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Johnstown Magazine

Native Americans

Tracing the paths of the region’s original settlers.

By James Rada Jr.

Chiefs of the Iroquois Indians and members of Pennsylvania’s government met on Nov. 5, 1768. They sat down together and negotiated what is now called the Treaty of Fort Stanwix. The agreement opened up the Conemaugh Valley and Stonycreek Valley by encouraging their settlement. When the treaty became effective the following April, a warrant was taken out for 249 acres between Conemaugh and Stonycreek rivers. What was initially an Indian town called Conemaugh eventually grew into Johnstown. It also opened up the shortest land route between Philadelphia and the Great Lakes, which was of interest to merchants.

The treaty was a turning point in relations between whites and Indians in the region. By that time, the two cultures had been trading for about 40 years. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix marked a formal agreement to settle some of the land disputes between the two cultures. It also marked the beginning of some of the problems as formals promises were broken.

Although trade between white men and Indians in the region began in 1728, the white men weren’t living in the area. In fact, pacts that the Penn family had made with the Indians closed off most of the Allegheny Wilderness from white settlements. White men only came into the area to trade with the Indians.

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