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Brothertown Treaties
and Treaty Rights


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Land Appropriation Treaties

In 1775, a group of Christian, Algonkian-speaking Indians from New England and Long Island, New York moved to a new settlement called Brothertown on Oneida Indian lands in New York. They were later joined by the Stockbridge, another Christian Indian group. By the 1800s, the Oneida had sold much of their land to New York State. Many members of the three tribes believed it best if they moved away from land-hungry White settlers in New York. A delegation of representatives from the three tribes went to Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1821 to purchase land from the Ho-chunk and Menominee, and the delegation received a cession of about 860,000 acres. The next year, another delegation negotiated a second treaty for an additional 6.72 million acres on the western shore of Lake Michigan.

The Menominee and Ho-chunk immediately protested the two treaties because they said the New York Indians had deceived them. They believed the 1821 and 1822 treaties only allowed the Oneida, Brothertown, and Stockbridge to live upon their lands, not to own them. The Menominee and Ho-chunk raised so many objections to the two treaties that the United States Senate refused to ratify them. In the meantime, the Brothertown began to move to Wisconsin and established a small settlement on the Fox River, near present-day Kaukauna and Wrightstown.

The United States government finally brokered a series of three compromise treaties in 1831 and 1832 between the Menominee, Ho-chunk, Oneida, Stockbridge, and the Brothertown. The last treaty was signed in 1832, and it was the only treaty that the Brothertown ever negotiated with the United States. The treaty required the Brothertown to move to a new reservation of 23,040 acres on the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, in present-day Calumet County. The federal government compensated the tribe $1600 for improvements made at its first settlement along the Fox River.

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Citizenship

In the late 1830s, the federal government threatened to remove all of the Indians from Wisconsin, including the Brothertown to make room for incoming settlers. In 1836, the Brothertown petitioned for American citizenship and individual title to their lands in an effort to remain in Wisconsin with their reservation intact. The United States Congress granted their request in 1839. The Brothertown reasoned correctly that as citizen landowners, the United States was unable to force them into another treaty or selling their land. However, the congressional act also ended the Brothertown's status as a sovereign nation and any associated rights. Their treaty of 1832 did not reserve any special privileges or rights for activities such as hunting and fishing. Today, many Brothertown members are trying to restore their status as a federally recognized and sovereign Indian nation.

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