August 5, 1826: 1826 Treaty of Fond du Lac ratified

On this day in Fond du Lac in 1826, John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company post at Fond du Lac was the site of a treaty signing. Michigan’s territorial governor William Cass and Colonel Thomas L. McKenney, the head of the newly formed U.S. Indian Department (which would later become the Bureau of Indian Affairs), gathered native leaders from throughout the region at Fond du Lac to ratify a treaty designed to both stop fighting among the Ojibwe, Dakota, and other tribes and to establish U.S. dominance in the region. While the treaty established peace and gave the Ojibwe land guarantees, a little money, and a school at Saulte Ste. Marie, it also took from them the mineral rights to their lands. Accompanying McKenney was artist James Otto Lewis, who sketched scenery and the natives they encountered. McKenney’s notes and Lewis’s images resulted in a book called Tour to the Lakes, describing the journey from Saulte Ste. Marie to Fond du Lac following the Lake Superior’s south shore.

A watercolor depicting the gathering for the signing of the 1826 Treaty of Fond du Lac by James Otto Lewis. (Image: Duluth Public Library)