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Explore the Database

Search for information on treaties and treaty signers

How to use the dashboard

The Treaty Signers dashboard is located at the bottom of this page. Before scrolling down, please read the helpful tips on how to use the dashboard. The dashboard is designed to help you narrow your search to locate the information that is most important to you. It can take a little bit of trial and error to get the hang of it. Here are a few questions and answers to help you get started.


How is the Main Map organized?

The main map links three datasets and shows two types of data: Dots and Lines.

  • Dots show the data points. Treaty Signers are represented by Blue Dots. They are located at their places of birth or places of death, when available. (Signers with unidentified locations were placed in Ellis Island). When hovering over them, you can see details about a particular signer in a pop-up window called a ‘Tooltip.’
  • Treaties are represented by Yellow dots. Hovering over these dots will display information available about a specific treaty. Land Cessions (Indian land ‘ceded’ to the U.S. through treaties) are represented by Red dots. These red dots show the center of a given Land Cession from the Royce Maps (A series of maps of the Indian land cessions compiled by Charles C. Royce and published in 1897). 
  • Lines show the route between data points, how they connect to each other. Yellow lines show the connection from Signers to Treaties, representing all of the different signers of a treaty (Applies when a treaty was geolocated. If not, the treaty will show as a dot without a connecting line.) Red lines show the connection from Treaties to Land Cessions (whenever treaties were geolocated).


Can I click on tooltips?

‘Tooltips’ are not navigational tools. They are just pop-up windows that give you information about a data point that you have selected or hovered on. For more information on particular Land Cessions, Treaties or Signers, you can use the map to identify your data point of interest and then use the appropriate filter to zoom in on it. 


How do I zoom in on a particular location?

You can use the different zoom functions at the top left corner of the map. Clicking on these will allow you to zoom in and out of the map with the mouse or by drawing selection areas. The easiest way to zoom in to a location is to use the filters. 


How do I use the filters?

The filters are there to help you focus on specific areas of interest in the map. You can filter by Treaty Name, Signers, or Land Cessions numbers (when known) or the States of Origin of Signers. 


What happens when I use the States filter?

Because this map shows you the connecting lines between dots scattered across the U.S. and beyond, selecting a State has to be connected to one of the three datasets, or it would show you all the States connected to all of the data related in a request. We chose to enable the Filter by States based on the Signers’ Location of Origin. This means that clicking on the States Filter will show you all the Signers originating from the selected State(s). 

How can I have a clearer view of each dataset?

To get a clearer view of each of the datasets, navigate to ‘Individual Maps’ in the top left corner of the dashboard. This will take you to another dashboard which shows only the selected dataset: Signers, Treaties or Land Cessions. Each map shows you the data points overlaid on a background map that indicates tribal boundaries (the grayed out areas).



About the Data

The 2,300 U.S. treaty signers account for a total of 4,500 signatures on all of the official U.S.-Indian treaties. Unfortunately, their names do not always correspond to the signatures. Many of the handwritten signatures are hard to read on the original documents and have been incorrectly rendered in print versions of the treaties. Misspellings abound, especially in the most widely used source of the treaties, Charles Kappler’s Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties, Vol. II. Signer J. B. Sarpy, for instance, is listed on one treaty as J. B. Saipy, and on another as J. B. Farpy; the notorious J. M. Chivington is listed on a treaty as J. W. Croughton. This website includes a database that links every U.S. signature with both the treaty on which it appears, and the actual name of the signer (where known).

Indigenous vs U.S. Representation

On many treaties, the names of U.S. signers are not distinguished from those of representatives of Indigenous nations. In some cases, determining the national identity of a signer can be difficult. These questions arise most often in the case of 1) Interpreters who have one parent identified with an Indigenous nation and another parent identified with a colonialist nation; 2) Signers who may have been installed by the U.S. as Indigenous representatives. These individuals may or may not have been recognized as citizens of Indigenous nations.

Kappler’s selection of texts

The main source for Treaties in this project is Charles Kappler’s 1904 compilation Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties, Vol. II. This is a somewhat arbitrary collection of U.S.-Indian treaties and other diplomatic documents called agreements. Kappler is used as a source for this project not because of its consistency or comprehensiveness but because it is more widely used than any other source and offers clear (though arbitrary) parameters for this project. One state-forged treaty, though not from Kappler, is included in this project because the Supreme Court elevated New York State and Oneida Indians to an official treaty status.

An official U.S.-Indian treaty was signed by multiple parties including the federal government, ratified by the Senate (after the Senate was created) and proclaimed by the President. U.S.-Indian relations were affected by many “unofficial” treaties as well. These include federal treaties that were not proclaimed or ratified, and treaties forged by state governments, the Republic of Texas, and the Confederacy. Kappler inconsistently includes a number of unratified federal treaties.

Agreements were and remain a different category of diplomatic documents. Presidential proclamation, for instance, is not required for agreements. Kappler includes 12 agreements up to the year 1873, near the end of the treaty-making era. Agreements from Kappler beyond this date are not included in this project. In creating his compilation, Kappler often selected from alternative versions of a single treaty. For a critique of the impact of this selection on a single treaty, click the link to the essay, “The Treaty of Fort Laramie with Sioux, etc., 1851: Revising the document found in Kappler’s Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties.” by Bernholz, C. D. and Pytlik Zillig, B. L.



Do you have more information on U.S.-Indian treaties and their impact in your area? Do you know of other local agreements from the treaty era? Please email us at