Were the Reconstruction Treaties harmful or beneficial to Native Americans?  

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Reconstruction Treaties were largely harmful to Native Americans. During the Civil War, federal troops left the Indian Territory, where the Five Civilized Tribes lived, allowing the territory to be taken over by the Confederacy. As a result, the Five Civilized Tribes were basically forced to sign treaties with the Confederacy. After the Civil War, the U.S. government punished the tribes for siding with the Confederacy, though in reality, some members of the Five Civilized Tribes had supported the Union during the war. 

During treaty negotiations, which started in 1865 and concluded in 1866, the Five Civilized Tribes agreed to abolish slavery and provide freedmen with tribal rights. These sections of the treaties were beneficial to freedmen who lived on Native American territory. In addition, the tribes set up an intra-tribal council, chaired by the superintendent of Indian Affairs. The tribes also had to give up land rights to pave the way for the railroad to cross through Indian Territory. The federal government stated that the tribes' alleged support of the Confederacy had invalidated earlier treaties and land rights that the tribes had. As a result, the tribes lost a great deal of land amounting to one half of current-day Oklahoma. Many whites began settling in Indian Territory, and Native Americans lost a great deal of their power in the area. 

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During the Civil War, some Native American tribes supported the Confederacy. In some cases, the tribes had no choice but to support the Confederacy because the federal government withdrew its troops from the lands where the Native Americans lived. After the Civil War ended, many people insisted that the Native Americans should make concessions to the United States government because of their support for the Confederacy during the Civil War. After the Civil War ended, the federal government signed Reconstruction Treaties with the Native Americans. These treaties were quite harsh on the Native Americans.

The Native Americans had to make sacrifices in these Reconstruction Treaties. One thing the Native Americans agreed to do was to ban slavery. The slaves were freed and were given rights by the tribe. The Native American tribes also had to give up land to the federal government. The Native Americans lost a great amount of land as a result of these Reconstruction Treaties.

The United States government never viewed the Native Americans in a positive manner. There was no change in the government’s actions after the Civil War ended, as these Reconstruction Treaties were very harsh on the Native Americans.

mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The tone of negotiations between the United States and the Native American tribes after the Civil War was punitive.  Some tribes formed treaties with and supported the Confederate government, and many in the American government sought revenge for this.   In reality, many more Indians supported and fought for the Union during the Civil War.  Despite this fact, the American government proceeded as if they were enemies during the Civil War.  For this reason, the treaties were not going to be beneficial for the Indian tribes.  The treaties after the Civil War resulted in the loss of many lands and forced many to relocate to the Oklahoma territory.  It also forced Indians to cede land to the United States for the construction of railroads.  In general, there was a feeling of bereavement and anguish in the Indian tribes after the treaties were signed.

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