Finding the Horse Creek Treaty of 1851 Site: An Interdisciplinary Approach to National Historic Landmark Designation

Authors: Zara Hickman*, National Park Service, Skylar Bauer, National Park Service; Heritage Partnerships Program; Regional Office Serving Interior Regions 6, 7, & 8, William Tallbull, National Park Service; Heritage Partnerships Program; Regional Office Serving Interior Regions 6, 7, & 8, Dena Sanford, National Park Service: Heritage Partnerships Program; Regional Office Serving Interior Regions 3, 4, & 5
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Interdisciplinary, GIS, National Park Service, National Historic Landmark, Horse Creek Treaty
Session Type: Paper
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In September 1851, William Quesenbury stumbled upon what is considered the largest gathering of Plains Indians in U.S. history with an estimated 10,000 American Indians present. The gathering and council was held by the U.S. government and resulted in the Horse Creek Treaty, which was the first treaty signed between the US and the Northern Plains tribes as a group. His quick landscape sketch is the only known illustration of the 1851 Horse Creek Treaty grounds. Today, the Horse Creek Treaty site is a National Historic Landmark, managed by the National Park Service, but with no exact location. The IMR Heritage Partnerships Program together with IMR GIS collaborated to investigate the sketch’s vantage point using a 3D viewshed environment. This analysis rendered new insight into the approximate location of the signing: the confluence of Horse Creek and Owl Creek, not Horse Creek and the North Platte River as originally thought. This new information is being used, visualized, and communicated to assist in the collection of the tribal oral histories project that will be used support the National Historic Landmark nomination of the physical site. This paper will discuss the stakeholder consultation, utilization of local geomorphic studies, GIS software and analysis, and next steps in the NHL nomination process.

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