tv American Artifacts CSPAN November 15, 2014 5:30pm-5:56pm EST
effective. the other thing to think about is what you want to get done. i think sometimes to be successful you have to lower your sights. so sometimes you can get incremental things through. and sometimes the boulder you are, the less successful you might be because boldness is not received very well given the structure of congress. that may be finding common ground in different places, you can figure out solutions even within congress. i want to remain an optimist because i believe in the constitution like you do. and i think that the constitution endures. that is a great thing to think about. think about the different ways it provides opportunities -- and of course, we left out the equation the most import and that is the american people. the american people have a lot to say about all of this. and what do they think the government should be doing?
that would be useful to know. >> beautiful note on which to end. michael garrett thank you for having resurrected the constitutional legacy of these forgotten presidents and for having written a wonderful book. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> there is a book signing and book sale. please come meet michael garrett. likes you are watching american history tv on c-span 3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook. let's -- >> each week, american artifacts takes you to museums and historic places to learn what artifacts reveal about american history. this smithsonian's national museum of the american indian opened in 2004 on the national mall in washington, d.c.
we visit the nation to nation exhibit. for treaties between the united states and native americans. the curator explains that in the late 1700s, the fledgling federal government may treaties with the muskogee and the six nations of the iroquois. she also describes how the relationship between the government and the native peoples has changed and endured. >> i'm suzanne -- i'm cheyenne and muskogee and a founder of the national museum of the american indian. i'm guest curator, probably so, of the nation to nation exhibit and general editor for the book of the same title. i first proposed the nation to nation exhibit in 2003. and i was thinking just a few months ago that we would just never get to the end of it. today, i'm thinking it has only been 11 years. amazing.
nation to nation exhibit and book is really a gift that we are returning to the united states. through knowledge of its citizenry about its own history. because that is what this tells. this is not the indians' view. this is not just as the treaties are not the indian's treaties. they are between the united states and native nations. and the treaties and this exhibit reflect that reality about the treaties. all of the nations had land. no one brought any land with them when they came across the atlantic ocean. no one brought any european land. there was no american land.
there was only native land. and that land belonged to the native nations and to the people's who were the citizens of the native nations. the european nations entered into treaties with the native nations, who had been making treaties amongst each other for millennia. this was a continuation of that for the native peoples and it was a continuation of treaties that the europeans have, although in europe, mostly the treaties meant an end to the war. here, even though there were in most instances, no wars, it meant peace and friendship that you would be allies. you would have this friendship as a continuum.
and the treaties really well percent -- really represent that relationship. they are a marker in time. but the relationship and the treaties still exist today as legally enforceable and binding documents, agreements that both the united states and the native nations honor. but more importantly, it is the relationship that everyone is honoring. and it means peace, friendship forever. the parallel lines go on forever. and the parallel lines represent the non-native person and the native person, the two sets of nations that must exist in a parallel way. and exist through time and through history as distinctive. i don't mean separate but distinctive. one from the other. and we maintain that
distinctiveness even today. the first act of congress having to do with native peoples was the first of the trade and intercourse acts in 1790. and what that said, and what it says today because it is as amended still on the books, it means that no transaction for land or property by a state or by a person is any good, is legal without the involvement or consent of the federal government. so, the treaties could only be made with the federal government. any land transaction was -- no good at the get-go, according to this law and according to what
the native people wanted. and this was something that george washington explained personally to the seneca nation delegates by saying, this means you will never be defrauded of your land again. now, would that have been true. it was true at the time. he meant it at the time. president george washington in making the treaties of 1790 with the muskogee nations of the southeast and the treaty of canandaigua, the six nations iroquois confederacy, and that was new york at the time. so, what george washington wanted as president of the
united states was some territory for the united states to govern over. and wanted a definition of the state boundaries and a clarity of the muskogee nation and their lands. what the president was trying to do was to stop any -- to enter into secured peace and friendship forever arrangements with the muskogee. he was trying to secure the northern and southern, western borders of the united states. and these were buffalo.
savannah. we are talking about really eastern-western borders at that time. and that was the united states. so, the muskogee nations had similar goals. they wanted peace and friendship with the united states as a matter of necessity as well as a matter of inclination. they wanted someone to be in charge of stopping the aggressiveness and the lawlessness of the people who were flooding into their lands from europe. and these were europeans and new americans, settlers of all kinds who were encroaching on native lands. so they wanted that to stop. and they wanted the agreements strictly with the united states.
hence, nation to nation. that is the way the law developed at that time inthe 1790's. and that is the way the law is today. it is still nation to nation. our ancestors really knew these presidents. really knew washington and lincoln and other notable and in many cases, rightly so, beloved people. the muskogee delegates, when they arrived by canoe and over land, but mostly by canoe from the savanna, they docked at the bottom of manhattan and were greeted by 300 white men dressed like indians who were members of the tammany society, which had been named for chief tammanan,
the chief who first made the treaty for the british colony known as the william penn colony, for parts of philadelphia. so, the tammany society people were dressed as they thought indians were. and they were cheering arrival of the muskogee delegates. they escorted them in a parade to congress. later on, the muskogee nation delegates were dining with george washington at his home. and the artist john trumbull was there. he had just completed the iconic portrait of washington, the life-sized portrait of him in his military outfit. and washington wanted a visual
joke to be played on the muskogee delegates. and he had trembled with the painting on one side of the door that washington then. opened so the delegates could see him, and see him in his outfit in the painting. they loved it. everyone had a good laugh. they felt it. and did not like the way it felt. so john trumbull asked if he could paint them. they said no. he did draw them. and those drawings are in this exhibit. they are just beautiful drawings. and unlike anything that john trumbull ever did. and that's because he was doing it in secret. i'm so glad he did that, even though the delegates did not want that to be done, because it is the closest thing we have to
a photograph of who the native negotiators were. and i love the story because no one ever thinks of washington as being a jokester or having a sense of humor or they think of him as being very stiff. and this is a nice way to think about how he was trying to communicate and he was improvising with what he had at hand. i just think -- it's an interesting story about the casualness of the relationship at the same time that it was a formal relationship, nation to nation. it was a casual, personal relationship about developing friendship. about keeping the peace. about this lasting forever. that we are in it for the long haul.
our nations are in it for the long haul. far behind our time. that is what they were doing at canandaigua, which is a place, a town in new york. that's what they were doing there when the six nations people and all the clan mothers and all the chiefs, and the people were, the representatives were there at the treaty camp with the representatives of the united states. and they were all negotiating this past their own time. we have these beautiful portraits of chief corn planter, chief red jacket. handsome lake. others who were signatories to the 1794 treaty at canandaigua. we show the images. we show the images of the non-native negotiators. now, that treaty was sent to
philadelphia when it became the capital of the united states. and the big news out of, in the american newspapers in 1795, i know because i have one of them and i have looked at a lot of facsimiles of others, is that president washington signed the treaty at canandaigua. and the newspapers carried the entire text of the treaty. that is how important it was in 1795, that the senate had ratified and that he had signed the 1794 canandaigua treaty that had been negotiated in upstate new york. both treaties were developed in various ways.
the 1790 treaty was more of a direct negotiation between the president and the muskogee delegates. one of the places that they had come from was hickory ground. hickory ground was a mother town, and had two daughter towns. they had the same name. and one of them needed a new name. so, the muskogee delegates liked what had happened in new york, and they wanted to commemorate the treaty. they had a ceremony in new york before they left renaming one of those daughter towns niyaka. and that is my tribal town. and people think that niyaka is a muskogee word, but it is not. it is the sound that the muskogee delegates heard when
they heard people say new yorker. when they heard people say, i am a new yorker. they heard -- and the people said "niyaka." that is what they heard. and that is the name they gave our. tribal town part of the evidence of the ongoing relationship between the united states and six nations iroquois confederacy peoples is found on every november 11, the day the treaty was signed, where the united states delivers cloth and treaty cloth and salt to the native nations. who signed that treaty of canandaigua in 1794. so, every, that's done every. november 11 and someone might ask, is that what it has come down to? a little bit of cloth and salt? it is a lot of cloth and salt, but that is not the point, either. the point is that those are the
symbols of the validity of the treaty. a brightening of the covenant chain is the language that was used at the time. that the covenant chain has those three links of peace, friendship forever. from time to time, because it is a relationship, because it is an ongoing treaty, that the covenant chain may tarnish, and it may need to be brightened up from time to time. so we need to polish the covenant chain. you need to renew your friendship. you need to meet face-to-face. you need to have discussions face-to-face. and all of that is part of maintaining the relationship is
renewing your friendship. and that is what happens on treaty anniversaries. the united states does something, native nations do something. people observe and mark that time. and they try to do it with some symbolic interaction. when people come to this exhibit, or when they look at the book, at the images, i hope that they understand that we did not just select pretty things. what we selected were things that stand for signatories to the treaties. that on both sides, on the native size and the non-native side.
the piping bags and pipes that are in the treaties are beautiful things. but i selected those beautiful things from, mostly from the national museum of the american indian collection. and they were present in 1851 at the time of the treaty making. these were pipes that actually were part of that treaty for the great plains. treaties that the nations made amongst themselves and with the united states. amongst themselves for boundaries, and then provided safe passage for the united states to go across their territories in wagons just the width of a conestoga wagon.
who knew that would mean the railroad down the line, that that was the width of the conestoga wagon? it must've sounded like such a modest amount of space. just a tiny trail across this vast lands that you cannot see an end to. what it turned into was something else. and that story we do not flinch from, either. in bad acts, bad paper. what disrupted the treaty spirit? that is what happened. the trails -- betrayals and things that later dishonorable presidents, like andrew jackson who agreed with states and forced march native peoples out of their own homes, wrenched
them from their homes, and sent them to indian territory. we explore that as well. but everything in her has been selected. the pipes are selected because they represent the native nations who were present in 1851 at fort laramie. which is called the great smoke. why? because there were some in the people making sage offerings are offerings of other kinds of medicine or smoking pipe, which meant they were praying for the good day and for the well-being of all the people. so, the great smoke treaty of 1851 had many native nations as parties along with the united states. and these pipes represent each
of those nations. and when you look at them and say, they were there. they were witnesses. they are the evidence of what happened in 1851. and how wonderful that we can show that in all their beauty, but in all their authority and all their presence. in all they bring to us in a spiritual way and in an historical way for so long in the past. and you look at that and say, it is not so long. they are still holding up. they still look beautiful. one thing that i would like for native people who come here to
have this gift of information and to know the range of treaties that exist. to the non-native people, i hope the non-native people are able to go away from this saying, oh. i did not know these were my treaties, too. they are not just the indians'treaties. these are my treaties because i am a citizen of the united states. that is a huge lesson. this is american history. and i think people do not really understand that. a lot of people do not understand that coming into this exhibit. and this is that lesson. that this is american history. and this is a part of american history that if you do not know it, then you really do not know american history.
if you do not know about treaties, you do not know how the united states acquired the territory over which to govern. you do not know how the united states, how the states are shaped the way they are. how the united states is shaped the way it is. you do not know any of these things without understanding the history of treaties. and you do not understand a lot of the place names, a lot of the names of states that we have. dakota. it is named after a native asian. oklahoma is "red person, blood person, relative person" in the one of the muskogee languages. there are lots and lots of things to know about the united states that if you don't know what is called indian history or