JULY 22, 1790


The Indian Trade and Intercourse Act of 1790 was the first Federal law to regulate trade between Native Americans and colonists. Specifically, the Act established that the Federal government would: (1) acquire lands from Indians only through public treaties; (2) license traders; (3) punish murder and other crimes against Indians by whites; (4) employ Indian Agents; (5) carry on of trade equal to tribal wants; and (6) promote efforts to “civilize” tribal nations. Eventually, the “Indian Nonintercourse Act,” became the collective name given to 6 statutes passed by the Congress in 1790, 1793, 1796, 1799, 1802, and 1834. The most notable provisions of the Act regulated the inalienability of Aboriginal title in the United States. The prohibition on purchases of Indian lands without the approval of the Federal government has its origins in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Confederation Congress Proclamation of 1783.  The first 4 Acts expired after 4 years; the 1802 and 1834 Acts had no expiration.

  “The First Law to Regulate Trade Between Native Americans and Colonists,” Chickasaw TV.  Retrieved 1/6/2022, Indian Trade and Intercourse Act | Chickasaw.tv
David G. Lewis, PhD, “How the Trade and Intercourse Acts Aided Colonization of Native Lands,” Journal of Critical Indigenous Anthropology, 4/25/2020.  Retrieved 1/6/2022,  How the Trade and Intercourse Acts Aided Colonization of Native Lands – QUARTUX (ndnhistoryresearch.com)
Photo: U.S. Government, 1790. An Act to regulate Trade and Intercourse with the Indian tribes, and to Preserve peace on the Frontiers. Public Domain.

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