|Written by Ty Narada for J. Rodda
Louis & Clark to the Treaty of Ft. Laramie in 1868
history books are wrong when they talk about ‘the last Indian wars.’
have never stopped!" Laura McCloud, Tulalip
exhaustive Indian trade network had been established throughout the
North American continent
to convenience and expedite trade between North American Indian
The Oglala, a component of the Sioux Nation, were noted especially for
furs, and were thus a popular trade location. By the simplest
definition of Supply & Demand, each network member specialized in
the production and export of a specific commodity, and each Nations
reputation was often continental, rather than regional. Oglaha fur
production, as their principle economic export, allowed them to import
commodities that were less indigenous or non-existent within the Sioux
sphere of influence, from supplier Nations.
Oglala and neighboring Lakota tribes expanded their influence to
control most of what we call North and South Dakota today. Their
territory extended west
to the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming and south to the Platte River in
the Anglo-European disease spread westward on the continent, political
were taken to adversely possess those lands occupied by Native
These actions came in the form of treaties that were never intended to
enforced by the disease. These treaties belligerently increased
boundaries without respect to any existing covenant, culture, standard,
perspective, value, religion, creed, conduct or moral code. Ignorant of
the pretenses that such illusionary premises promote, the Oglala
attempted to address their grievances diplomatically. These grievances
were focused upon the ‘standard’ by which U.S. treaties were being
imposed; they dignified the formality
of a negotiation – both parties applied pen & ink to
parchment…after parchment…with each indiscriminate violation of the
furthering genocidal concessions by the Natives. This defied
to words like ‘honor’ and ‘integrity’ that were commonly found in any
million acres had been ceded through bribery or coercion since the 1795
Treaty of Ft. Greenville.
Indian Removal Act was passed by Congress in 1830, calling for the
relocation of Eastern tribes to an Indian Territory west of the
Mississippi River. The
Cherokee Nation challenged the legality of the Removal Act and was
by the Supreme Court in 1832. President Andrew Jaskson did not
the Supreme Courts ruling. From 1831 to 1839, five tribes protected by
ruling were forcibly moved from the Southeast to designated Indian
west of the Mississippi.
the years of 1853-56, the United States acquired 174 million acres of
Indian lands in a series of 52 treaties, all of which was subsequently
and recklessly broken by whites.
covert breakdown in negotiation strategy was aggravated by the
discovery of gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This was after
the California Gold Rush of 1848-49. This discovery eventually led to
the Treaty of Ft. Laramie
in 1868 that the Oglala believes, best exemplifies the Native American
experience, not only for them, but representationally for every Indian
that had the displeasure of negotiating with Federal authorities.
1868 the United States government signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie
with numerous Lakota tribes represented by Red Cloud. The treaty,
considered sacred by many Lakota, officially granted the Sioux
unrestricted control of over sixty million acres in the Black Hills.
The grant included government supplies and
provisions and forbade white men to enter the area. An excerpt of the
the United States solemnly agrees that no person, except those herein
designated and authorized to do so shall ever be permitted to pass
over, settle upon, or reside in the territory described in this
article, or in such territory as may be added to this reservation for
the use of said Indians.
of Black Hills Gold became widespread by 1874 and U.S. interests in the
gold nullified the treaty. This encroachment, aggravated by Western
land ownership, was logically confusing to the Lakota, specifically:
one defines the "ownership of land." Land ‘ownership’ was a concept
to Native American ideology: ‘Land’ was an untradable/non-negotiable
non-commodity. In reaction to the treaty’s premise itself, Tecumseh, a
was reported to have said, "Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the
sea, as well as the Earth? Did not the Great Spirit make them all for
use of his children?" Tecumseh’s remark spoke well for the Lakota, who
not fathom the deeper ramifications of the treaty. Previous experience
matters of treaty proved such documents to be biased and unenforceable
the Sioux, in essence, were being cheated and they knew it.
make the U.S. position clearer, Custer’s 7th Calvary of more
1,000 soldiers were ordered into the Black Hills region to enforce
American concerns. Crazy Horse had not yet been made aware of Custer’s
deployment, but was reported to have said,
did not ask you white men to come here. The Great Spirit gave us this
country as a home. You had yours. The Great Spirit gave us
plenty. But you
have come here -- it is hard for us to live. We did not interfere with
you. We do not want your civilization! We would live as our fathers
their fathers before them.
Cloud received assurances from President Grant that the government
would, "Prevent all invasion into [Sioux] country as [treaty, bound by
law has] secured
[it] to the Indians." When the expedition returned with tales of
"just waiting to be picked up off the ground," gold miners appeared and
began congregating seemingly overnight. The discovery of gold made the
unwilling to enforce a policy made without such knowledge. To
convenience this oversight, the Sioux religion was outlawed.
This mandated that the Indians be "peacefully"evacuated. By this point
in the treaty’s failure, and because of repeated negotiation failures,
Crazy Horse would not renegotiate, citing the results of his previous
negotiation efforts as cause for his abstention.
In reprisal, the order was given to Custer to attack the banks of the
Big Horn in 1876. Custer and his 7th Calvery was completely annihilated
Crazy Horse and his Native warriors, however, Calvary brigades, in
following, successfully secured the area for U.S. expansionist
The Indian problem was over, so it seemed.
1889, Congress annexed the Black Hills. Many Natives would not leave
because ‘the land’, according to their etymology, accentuated spiritual
rather than physical aesthetics and values: The question, as posed by
the disease, promoted a theological contradiction rather than a
geo-physical inconvenience. Ultimately, the inconvenience AND the
contradiction were imposed upon the Natives. The United States
successfully concluded an expansionist policy that leading Nazis would
later cite in defense of their own expansionist theories during WWII.
gold, successfully defended from Columbus by Native peoples 500 years
previously, was surrendered to U.S. expansionism, seeing that U.S.
interests were capable and eager to annihilate any and all who stood in
the way of policy.
reality written into the Ft. Laramie Treaty is upheld by the Lakota
Nation today. The treaty has come to symbolize the manner in which the
government treated them: Unkept promises and broken hope. The treaty is
not viewed as a meaningless piece of parchment: It is, in fact, a
rallying cry of such importance, that its intent is woven into every
political movement staged by the Lakotas. Whether through legalities or
rallies, the treaty offers them the hope, that some day the ‘words’
will contain meaning.
of disease attrition
Influenza epidemic strikes tribes of British Columbia. In 1830-33 there
multiple outbreaks of European diseases in California and Oregon.
Smallpox epidemic devastates the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara of the
upper Missouri. By 1870 four major smallpox epidemics strike Western
Outbreak of measles among the Cayuse of the Pacific Northwest.
Cholera epidemic sweeps the Great Basin and southern Plains.
of Indian Wars, prior to the Civil War
Tecumseh, Shawnee chief, seeks to unite tribes of the Great Lakes, Ohio
Valley, and Southeast against the United States. His brother
the Shawnee Prophet, is defeated at Tippecanoe in 1811.
War of 1812: Tecumseh, allied with the British, dies in 1813 at the
Battle of the Thames in Canada.
Creek War (also called Red Stick War) ends in treaty that strips Creeks
their land in Southeast.
First Seminole War. Gen. Andrew Jackson invades Florida in punitive
expedition against the Seminole.
Kickapoo resistance to removal from Illinois Territory; Winnebago
uprising in Wisconsin follows in 1827.
Black Hawk War in Illinois and Wisconsin waged by Sauk and Fox tribes
under Black Hawk against U.S. forces.
Second Seminole War. Osceola, leader of resistance, dies in prison in
U.S.-Mexican War begun by U.S. annexation of Texas (1845). The Treaty
of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) cedes the Spanish Southwest, home of many
Indian tribes, to the United States. 1847 U.S. Trade and Intercourse
Act regulates commerce with Indian tribes and maintains peace on the
Cayuse War in Oregon.
Courthouse Rebellion in Cananda launched by the Red River Metis.
Mariposa War in California pits white miners against the Miwok and the
Yokut; uprising by Yuma and Mariposa in California and Arizona.
Yakima War in Washington involves the Yakima, Walla Walla, Umatilla and
Third Seminole War in Florida.
Coeur d’Alene War (or Spokan War) waged in Washington by Coeur d’Alene,
Spokan, Palouse, Yakima and Northern Paiute coalition.
Apache uprisings in Southwest led by Mangas Coloradas and Cochise.
U.S. Civil War: Most Indian tribes remain neutral, but the Cherokee and
others of the Five Civilized Tribes are induced to aid the South with
return tribal lands. After the war, the Five Tribes are forced to cede
of Indian Territory as punishment.
Chronology, prior to the Civil War
Lewis & Clark Expedition opens the West to future white settlements.
U.S. Office of Superintendent of Indian Trade is established to
administer federal Indian trading houses.
American Fur Company is chartered by John Jacob Astor to compete with
Canadian fur trade.
paper – page 6
Treaty of Fort Wayne obtains 2.5 million acres from Indians for white
Ohio and Indiana.
Sequoyah single-handedly creates a cherokee syllabic alphabet so that
his people’s language can be written.
U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is created as part of the War
separate Indian Country west of the Mississippi is first defined.
The Cherokee adopt a constitution patterned on U.S. Constitution; it is
nullified by the Georgia legislature.
The Cherokee Phoenix, a bilingual weekly newspaper, is published,
printing stories in Cherokee and English.
Missouri River expedition of German explorer Prince Maximilian and
Swill artist Karl Bodmer.
Russian Orthodox Church founds first mission school for Eskimos in
First white whalers reach Alaska.
Gold discovered in California, starting the Gold Rush and escalating
the pressures on California, Great Basin and Plains Indians.
Treaty of Fort Laramie marks turning point in U.S.-Indian relations on
the northern Plains.
Gadsden Purchase transfers Mexican lands in New Mexico, Arizona and
California to U.S. ownership.
U.S. Indian Affairs commissioner calls for end of Indian removal policy.
Indian Eyes the Untold Story of Native American Peoples published by
Readers Digest 1995.