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1804 Sioux – Gold
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Written by Ty Narada for J. Rodda

From Louis & Clark to the Treaty of Ft. Laramie in 1868
"The history books are wrong when they talk about ‘the last Indian wars.’
They have never stopped!" Laura McCloud, Tulalip

An exhaustive Indian trade network had been established throughout the North American continent to convenience and expedite trade between North American Indian Nations. The Oglala, a component of the Sioux Nation, were noted especially for their 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.

The 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 Nebraska.

As the Anglo-European disease spread westward on the continent, political steps were taken to adversely possess those lands occupied by Native residents. These actions came in the form of treaties that were never intended to be enforced by the disease. These treaties belligerently increased territorial 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…after parchment…with each indiscriminate violation of the disease furthering genocidal concessions by the Natives. This defied definitions to words like ‘honor’ and ‘integrity’ that were commonly found in any disease dictionary.

48 million acres had been ceded through bribery or coercion since the 1795 Treaty of Ft. Greenville.

The 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 upheld by the Supreme Court in 1832. President Andrew Jaskson did not recognize the Supreme Courts ruling. From 1831 to 1839, five tribes protected by the ruling were forcibly moved from the Southeast to designated Indian territories west of the Mississippi.

Between 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.

This 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 non-treaty experience, not only for them, but representationally for every Indian Nation that had the displeasure of negotiating with Federal authorities.

In 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 treaty reads:

…and 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.

News of Black Hills Gold became widespread by 1874 and U.S. interests in the gold nullified the treaty. This encroachment, aggravated by Western views of land ownership, was logically confusing to the Lakota, specifically: How one defines the "ownership of land." Land ‘ownership’ was a concept foreign to Native American ideology: ‘Land’ was an untradable/non-negotiable non-commodity. In reaction to the treaty’s premise itself, Tecumseh, a Shawnee Prophet was reported to have said, "Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the Earth? Did not the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children?" Tecumseh’s remark spoke well for the Lakota, who could not fathom the deeper ramifications of the treaty. Previous experience in matters of treaty proved such documents to be biased and unenforceable -- the Sioux, in essence, were being cheated and they knew it.

To make the U.S. position clearer, Custer’s 7th Calvary of more than 1,000 soldiers were ordered into the Black Hills region to enforce impending American concerns. Crazy Horse had not yet been made aware of Custer’s deployment, but was reported to have said,

We 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 did, and their fathers before them.

Red 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 nuggets "just waiting to be picked up off the ground," gold miners appeared and began congregating seemingly overnight. The discovery of gold made the Federal
government 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 Little Big Horn in 1876. Custer and his 7th Calvery was completely annihilated by Crazy Horse and his Native warriors, however, Calvary brigades, in months following, successfully secured the area for U.S. expansionist concerns. The Indian problem was over, so it seemed.

In 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Chronology of disease attrition

1832 Influenza epidemic strikes tribes of British Columbia. In 1830-33 there are multiple outbreaks of European diseases in California and Oregon.
1837 Smallpox epidemic devastates the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara of the upper Missouri. By 1870 four major smallpox epidemics strike Western tribes.
1847 Outbreak of measles among the Cayuse of the Pacific Northwest.
1850-60 Cholera epidemic sweeps the Great Basin and southern Plains.

Chronology of Indian Wars, prior to the Civil War

1809-11 Tecumseh, Shawnee chief, seeks to unite tribes of the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, and Southeast against the United States. His brother Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet, is defeated at Tippecanoe in 1811.
1812-15 War of 1812: Tecumseh, allied with the British, dies in 1813 at the Battle of the Thames in Canada.
1813-14 Creek War (also called Red Stick War) ends in treaty that strips Creeks of their land in Southeast.
1817-18 First Seminole War. Gen. Andrew Jackson invades Florida in punitive expedition against the Seminole.
1820-24 Kickapoo resistance to removal from Illinois Territory; Winnebago uprising in Wisconsin follows in 1827.
1832 Black Hawk War in Illinois and Wisconsin waged by Sauk and Fox tribes under Black Hawk against U.S. forces.
1835-42 Second Seminole War. Osceola, leader of resistance, dies in prison in 1838.
1846-48 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 frontiers.
1847-50 Cayuse War in Oregon.
1849 Courthouse Rebellion in Cananda launched by the Red River Metis.
1850-51 Mariposa War in California pits white miners against the Miwok and the Yokut; uprising by Yuma and Mariposa in California and Arizona.
1855-56 Yakima War in Washington involves the Yakima, Walla Walla, Umatilla and Cayuse tribes.
1855-58 Third Seminole War in Florida.
1858 Coeur d’Alene War (or Spokan War) waged in Washington by Coeur d’Alene, Spokan, Palouse, Yakima and Northern Paiute coalition.
1861-63 Apache uprisings in Southwest led by Mangas Coloradas and Cochise.
1861-65 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 promises to return tribal lands. After the war, the Five Tribes are forced to cede half of Indian Territory as punishment.

General Chronology, prior to the Civil War

1804-06 Lewis & Clark Expedition opens the West to future white settlements.
1806 U.S. Office of Superintendent of Indian Trade is established to administer federal Indian trading houses.
1808 American Fur Company is chartered by John Jacob Astor to compete with Canadian fur trade.
Ty Narada
2nd paper – page 6
J. Rodda

1809 Treaty of Fort Wayne obtains 2.5 million acres from Indians for white settlers in Ohio and Indiana.
1809-23 Sequoyah single-handedly creates a cherokee syllabic alphabet so that his people’s language can be written.
1824 U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is created as part of the War Department.
1825 A separate Indian Country west of the Mississippi is first defined.
1827 The Cherokee adopt a constitution patterned on U.S. Constitution; it is nullified by the Georgia legislature.
1828-35 The Cherokee Phoenix, a bilingual weekly newspaper, is published, printing stories in Cherokee and English.
1833-34 Missouri River expedition of German explorer Prince Maximilian and Swill artist Karl Bodmer.
1843 Russian Orthodox Church founds first mission school for Eskimos in Alaska.
1848 First white whalers reach Alaska.
1848-49 Gold discovered in California, starting the Gold Rush and escalating the pressures on California, Great Basin and Plains Indians.
1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie marks turning point in U.S.-Indian relations on the northern Plains.
1853 Gadsden Purchase transfers Mexican lands in New Mexico, Arizona and California to U.S. ownership.
1854 U.S. Indian Affairs commissioner calls for end of Indian removal policy.


Through Indian Eyes the Untold Story of Native American Peoples published by Readers Digest 1995.