By Lynne Colombe
The Sicangu Treaty Council, with many other participants from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and other “Treaty Tribes,” completed a pilgrimage from Wounded Knee, S.D., on Friday, April 27, to Fort Robinson, NE (where they were joined by other riders); and then on to Fort Laramie, WY. With many traveling via horseback to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, riders and supporters camped over the weekend and participated in cultural and historical presentations.
History teaches that the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty was first signed on April 29, 1868 by Chief Iron Shell; and last signed by Chief Red Cloud and five others on November 6, 1868. A total of 156 Sioux and 25 Arapaho signatures (mainly those of chiefs or headsmen) were procured for the ratification of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, and the treaty’s seventeen articles therein.
The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 was entered into between the United States Government and the Tribes: Oglala, Miniconjou, Brule Bands of Lakota, Yanktonai Dakota, and Arapaho Nation. The Treaty defined the relationship between the Great Sioux Nation and the United States Government, therein holding language which included:
1) Established reservation boundaries, including Sioux ownership of the Black Hills;
2) Named the US Government as having the authority to punish those in violation of the treaty;
3) Stated that the Government would abandon its forts along the Bozeman Trail; AND stated the Sioux would withdraw their oppositional forces from railroad developments;
4) Allotted land for farming and legal, individual land ownership by the Sioux, and encouraged farming;
5) Allocated for buildings to be built by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the benefit of those residing on the Reservation AND for labor (i.e. doctor, teacher, tradesmen, engineer, farmer);
6) Provided legislation for the compulsory education of Indian children between the ages of six and sixteen;
7) Required 3/4 of Native, adult males to sign the treaty;
8) Determined that the Unceded Indian Territory included 58 million acres in 1868.
The South Dakota State Senate confirmed the state’s support for the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie in “State Resolution No. 1,” a bill sponsored by State Senators: Heinert, Cronin, Curd, Frerichs, Greenfield (Brock), Haverly, Kennedy, Killer, Langer, Maher, Nelson, Nesiba, Netherton, Peters, Rusch, Russell, Solano, Sutton, White, and Youngberg in January 2018.
The resolution, which also confirmed the legitimacy of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, passed with twenty-five in favor, and only seven voting against: Phil Jensen (R - Meade/Pennington); Joshua Klumb (R - Aurora/Davidson/Jarauld); Neal Tapio (R - Codington); Jeffrey D. Partridge (R - Pennington); Jeff Monroe (R - Hughes/Hyde/Stanley/Sully); Jack Kolbeck (R - Lincoln/Minnehaha); and Bob Ewing (R - Majority Whip/Lawrence).
Though the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie stated that the lands for the Tribes (Sioux-Brule, Oglala, Mininconjou, Yanktonai, Hunkpapa, Blackfeet, Cuthead, Two Kettle, Sans Arc, Santee, and Arapaho) would include areas of South Dakota, west of the Missouri River for the “absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians,” which in 1868 was roughly twenty-five percent of Dakota Territory, much of the lands were seized by the United States federal government in 1877, after gold was discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
A 1980 Supreme Court Case, the United States vs. Sioux Nation of Indians, ruled that Tribal lands under treaty were taken illegally by the United States Government, and the Tribes were owed compensation (over 1 billion in 2018). The Tribes involved in the settlement, including the Rosebud Sioux, have continually refused the settlement payment, insisting instead, that they would like lands returned, and that, “Paha Sapa is Not for Sale.”
The SD Senate Resolution No. 1 reads, in part that the Oceti Sakowin Sovereign Nations of the Great Plains:
1) denied the federal government on multiple occasions to sell the land legitimately;
2) refused to sell the land voluntarily, but were forced to relinquish the Black Hills to the federal government via “legislative Acts [using] sign-or-starve tactics;”
3) are the rightful owners of the lands specified under the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, and that “the United States federal government violated the Fifth Amendment by seizing” the lands;
4) regard the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie as being a treaty of “great significance to the Oceti Sakowin,” and that the Rosebud Sioux Tribe:
“Fully supports the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie by educating native and non-native people about the treaty, and by illustrating to the government of the United States that “we’re still here” and are seeking a future of forward-looking, positive relationships with full respect for the sovereign status of Native American nations confirmed by Treaty.”
It is on this premise, that the lands are sacred to the Lakota people, that the 150th Anniversary be marked with a commemorative event. From Friday, April 27 through Sunday, April 29 in Fort Laramie. Hundreds of Tribal members from various Tribes gathered to share in prayer, traditional songs, and food. Many departments of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe were also in attendance to demonstrate their commitment and the importance of the treaty to all Tribes.