Broken Treaties


Broken Treaties

United States and Canadian Relations with the Lakotas and the Plains Cree, 1868-1885

Jill St. Germain

484 pages
1 photo, 5 maps, index


June 2009


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2009


$60.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Broken Treaties is a comparative assessment of Indian treaty negotiation and implementation focusing on the first decade following the United States–Lakota Treaty of 1868 and Treaty Six between Canada and the Plains Cree (1876). Jill St. Germain argues that the “broken treaties” label imposed by nineteenth-century observers and perpetuated in the historical literature has obscured the implementation experience of both Native and non-Native participants and distorted our understanding of the relationships between them. As a result, historians have ignored the role of the Treaty of 1868 as the instrument through which the United States and the Lakotas mediated the cultural divide separating them in the period between 1868 and 1875. In discounting the treaty historians have also failed to appreciate the broader context of U.S. politics, which undermined a treaty solution to the Black Hills crisis in 1876. In Canada, on the other hand, the “broken treaties” tradition has obscured the distinctly different understanding of Treaty Six held by Canada and the Plains Cree. The inability of either party to appreciate the other’s position fostered the damaging misunderstanding that culminated in the Northwest Rebellion of 1885. In the first critical assessment of the implementation of these treaties, Broken Treaties restores Indian treaties to a central position in the investigation of Native–non-Native relations in the United States and Canada.

Author Bio

Jill St. Germain is an independent scholar and writer in Ottawa, Ontario. She is the author of Indian Treaty-Making Policy in the United States and Canada, 1867–1877 (Nebraska 2004).


"In challenging the long-honored "broken treaties tradition," Jill St. Germain has written a groundbreaking and welcome revision of the history of treaty- and reservation-making on both sides of the United States-Canadian border. . . . Broken Treaties is a must read for any scholar interested in the history of the Great Plains, federal policy, the western United States, western Canada, or Indigenous studies."—Laura Woodworth-Ney, Great Plains Quarterly

"[Broken Treaties] is a strong piece of scholarship that joins the recent work of Jeffrey Ostler, David G. McCrady, and others in enhancing our historical understanding of a period and topic that has long been studied but frequently misinterpreted."—Akim D. Reinhardt, American Historical Review

"Well written and researched from primary sources in both the United States and Canada, this volume reminds us how significant tribal sovereignty was and how it continues to inform tribal governments today." —Donald L. Fixico, Western Historical Quarterly

"St. Germain has made an important contribution to a growing field of literature that emphasizes the active role taken by native statesmen in seeking to shape those crucial agreements that defined the straitened world left them at the end of the nineteenth century." —Kingsley M. Bray, Nebraska History

"This study captivate the reader's attention with its sharp analysis based on extensive research and thorough command of the subject."—Janne Lahti, Canadian Journal of History

"This is a complex, well-written, and carefully researched book that interprets one of the most enigmatic issues in the still-convoluted relationship between native and European peoples in North America: treaties and the treaty process."—Sidney L. Harring, Journal of American History

Table of Contents

List of Maps



Introduction: Broken Treaties                                                                

1. Separate Pasts

2. Expectations and Promises

3. Early Implementation Efforts in the United States, 1868-1871

4. Early Implementation Efforts in Canada, 1876-1878

5. Implementation in Earnest: The Treaty of 1868, 1871-1875

6. Implementation in Earnest: Treaty Six, 1879-1884

7. The Treaty of 1868 and the Peace Policy, 1875-1876

8. Treaty Six and the Northwest Rebellion, 1885


Appendix A: Treaty with the Sioux, 1868

Appendix B: Treaties at Forts Carlton and Pitt, Number Six, 1876