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Native Americans In The Western Territories of The United States and Canada

A Short History of Annuity Payments and Native Americans

An annuity is a fixed sum of money that is paid to someone annually. While annuities are typically a legal process that allows one party to purchase something from another, click here for more details on annuity rate information, annuities have also been used in less legitimate ways. In the 1800s, Native Americans in the western territories of the United States and Canada were often given annuities to entice the tribes off their ancestral land.

The First Nations in southern Indian, Wisconsin, Missouri and Illinois are a great example of how annuities were poorly used to remove Native Americans from their lands. In one case, the Governor of Indiana offered a deal to the First Nations which resulted in the sale of Native American land for pennies, sometimes even less, per acre. The tribes were paid in guaranteed annuities. Many historians have concluded that the First Nations were deceived into selling valuable land at an excessively undervalued price.

While these seems unfair, the land treaties signed by the First Nations were technically legitimate legal documents. The tribes received annuities, money or goods in return for the land. However, many native peoples were left confused and angry when they no longer had use of their land after the treaties were made. Sadly, many Native Americans of the time had no concept of personal property and did not understand what type of deal they were making. In some cases, the treaties were also negotiated while the tribes were under duress. For example, native leaders would be bribed with alcohol or threated with no more annuity payments. If all other strategies failed, the United States government would sometimes sanction military efforts against the tribes to force them off their land.

Sadly, many Native American tribes eventually became dependent on annuities. This dependency often drove tribes into debt, resulting in the sale of more land. The Potawatomi tribe, for example, signed six land treaties which gave large amounts of tribal land in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana to the US Government. The annuity payments were so important to this tribe that they often acted as “peacemakers” with other tribes that resisted the US government to ensure the payments continued. History has shown that annuities have been wrongly used as an instrument of deceit to remove Native American tribes from their ancestral lands.

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