The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 172
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the Anglo settlers as "depredations" continued to increase, as did the pleas
from the settlers for Congress to do something to control the Indians.2
Congress, hoping for a permanent and bloodless end to the chaos, re-
sponded by creating an Indian Peace Commission in 1867 and charged it
with resolving the problems by negotiation. During the week of October
21-28, 1867, the commission held a conference with the Southern Plains
tribes on Medicine Lodge Creek, about eighty-five miles south of Fort
Larned, Kansas. The goal of the conference was to establish a compre-
hensive treaty with the Southern Plains tribes that would end the hostili-
ties and ensure a lasting peace. While the whites wanted peace, they made
it clear there could be no real bargaining. In fact, the terms offered by the
whites were an ultimatum. If the Indians agreed, they would get presents
and annuities; if they did not, there would be a renewed war that the com-
mission representatives threatened would destroy the tribes.'
According to the terms of the treaty, the Indians were to live on two
reservations established in Indian Territory in what is now western Okla-
homa. The reservation in the southwest was for the Comanches and
Kiowas, while the one to the north was for the Cheyennes and Arapahos.
The tribes were to be given guns and ammunition for hunting, and seeds
and instruction in farming. They would be taught how to build houses
and would be furnished schools and a doctor. Annuity goods would be
furnished them for thirty years. In return, the tribes had to cease all war-
fare against the whites and not interfere with the roads, railroads, and
forts that would be constructed in their country. Significantly, the treaty
went on to state that the Indian tribes "yet reserve the right to hunt on any
lands south of the Arkansas River so long as the buffalo may range there-
on." The Indians understandably took this to mean that they could con-
tinue to hunt buffalo in all the area south of the Arkansas River, including
southern Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The Indian Peace Commission
representatives, however, failed to point out to the Indians that the U.S.
government did not have legal authority to represent the State of Texas as
owner of the lands in the Texas Panhandle. They could not give anyone
the right to hunt in the Panhandle as it was state-owned land, not federal
land. Only the Texas legislature could have set aside the Panhandle for
hunting by the Indians, and they had not done so.4
At the end of the conference, the Medicine Lodge Treaty was signed by
ten of the Indian chiefs, but it was destined for failure. Though many of
ST. R. Fehrenbach, Comanches" TheDestructzon of a People (NewYork: Da Capo Press, 1994), 452.
'Fehrenbach, Comanches, 477.
4 CharlesJ. Kappler (comp.), Indzan Affazrs: Laws and Treates (5 vols., Washington, D.C.: Gov-
ernment Printing Office, 1904-1941); U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, "Medicmine Lodge Peace
Treaty 1869," photocopy of Document No. 1520/472 (Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum,
Canyon, Tex.; original in National Archives).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/224/: accessed March 26, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.