M2, Oregon Territory, Roll 28

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