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1789: The Northwest Ordinance guarantees tribal land rights

Congress ratifies the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, creating the first organized territory of the United States. The Northwest Territory includes the region south of the Great Lakes, north and west of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi River. The Ordinance directs that “the utmost good faith shall always be observed towards Indians; their land and property shall never be taken from them without their consent.”

The Northwest Ordinance also provided a method for admitting new states to the Union and spelled out a plan that would allow the U.S. to expand its boundaries to the Pacific—which would result in the taking of lands from hundreds of Indian tribes.

Theme
Federal-Tribal Relations, Land and Water
Region
Northeast

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The Northwest Ordinance of 1787

Courtesy Library of Congress

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The Northwest Ordinance of 1787

Courtesy LIbrary of Congress