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As Nevada enters its sesquicentennial celebration, there is another event that happened 150 years ago that really deserves no celebration, but it should be remembered: The Treaty of Ruby Valley.
The story of Native Americans often can be an unhappy one. American history is full of examples of their land being taken and their tribes attacked. But sometimes the issues were on both sides, and the quest for a solution turned out differently than expected. Thats the case with this treaty.
In the early 1860s, a band of about three to four hundred Western Shoshone attacked travelers on the Humboldt River and the Overland Trail. The Western Shoshone weren't the only Native Americans feeling the pressure from the westward movement and western settlement. Remember that in 1860, whites and Northern Paiutes had fought the Pyramid Lake War. The territorial governor, James Nye, doubled as superintendent of Indian affairs. He hoped to avoid further troubles. But the army started forcing Western Shoshone to work as scouts for nearby Fort Ruby. The federal government was planning the transcontinental railroad and wanted things calm along the route.
So, Nye and other officials worked out the Treaty of Ruby Valley, signed on October 1, 1863. Both sides got something. The Western Shoshone would stop any attacks and allow settlers on their land for travel, mining, and military purposes. The federal government would pay them for their loss of their food supply due to the encroachment. The treaty did NOT say the government would get the Western Shoshones land, or that they were giving up land. But thats what happened.
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