The Final Treaties


Not content with the land already acquired from the Indians, the U.S.government continued to press for additional land grants. Under the terms of a treaty signed in 1831, the Indians who had moved from New York to the Fox River Valley were given about 500,000 acres. A few years later, the government decided that the 1831 treaty gave the Indians too much land. A new treaty in 1838 took most of that land away from them and returned it to the government. The Oneida and their fellow tribes were then limited to 100 acres per person, which gave them about 65,000 acres in all. Today that plot is the site of the Oneida Indian Reservation, at the intersection of Outagamie and Brown Counties.

An even more extensive treaty had been negotiated in 1836. In that year, at a place called The Cedars, near present-day Little Chute, Wisconsin Territorial Governor Henry Dodge met with Indian representatives led by Menominee Chief Oshkosh. Their six days of negotiating ended on September third with the signing of the Treaty of the Cedars. That treaty transferred about four million acres of northeastern Wisconsin to the U.S. governmentat a price of $692,110, or about 17 cents an acre. After the treaty was officially proclaimed on February 15, 1837, the Menominee were moved out of their traditional homeland to a place west of the Wolf River.

The last tribe to surrender its land was the Winnebago. Under the terms of a treaty dated November 1, 1837, the Winnebago were to move to a reservation in Northeast Iowa. The tribe, however, declared the treaty a fraud and refused to leave. U.S. government troops were called out to force the Winnebago off the land. The issue was finally resolved when the Winnebago were compelled to go along with a treaty dated October 13, 1846, in which they ceded "all claim to the land" and those Indians who refused to abide by the terms of the treaty were forcibly moved to Minnesota. With most of the land under government ownership and control by the late 1830s, settlers and land speculators began to move in. It was the start of a new era for the Fox River Valley.