Spokane Tribe cedes 3.14 million acres of land to the United States on March 18, 1887.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 2/03/2003
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 5163
On March 18, 1887, the Spokane Tribe cedes 3.14 million acres of land to the United States for about 32 cents per acre. This ends attempts by members of the tribe to live among whites in the Spokane area. The tribe is assigned 154,898 acres as a reservation at the mouth of the Spokane River. In 1966, the tribe will accept a settlement of $6.7 million for the land, which will be held in trust.

In 1858, the Spokanes surrendered to U.S. Army Colonel George Wright after hostilities caused by treaties signed in 1855 by other tribes, but not by the Spokanes. They continued to live as before, as whites founded the city of Spokane Falls and settled the Spokane River country. In 1881, the U.S. government established a reservation for the tribe, but many of the tribe refused to agree to move there. They selected parcels of land and tried to live among the whites. Some Spokanes found success as ranchers and farmers. The whites ignored Native claims and took plots of land as it suited them. Since the Indians had little understanding of homesteading law, it was easy to vacate their titles over technicalities. In 1887, the Spokanes agreed to cede all title to the land on which the city of Spokane Falls was built and the surrounding country.

In 1946, Congress created the Indian Lands Commission to hear grievances from tribes over unfair treaties. In December 1966, the government made a cash settlement for the lands relinquished in 1887.


Sources: John Alan Ross, "Spokane," Native America In The Twentieth Century: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing Co., 1996), 611-612; Robert H. Ruby and Don A. Brown, The Spokane Indians: Children of the Sun, Expanded Edition (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, [1970] 2006) 192-193.
Note: This essay was updated and the date adjusted on August 31, 2006.

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