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The Fort Laramie Treaty Council, 1851

Early in 1851, the Congress had authorized holding a great treaty council with the Plains Indians to assure peaceful relations along the trails to the West. D. D. Mitchell and Thomas Fitzpatrick, the commissioners, chose Fort Laramie as the meeting place and summoned the various Indian tribes to come in by September 1. For days before that date, Indians gathered at the fort. The Sioux, Cheyennes. and Arapahoes mingled freely, but tension mounted as their enemies, the Snakes and Crows, made their appearance. Peace prevailed, however, and the sole major difficulties were a grazing problem and the late arrival of a wagon train of gifts. The countless ponies accompanying 10,000 Indians required so much forage that the vast assemblage had to move to the meadows at the mouth of Horse Creek, 30 miles east of the fort. Chiefs representing many other tribes arrived. Parades of Indian hordes in full array were held, speeches made, presents distributed, the pipe of peace smoked, and by September 17 it had been agreed that peace should reign among the red men and between them and the whites. The white men were to be free to travel the roads and hold their scattered forts, and the Indians were to receive an annuity of $50,000 in goods each year. The council was considered a great success and gave promise of a lasting peace on the plains.

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