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1858 "Treaty of Washington"

Photo of the 1858 'Treaty of Washington' recently acquired by the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society recently acquired a nationally significant treaty between the United States and the Yankton Sioux, allowing the historic treaty to stay in the Midwest.

Thought to be one of only two or three original copies in the world, the "Treaty of Washington," signed in 1858, called for the Yankton Sioux to cede more than 11 million acres of land known as the Yankton Delta — between the Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers — in exchange for a 430,000-acre reservation.

In return, the Yankton were to receive $1.6 million in payments or money expended "for their benefit," paid over 50 years. Yankton leaders agreed to sign the treaty only after they were given the rights to the quarry at Pipestone, Minnesota. The U.S. Senate ratified the document on February 16, 1859 and was "proclaimed" by President James Buchanan on February 26. In accordance with the treaty, the Dakota people have mined the sacred stone from the quarry, though the treaty obligations were never totally fulfilled.

"Thanks to the generous support of our donors, the Minnesota Historical Society was able to quickly secure a document that several other institutions were interested in acquiring," said Patrick Coleman, a Society acquisitions librarian. "It gives us great honor to house a piece of history that has such enormous significance."

Further information about of the 1858 Treaty of Washington, including a link to a transcript, is available in the MHS Library Catalog.