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Indian Treaties at the Museum of the Indian Museum

Almost 220 years ago, representatives of the United States and more than 1,600 people from Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy (Six Nations—Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora) gathered together near Canandaigua, New York (the Finger Lakes region) to discuss peace and friendship.

On November 11, 1794, more than 50 chiefs and sachems, including Cornplanter and Red Jacket, signed a treaty. The treaty returned substantial tracts of land to the Haudenosaunee, which it had lost a decade earlier, but restricted the Haudenosaunee from making any further land claims for themselves. George Washington’s agent, Timothy Pickering, signed for the United States.

This fall and for the next six months, an even greater number of people will be able to see the treaty at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, DC. On September 21, the museum opened the exhibition “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.”

Eight treaties negotiated between 1790 and 1868 between the United States and Native Nations form the core of the exhibition. The original treaties are permanently housed just across the Mall at the National Archives, and one original will be rotated in the exhibition every six months. The Canandaigua Treaty, which has never before been exhibited, will be shown for the first six months.

From left: Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Oren Lyons; Tadodaho of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chief Sidney Hill; Suzan Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee), guest curator of the “Nation to Nation” exhbition; Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian; and Jim Gardner, Executive for Legislative Archives, Presidential Programs, and Museum Programs at the National Archives, welcome the Treaty of Canandaigua to the museum. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian)

From left: Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Oren Lyons; Tadodaho of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chief Sidney Hill; Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee), guest curator of the “Nation to Nation” exhibition; Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian; and Jim Gardner, Executive for Legislative Archives, Presidential Programs, and Museum Programs at the National Archives, welcome the Treaty of Canandaigua to the museum. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian)

 

At least two original treaties were prepared and signed at Canandaigua. The Haudenosaunee original is kept at the Ontario Historical Society and displayed on Treaty Day every year. The United States original was brought back to Philadelphia, the U.S. capital at that time. Previously, President Washington had established the precedent of handling agreements with Indian nations in the same way as those with any foreign nation; such agreements were therefore subject to the ratification requirements laid out in the Constitution.

The President sent the agreements to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent, and on January 9, 1795, the Senate gave its approval. The President proceeded to ratify the treaty 12 days later. To signify ratification, two separate pieces of parchment were attached to the existing treaty (also on parchment), the latter reading in part:

Now, Know Ye, that I having seen and considered the said treaty do by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States accept ratify and confirm the same and every article and clause thereof. In testimony whereof, I have caused the seal of the United States to be here unto affixed and signed the same with my hand.

The Secretary of State, Edmund Randolph, signed as witness, and a paper wafer of the Great Seal of the United States was applied next to Washington’s signature.

Earlier, under the Articles of Confederation and the Confederation Congress, the national government had had great difficulty in setting a stable and effective Indian policy. In 1789, as the United States Government struggled to get on its feet with the new Constitution, George Washington’s Secretary of War Henry Knox wrote in a report:

The Indians, being the prior occupants, possess the right of the soil. It cannot be taken from them unless by their free consent, or by the right of conquest in case of a just war. To dispossess them on any other principle, would be a gross violation of the fundamental laws of nature, and of that distributive justice which is the glory of a nation.”

A few years later, Washington himself was sympathetic in his expressed policy toward treatment of Indians in a letter to his Attorney General Edmund Randolph:

It is my wish and desire that you would examine the Laws of the General Government which have relation to Indian affairs, that is, for the purpose of securing their lands to them; Restraining States or Individuals from purchasing their lands, and forbidding unauthorized intercourse in their dealing with them. And moreover, that you would suggest such auxiliary Laws as will supply the defects of those which are in being, thereby enabling the Executive to enforce obedience.

Letter from George Washington to Edmund Randolph, October 10, 1791 (General Records of the Department of State. RG 59)

Letter from George Washington to Edmund Randolph, October 10, 1791 (General Records of the Department of State. RG 59)

 

Sadly, Washington’s policy was soon overwhelmed after the Louisiana Purchase Treaty in 1803, followed by Manifest Destiny, multiple wars, and Indian removal to reservations in the west under Andrew Jackson beginning the 1830s.

Andrew Jackson Message to Congress, December 6, 1830 (Records of the United States Senate, RG 46)

Andrew Jackson’s message to Congress, December 6, 1830 (Records of the United States Senate, RG 46)

AJ Indian Removal 109

Andrew Jackson’s message to Congress, December 6, 1830 (Records of the United States Senate, RG 46)

 

The main case in “Nation to Nation” will feature these original treaties:

September 2014–February 2015 Treaty of Canandaigua, 1794

March 2015–August 2015 Muscogee Treaty, 1790

September 2015–February 2016 Horse Creek Treaty, 1851

March 2016–August 2016 Treaty with the Potawatomi, 1836

September 2016–January 2017 Unratified California Treaty K, 1852

February 2017–July 2017 Medicine Creek Treaty, 1854

August 2017–January 2018 Treaty with the Potawatomi, 1809

In the National Archives, there are a total of 367 ratified treaties between the United States and various Native American nations. In the same series are handwritten and printed copies of treaties reached with one or more American colonies between 1722 and 1768. The treaties were kept at the Department of State until they were transferred to the National Archives in the late 1930s.


Survey of Federal Records

Continuing our celebration of American Archives Month, today’s post comes from Tom Ryan, an intern in the National Archives History Office.

Photograph of storage conditions of the Office of Indian Affairs records, 1935.  (Records of the National Archives)

Photograph of storage conditions of the Office of Indian Affairs records, 1935.
(Records of the National Archives, RG 64)

Do you ever wonder where records were stored before the National Archives was created in 1934?

Before 1934, the Federal Government lacked a uniform manner to handle its records. Congress enacted legislation requiring each Government agency to keep its own records and gave the State Department responsibility for most archival duties.

In 1934, Congress passed legislation creating the National Archives which also created the office of the Archivist of the United States.

The new Archivist’s first step was to determine which of the older Federal records the Archives would accession (take legal and physical custody).

The National Archives Act also created the National Archives Council, whose primary duties were advising the Archivist in determining which documents should be included in the Archives.

The council was chaired by Secretary of State Cordell Hull. In a speech to the council, Hull declared: “We should approach our duty in a manner that will save us from allowing this vastly important work to become routine.”

In the early days, the process of collecting government records was anything but routine. Before the council could establish rules regarding the acquisition of records, it was first necessary to survey existing Federal records from all over the United States.

The National Archives Division of Accessions took responsibility for surveying records in the Washington metro area; the Works Progress Administration (WPA)—a New Deal program—took over the task of surveying records outside of Washington, DC.

Photograph of poor record storage conditions in the White House Garage, 1935. (Records of the National Archives)

Photograph of poor record storage conditions in the White House Garage, 1935.
(Records of the National Archives, RG 64)

Archives staff in Washington surveyed 5,157,019 linear feet of documents. Of these, 40.61 percent were stored in areas exposed to hazards of fire; 43.89 percent were exposed to dirt; 8.9 percent were stored in the damp conditions; and 5.12 percent were infested with insects or vermin.

Overall, 55 percent of the records were kept in unsuitable storage conditions.

Particularly egregious was the condition of War Department files in the White House garage. Such conditions demonstrated the dire need for a National Archives.

Around the country, WPA workers surveyed the records. These workers were previously unemployed citizens from the states they were assigned to survey.

While they often worked under unfavorable conditions, the surveyors also found their jobs were an adventure. For example, Arizona WPA workers traveled on horseback where there were no roads in order to survey the records of the Supai Indian reservation.

Works Progress Administration surveyors inspecting records storage conditions in Massachusetts, 1936. (Records of the Work Projects Administration)

Works Progress Administration surveyors inspect records storage conditions in Massachusetts, 1936. (Records of the Work Projects Administration, RG 69)

Elsewhere, WPA staff faced heat in excess of 116 degrees Fahrenheit. When records surveyors were not braving hail and dust storms in Colorado, they were facing moldy rodent-infested, dungeon-like rooms never meant for storage in New England.

In one southern city, WPA workers found the employee in charge of the records room was using it to breed pigeons. To even begin to survey, the holdings workers had to spend four weeks cleaning up pigeon feathers and droppings.

Through their hard work, the surveyors were able uncover many items of lasting importance to the country.

WPA staff examined the records of more than 7,000 agencies located in over 5,000 buildings across the nation comprising more than 2,000,000 linear feet of records. If one were to set out all the surveyed records in a line, it would stretch about 380 miles.

Works Progress Administration report on the condition of records storage rooms ca.1936. (Records of the Work Projects Administration)

Works Progress Administration report on the condition of records storage rooms ca.1936. (Records of the Work Projects Administration,RG 64)


President Nixon and the Hispanic Strategy

Continuing our celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, this post comes from Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, intern in the National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications.

English Version: President Nixon and the Hispanic strategy during his re-election campaign

President Nixon and the President of Mexico review the troops at the White House, 06/15/1972. (National Archives Identifier: 194436)

President Nixon and the President of Mexico review the troops at the White House, 06/15/1972.
(National Archives Identifier: 194436)

The United States of America is witnessing a growing Latin American voting demographic, and many might be surprised to learn that the first “Latino” President was, in fact, Richard Nixon. In 1969, his first year in office, he established the Cabinet Committee on Opportunities for Spanish Speaking People.

Throughout his Presidency, he appointed more Latinos than any preceding President, including John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He remained unsurpassed in those numbers until Bill Clinton’s Presidency in the 1990’s.

President Nixon taking the oath of Office during his second inauguration, 01/20/1973. (National Archives Identifier: 7268203)

President Nixon taking the oath of Office during his second inauguration, 01/20/1973.
(National Archives Identifier: 7268203)

Over four decades ago, Hispanics in the United States found themselves exercising more power in a Presidential campaign that at any other time in American history.

Seeking re-election, President Nixon reached out to the Latino community by discussing his strategy for funding education, health, small businesses and other programs in Latin American communities in areas like Texas, California, and in the Southwest. Some called it the Nixon Hispanic Strategy.

Nixon received 40 percent of the Latino vote, by most estimates, in the 1972 re-election.

Nixon was often joined in his campaign by some of his most prominent Latino appointees, including Cabinet Committee Chairman Henry Ramirez, U.S. Treasurer Ramona Banuelos, and Office of the Economic Opportunity head Phillip Sanchez.

Even today, after recent Presidents such as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama made a substantial effort to appeal to Latin American communities, Presidents Nixon’s historic appointments still warrants a singular recognition.

Arrival ceremony for President Carlos Cieras Restrepo of Colombia, 07/12/1969. (National Archives identifier: 194637)

Arrival ceremony for President Carlos Cieras Restrepo of Colombia, 07/12/1969.
(National Archives identifier: 194637)

 

Continuando con nuestra celebración en el Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana, este artículo proviene de la interna Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, de la Oficina de Estrategia y Comunicaciones de los Archivos Nacionales.

En Español: El Presidente Nixon y la Estrategia Hispana durante su campaña de reelección

Presidente Nixon y el Presidente de México revisen las tropas, 15/06/1972.  (Identificador de los Archivos Nacionales: 194436)

Presidente Nixon y el Presidente de México revisen las tropas, 15/06/1972.
(Identificador de los Archivos Nacionales: 194436)

Los Estados Unidos está siendo testigo de un crecimiento demográfico en el voto latinoamericano, y muchos se sorprenderan al enterarse de que el primer Presidente “Latino” fue, de hecho, Richard Nixon. En 1969, durante su primer año de mandato, él estableció el Comité del Gabinete de las personas de habla hispana.

A lo largo de su presidencia, nombraría a más latinos que cualquier presidente anterior, incluyendo a John F. Kennedy y Lyndon Johnson. Permaneció insuperable en estos números hasta la presidencia de Bill Clinton en la década de 1990.

Richard Nixon tomá el juramento de Oficina durante su segunda inauguración como presidente, 01/20/1973.  (Identificador de los Archivos Nacionales: 7268203)

Richard Nixon tomá el juramento de Oficina durante su segunda inauguración como presidente, 01/20/1973.
(Identificador de los Archivos Nacionales: 7268203)

Hace más de cuatro décadas, los hispanos en los Estados Unidos se encontraron ejerciendo más poder en una campaña presidencial que en cualquier otro momento en la historia estadounidense.

Buscando la reelección, el presidente Nixon se acercó a la comunidad latina hablando de su estrategia para financiar la educación, la salud, las pequeñas empresas y otros programas en las comunidades latinoamericanas en áreas como Texas, California y en el suroeste. Algunos lo llamaron la Estrategia Hispana de Nixon.

Nixon recibió el 40 por ciento del voto latino, según la mayoría de las estimaciones de los analistas, en su reelección a la presidencia.

Nixon fue acompañado en su campaña por algunos de sus más prominentes designados latinos, incluyendo el presidente del Comité del Gabinete Henry Ramírez, Tesorero de los Estados Unidos Ramona Banuelos, y el jefe de la Oficina de la Oportunidad Económica Phillip Sanchez. La estrategia resultó exitosa, tanto para el Presidente y la comunidad latina.

Incluso hoy en día, después de que los presidentes recientes, como Bill Clinton, George W. Bush y Barack Obama han hecho un esfuerzo considerable para atraer a las comunidades de América Latina, las citas históricas del presidente Nixon todavía ameritan un reconocimiento singular.

Ceremonia de llegada de Su Excelencia Carlos Cieras Restrepo de Colombia, 07/12/1969.  (Identificador de los Archivos Nacionales: 194637)

Ceremonia de llegada de Su Excelencia Carlos Cieras Restrepo de Colombia, 07/12/1969.
(Identificador de los Archivos Nacionales: 194637)


Symbols of Significance: The Pediments of the National Archives Building

October is American Archives Month! To celebrate the month dedicated to all things archives, we will feature weekly posts on the history of the National Archives. Today’s post comes from Christina James, intern in the National Archives History Office.

Measuring 118 feet wide and 18 feet high at their peaks, the pediments on the north and south sides of the National Archives Building are the largest in Washington, DC. These grand pediments depict scenes that convey the purpose of the National Archives and contain rich symbols of the Archives’ significance to the nation.

When he set out to design a national hall of records, architect John Russell Pope sought to create a neoclassical building of monumental size and design. This meant that the structure would be embellished with ornate, symbolic sculptural details, inspired by the art and architecture of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Pope wrote, “In view of the classic spirit in which the design of the building was conceived, it was considered essential by the architect and the sculptors that allegory rather than realism be the means of conveying the significance of the sculptural decoration.”

The pediment on the north side of the building, facing Pennsylvania Avenue, was designed by accomplished sculptor Adolph Alexander Weinman and is titled Destiny. The figure at the center symbolizes Destiny. He is seated, staring intensely from a throne on which rest two eagles, symbols of the United States and of courage.

Photograph of the Pennsylvania Avenue Entrance of the National Archives, 01/12/1936. (National Archives Identifier: 7657327)

Photograph of the Pennsylvania Avenue Entrance of the National Archives, 01/12/1936. (National Archives Identifier: 7657327)

 

Above Destiny are two genii, which Weinman described as “bearers of the fire of Patriotism.” To the immediate left of the central figure is a man on horseback. A woman carrying olive and palm branches, symbols of peace and victory, accompany him. Continuing to the left, four smaller figures are shown. Included in this group are a woman carrying a torch signifying enlightenment and a man with a harp, singing the “Song of Achievement.” Weinman intended that these figures would symbolize the “Arts of Peace.”

In contrast to the “Arts of Peace,” the figures on the right side of the pediment symbolize the “Arts of War.” A mounted soldier is depicted along with a warrior carrying the swords of his defeated foes. The smaller figures to the right represent the “Romance of History” and include two philosophers and a child holding the scroll of history. At each corner of the pediment is a griffin, which Weinman referred to as “Guardians of the Secrets of the Archives.”

The north pediment of the National Archives Building is matched in grandeur and symbolism by the pediment on the south side of the building. This pediment, designed by James Earle Frazer, and his wife, Laura Frazer, both respected sculptors, depicts the “Recorder of the Archives” and the archival process.

Photograph of the National Archives Building Constitution Avenue Entrance Portico and Pediment, 12/22/1935.  (National Archives Identifier: 7820508)

Photograph of the National Archives Building Constitution Avenue Entrance Portico and Pediment, 12/22/1935. (National Archives Identifier: 7820508)

The central seated figure represents the Recorder. He holds an open book in his lap and the keys to the archives in his hand. The Recorder’s throne rests on two rams, which symbolize parchment. Many of the oldest and most important documents kept by the National Archives were written on parchment, which is made of animal skin. Figures receiving important documents from female figures flank the Recorder. In the background are shown winged horses, representations of the mythic Pegasus. The smaller men shown are collecting documents, all to be recorded by the central figure. A group of dogs sit at each corner of the pediment, symbolizing guardianship. It has been said that Laura Frazer modeled some of these dogs after her own pets.

In total, $360,000 was spent on sculptural decorations for the National Archives Building. This included an estimated $69,000 dollars each for the pediments—$30,000 each for actual carving and $39,000 each in modeling costs. Together with the building’s other sculptures, these pediments make the National Archives Building the most ornate building in the Federal Triangle. The pediments’ powerful symbols and monumental scale speak to the significance of the National Archives’ purpose and evoke President Herbert Hoover’s statement that the National Archives Building would serve as “a temple of our history.”


Fidel Castro’s childhood plea to President Roosevelt

Continuing our celebration of Natinal Hispanic Heritage Month, this post comes from Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, intern in the National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications.

Did you know that Fidel Castro, when he was just 14 years old, wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II?

How many of us, at such a young age, have written a letter to our President or any other country’s president?

During the years that President Roosevelt was in office, he received thousands of letters in which people from all around the world wished him luck, congratulated him on his reelection, asked him questions, made requests, and shared their concerns, suggestions, and criticisms.

Over 74 years ago, on November 6, 1940, even the future leader of the Cuban revolution sent a letter to the President of the United States. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz grew up to become one of the most famous figures of the 20th century. But as a child, he had a simpler request for the leader of his country’s neighbor to the north.

The young Fidel opens his letter with “My good friend Roosevelt” and asks the President to “give me a ten dollars bill green american” since he had not seen one. In a postscript, he even offers his help with the industrial sector by indicating that he can show the President “the biggest (minas) of iron in the land.” (There’s an interesting discrepancy in the letter: in 1940, Fidel was 14 years old, not 12 as he states.)

Years later, Fidel Castro told a reporter who was interviewing him in 1975 that he did, in fact, receive correspondence from the White House thanking him for his letter, but he never received the $10 bill.

Letter from Fidel Castro to President Franklin D. Roosevelt:

Letter from Fidel Castro to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 11/06/1940. (National Archives Identifier: 302040)

Letter from Fidel Castro to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 11/06/1940.
(National Archives Identifier: 302040)

Santiago de Cuba, November 6th 1940

 
Mr. Franklin Roosevelt
President of the United States:
 
My good friend Roosevelt:
 
I don’t know very English, but I know as much as write to you.
I like to hear the radio, and I am very happy, because I heard in it, that you will be President for a new (periodo).
I am twelve years old. I am a boy but I think very much, but I do not think that I am writing to the President of the United States.
If you like, give me a ten dollars bill green american in the letter, because never, I have not seen a ten dollars bill green american and I would like to have one of them.
 
My address is:
 
Sr. Fidel Castro
Colegio de Dolores
Santiago de Cuba
Oriente Cuba
 
I don’t know very English but I know very much Spanish and I suppose you don’t know very Spanish but you know very English because you are American but I am not American.
 
Thank you very much
Good by. Your friend,
 
F. Castro (signed)
Fidel Castro
 
If you want iron to make your ships I will show to you the bigest (minas) of iron in the land. They are in Mayorí, Oriente, Cuba.
 
Letter from Fidel Castro to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 11/06/1940. (National Archives Identifier: 302040)

Letter from Fidel Castro to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 11/06/1940.
(National Archives Identifier: 302040)

 
 

En español: La petición infantil de Fidel Castro al presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt

Continuando con nuestra celebración en el Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana, este artículo proviene de la interna Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, de la Oficina de Estrategia yComunicaciones de los Archivos Nacionales

¿Sabias que Fidel Castro, con apenas 14 años, escribió una carta dirigida al Presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt durante la segunda guerra mundial?

¿Cuantos de nosotros, a tan corta edad, le hemos escrito una carta a nuestro presidente o a algún presidente mundial?

Durante los años que el Presidente Roosevelt estuvo en la oficina, recibió miles de cartas en donde los ciudadanos y personas de otros países le deseaban suerte, lo felicitaban, le formulaban preguntas, le hacían peticiones, le compartían inquietudes, sugerencias y críticas, especialmente durante la segunda guerra mundial, al ser reelecto para la presidencia.

Hace más de 74 años, el 6 de noviembre de 1940, hasta el futuro líder de larevolución Cubana, le envió una carta al presidente de los Estados Unidos. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz se convirtió en uno de los más famosos protagonistas del siglo XX. Pero cuando era niño, Fidel tenía una solicitud más simple para el líder del país vecino en el norte.

El joven Fidel abre su carta con “Mi buen amigo Roosevelt” y le pide al presidente que le “obsequie un billete verde americano de $10 dólares” ya que el nunca había visto “el dólar verde americano”. Además, en un posdata, le ofrece ayuda con el sector industrial indicándole que él le puede “enseñar donde están las minas más grandes de la tierra”. (Como dato curioso, Fidel no tiene los 12 años que dice tener en la carta sino que el escribe la carta teniendo 14 años de edad.)

Carta de Fidel Castro al presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt:

Carta de Fidel Castro al president Roosevelt, 11/06/1940. (Identificador de los Archivos Nacionales: 302040)

Carta de Fidel Castro al president Roosevelt, 11/06/1940.
(Identificador de los Archivos Nacionales: 302040)

Santiago de Cuba, 6 de Noviembre de 1940

 
Señor Franklin Roosevelt
Presidente de los Estados Unidos:
 
Mi buen amigo Roosevelt:
 
No sé mucho inglés, pero lo suficiente para poder escribirle. Me gusta escuchar mucho la radio y estoy muy contento por haber oído que usted va a ser Presidente por un nuevo periodo.
 
Yo tengo doce años de edad, soy un chico pero pienso mucho pero no pienso que le esté escribiendo al presidente de los Estados Unidos.
Si le parece bien, envíeme un billete verde americano de diez dólares en la carta porque nunca he visto un billete verde americano de diez dólares y me gustaría tener uno.
 
Mi direccion es:
 
Señor Fidel Castro
Colegio de Dolores
Santiago de Cuba
Oriente, Cuba.
 
Yo no sé mucho inglés pero sé muchísimo español y supongo que usted no sabe mucho español pero sabe mucho inglés porque usted es americano pero yo no soy americano.
 
Muchas gracias.
Adiós. Su amigo,
 
Fidel Castro
 
Y si quiere hierro para hacer sus barcos yo le puedo enseñar las minas de hierro más grandes de la tierra. Están en Mayarí, Oriente, Cuba.
 
Letter from Fidel Castro to FDR, 1940, pgs 2&3 00968_2003_002