Treaty negotiations between the U.S. and Indian tribes of the Northwest are major historic events that influence our lives today. Antone Minthorn, Board member of the Washington State Historical Society and Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, described that "While the Treaties are not necessarily a cause for celebration, this historic anniversary is certainly an appropriate opportunity to remember and honor the ancestors who signed the Treaties and to educate our youth and the public about these important documents." 

About "The Treaty Trail"

A team of staff members from the Washington State Historical Society produced this resource, in conjunction with outside consultants, Native American and non-Native scholars, and other researchers. The primary inspiration was the 150th anniversary of the signing of the treaties between the United States and numerous Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest between 1854 and 1856. The museum developed a traveling exhibit to commemorate these treaties, while tribes and cultural organizations organized other events and programs statewide.

This lesson provides the general public, teachers, students, and researchers with information about these treaties—who negotiated them, the significance of the treaties, their relationship to the U.S. Constitution, and some of the ongoing consequences of them. In particular we highlight items from the collections of the Washington State Historical Society which pertain to this story. Although this site touches upon how tribes are rebuilding their nations, readers should consult with tribal websites for the most current and relevant information on this topic.

Background Readings

The readings provided here are intended to serve public, private, and homeschool teachers working with elementary, middle, or high school students. All curricular materials were designed to meet social studies, science and language arts standards.


Following are some of the key images, artifacts and ephemera from the WSHS collection that are featured in this unit. Additional objects, images, and ephemera pertaining to this subject can be found (and searched for) in the various collections presented on our Online Collections page. 

Lesson Plans & Media

To begin, proceed to the lesson plan section and review materials that are appropriate for your students' grade level.