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First treaty after Declaration of Independence was with tribes






The Treaty of Watertown was signed on the second floor of the Edmund Fowle House in Watertown, Massachusetts, on July 19, 1776. Photo from Historical Society of Watertown

The very first treaty signed by the United States after the Declaration of Independence was with tribes in present-day Maine and in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The Treaty of Watertown was signed by the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet tribes on July 19, 1776, just two weeks after the historic declaration. A copy is being held by the Massachusetts Archives, which is running out of space for all of its documents, the Associated Press reported.

“At this point we can’t keep receiving records,” Secretary of State William Galvin told the AP.

Despite the significance of the Treaty of Watertown, the federal government did not acknowledge the existence of the tribal signatories for more than 200 years. The Aroostook Band of Micmacs and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians did not gain federal recognition until the 1980s and the 1990s.

The Historical Society of Watertown holds an annual reenactment of the first reading of the Declaration of Independence in Massachusetts and the signing of the Treaty of Watertown every July. The Houlton Band sent its official state representative to this year's event.

The treaty was signed at the Edmund Fowle House in Watertown, where the historical society is based.

Get the Story:
Too many records, too little room at Massachusetts archives (AP 9/13)
Watertown, Indian Tribes Renew Ties During Historical Society Event (The Watertown News 7/20)