The Closing of Fort Laramie April 20, 1890

On April 20, 1890, the last soldiers left Fort Laramie.  127 years ago does not seem long ago as I have lived more than half those years.  The fort, once one of the most important along the Oregon Trail and for years a hotbed of activity for trappers, traders, travelers, tribes and the military was no longer needed – that’s progress.

I decided to go back and take a look at the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. The treaty is short, a bit over a thousand words (about four pages) and contains eight articles. Each article, when broken down in today’s world, looks to be something that would not work – and they didn’t.

ARTICLE 6. The parties to the second part of this treaty having selected principals or head-chiefs for their respective nations, through whom all national business will hereafter be conducted, do hereby bind themselves to sustain said chiefs and their successors during good behavior.

Here is what I wrote about the treaty and specifically. Article 6, a few years ago.

Although the government meant well, a lack of understanding of Indian culture and governing policies likely doomed the treaty from the start.  The government idea of assigning each tribe a certain area, as if each was a state or county within a state was a foreign idea to the tribes and likely not understood. Also, the idea of one man as a head chief for each tribe did not work. Within the Indian culture, if an important matter was to be decided anyone in the tribe had a say.

Fort Laramie and the end of its day’s 127 years ago Thursday, April 20.

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