The Treaty of St. Louis was signed today in 1816 between the United States and representatives of the Council of Three Fires (united tribes of Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi residing on the Illinois and Milwaukee rivers). Now WE know em

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Ninian Edwards

Ninian Edwards served as the only governor of the Illinois Territory from 1809 to 1818.

During his nine years as territorial governor, Edwards made a good deal of money through several profitable ventures, including farming, land speculation, and investment in sawmills, grist mills, and stores.

Edwards’ political rivalry with Jesse B. Thomas continued for the rest of his time as governor. Edwards, along with much of the legislature, criticized the territory’s judges for their inactivity. Among their complaints were that the judges did not hold court often enough and spent too much time absent from the territory. The legislature passed a bill in 1814 to reform the territory’s judicial system. The judges refused to acknowledge the act, claiming that they were outside the jurisdiction of the legislature. In 1815 the issue was resolved by Congress, which passed a law supporting Edwards and the legislature.

William Clark

Along with Meriwether Lewis, William Clark had led the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803 to 1806 across the Louisiana Purchase to the Pacific Ocean, and claimed the Pacific Northwest for the United States

When the Missouri Territory was formed in 1813, Clark was appointed as the governor by President Madison. He was reappointed to the position by Madison in 1816.

Auguste Chouteau

René Auguste Chouteau, also known as Auguste Chouteau, was the founder of St. Louis, Missouri, as well as a successful fur trader and a politician. He and his partner had a monopoly for many years over the fur trade with the large Osage tribe on the Missouri River. In 1803, Chouteau provided valuable information to the Lewis and Clark Expedition about the population of the Louisiana territory, along with observations of wildlife and local villages. In early 1804, Lewis and Clark purchased materials from Chouteau’s trading house in St. Louis, and on March 9, 1804, Chouteau hosted the new American commander of the Upper Louisiana during the transfer ceremonies for the Louisiana Purchase. For this, Chouteau was rewarded with a monopoly on trade with the tribes by the United States. From 1806 to 1815, Chouteau continued leading his family fur trade business, eventually negotiating part of the Treaties of Portage des Sioux in 1815 after the War of 1812.

Council of Three Fires

The Council of Three Fires are also known as the People of the Three Fires; the Three Fires Confederacy; or the United Nations of Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi Indians.

Portage Des Sioux

Portage Des Sioux is a city in St. Charles County, Missouri, United States. The town sits on the Mississippi River roughly opposite Elsah, Illinois. The city was founded in 1799 by Spanish Lt. Gov. Zenon Trudeau and François Saucier in reaction to American plans to build a military post about twelve miles downstream. The French name derives from the overland escape route between the Missouri River and Mississippi River used by a band of Sioux, fleeing enemies; they used this area as a portage for their canoes, outdistancing their rivals who instead paddled all of the way to the confluence of the rivers.

The Treaties of Portage des Sioux in 1815 were signed there, ostensibly settling Native American and United States conflicts in the War of 1812. The treaties consolidated and affirmed the 1804 Treaty of St. Louis in which the Sac and Fox ceded northeast Missouri and much of Illinois and Wisconsin. The treaties also consilidated and affirmed the 1808 Treaty of Fort Clark in which the Osage Nation ceded all of Missouri and Arkansas. The results were to ultimately result in the Black Hawk War and the tribes being forced to move west of Missouri.

 1816 Treaty of St. Louis

The 1816 Treaty of St. Louis was signed by Ninian Edwards, William Clark, and Auguste Chouteau for the United States and representatives of the Council of Three Fires (united tribes of Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi) residing on the Illinois and Milwaukee rivers, signed August 24, 1816.

Despite the name, the treaty was actually conducted at Portage des Sioux, Missouri, located immediately north of St. Louis, Missouri.

By signing this treaty, the tribes, their chiefs, and their warriors relinquished all right, claim, and title to land previously ceded to the United States by the Sac and Fox tribes on November 3, 1804.

These treaties were to form the legal basis in which native tribes were to be relocated west of Missouri in Indian Territory and which was to clear the way for the states to enter the Union.

On March 11, 1815, President James Madison appointed William Clark (governor of Missouri Territory), Ninian Edwards (governor of Illinois Territory), and Auguste Chouteau (a St. Louis businessman who had made his fortune dealing the fur trade with the Native Americans) to the commission to conclude the treaty.

The President authorized an expenditure of $20,000 for gifts for the chiefs.

The commissioners met in St. Louis, Missouri on May 11, 1815 to make the arrangements and extend 37 invitations to the Chiefs.

The most notable chief to refuse the invitation was Black Hawk who was compelled to come and was the last sign the treaty. He was to resist this treaty in the Black Hawk War.

Black Hawk, from History of the Indian Tribes of North America.

Black Hawk, from History of the Indian Tribes of North America.

By signing this treaty, the united tribes also ceded a 20 mile strip of land to the United States, which connected Chicago and Lake Michigan with the Illinois River.

In 1848, the Illinois and Michigan Canal was built on the ceded land and, in 1900, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

The specific land given up included:

The said chiefs and warriors, for themselves and the tribes they represent, agree to relinquish, and hereby do relinquish, to the United States, all their right, claim, and title, to all the land contained in the before-mentioned cession of the Sacs and Foxes, which lies south of a due west line from the southern extremity of Lake Michigan to the Mississippi river. And they moreover cede to the United States all the land contained within the following bounds, to wit: beginning on the left bank of the Fox river of Illinois, ten miles above the mouth of said Fox river; thence running so as to cross Sandy creek, ten miles above its mouth; thence, in a direct line, to a point ten miles north of the west end of the Portage, between Chicago creek, which empties into Lake Michigan, and the river Depleines, a fork of the Illinois; thence, in a direct line, to a point on Lake Michigan, ten miles northward of the mouth of Chicago creek; thence, along the lake, to a point ten miles southward of the mouth of the said Chicago creek; thence, in a direct line, to a point on the Kankakee, ten miles above its mouth; thence, with the said Kankakee and the Illinois river, to the mouth of Fox river, and thence to the beginning: Provided, nevertheless, That the said tribes shall be permitted to hunt and fish within the limits of the land hereby relinquished and ceded, so long as it may continue to be the property of the United States.

In exchange, the tribes were to be paid $1,000 in merchandise over 12 years. The land was surveyed by John C. Sullivan and its land was originally intended as land grant rewards for volunteers in the War of 1812.


Today, Indian Boundary Park in West Ridge, Chicago commemorates this Treaty.

Indian Boundary Park

Indian Boundary Park is a 13-acre urban park in the West Ridge neighborhood of Chicago that opened in 1922. It is named after a boundary line that was determined in the 1816 Treaty of St. Louis between the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi tribes and the United States government. The line ran through the present park.

Indian Boundary Park has a small zoo, which is one of two zoos within the Chicago city limits. The zoo began with a single American black bear; it now primarily houses farm animals, such as goats, ducks, and chickens, and is maintained by the Zoological Society of the Lincoln Park Zoo.

The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

Now WE know em

Memorial to the treaties in Portage des Sioux

Memorial to the treaties in Portage des Sioux


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