Despite the fact that the 1855 Treaty was intended to provide the Grand River Ottawa with permanent Reservation homelands, many officials representing the United States government responsible for protecting the Grand River Reservations actively assisted non-Indians in taking lands reserved for the Grand River people. Nearly two-thirds of the land within the Grand River Ottawa Reservations was transferred to non-Indians by 1880.
Ottawa Indians (Odawa Indians)
Famous Ottawa Indians
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, George Mannypenny, had intended that the Reservations established for the Ottawa in the 1855 Treaty be clearly defined, protected from non-Indian intruders and that they be permanent. Unfortunately, many people, including people in government posts charged with protecting those Reservations, worked to undermine the goal of preserving the Ottawa peoples right to establish protected homelands on permanent Reservations. The 1855 treaty contained a carefully outlined 5-year timetable and process for Ottawa members to select 40-80 acre allotments within their reservations.
The problems created for our Grand River Ottawa ancestors and relatives by the 1821 Treaty of Chicago and the 1836 Treaty of Washington continued to grow during the 1840s and early 1850s. The Senate hoped that by limiting the Ottawa’s right to remain on their Reservations, they would be influenced to relocate to Kansas.
The 1820s and 1830s were years of great change for Ottawa communities. Fur trade hunting practices had depleted most animal species. The American Fur Company which bought furs that Ottawa hunters and trappers collected, was a major economic and political power in the Michigan Territory. The Company was losing money. Company owners and operatives wanted Ottawa leaders to sell their lands to pay off debts to the Company.