Working along Native American boundary linesPosted by holy-cow on November 20, 2019 at 2:07 pm
Depending on our primary area of service many of us end up with projects that border on lines established a century or two ago (or more) to facilitate the relocation of certain Native Americans. This occurred in stages with different tribes over the years. Would be interested in learning from the rest of you as to the approximate years of establishment of such boundaries in your area and the tribes involved. For example, one line I have worked along numerous times dates to about 1830 which is not long after the final establishment of the western boundary of Missouri and 30 years prior to Kansas becoming a state. That is also 35 years prior to when the lands where I live were ceded from the Osage Indians to the US. A few miles from my home is another boundary that involved Cherokee lands. It is less than 50 miles to another such boundary with a different tribe. Another treaty boundary starts about 50 miles to the southwest of my home. All of these occurred because relocation was being enforced to locations west of the State of Missouri. Later relocation actions pushed most of the people into what is now Oklahoma. But, there have been multiple relocations of some tribes. For example, I believe the Osage were first encountered in the Ohio River valley, then pushed westward into Missouri before being pushed into what is now Kansas and finally into what is now Oklahoma. The Miamis followed a similar path, I believe. The first line mentioned above was to set a southern boundary for what was known as The New York Indians. I have read that was actually numerous smaller tribes from a region around New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, but I am not certain of their specific identities.
- 39 Replies
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 2:32 pm
Since Iowa was one of the places they were being pushed from, there are no reservations that I know of in the state, but we do have a tribal settlement.
The Meskwaki (called Fox in earlier treaties and lumped by the US Government into the Sac and Fox for many purposes) were supposedly relocated after 1845 to Kansas and then Oklahoma with the Sac/Sauk. However many came back to Iowa or never left. They worked to establish themselves as the “good Indians” at a time when the Sioux were being contentious with the government and settlers. The Meskwaki lived and hunted on the marginal lands and sometimes worked on settlers’ farms. They were able to get friends to lobby the state legislature into passing an act allowing them to buy land. This was at a time when the US Gov could make treaties with the native nations to cede land, but individual Indians were not allowed to own land under the government system. This act of the Iowa legislature was possibly unique in the country. (The Cherokee had a white friend buy land for them but Andrew Jackson sent them away anyhow.)
So the Meskwaki came back to Iowa in 1856 and bought land west of the town of Tama and have added to it over the decades so they are a major landowner in the county. They are careful to point out it is a “settlement, not a reservation.” They have straddled the line of laws to operate under the civil government while still maintaining some of the advantages of being a tribe, such as establishing a casino, operating their own school, and having a tribal court..
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 2:56 pm
There were many temporary boundaries as the natives were pressured into ceding land in a series of treaties (search for the Royce list of Cessions). Most of the boundaries had no effect on the GLO surveys. The GLO would come up to a treaty line and stop, but then when the next treaty got that land the GLO would just continue the lines onward. If there are any permanent effects on the GLO townships and sections I would be happy to have them pointed out. (The Half-Breed Tract in far SE Iowa may be the exception, and I’m not familiar with that area.)
Here’s an interestingcollection of maps showing boundaries.
One temporary boundary has always fascinated me. It was the last one set by treaty with the Sac and Fox, known as the Red Rock Line, and surveyed in 1843. It ran a few miles away from the farm I grew up on and I always wanted to know more accurately where it was. The surveyor used a solar compass to check his bearings, one of the early uses of the instrument in Iowa, and that adds to the fascination.
I made a project of trying to find its location, as the remaining evidence is sparse. There are signs along the roads in a few places, all placed in recent decades for convenience rather than accuracy. I believe I know its initial point within a couple yards, and have just one point where the GLO noted crossing the “old Indian boundary.” I have worked at fitting the stream crossings to topo maps and then Google Earth, and feel confident many such points are as accurate as the photo alignment. I need to revisit that project now that GE has improved their photo alignments. A few visits to timber land have failed to find any marked trees, and the survey was so long ago there are likely to be none left. Here’s my (somewhat old) kmz file that will plot the line and a lengthy report (with a lot of vaguely related history and side distractions). The report also needs a lot of cleanup work. And I see that a couple of my icons are not found, so I need to work on that too..
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 3:09 pm
Excuse my ignorance on the matter, but I have a somewhat related question. Are “stock” (aka no additional licenses, training, schooling, etc.) state licensed RPLS’s in the US allowed to survey Native American boundary lines defined by federal treaty?
If yes, are they allowed create lot fabric within the reservation? Or are they only allowed to reaffirm its outer boundary?
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 3:21 pm
Yes, PLS’s can survey within the reservation. Imagine waiting for the government or some approved surveyor when you need to build a fence. You may need to get a work card for some tasks, but native and non-natives (much of reservation lands are owned by non-native) hire regular surveyors. I was working on a ranch and came across an oddly marked stone as I headed west and intersected this north-south line, I didn’t understand what the markings meant and I closely re-read the old notes, seems it was a reservation line staked for a reservation that today is many miles east of this north-south line.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 3:28 pm
Much of our work here in North Dakota is on and around the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, home to the MHA Nation (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara).
The reservation boundary was surveyed around 1892 with the GLO plats following into the 1910’s. The reservation boundary is controlling, and divides the surrounding townships, with the part of the township inside the reservation usually platted later than the part outside the reservation. The GLO surveys closed on the reservation line from each side, so there are separate plats for each of these partial townships with lots along the reservation line, and in some areas there is an offset in the township line at the reservation line. The original monuments are mostly in place.
We have to have a tribal business license to work on the reservation, and some jobs require billing through a “Tier One” native company. Otherwise my ND PLS is good.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 3:36 pm
Very interesting. Up here we DO need to wait for an approved surveyor. Say one was an Ontario Land Surveyor (OLS). They would not be qualified to survey within the reservation for cadastral purposes. One would need to also be licensed as a Canada Lands Surveyor (CLS).
“The Association of Canada Lands Surveyors (ACLS) is the national licensing body for professionals surveying in the three Canadian territories, in the Federal parks, on Aboriginal reserves, on and under the surface of Canada’s oceans. The exclusive title attributed to these professionals is that of Canada Lands Surveyor (CLS).”
It is a separate registration process that one can apply to after obtaining their provincial designation.
Sorry for the side track. Back to the original post.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 4:23 pm
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 4:52 pm
Many of the town lines in Massachusetts originally were based on lands purchased from the Indians from 1620 through the early part of the 1700’s. A handful of the towns were first established as “Praying Indian” towns – fixed settlements for converts to Christianity to live apart from their semi-nomadic heathen relatives. The Christian Indians were eventually “displaced” by white settlers. Some of the tribe names here were Massachusett, Natick, Nashua, Wampanoag, Narragansett, Pequot, Mohegan, Niantic, Nipmuc, Ponkapoag, Mahican, Pocumtuc.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 5:16 pm
Working inside a reservation is at the discretion of the tribe, most recognize state licences, a few require CFedS.
A state licence allows you to survey the boundary of state and private land with Indian Land, but federal law applies, not state law.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 5:25 pm
No, that isn’t true at all, 77% of my state is “Federal” I wouldn’t be able to much of anything if that were true.
If a tribal member makes a request for a survey through the BIA then you would need to be a Cfed, but if Jon Smith tribal member wants a tract split or a mortgage COS he is free to hire a land surveyor.
As far as working on BLM lands, I do that most everytime I go out for one of rural clients, it might be water rights, easements, energy development, ect.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 5:37 pm
No license at all is needed to work BLM lands, if you are an employee of the BLM. Unlicensed surveyors making a mess of the cadaster is exactly the rant that a certain person used to go off on…until he got banned.-All thoughts my own, except my typos and when I am wrong.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 5:39 pm
Thank you, Bill, for the “collection of maps” link. That is very interesting. The various shapes are incredible.
My halfway local circumstance can be found in the Kansas 1 and Kansas 2 maps. The earlier divisions are on Kansas 2.
The line I first referenced is the south line of #248 in Kansas 2. It was laid out about 1830 as I recall. The GLO performed the original surveys about 1855-56 to create townships and sections in #248. They ran south from the Fifth Standard Parallel until hitting said south line. In 1865 the Osage tribe ceded what is #475 on Kansas 1 to the US. The GLO moved in shortly thereafter. They worked north from the Sixth Standard Parallel until they hit the south boundary of what had been #248. This created “bends” in the north-south section lines as what was “south” coming from the north in 1855 did not match up with “north” coming from the south in 1865. They ended at the end of the stub left in 1855. Sections that are sliced from east to west by the south line of #248 have lots described in 1855 and lots described in 1865. Many of the lots north of the line are one-half mile long from east to west as the Indian line was a short distance south of a section line. Generally, the lots on the south side are only one-quarter mile east-west but may extend nearly a half-mile north-south. Figuring in the “bend” makes subdividing entertaining. Another factor is that the GLO survey in #248 used different special instructions than the GLO survey in #475 performed roughly ten years later. This is important as the method to set the north-south quarter section line in #248 was to be 40 chains west of and parallel with the east section line while the same line in #475 was to run between the measured midpoints of the south section line and north section line, which were generally something other than the expected 40 chains.
Bill, make note on Kansas 2 of the two very narrow strips that sort of parallel the state line between Kansas and Oklahoma (#503 and #491). I believe there was some serious confusion as to where the defined south line of “Kansas” actually fell. Also, the area labeled #490 is very interesting as it was first Osage land then Cherokee land. The Cherokees could “own” parcels there as individuals, not just as a tribe. #490 was to be 25 miles wide beginning at the Missouri border and extending 50 miles south from the south line of #248. The 25 miles was selected initially as “neutral lands” to separate the Missouri settlers from the the principal Osage lands in #475, #476 and #530. Soldiers stationed in Fort Scott in the southeast corner of #248 since 1842 spent much effort expelling squatters from that area until about 1866 when the Cherokees relinquished the area. The line between #475 and #490 has some minor bends in section lines running east-west.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 6:00 pm
As a youngster growing up in the days when 2/3 of the TV shows were Westerns of some sort it seemed as though there were only a handful of Indian tribes in existence. The shows always referred to Apache/Comanche/Sioux/Paiute or some other western tribe. Finally The Daniel Boone Show came along and Mingo referred to several tribes from the Eastern US. I wonder how many different tribal names have existed in the 48 contiguous states since the arrival of the Europeans.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 6:03 pm
Let me know the next time you are grazing around the La Petite Roche and I will give you a walking tour of The Quapaw Line.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 6:16 pm
Thanks. Skimmed through both a little. Will need to take some time to give each some study. It is wonderful that you have assembled such history.
As for the “underdeveloped stone”, that is an area I have somehow managed to never visit in all my years on this planet. Believe it or not.
Part of the issue in the linked workbooks is the mispronunciation of the river. Those of us in Kansas know the correct way to say it. That is Ar-Kan-Zus. A simple check with the Mayor of Arkansas City, KS will verify this information.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 8:51 pm
The BLM surveyor doesn’t have to be licensed, however all the BLM surveyors I know are licensed, all other surveyors working on BLM lands in the state need to be licensed. Almost all surveying on, across, around BLM lands is done by private non CFed surveyors. There is very little actual BLM surveys going on at this time.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 9:16 pm
There appears to be a great deal of confusion in this thread. I thought that the OP was talking about BOUNDARIES of Reservations. Somehow this seems to have gotten perverted to working ON reservation Lands – which is altogether different. In my State no State license is necessary to survey ON Reservation Lands. Reservation Boundaries may only be resurveyed by BLM Surveyors or CFeds license holders, WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE TRIBE. These are National boundary lines that must be approved by both nations, just as work on State boundary lines must be approved by both states.
- MemberNovember 20, 2019 at 10:02 pm
Here are a few maps that show SOME of the “tribes” or communities.
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