Navajo May Acquire Copy Of 1868 Treaty

By Laurel Morales
Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2019 - 3:20pm
Updated: Tuesday, June 4, 2019 - 11:18am

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The Navajo Nation may be the first tribe in the country to obtain a copy of its original treaty with the federal government. The donation awaits approval from the Navajo Council.

The Navajo Treaty was signed in 1868 by the federal government and the Navajo to free the prisoners of the Long Walk and to end the war with the tribe. It also established the Navajo as a sovereign nation. There were three copies made. One is at the National Archives. Another is believed to have been buried with Barboncito, one of the treaty's signers.

Manuelito Wheeler, director of the Navajo Nation Museum, said one copy of the treaty believed to be missing turned up last year with the family of an Indian Peace Commissioner Col. Samuel F. Tappan.

Tappan's great-grandniece C.P. "Kitty" Weaver said the family has known about the treaty for decades but didn't know people thought it was missing.

"It's an unbelievable part of history that has returned to us," Wheeler said. "Personally I think there's some spiritual significance behind it. It's the rebuilding of the strength of our people."

Last year, the museum displayed a copy of the treaty from the National Archives during the 150th commemoration of its signing. Wheeler said people had mixed reactions. For some, it represents the colonization of the Navajo. For others, it symbolizes the sovereignty of two nations. He said the museum had to keep a box of tissues nearby.

Wheeler plans to display the treaty at the museum the first week of June.

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