Flight of the Nez Perce
Background to a campaign: 1795-1877
By Guy Breshears
Headquarters, Department of the Columbia
Vancouver Barracks, Washington Territory
General O.O. Howard, commanding
June 17, 1877
EARLY AMERICAN TREATIES: SETTING THE PRECEDENT
After General Anthony Wayne’s decisive defeat of the Ohio Indian tribes at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, leaders of the Indian nations joined with Wayne on August 3, 1795 in signing A Peace Treaty.
This was an important event in the life of the infant nation since the Treaty established a definite boundary between Indian lands and those lands open to white settlement. For the first time in its young history the U.S. was able to govern all its territories.
It was no secret that President Washington was eager to clear the Ohio Valley of Native Americans. By opening up the Northwest Territory to immigration the country would be able to expand its borders, with the resulting increase in trade and commerce.
On three occasions Washington had sent an army to do battle with the Miamis and Shawnees . The first two– led by Josiah Harmer and then by Arthur St. Clair– met the same disastrous fate, almost total decimation of the American forces. The Miami and Shawnee tribes reigned supreme in the Northwest Territory until August of 1794, when Washington dispatched Gen. “Mad Anthony” Wayne with an expedition numbering more than 2500 men. Where his predecessors had failed, Wayne emerged victorious at theBattle of Fallen Timbers near Toledo .
The Treaty was signed by Wayne and representatives from a dozen Indian nations and tribes at Greeneville (sic), northwest of the Ohio River on August 3, 1795 . Specifically: “A Treaty of Peace Between the United States of America and the Tribes of Indians called Wyandots, Delawares, Shawanoes, Ottawas, Chipewas, Putawatimes, Miamis, Eel-River, Weeas, Kickapoos, Piankashaws and Kaskaskias.”