The 1851 Tansy Point Treaty Journal: The Clatsop Treaty

For the Tansy Point Treaties, Dart worked to get all the land from the tribes. By this time the tribes had already heard rumors of the treaties, and the plan to remove all tribes to eastern Oregon. Likely, news about the Willamette Valley treaties at Champoeg had already reached the Clatsop. There, the Kalapuyans, beginning with the Santiam tribe, had powerfully held out for a reservation in their traditional lands during days of negotiations. From this news the Clatsop tribe was reassured that they may be able to remain on their lands.

Robert Shortess is an interesting figure here. He sets up the treaty location and pre-prepares the tribes for Dart. He is married to a Chinook native and so he is not siding with the United States, but appears to be more concerned with the rights of the tribes, as communicated in correspondence. For his efforts he is fired by Dart and replaced with William Raymond as Sub-Indian Agent for the Astoria District.

After these treaties, including the lower Chinookan tribes and Tillamooks, the tribes actually move to their chosen reservation localities, and live on the reservations for some years, perhaps into the 1880s. Therefore, despite the fact that theses treaties go unratified, the tribes still abide by the treaty as their chosen living arrangements. This coastal tribe is never again visited by a treaty commission. The Coast treaty commission of 1855 never reached the north coast and likely ends just north of Coos bay.

The transcript below has a lot of interesting features, Tosetow is quite colorful and outspoken about his fears of what may happen to them. Washington, too, has a lot of good dialogue. By this time, the treaty commission is resigned that they are not going to get the tribes to remove and that reservations will have to be set up within the lands of the negotiating tribes. The commissioners’ claims of peace and friendship are hollow when comparing what happened to the tribes later, when attacks continued and they were preyed upon, and were undernourished and treated poorly on reservations by Indian agents. As well, the conversation about land rights is very illuminating, as the commissioners seem to feel the American settlers were welcomed into the area by the tribes who approved of them to take the land, even suggesting this was all legal, whereas the tribe presents a different opinion; that the American encroached.


Tansy Point Treaty Journal: 1851

Tansy Point near Clatsop Plains & mouth of Columbia River, Oregon Territory

August 1st 1851

Commencement of Treaty operations by Supt. Indian Affairs

Left Oregon City 31st July at 5 o’clock A.M, and went on board of the Steamboat Lot Whitcomb at the foot of the Rapids. The party consisted of Anson Dart Superintendent, H.H. Spalding, Indian Agent, J. L. Parrish Sub Indian Agent, A. Dubois Secretary and G.W. Childs Cook. Boat stopped at Portland where supplies were bought for the expedition. Arrived at Astoria wbaout 6 A.M. on Fridaty morning August 1st. Hired Pilot Boat to take the party to Tansey Point for which the Captain charged #30. (Including freight etc) Arrived there about two o’clock P.M. Hired a small house of Mr. Raymond for an office and sleeping room. Sent a messenger to inform the Clatsop Indians of our arrival and readiness to treat with them for their lands. Mr. Raymond commenced immediately to prepare a place for holding the convention. Mr. Raymond was engaged as Interpreter at Five Dollars per day.

Saturday Augst 2d A few of the Clatsop Indians came together not enough, however, to commence negotiations with, consequently further operations with them were postponed till Monday. A messenger was dispatched to Killchess Chief of the Tillamooks requesting him to come with his men to Tansey Point, and meet the Superintendent and Agents, where they would be prepared to treat with him & his band for their lands.

Sunday 3d A number of Indians having arrived for the purpose of treating, were supplied with provisions, beef, flour, etc.

Monday August 4, The Clatsop Tribe having assembled at the treaty grounds with their Chief Tosetow (who was sick and had been brought there in a canoe) They were met in council by the officers of the U.S. Government, appointed to treat with them for their lands. Whereupon a talk was held substantially as follows-

Supt- In the first place we desire you to be assured that we cherish towards the Indians the most friendly feelings.

Tosetow- very good

Supt- Have you not long and anxiously awaited our coming to settle with you for your lands?

Tosetow- We have.

Supt- Why then have you been so backward about coming together since you heard of our arrival and readiness to treat with you.

Tosetow- It has been because we were not so very anxious to sell our houses, and be driven away like so many birds, as we have heard was to be done as soon as we sold our lands. But now we have come together to know what your desire is concerning us. We do not wish to be deceived. We wish to know how much land you desire to try and should we sell we want our boundaries defined so that we may know where our lives are. If you are really in earnest about buying we are willing to sell, with a reservation.

Supt- What we do now we are instructed to do by our Great Chief, the President. We cannot deceive you. Our Desire is to do whatever is just and right. Our bargain is to be a permanent one and cannot be altered.

[these are false statements because Congress has the right to alter the treaties before ratification and on its face the statement is wrong because the deal is only ratified by the Congress and the President.]

Tosetow- Your people are rapidly getting wealth from our waters and lands and we wish now to sell and receive our pay without delay.

Supt- Whatever agreement is made between us must be sent to our Great Chief for his approval. Should he approve of the treaty you will soon begin to receive your annuities. Until the treaty is ratified you will occupy and use your lands as you have always done. Our Government has never bought lands in any other way, of the Indians, than the one we now propose. Were I buying land of you for myself, individually, I should expect to pay as soon as the bargain was closed, but I am now acting for the Great Chiefs beyond the mountains and must do as he has instructed me to. I have no doubt but that he will confirm what we shall do this day. Our people already have possession of your lands, but we are willing to deal justly by you and make you a fair compensation for what we have taken.

[again Dart here is merely hopeful, as all of these treaties include reservations in the lands of the tribes and this is not part of his orders, in fact this is why the treaties are never ratified]

Tosetow- Our band wish to make a large reservation, one that will include the claims of several white men. These men we desire to have removed that we may have the reservation to ourselves exclusively. Until this treaty is ratified, we would have the ships removed from the Columbia River and not allowed to come in, and the Mill at the lower end of Clatsop Plains, which greatly annoys our people, we wish to be stopped.

[bold statement by the chief, one of the men he is talking about is addressed in another essay . It would also be impossible to remove all ships from the Columbia and stop ingress here]

Supt- Our people have already taken possession of your land and they have done so with your consent. We now come to pay you for those lands, as has been promised you. We wish to protect you in all your rights, and if you are ready to sell we will make a bargain with you at once, if you are not ready to do so, and wish to postpone the treaty and remain as you are. We shall not insist upon buying at present. You will be doing injustice to yourselves by not treating now; you are receiving nothing for the use of your lands, but if you will sell, in a short time you will begin to realize some benefit from the sale.

[the tribes never gave consent for this settlement, there was never a request, the land was simply taken.]

Mr. Spalding- Friends! We are happy to see you, listen now to what I have to say. The day you have so long looked for has at length come. We stand here now in the place of the President our Great Chief who has long wished to come and pay you for our lands, his heart is our heart. Our words to you are as the same and will be as true as the sun. We speak not as children. We speak the words of the Great Chief when children have come here to your country. We speak as brothers. We do not say to you move away, nor do we wish you to say to our people move away! Let us live together like brothers, trade like brothers, and now like brothers let us hear what you want for your land. Will you sell all or only a part? We listen to what you have to say.

[Spalding knows how the tribes think, the metaphor of the heart is powerful among the tribes in this region.]

Tosetow- The Great Spirit has given this land to the Indians and he has given the country beyond the mountains to the whites. We would have had it remained as formerly, the Indian occupying his own country without molestation, and the white man his, but as it is, the whites have come and taken our lands and now we must reserve for ourselves land enough to live upon, so that we may not be liable to be driven any time, like birds to the forests.

Superintendent- We are willing you should make a reservation and are ready to bargain with you for the remainder.

Tosetow- the whites came here very poor, some had scarcely any clothing left, they have taken our land, sell it one to another, get much money for it and put it into their own pockets. Are we not to get something for it ourselves? It should be as valuable to us as to them.

[Tosetow here is saying that these settlers owe the tribes for their lands.]

Mr. Spalding- Five years ago you were very poor, there were but a few white men here then, since that time many ships have come into the river and brought you blankets and other clothing and also food. Now you are able to dress like the whites and you are more comfortable. The blessings the ships have brought you, if we send them away you will not get such things. You will have to live and die and be buried like dogs.

Headman, Alias Washington- Long time ago we were poor and had nothing but our land. We did not want to sell it. If we wanted clothing we covered ourselves with skins. The whites came here poor, soon became rich, even in one night.

[Washington boldly states the reality of how fur traders got rich from fur sales]

Supt- nothing is to be gained by talking of what has been, we must talk of things as they now are. Don’t wish to have any foolish talk. We must reason together like men.

[talking about history is not helping the commission, so Dart shuts that down]

Washington- My talk amounted to nothing, I am not Chief.

Supt- We think it will be best for all concerned that you reserve a place to live where you now do, at the upper end of the Plains near the point, and another at the lower end near the beach. But if there are white men on either of these places we do not wish to move them away, nor do we wish to remove Indians away from their fishing grounds.

Washington- We have long been told we were to be removed away over the Cascade mountains. Now we are satisfied it is not to be so- we have seen you today and now we are of one heart.

Supt- If you wish to reserve your fishing grounds and a place to build your houses upon, and also a place where your horses can feed, say when it shall be. The two places I have mentioned you can reserve, with the privilege of passing freely along the beach between them. Come tomorrow and say what you will do. We can give you all kinds of clothing, and some money which will be paid you from year to year.

[ here Dart says they can have two locations, but he alters this the following day]

The Council adjourned till tomorrow 9 o’clock A.M.

Tuesday Augst 5th 9 o’clock

The council met pursuant to adjournment

Supt- Proposed to the Clatsops to reserve two small pieces of land for themselves to reside upon, one at the lower end, and the other at the upper end of Clatsop Plains with the privilege of passing along the beach between the two places. He also proposed to make the payments annually in money, clothing, etc. The list of goods etc proposed was then read and fully interpreted.

Tosetow- was pleased with what had been said today but desired the reservation should be larger than had been suggested. They wished to reserve a tract about one & a half by three & a half miles, which would include Point Adams or Clatsop Plains as it is sometimes called.

Supt- If you make such a reservation, will you give up the one at the lower end of the Plains, reserving only the right to fish there?

[ so give up the land but only have rights to fish there…]

Washington- We will be satisfied to make but one reservation. The reason of our reserving so large a tract is this, the water of the Ocean has already washed away much of the Point and we fear if we make but a small reserve that in a few years it may all be washed away. The proposition of the Superintendent was accepted by the tribe and the following Treaty was drawn up and after having been read and fully interpreted was freely signed by the contracting parties.


Articles of a treaty

Made and concluded at Tansy Point on the Columbia River near Clatsop Plains this fifth day of august eighteen hundred and fifty one, between Anson Dart Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Henry H. Spalding Indian Agent, and Josiah L. Parrish Sub Indian Agent on the part of the United States of the one part; and the Chiefs and Headmen of the Clatsop Tribe of Indians of the other part.

Article 1 The said Tribe of Indians cede to the United States the tract of land included within the following boundaries viz: beginning at the western extremity of Point Adams, at the mouth of the Columbia River, and running thence southerly along the coast of the Pacific Ocean to the mouth of a certain stream south of what is called Tillamook Head, which stream is called by the Indians Yock-lu-pah-ta, thence easterly up and along said stream to its service; thence east to the summit of the Coast Range of Mountains; thence northerly to the head waters of the Neetle or Lewis & Clark river; thence down and along said river to Young’s Bay; thence westerly along said Bay and the Southern shore of the Columbia River to the place of beginning. The above described land being all that is claimed by the said tribe.

Article 2 from the cession aforesaid the following tract shall be reserved, to wit: All that piece of parcel of land described as follows viz: Beginning at a stake on the southern shore of the Columbia River between Tansy Point and Point Adams, which stake is in the eastern boundary of the old Indian burying ground, running thence southerly in a direct line to the northeast corner of William Hobson’s claim, thence westerly bounding on said Hobson’s claim to the Ocean, thence northerly along the Ocean to Point Adams; thence easterly up and along the southern shore of the Columbia River to the place of beginning.

Article 3 It is agreed between the United States and the said tribe, that the Individuals of the said tribe shall be at liberty to occupy, as formerly, their fishing grounds at the mouth of the Neacoxsa Creek, whenever they wish to do so for the purpose of fishing, and it is further agreed that the individuals of said Tribe shall be allowed to pass freely along the beach from and to their reservation between their said fishing grounds and Point Adams, and allowed to pick up whales that may be cast away on the beach.

Article 4 In consideration of the cession made in the foregoing articles of this treaty, the United States agree to pay to the said Clatsop Tribe of Indians the sum of Fifteen thousand Dollars, in annual payments of Fifteen hundred Dollars each, to be made as follows viz: Two hundred Dollars in money and the balance in the following  article to wit: Forty Blankets, Fourty Woolen coast, Twenty pairs shoes, One hundred yards Linsey Plaid, Two hundred yards Calico Prints, Two hundred yards shirting, Fifteen Blanket Shawls, Two hundred pounds soap, Two barrels salt, Thirty bags flour, Two hundred pounds Tobacco, Two hundred pounds sugar, Twenty pounds tea, Two barrels molasses, Two Oxen or two horses, Ten hoes, Ten axes, Six eight-quart Brass kettles, Twenty five knives, Fifty cotton Handkerchiefs, ten ten-quart tin pails, Twenty six-quart pans, Twenty-five pint cups, Twenty caps, All of which are to be good quality and to be delivered each year at Tansy Point aforesaid, and distributed to the heads of families belonging to said tribe.

Article 5 There shall be perpetual peace and friendship between all the citizens of the United States of America and all the Individuals composing the said Clatsop tribe.

Article 6 This treaty shall take effect and be obligatory on the contracting parties as soon as the same shall be ratified by the President of the United States by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof.

In testimony whereof, the said Anson Dart Superintendent & Henry H. Spalding Agent and Josiah L. Parrish Sub Agent, aforesaid, and the chiefs and headmen of the said Clatsop Tribe of Indians have hereunto set their hands and seals, at the time and place first herein above written.

Signed, sealed and witnessed in Presence of Nicholas DuBois Secry, W.W. Raymond Interpreter, R. Shortess Acting Sub Agt

Anson Dart {L.S.} Superintendent

Henry H. Spalding {L.S.} Agent

Josiah L. Parrish {L.S.} Sub Agent

Tostow (his x mark) {L.S.}

Cotata (his x mark) {L.S.}

Twilts (his x mark) {L.S.}

Tickahah (his x mark) {L.S.}

Winawox (his x mark) {L.S.}

Washington (his x mark) {L.S.}

Waltekani (his x mark) {L.S.}

Skotchlechie (his x mark) {L.S.}

Dunkle (his x mark) {L.S.}

Hulleh (his x mark) {L.S.}

Waucaukee (his x mark) {L.S.}




The Quartux Journal