The New American Republic

WASHINGTON’S INDIAN POLICY

Relationships with Indians were a significant problem for Washington’s administration, but one on which white citizens agreed: Indians stood in the way of white settlement and, as the 1790 Naturalization Act made clear, were not citizens. After the War of Independence, white settlers poured into lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. As a result, from 1785 to 1795, a state of war existed on the frontier between these settlers and the Indians who lived in the Ohio territory. In both 1790 and 1791, the Shawnee and Miami had defended their lands against the whites who arrived in greater and greater numbers from the East. In response, Washington appointed General Anthony Wayne to bring the Western Confederacy—a loose alliance of tribes—to heel. In 1794, at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, Wayne was victorious. With the 1795 Treaty of Greenville (Figure), the Western Confederacy gave up their claims to Ohio.

A painting depicts a small group of uniformed Americans negotiating with several Indians in native dress. The Indian who speaks to the Americans bends slightly and gestures with his hands, with his compatriots standing behind him; the Americans, who stand straight-backed in a tight, impenetrable group, appear unmoved.
Notice the contrasts between the depictions of federal and native representatives in this painting of the signing of the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. What message or messages did the artist intend to convey?