Annuities for American [Indigenous Peoples]
October 23, 2019 by Annuity Museum
Throughout the 1800s, annuities played a big role in Native Americans losing their lands to the US Government. During this period it was quite common for the government to entice the Indians into trading their vast lands for trinkets and guaranteed annuities, often at rates that constituted gross underpayment. The tribes were forced into smaller areas, where their only real income was those annuities. When the Native Americans needed additional money to purchase food and clothing, they could only buy from certain Government-approved traders, who would extend credit to the Indians. As the Indians’ debts to these traders increased, the tribes were forced to sell more land to cover their loans. In one instance, the Governor of Indiana, which was then a territory, settled seven treaties in four years with First Nations in southern Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Illinois. The natives sold their land for what amounted to two cents an acre (in some cases less), paid in guaranteed annuities. Historians generally agree that the First Nations, in this and many other cases, were deceived in selling at this price.