Treaty Stone from 1850 Peace Negotiations
Symbol of a peace treaty that failed
On December 10, 1850, representatives from the U.S. government and the southern Comanche, Lipan Apache, Caddo, Quapaw, and various Wichita bands met for treaty negotiations at the Spring Creek Council Grounds. The tribal representatives agreed to stay west of the Colorado River and north of the Llano River, to abide by U.S. laws, and to turn over fugitive enslaved people and individuals being held as prisoners. The agent for the U.S. agreed to regulate traders in American Indian territory, establish at least one trade house, and send blacksmiths and teachers to live with the tribes. This stone is one of two placed at the meeting site near Fort Martin Scott in Fredericksburg to commemorate the signing of the treaty. However, the treaty was not ratified by the U.S. government and neither side honored its provisions.
When Texas became a state in 1846, the responsibility for diplomatic relations with American Indian nations transferred to the U.S. government. The U.S. government’s American Indian policy at the time centered on treaties to form alliances and negotiate peace terms. The tribes transferred land to the U.S. in exchange for financial compensation, medical aid, food and other provisions, or continued hunting, fishing, and gathering rights in the ceded territory. Within five years, the federal government’s policy shifted to relocating Native nations to reservations, through treaties or by force.
Treaties remain relevant today because they confirm the legitimate sovereignty of tribal groups — treaties are only ever used between sovereign nations. Native nations also continue to use treaties to regain and maintain the rights outlined in these legally binding documents.
Courtesy Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin
This artifact is not on view.