Fort Yates Agency Sioux-Life Documents 1870-1939 (copied by Col.A.B.Welch)


The proper title for this site could well be “The white man sees a lot of land and a few Sioux, so he arranges a series of Treaties for land, promising a pittance each time to the Sioux, who continue to agree, but the land is soon gone and the even pittances never are fully realized; and, as a by-product of the process, their food supply vanishes.”   A comment in 1902 by Joseph Claymore… “The white people always change what is agreed to on all contracts after they reach Washington.


 No. 1:  1870..Indian Scout re-enlistment problems

No. 2:  1870..Big Horn Expedition warning

No. 3:  1875..This is what Taylor says about the Council that Custer held at Ft. Abraham Lincoln

No. 4:  1875..Council arranged by Custer…Grass says he smoked with him

No. 5:  1875..Notice of Red Cloud Agency Council

No. 6:  1876..Animal Pelts value

No. 7:  1877..Address by Bishop Benjamin Whipple concerning ponies seized in 1876

No. 8:  1877..New Information on Kill Eagle

No. 9:  1877..Questionaire by Indian Agent to Sioux Chiefs, Chief John Grass’ reply and his questions to Agent

No.10: 1877…Ponies taken from Indians following Custer Battle

No.11: 188o…Contract with Dakota Central Railway Company to run a wagon road, then a rail line, from Fort Pierre area into Black Hills Country

No.12:.1880…Complaint about Indians receiving guns from Command Officer

No.13:.1880…Standing Rock Indians deny wanting to switch to Crow Creek Agency

No.14:.1880…Standing Rock Indians now want to switch to Crow Creek Agency

No.15: 1880…Colonel Carlin is not liked by General Sheridan, but

No.16: 1881…Blackfeet Sioux prisoners of war

No.17: 1883…McLaughlin records the return of Sitting Bull and his entourage from Canada

No.18: 1884…Observations on Indian behavior…most likely by James McLaughlin

No.19: 1884…John Grass’ and Black Moon’s Bands

No.20:.1887…McLaughlin explains the operation of the Court of Indian Offense

No.21:.1888…McLaughlin sends police after Grass

No.22:.1889…John Grass very ill

No.23:.1889…John Grass is improving

No.24:.1889…John Grass out of danger

No.25:.1889…”Indians must conform to the White Man’s ways” says the Honorable Commissioner of Indian Affairs

No.26:.1889…McLaughlin writes that Indians are in danger of losing money from sale of hides

No.27:.1890…School Teacher expresses concern of John Grass, et al,in the evening after the killing of Sitting Bull

No.28:.1890…School Teacher asks for more guidance on killing of Sitting Bull

No.29:.1891…McLaughlin addresses causes of the trouble in 1890

No.30:.1891…Pony recovery claims discussed by James McLaughlin

No.31:.1893…Payment rumor for ponies taken in 1876

No.32:.1894…Disposition of Sitting Bull’s Cabin….may have gone to Coney Island

No.33:.1894…John Grass writes to McLaughlin about Indian Court business

No.34:.1894…Indian Court offenses ruling

No.35:.1894…Gall dies

No.36:.1895…Indians enlisted in Company “I” 22nd Infantry at Fort Yates

No.37:.1897…John Grass seeking restructuring of horse purchase

No.38:.1898…John Grass employed as Assistant Farmer

No.39:.1898…Judges of Indian Court

No.40:.1898…Trans-Mississippi Exposition & Indian Congress

No.41:.1898…Census of Standing Rock Agency

No.42:.1898…Cases tried by Indian Court this year

No.43:.1898…Catholic Congress.

No.44:.1898…The Case of Chased Often vs. Used as a Shield

No.45:.1901…Petition to Washington to follow Great Father’s commitments in treaties…example after example of violations of terms of all treaties

No.46:.1902…”Agree to cattle lease or I will drive the cattle onto the reservation anyway” says the Honorable Commissioner of Indian Affairs

No.47:.1906…Indian Court ruling

No.48:.1906…The Chiefs are no longer powerful…Congress will eventually open your reservation for settlement

No.49:.1908…Hon. Com. of Ind. Affairs opens up more of reservation for white settlement

No.50:.1910…Sioux Indians search for Attorney to handle Treaty Claims

No.51:.1911…Ceding of Black Hills declared illegal by 1911 Council Meeting

No.52:.1911…Indian affidavits regarding ceding of the Black Hills

No.53:.1911…Indian Court ruling

No.54:.1911…Dept of Interior discussion on loses claimed with the 1881 capture of Gall

No.55:.1912…Opening of diminished portion of the Reservation…tribal opposition

No.56:.1912…Council Meeting re proposed diminished reservation and lease rip-off by Zimmerman

No.57:.1912…Profiteering(?) on Indian ponies

No.58:.1913…Special praise for Chief John Grass

No.59:.1914…Still arguing about Ponies taken by the Military in 1881.

No.60:.1915…John Grass’ claim to an estate

No.61:.1933…Petition against moving Standing Rock Agency off Reservation

 No.62:.1926…Monument purchased for John Grass

No.63:.1928…Biography Information … No Two Horns

No.64:.1939 …Bismarck Tribune article regarding razing of old Fort Yates Agency Building

No.65:.1939 …Father Bernard, Frank Fiske and others discuss “Much of the History of Standing Rock Reservation”

No.66:.1939-1940…Grand River and Standing Rock Agents and Superintendents



No. 1:  1870…Indian Scout re-enlistment problems

1870…Indian Scout re-enlistment problems (Grand River was moved to Fort Yates)

Headquarters Fort Rice, D.T.  January 2nd, 1870

Bvt. Maj. J.A. Hearn, Indian Agent,

Grand River.


All the scouts at this Post have been discharged and deserted and refuse to re-enlist again having been here as long as they want to be.  I wish you would try to induce ten to come up here and enlist.

Pay same as a soldier, clothing same.  Rations for self and family and if sent away Rations extra, and 40c a day for use of their horse if they furnish it, with forage and their wood.

I would not send them on the mail if it could be helped, please do what you can.

Very respectfully, etc,

Geo. W. Hill, Capt., 22nd Inf. Comd. Post.


No. 2:  1870..Big Horn Expedition warning

Department of the Interior, Washington, Apr. 18, 1870

Hon. Jno. A. Burbank,

Gov. and Ex.Off.Supt.Ind.Affs.

Yankton, D.T.


I see by the papers that the Big Horn Expedition starts from Cheyenne early in May.  In view of this fact, you are requested to take especial pains to caution the Indians in your Superintendency not to leave their reservations, lest they be unpleasantly disturbed by members of said expedition.  The object of the expedition is represented to be peaceable, yet the Indians will look with extreme suspicion upon so formidable a body of men approaching their country; It is therefore the wish of the Department, that you will, as far as it may be in your power, endeavor to allay these suspicions and keep the Department carefully and promptly advised of all the information that may reach you or the Agents concerning the movements and conduct of this expedition as well as the feelings and movements of the Indians towards the same.  It is desirable that you lose no time in reporting to the Department any collisions that may occur between the Indians and the expedition, or between the Indians and other whites, by reason of it.

Please take such measures, as in your judgment may be deemed necessary to carry out fully the intent of this letter.

Very respectfully, etc.

E. S. Parker, Com.


No. 3:  1875..This is what Taylor says about the Council that Custer held at Ft. Abraham Lincoln

In the month of May, 1875, General Custer, then in command of Fort Abraham Lincoln, determined to stop hostilities between the Sioux and Arikara.  To this end he invited a general council of these Indians at the Fort. Them came.  The Sioux, all splendidly armed and mounted; the Arikara, though poorer, looking their best.  The lonely widow (whose son had not returned from a battle with the Sioux, and whose husband had been one of the Ree scouts killed at Fort A. Lincoln…AB) had finally been persuaded by her friends to accompany them to learn from Sioux some certainty as to the whereabouts of her boy.

There is an old custom among the wild tribes of the plains, and to some extent is still a lingering relic with the less advanced ones, that, when the warring nations make overtures for peace, and assemble in the interests of its consummation, they first flaunt in each other’s faces, vicious reminders of the bloody past.  If they then subdue their ruffled tempers, and dissemble their hates, they are ready to shake hands of amity and forgiveness.

At this meeting of the belligerents, Son of the Star, the wise and able chief of the Arikara, told his followers to “bear the insults that they may shower upon us that the end may be peace.  The Sioux may send our hearts to the ground, oh, my people, by nerve yourselves for the taunts, and bear them bravely and well.”

These two tribes had been warring be-times for over a century, came together as during intervals in their strife in the past…to sue, to forgive and to forget…to shake the friendly hand and to smoke in peace the fragrant calumet.

The showy and vaunting Sioux, as was expected, came flaunting up in savage gorgeousness, with the trophies of former wars proudly tied and bore aloft upon their coup stocks.  Among their array of dried scalp locks taken from their enemy’s heads, was one … a long, glistening braid … a few rings and beads, with the bits of faded cloth tied about them.

Oh, my boy, my poor boy! Came in hurried words or rather screams from the lips of the Arikara woman.  The poor creature had recognized this last display as the familiar trinkets, the scalp-lock and the blood smeared garments of her son; and, unable to bear more, uttered a piercing shriek and fell to the ground.  Her sorrowing heart had burst in twain.

This is an interesting sidelight on that Council held at Fort Abraham Lincoln.  It gives a hint of the picture those Indians must have made when they assembled there.  I wish I might have seen Grass’ face.  He had hated them and fought them, and led at least one assault on Fort Berthold.  I’ll bet he walked into that Council in all the arrogance and haughtier and in his best clothes.  Still, the Sioux may have been ready for peace, too. (AB)

I also find that one of the reasons why the Sioux attacked Fort A. Lincoln was because some 30 Arikara warriors were brought down there to act as scouts at the new post in 1872. To some Sioux this was an open declaration of war on the part of the Commandant and the garrison as the Sioux and the Arikara were still at open war. (AB)


No. 4:  1875..Council arranged by Custer…Grass says he smoked with him

Headqrs Fort Abraham Lincoln, D. T.

May 22, 1875

The United States Indian Agent

Standing Rock, D. T.


Under instructions from the Commander of the Department of Dakota I have the honor to request that you will send or bring to this Post a number of chiefs and headmen among the Indians of your Agency, to meet the chiefs and headmen of the Arickaree, Mandan and Gros Ventres who are now here for the purpose of meeting the Sioux in Council with the view of making peace between these tribes.  This Council was arranged by General Custer and the several Agents of the Cheyenne, Standing Rock and Berthold tribes under the authority of the Department Commander, and was to have taken place on the 20th instant.  It is presumed that you were not informed of the plan by your predecessor, as no Indians have arrived from your Agency.  Nor have any Indians arrived from Cheyenne Agency.  Telegraphic instructions have been sent to Cheyenne Agency to have a suitable number of chiefs and headmen join the council.

It is suggested that only a few chiefs and headmen should be sent, just enough to bind the tribes.  No provision can be made by the Military Authorities for subsisting a large number.  It is respectfully suggested that twenty men from each Agency would be sufficient.

I will thank you for an immediate reply in order that I may report the result by telegraph to the Department Commander.

I am, Sir, very respectfully,

Your obdt servt,

W.P.Carlin, Lt Col 17th Inf.

This explains part of why the Sioux were not at Fort A. Lincoln on the stipulated time.  Carlin was there waiting for them.  And we know the Agent, John Burke, was there later, for he signed as Agent for the Standing Rock, all the Sioux, in fact, on May 28, 1875.  The ferryman was directed to take them across the river, directed by Carlin.  I do not have the reply of the Agent to the Col.  Could not find it at Yates.  But I’ll wager there was a lot of talk among the Sioux before they started. (AB)

And then on August 6, 1875, they are called to go to another Council.  The one at Red Cloud Agency, Neb. To be there Sept. 1 to discuss the selling of the Black Hills.  We know Grass went to this.  And that he signed that Treaty.  (This was a later one, though, I think.  Treaty of 1876).  (AB)

I think the reason I could not find anything about Used as a Shield (John Grass, Senior) at Yates, is because he transferred to Cheyenne Agency, for on Jan. 9, 1871, Col. D. S. Stanley, Commanding the Post at Fort Sully, stated that Grass, head chief of the Blackfeet Sioux, asked that he and his band be transferred from Grand River Agency to Cheyenne Agency.  There was no objection to this.  So, undoubtedly he took his immediate friends (band) and went down there to live….although he was buried at Grand River, where the whites were his friends.  And we know that Frank Zahn’s father helped bury him.  And your Aunty Cross said the soldiers buried him and with bugles.  You know, it has never seemed right that he should crop out of the picture after he had been so active and of such prominence.  Now, I wonder if I wrote to that Agency, if I could get any information at all. (AB)

The Grasses figured pretty strongly in that 1869-1870 winter attack on the Fort Berthold Indians.  John Grass led it, his father was there, because he was the old chief with authority who save the life of Jefferson Smith when the Sioux overtook him and his small son and the “burdash,” and one of his sisters was a “war” woman.  Rather she was on her way to save her no-good husband (200 miles in that weather and on foot, was some little trek) …what drama in each of these episodes…quite an active and colorful family you have. (AB)


No. 5:  1875..Notice of Red Cloud Agency Council

Standing Rock Agency, Aug. 6, 1875

To Agent Burke:  The Indians of this Agency , having consented to attend the Grand Council to be held at Red Cloud Agency, Neb. On the 1st of Sept, you are requested to impress upon them the great importance of their presence there, and to furnish such as may go, full rations for their entire journey.

Upon their arrival at Red Cloud, the Agent in Charge will furnish them with subsistence during their stay.  It is also important that the Government Agents attend in person, unless the exigencies of the service require their presence at their Agencies.

Very respectfully,

Saml. B. Hinman


No. 6:  1876..Animal Pelts value

1876…Miscellaneous Information on animal pelts.

J. R. Casselberry, Trader. Standing Rock. 1876

We pay for:

Beef hides              $5.00

Buffalo robes       $6.00 to $8.00

Antelope skins     .50

Deer skins            .75 to $1.00

Mink skins           $2.00 to $3.00

Beaver skins       $2.00 to $3.00

Timber wolf        $3.00

Prairie wolf        $1.50

At one time buffalo coats were issued to Indians at Standing Rock.

For an old style saddle gun, a stack of buffalo hides as high as the gun.


No. 7:  1877...Address by Bishop Benjamin Whipple concerning ponies seized in 1876

Gentlemen and friends of the Indian Commission:

I confess that I feel ashamed when we forfeit the confidence of Indians by violating our plighted word.

In July last there was a rumor at Cheyenne Agency that the ponies of the friendly Indians were to be seized.  It caused great excitement.  The agent wrote the Commissioner of Indian Affairs the fact and asked what he should tell the Indians.  The Commissioner called on the President and he told him to say to the Indians “that all hostile Indians who were made prisoners or surrendered would be treated as white prisoners of war were treated,” and told him “to assure all friendly Indians that they should be protected in their persons and property.”  The President asked the Commissioner to call upon General Sherman and tell him his decision.  The Commissioner did so and they agreed upon a dispatch in which were these words:  “Assure all peaceable Indians full protection and kind treatment.”  The agent made the pledge that their ponies should not be taken in the strongest manner, because he had the highest authority, that of the President of the United States.

When I received the telegram appointing me a member of the Sioux Commission I declined the trust.  I wrote to the Commissioner, begging him to thank the President for the honor, but expressing my fears of a conflict between the war and peace policy.  I urged that, as the friend of the Indians had every confidence in the humanity and kindness of General Sherman, the whole matter should be placed in his hands.  I also expressed the belief that the seizure of the Indian ponies would stir up hostility and lead to greater trouble.

When I learned that Congress had put a proviso in the appropriation bill that no more money should be appropriated for the Sioux unless they relinquished the Black Hills, I accepted the appointment.  Judge Gaylord, the Assistant Attorney-General, who was a member of the commission and their legal adviser, called upon the President and asked what the commission should say to the friendly Indians if asked about the seizure of their property,  The President repeated the pledge of protection and kind treatment.

These Indians trusted us implicitly.  They said, “We have been often lied to, but you are men who speak with straight tongues.  Tell us whether our ponies will be seized.”  Without the slightest doubt we repeated the pledge of the President.

Three days after over two thousand ponies were seized at Standing Rock and at the Cheyenne Agency.  No inventory was kept of individual property.  Of eleven hundred ponies seized at Standing Rock Agency only eight hundred and seventy-four left Bismarck.  There was no forage; the grass was burned on the prairie.  The small streams and sloughs were frozen.  They were watered the first day out and had no more water for nearly a week, until they reached the James River.  There was no forage until they reached Cheyenne River some ten days.  No wonder that out of the two thousand ponies taken only some twelve hundred left Fort Abercrombie and less than five hundred reached St. Paul.  Some died of starvation, some were stolen, an few sold on the way, and the balance of the poor, dying brutes were sold in St. Paul.

The case is even worse.  These ponies were largely square pones used to carry themselves and rations from the agency to their homes.  There is no fuel at the agencies.  The Indians have to camp from ten to forty miles away to get fuel.  They have to traverse this distance in all weather to procure rations, and I fear that some of these poor women will perish.

The least we can do at atone for our broken faith is to make full restitution to the Indians for the property which was taken without color of law, and ask forgiveness of God.  Unless it is done I fear these Sioux will lose the last vestige of faith in the Government and the name of white man will be a synonym for liar.

(Note:  Indian Agent’s copybook for 1891 notes that restitution was arranged for after an exhaustive search for owner’s and their descendents of ponies seized in 1876/1877).


No. 8:  1877..New Information on Kill Eagle

Headqrters Post of Standing Rock, D. T. Feb. 6th, 1877

Hughes, Ind. Agent.  Sir:

In reply to you letter of this date I have the honor to say that I have no objection to separating the Uncpapa from the Blackfeet Indians, referring to those hostiles who surrendered with Kill Eagle.

It is proper to say, however, that Kill Eagle resigned his position of chief, or at least acquiesced in having the rank and position of chief transferred to The Goose as the request of his men.  I therefore do not regard Kill Eagle as a Chief.  He is also still a prisoner on parole.

Very respectfully, Your obdt sevt,

W. P. Carlin, Lt. Col. 17th Inf. Comd Post.


No. 9:  1877..Questionaire by Indian Agent to Sioux Chiefs, Chief John Grass’ reply and his questions to Agent

Major Hughes, U.S.Indian Agent and Chiefs of the Upper and Lower Yanktonais, Hunkpapas and Blackfeet meet February 16, 1877 at Standing Rock Agency


Are you willing to farm next summer?

What do you want to plant?

How many will work together?

Where do you prefer to be located?

Are your young men disposed to remain at the Agency next summer and not go off roaming  over the country?

Will you do everything you can to keep your people at home and by your example and advice  induce them to work?

Are you satisfied with the way your supplies and annuities have been issued this winter?

Are you, and all your people who may cut wood, willing to do it on the condition that the Agent will dispose of it during the coming summer to the steamboats, the garrison and give such Indians as shall cut such wood the proceeds of the sale after the expense of hauling and handling it?

The Indians on the east side of the river cut up and used for fire wood our corral and they must cut the necessary logs to build a new one under my direction or I will not be pleased and will be obliged to reduce their rations to one-half they get for two weeks.  The Great Father had the corral they destroyed built at considerable expense and it should not have been destroyed.

Will you send your children to school when Father Martin opens his school in a short time, and will you compel yours sons and daughters to attend it regularly?

We have established a Church here.  Why do you not attend ti on Sunday and thereby do honor  to the Great Spirit?

The Great Father has sent a good Physician here and you must all call on him when you are  sick and have confidence in the white doctor.

How many of you will build, and live in, log houses like white people if the Great Father will  direct the Agent to show you how to build such houses?

Do you know of any of your people who are now at other Agencies or among the hostiles and  who would return, or that intend returning or would like to return?

The White Father is not well-pleased with your habit of selling your daughters to white men or  even to young Indian men and I recommend you to stop it and if your daughters want to be married they should go to the priest and be married as white people do.

The Great Father dislikes the practice that prevails amongst the Indians of giving away the  good clothing and other articles belonging to an Indian family when one of its members dies and I think you should not do so any more.


Two Bears, Sr. (He called the whites “Americans,” and referred to himself as “Indian.”), Mad Bear, Big Head, Red Bull, Wolf Necklace, Camp in the Middle, John Grass and Antelope all spoke.  I recorded only the speech by John Grass as it was the clearest cut and answered all the questions.  He also “put the Agent on the spot” by asking him to stand up and answer just as the Agent had asked the Sioux Chiefs …AB.(i.e. Angela Boleyn…Welch’s collaborator in research about John Grass)


What you speak about we have long been promised but never have received though we want these things (schools, farms, churches, etc).  We would like to farm.  If you will help us, we are willing to farm.  I mean all the Blackfeet.  We want to farm together at our old place (about 14 miles south of the Agency).  We want to plant everything that will grow there.

If you help us, we are willing to work at building houses  — every family that wants to live in a house, and all my family, would live in houses if they had them.

We are willing to send our children to school  — all are willing.  (Nearly all the Chiefs having children stood up, at the request of the Agent, to show that they acquiesced).

Some of my people have gone to the hostiles and some to other Agencies.  I want them to come back here.  Will you help me? (Answered:  I will do everything in my power to help you).  I don’t expect those with the hostiles to come back but some at Cheyenne Agency want to come back.  People have come from Cheyenne and told me my people want to come back but they are afraid of the Agent there who don’t let them come.

I like the way you tell about selling cord wood for the Indians to the steamboats or the contractors.

Any white man who wants our daughters must be married by the priest.  We will not sell them.  We do not know if our young men are willing to be married by the priest.  We would like to have them do so.

We are satisfied with the way annuities are issued.

We will try to keep our young men from going to the hostile camps in the spring.  If we know of any of our young men determining to go away to the hostiles we will let you know beforehand.  If they want to go on a visit, they will come to you for a pass.

I cannot tell you about giving away things when an Indian dies.

We stood up when you asked about sending our children to school.  Now I want you to tell me true about something and I want you to stand up.  I mean about all the questions you have asked  — about farming, building houses, etc.  — (Agent stood up.)  Now you make my heart good.

When you write to the Great Father, I want you to tell him about your Indians.

(In answer to the Agent’s question) If you get us citizen’s clothes we will wear them.  When we get houses and fenced farms, we want a span of mules and a yoke of oxen to do our work, and a cow. We want you to ask the Great Father to give us these things.  We are willing to work like white men but we have nothing to work with.

If we build our houses this spring will you try your best to get us the mules, cows and oxen this fall?  (answered:  Yes).

(This seems to be very clear.  Direct answers.  Knew what he wanted.  AB.)


No.10: 1877…Ponies taken from Indians following Custer Battle

When ponies were taken from Hunkpapa and Blackfeet in 1877, John Grass had to give up 2.

John Grass                  2

Fire Heart, Jr             2

Black Crow                 2

Two Hearts                2

Dog in the Lodge       2

Kill Eagle                    2

Follow a long list…most of them ponies, but 1 horse.  In all there were 5,000 seized when Indians were dismounted and disarmed following Custer Battle.  Much later paid $40 a head for them, in stock, $200,000 in all. (AB)


No.11: 188o…Contract with Dakota Central Railway Company to run a wagon road, then a rail line, from Fort Pierre area into Black Hills Country

This Agreement, made this twelfth day of June, A.D. 1880 by and between the Sioux Indians, resident upon the reservations in the Territory of Dakota, represented by their Chiefs and head men, and acting under the supervision and with the approval of t he Secretary of the Interior of the United States and Dakota Central Railway Company, a body corporate of said Territory of Dakota, witnesseth,

That said tribes of Sioux Indians do hereby grant to said Railway Company the right to occupy one section of land on the western bank of the Missouri River, at or near Fort Pierre, in said territory, for a freight depot, and for the residence of its employees necessary in the operation of its roads and in forwarding freight transported by said Company to the Missouri river, and for no other purpose, and to be occupied under such regulations as the Secretary of the Interior may prescribe for the protection of the Indians.  Said section of land to be definitely located by said Railway Company as soon as the necessary surveys have been made, to determine the point at which the road of said Company shall strike the Missouri river.

And said Indians do hereby grant to said Railway Company the right to construct and operate a wagon road by the nearest and most practicable route from the point where said freight depot may be located, to intersect the wagon road running West from Fort Pierre to the Black Hills, said wagon road not to exceed two hundred feet in width, and to be used for no other purpose except the passage of freight with teams.

The grants herein contained are made upon the express condition that said Railway Company shall, before entering upon the possession of said land, pay to said tribes of Indians, in such manner as the Secretary of Interior may direct, the sum of three thousand two hundred dollars for the use and occupancy of said section, and the further of five dollars per acre for the land which may be used by Company for the wagon road aforesaid.

And the said Dakota Central Railway Company hereby agrees to use said section of land and the said wagon road, to be constructed as aforesaid, for the sole and exclusive purpose of trade and intercourse by its own officers and employees, as expressed in the foregoing.

And further, to exclude all intruders and persons not in the employ of the said Company, and authorized to go upon or use said land and road, and to at all times observe, aid and assist in the enforcement of the intercourse laws and the rules and regulations prescribed, or to be prescribed from time to time, by the Secretary of the Interior, for the benefit and protection of the said Indians.  And upon failure on the part of the said Company to perform in full and in good faith all the requirements of this agreement, it is hereby stipulated by the parties hereto that all right of said Company in and to the said section of land and wagon road shall be forfeited and shall cease and determine, and the Secretary of the Interior, at his discretion, may decide and declare the said forfeiture, and upon written notice to the said Company, may take possession and control of the lands and road aforesaid for the use and benefit of the said Indians.

It is further stipulated and agreed that the grant of right of way for said wagon road here made and accepted, and the use thereof, shall cease and determine on the part of said Railway Company any whenever it shall construct and complete a railroad from the Missouri river westward through and across the said Indian Reservation in Dakota, or so far as to intersect and connect with the road know as the Fort Pierre and Black Hills Wagon Road in said territory but the use and enjoyment of the section of land hereinbefore granted shall continue in the said Company subject to the conditions aforesaid as long as the same shall continue to be embraced within the bounds of the Indian reservation.

It is agree and understood that the foregoing grants, stipulations, and agreements shall include and be binding upon the successors and assigns of the said Railroad Company as fully as though previously named herein.

In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals, at the City of Washington, on the day and date above written.

John Grass .. His mark Brother to All .. His mark

Thunderhawk .. His mark James Broadhead .. His mark

Big Head .. His mark Medicine Ball .. His mark

Two Bears .. His mark Like the Bear .. His mark

Bull Eagle .. His mark Two Strikes  .. His mark

Charger .. His mark White Thunder .. His mark

Iron Wing .. His mark Red Dog .. His mark

Black Crow .. His mark American Horse .. His mark

Red Cloud .. His mark Red Shirt .. His mark

Spotted Tail .. His mark Little Wound .. His mark

We certify that the foregoing agreement was read and explained by us, and was fully understood by the above named Indians before signing the same.

(Signed) Charles Talkett

Lewis Bobideau

Official Interpreters


Alonzo Bell, Assistant Secretary, Interior

Wm. J. Pollock, Indian Inspector

APPROVED:   C. Schurs, Secretary


No.12:.1880…Complaint about Indians receiving guns from Command Officer

Jan. 8, 1880 … List of Indians to whom Col. Carlin loaded guns: (in a sarcastic letter he furnishes this list to Agent Stephan, Yankton Agency) Antelope, Iron Horn, Long Soldier, Goose, Belly Fat, Sitting Crow, High Eagle, Long Dog, Standing Elk, Little Bird. (while John Grass was one of the Indians greatly in disfavor with Father Stephan, his name does not appear in this list, but, as having been a “ringleader” in the Kiss Dance.  The Hon. Com. Writes Stephan that this highly immoral dance has been reported top him and asks to have it stopped.  So far, I have not learned what it was.) (AB)


No.13:.1880…Standing Rock Indians deny wanting to switch to Crow Creek Agency

Standing Rock, August 18, 1880

At a Council of the Lower Yanktonnaise held at Standing Rock Agency, August 18, 1880, to take into consideration the Peitition of the Lower Yangtonnais of Crow Creek Agency in connection with the Peitition and statement of Bull Ghost, the so-called Chief of the Standing Rock Yanktonnais, is relating to their removal to the Crow Creek Agency, D. T.  The following statements were made and unanimously concurred in by all present:

Head Chief Two Bears says the majority of the Yanktonnais are now present at the Council.  My father was the Head Chief of the Yanktonnais, and I am now the Head Chief of that tribe. The Yanktonnais by right belong here, and those whoa re not here, should be sent for an brought to this place.  My father selected this ground in 1856 as the permanent home of himself and his tribe and he and his people desire to remain here.

Bull Ghost is no Chief and was never sent to Crow Creek and was never authorized to sign any papers in behalf of the Yanktonnais Indians.

Cottonwood, a Chief, says that all the assertions of Bull Ghost are false.

Red Fish, a Chief, affirms the statements of Two Bears and Cottonwood.

Oneaha, a brother of Bull Ghost, was never satisfied at this place, with the Agent, and all the arrangements, but would be glad if he were permitted to go over to the east side of the Missouri River which he claims was their land.

All the Indians present at the Council say that they are well-treated here, and have taken up claims, and have no wish nor desire to remove from Standing Rock.

Two Bears says, when Inspector Hayworth was here he went no place about the Agency and did not visit our claims or anything in which we are interested, and he hopes that no further misrepresentation may be made regarding his people.

In connection with the above statements we, the undersigned Yanktonnais, respectfully request that such Yanktonnais that are now at Crow Creek be sent to this Agency.

Mad Bear, Cottonwood, Rushing Eagle, Drag the Wood, Running Walk, Red Fish, Panatloons, Yankton Bill, Looking Walking, Black Bull, Iron Thunder, Walking Eagle, Little Bird, Red Hail, Looking Tomahawk, Black White Man, Looking Cross, Eagle Walking, Straight Horn, White Owl, Black Bear, Medicine Tooth, Red Top, Medicine Horse, Running Medicine, Horse Comes Out, Good Man, Big Nest, Standing Elk, Medicine Eagle, Crow Necklace, Little Dog, Red Cloth, Iron Hoop, Red Horn, Long Bull, Afraid of Anything, Breaking Arrow, Running Near, Heart, Elk, Medicine Face, Running Plenty, White Lightning, Sage, Look in the Lodge, White Buffalo Man, Two Dogs, Plenty White, White Horse, Taking Shield, Yellow Lodge, Dog Claw, Blue Thunder, Buck Crow, Kaddo, American Horse, Running Winter, Tobacco Eater, Red Ground, Deer, Crow Necklace, Eagle Claw.

For and on behalf of the Yanktonnais at Standing Rock


James K. Stewart



No.14:.1880…Standing Rock Indians now want to switch to Crow Creek Agency

Agent at Yankton Agency asks Father Stephan to grant this request.

Yankton Agency, D. T., Nov. 19, 1880

To the Agent:

I have received a letter from White Ghost, one of the Chiefs at Crow Creek, which I want you to hear.  It was written in Indian but I got Mr. Williams to translate it.  It runs thus:

“Mr. Strike the Ree….I want to speak to you about some of my tribe who belong to Standing Rock Agency.  Their names are Tatankawangi (Bull’s Ghost), Matononpa (Two Bears), Matoknaskinyan (Mad Bear), Myangmani (Running Walk), Waga (Cottonwood), Ikmusapa (Black Wild Cat), Canicu (Drags the Wood), Waonzeeogi (Pantaloons), Cokamti (Camp in the Middle), Hoganduta (Red Fish), Akicitaciqa (Little Soldier), Wanmdiwanapeya (Rushing Eagle).

Some time ago they wrote me a letter asking me to help them get changed to this (Crow Creek) Agency.  I wrote to the Great Father about it and he sent my letter to Standing Rock Agent, and he called them, and because they were boys they denied having written to me, and so the matter was dropped.  But, now I have received another letter from them praying me to help them get down where I am.  Now I would not do anything about it if I did not know they wanted to come.  And they belong here, as they used to belong to father’s band, and I think they would do better if there were down here where I could instruct them.  So I want you to help me get them transferred to this Agency, because friends should help each other.  I want you to write to the Great Father about this and tell me when you write.

Yours truly, White Ghost.”

So now I tell you about this letter.  White Ghost is my friend and asks me as a friend to help hem in this matter.  I have thought it over and I would like to help him.  I think perhaps the best thing for me is to write to the Governor about it.  And I wish you would write him for me about it.

Yours, Old Strike the Ree (which appears to be the Indian name for the Crow Creek Agent, Capt. W. E. Daugherty)


No.15: 1880…Colonel Carlin is not liked by General Sheridan, but

To Agent Stephan: Washington, Dec. 10, 1880

Enclosed herewith, for your information, is a copy of a letter dated 8th instant from the Honorable Secretary of War, who states that for reasons therein indicated, General Sheridan has been informed, “that Fort Yates must either be abandoned, or another office sent there to command that Post in place of Colonel Carlin.

Very respectfully, etc. E. M. Marble,

Acting Commissioner of Indians Affairs

But the Army played around and asked that Carlin be kept until a certain officer returned….anything to save his face, BUT, he was bad medicine for the Indians and the Agent.  But no doubt a charming person to know, otherwise.  He was the man responsible for Grass’ trouble with the Agent.  Agent Burke had trouble with him, too.  The Military and the Indian Bureau were always at each other’s throats. (AB)


No.16: 1881…Blackfeet Sioux prisoners of war

Hon. Com Ind. Affairs, July 25, 1881

Blackfeet Sioux, late prisoners of war, and now turned over to the Standing Rock Agency, D. T.  In number 2829.  It is supposed of these 2829 that three-fourths will remain at this Agency and on this figure my estimate is based.   McLaughlin

This throws a little light on what Grass’ people were doing in 1881…part of them at least.  I think, however, this really means the Minniconjou, Brules, Uncpapas and Sans Arc as well.  I do not believe there were so many Blackfeet as prisoners of war.  (AB)


No.17: 1883…McLaughlin records the return of Sitting Bull and his entourage from Canada

Standing Rock Agency

May 10, 1883

“Received from 1st Lieut. T. F. Davis, 15th Inf.

147 Indians….Sitting Bull and band as follows:  35 men, 51 women, 25 children over 6 yrs of age.  38 children under 6 yrs of age.”


No.18: 1884…Observations on Indian behavior…most likely by James McLaughlin

Three years ago the tom tom (drum) was in constant use, and the sun dance, scalp dance, buffalo dance, kiss dance and grass dance, together with a number of feast and spirit dances were practiced in all their barbaric grandeur, but all these are “things of the past,” the Grass Dance, alone accepted, which dance is their simplest amusement and the least objectional (sp) of any, and this is only tolerated Saturday afternoon of each week.

The majority of the Indians have adopted white man’s dress, and, in fact, all of them would if they could afford it, but a blanket and breech cloth is less expensive and more easily obtained.

During the present summer over 200 of the leading young men came into the Agency and had their hair cut, which, from an Indian standpoint, is quite a step toward civilization, when they part with their hair braids.

Says most Indians are not lazy but are ready to be taught the white man’s mode of living.  He asks for district farmers, one in each district, comfortable homes.  Should be started right in the beginning.

Instead of handing out rations, he would have the Indians given help and soon establish themselves.  Instructors, implements, tools, stock cattle, taught to care for all this, as well.

With the coming of Spring every year, the desire of most Indians is to be on the move, and to either make a new location or try some other Agency and the large tract of land held in common by the Sioux—comprising 5 distinct agencies and all claiming close relationship—affords an excuse for absenting themselves from their respective Agencies from time to time.

I organized the Court of Indian Offenses in October, last, by appointing the Capt., Lieut. And a private of the Police Force (all full-blood Indians).  Judges are good men, etc.  Too severe in punishment is all.


No.19: 1884…John Grass’ and Black Moon’s Bands

Band D. #1 September 22, 1884

Mato Watakpe………………………. Charging Bear, “John Grass,”  2 men, 1 woman, 3 boys

Wahacanka…………………………… Shield

Nape Sapa……………………………. Black Hand

Hante Maza…………………………. Cedar Iron (Is this Iron Cedar, Ina’s relative. Ina is Grass wife)

Taka Kokipean…………………….. Afraid of Nothing

Sauk—Manitu Gi………………….. Brown Wolf

Cetan Iyanka………………………… Running Hawk

Mato Ocinsice ………………………Cross Bear (this must be brother-in-law of Grass)

Skeca-win……………………………. Fisher Woman

Ista Maza…………………………….. Iron Eye

Hehaka Wicasa……………………. Buck Elk Man

Marpiya Teh………………………… Blue Cloud

Mato Luta…………………………….. Red Bear

Huste …………………………………..Lame

Maza Wanapeya…………………… Iron Scaring Away

Maripiya Hohanke……………….. End of the Cloud

Wambli Wanjila…………………… One Eagle

Wicakila……………………………… To Deprive Them

Isna Wakua…………………………. Chasing Alone

Ciga Wicakte……………………….. Little Killer

Hin-ikceka………………………….. Bay

Ouwi-Hunwin……………………… Stinking Lungs

Wasaka………………………………. Strong

Wambli Napin…………………….. Eagle Necklace

Ta-Oanopa-win…………………… Her Pipe

Wa-ali-Iyanke…………………….. Climbs Running

Hehaka Sapa ……………………….Black Buck Elk

Tokahaya Wakua…………………. Chasing First

Mazakan Wicaki………………….. Takes the Gun

Ipiyaka……………………………….. Belt

Omaha……………………………….. Omaha

Cega Apapi………………………….. Strike the Kettle

Sunk Manu ………………………….Horse Thief

Kinyan Luta ………………………..Red Flying

Teka Ktenasa……………………… Often Kills the Enemy

(155 persons, in all)

(Boy born on this date to Grass, just this notation and date, which heads the list, as this is his band) (AB)


Band C. #14, Sept. 22, 1884

Wi Sapa (No. 1) …………………..Black Moon

Kosan I Yaya……………………… Passed By

Jaya Ikikou (Wakinyan Tasunke) ….Takes Red Paint

Wi Sapa (No. 2)…………………..Black Moon, Sr.

Awakiye Tawa……………………..His Reprimand

Pehin Sakiya……………………… Paints His Hair Red

Hekaka Luta ……………………….Red Buck Elk

Hehaka Oyate……………………. Buck Elk Nation

Kengi Bloka………………………. Male Crow

Cetan Watakpe…………………… Hawk Charging


No.20:.1887...McLaughlin explains the operation of the Court of Indian Offense

The Court of Indian Offenses is comprised of two officers of the Police Force and John Grass, head chief of the Blackfeet Sioux, who is a very intelligent full-blood Indian.

This Court holds semi-weekly sessions, where persons guilt of “Indian Offenses” are brought for trail, and too much praise cannot be given the judges who have rendered valuable aid in enforcing regulations and maintaining good order at this Agency during the past year.

52 cases were heard and adjudicated by this Court, the parties concerned accepting the decisions without a single complaint or appeal to me, and a number of minor cases were settled by advice of the judges without going to trial.  Offenders were punished by imprisonment, and close confinement at hard labor, and in some instances fines were imposed.

The system of fines has been a novel one, the parties guilty of an Indian offense, if they were the owner of any fire arms, were obliged to turn them over to the police court, and if not the owner of any arms, their relatives probably were, in which case they have invariably been turned over for safe-keeping, and by this means 74 rifles and 5 revolvers have been obtained possession of and are now in the Agency Store House.

There being no more game in this section of the country, fire arms are of no further use to the Indians and they are much better off without them, as they remain more at home and pay closer attention to their farms than when the possessor of a good rifle, and by this system of fines the Indians are gradually, and imperceptibly to themselves, being quietly disarmed.

The Court is no respecter of persons, as having recently had the conceited and obstinate old Sitting Bull before them for assault, the tomahawk with which he attacked his antagonist, Shell King, was confiscated by the Court, as was Shell King’s knife with which he attempted to strike Sitting Bull.

McLaughlin also noted there were 139 families of Blackfeet, with 584 in all.


No.21:.1888…McLaughlin sends police after Grass

August 14, 1888….Indian Police Sergeant Crow Feather is hereby ordered to detail Catka and Iron Cedar to accompany him, and proceed to Cheyenne River Agency or until they find John Grass and Antoine Clement, who have absented themselves from this Agency without permission and are reported to have gone to the Cheyenne River Agency contrary to Department regulations in such matters.  These two parties will be brought direct to my office when found by the police.

Now I am looking in the records of 1888, when the Indians were pretty excited about the new Bill coming up, granting them land in severalty.  Grass is the ring leader at Standing Rock in this, and I have an idea that, when they sent the Police after him was when he was playing horse with the Commissioners.  And that is no doubt when that article (written by Joe Taylor) appeared in print.  I will eventually have the whole picture.  Bit by bit the bright pieces fit into place.  It will be an interesting mosaic when completed.  Some man, this Ate (father) of yours.  I am glad you took his name instead of Little Wounded…although he, too, was an honorable man. (AB)

I have copied these court cases just as they appear in the records. I am to see some of the earlier ones, too.  Just to know how it was all done.  Wanted an idea of how Grass reacted to other people’s troubles and problems.  Understandingly, I think. (AB)


No.22:.1889…John Grass very ill

Standing Rock

Sept. 2, 1889

Hon. Com. T. J. Morgan, Washington City

Thursday, Aug. 29th, last, John Grass, head chief of the Blackfeet band of Sioux, and presiding Judge of the Court of Indian Offenses, was prostrated by (a severe case of sun stroke), and as he lives 36 miles distant from the Agency, I requested the doctor to visit him as I desired to have him brought to the Agency Hospital for treatment if deemed advisable to move him. But the doctor sent a reply that, owing to a sudden attack of illness, which had come upon himself, he was unable to leave his house.

I am strongly of the opinion that the illness of Dr. Caskie, on this occasion, was figured to obviate his being obliged to make the journey of 36 miles and return, as I having been absent from the Agency and expected home last evening, and as Mr. Farribault, Head Farmer, said to the doctor the evening previous that he (Dr. Caskie) would probably required to go to Oak as soon as I returned……………

Upon receiving this reply of his inability to leave home, I sent the hospital nurse, accompanied by my wife, to visit the sick man.  They found him very ill and too weak to move with safety.  They are yet with him giving him proper care and nourishment at his home, and they have sent me a message today stating that he is improving and when sufficiently convalescent to stand the journey, they will bring him to the Agency Hospital.

There are numerous other instances that I might state to show Dr. Caskie’s indifference in the treatment of Indians, but, when it is taken into consideration that John Grass is looked upon as the most influential Indian here, endeavoring to lead his people in the way desired by the Government, and that he is regarded by all who know the Dakota Indians, as the ablest Sioux, and is also the man who took the initiative in so ably and intelligently discussing the Act recently presented to them by the Sioux Commission, finally the first to recede in a manly from his former position and accept the Act, and that his death or even his serious illness would be a great loss to the Government in the elevation of the Indians, and his request for medical aid to be treated with so little concern by the doctor, is why I make special mention of it……….

James McLaughlin, U. S. Ind. Agent


No.23:.1889…John Grass is improving

Standing Rock

Sept. 3, 1889

Hon, Chas. Foster,

Sioux Commission

Washington City

…………….John Grass has been seriously ill, but is improving, and I think, out of danger.  On Tuesday last (27th), while mowing hay he was prostrated by the intense head.  Mrs. McLaughlin and the hospital nurse are caring for him at his home……………

In regard to 10 Indians, to select 5 from, to visit Washington:

1. John Grass, Blackfeet band.

2. Mad Bear, Lower Yanktonnais

3. Big Head

4. Bears Face

5. Grey Eagle

6. Gall

7. Cottonwood

8. Wolf Necklace

9. Fire Heart

10. Scattering Bear

I would respectfully recommend them in the order named, as the first four represent the four bands belonging to the Agency and were the first four men to sign here.  Bear Face did nobly on that occasion…he was occupying a seat in the front row at the time when it required courage, especially for a Hunkpapa, the people of that band being strongly opposed to the Act, and Gall, failing to come forward at the proper time, he (Bears Face) walked to the table and touched the pen. The fifth man (Grey Eagle) is the brother-in-law of Sitting Bull, and you will remember how he, with several other young men, went to the garrison to the rooms of the Commissioners on Monday evening Aug. 5th, after we had closed for the day, and there signed their assent.

I should be pleased if Gall could also be one of the party, but the first five named are certainly entitled to the honor………………………


No.24:.1889…John Grass out of danger

Telegram, Fort Yates, D. T. Sept. 9, 1889

Governor Foster,

Sioux Commission

Washington, D. C.

% Secy. of Interior.

Seven hundred and fifty six (756) signatures.

John Grass improving….now out of danger.

McLaughlin, Agent



No.25:.1889…”Indians must conform to the White Man’s ways” says the Honorable Commissioner of Indian Affairs

First…The anomalous position heretofore occupied by the Indians in this country cannot much longer be maintained.  The reservation system belongs to a “vanishing state of things,” and must soon cease to exist.

Second .. The logics of events demands the absorption of the Indian into our national life, not as Indians, but as American citizens.

Third .. As soon as a wise conservatism will warrant it, the relations of the Indians to the Government must rest solely upon the full recognition of their individuality.  Each Indian must be treated as a man, be allowed a man’s rights and privileges, and be held to the performance of a man’s obligations.  Each Indian is entitled to his proper share of the inherited wealth of the tribe, and to the protection of the courts in his “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”  He is not entitled to be supported in idleness.

Fourth .. The Indians must conform to “the white man’s ways,” peaceably if they will, forcibly if they must.  They must adjust themselves to their environment, and conform their mode of living substantially to our civilization.  This civilization may not be the best possible, but it is the best the Indians can get.  They cannot escape it, and must either conform to it or be crushed by it.

Fifth .. The paramount duty of the hour is to prepare the rising generation of Indians for the new order of things thus forced upon them.  A comprehensive system of education modeled after the American public school system, but adapted to the special exigencies of the Indian youth, embracing all persons of school age, compulsory in its demands and uniformly administered, should be developed as rapidly as possible.

Sixth .. The tribal relations should be broken up, socialism destroyed, and the family and the autonomy of the individual substituted.  The allotment of lands in severalty, the establishment of local courts and police, the development of a personal sense of independence, and the universal adoption of the English language are means to this end.

Seventh .. In the administration of Indian affairs there is need and opportunity for the exercise of the same qualities demanded in any other great administration-integrity, justice, patience, and good sense.  Dishonesty, injustice, favoritism, and incompetency  have no place here any more than elsewhere in the Government.

Eighth .. The chief thing to be considered in the administration of this office is the character of the men and women employed to carry out the designs of the Government.  The best system may be perverted to bad ends by incompetent or dishonest persons employed to carry it into execution, while a very bad system may yield good results if wisely and honestly administered.

Since 1882, what is known as a “Court of Indian Offenses,” has been established and maintained upon a number of Indian Reservations.

It has been a tentative and somewhat crude attempt to break up superstitious practices, brutalizing dances, plural marriages, and kindred evils, and to provide an Indian Tribunal which, under the guidance of the agent, could take cognizance of crimes, misdemeanors, and disputes among Indians, and by which they could be taught to respect law and obtain some rudimentary knowledge of legal processes.

Notwithstanding the imperfections and primitive character, these so-called courts have been of great benefit to the Indians and of material assistance to the Agents.


No.26:.1889…McLaughlin writes that Indians are in danger of losing money from sale of hides

Indians in danger of losing money from sale of hides that are processed from beef issued to them.

McLaughlin writes to Commissioner November 24, 1899

Sir:  I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Office letter dated Nov 2nd, 1899 and to enclose herewith petition, signed by the Chiefs and head men of this reservation, protesting against the proposed action of the Department with reference to the beef hides.

I was recently called upon by a number of the chiefs in regard to the matter.  Two of the most prominent ones (John Grass and Mad Bear) informed me that at the time this treaty was made, John Grass, especially, asked the Commissioners sent here to treat with the Sioux, whether or not the Treaty included the hides of the beef cattle.  The reply of the Commissioners was that the hides did belong to the Indians. These two chiefs state that they requested the clause referring to the hides of beef be more specific, but that the Commissioners replied that there was no necessity for a more specific statement on that because the beef was to be issued to them in gross, and the hides would, of course, be included.  The disposition of the Indians is to hold to the letter of the Treaty, they arguing that the Department has no more right to dispose of the hides than they have to dispose of any other portion of the animal after it has been issued to them.  The taking of a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the hides to defray the expense of herding and butchering, they regard as a violation of their treaty rights — they say it has not been done before — that such a proceeding was not stipulated in the treaty — that the employment of the herders and the butchering of the stock are acts of the Department, done without their sanction, and that they cannot be properly held for such expenses.

It could work a great deal of hardship to the Indians to deprive them of this hide money, or any portion of it.  Coming, as it does, in small bi-weekly payments, they are able to purchase with it many articles such as axel grease, kerosene oil, candles, soap, etc, either not furnished by the Government at all, or not in sufficient quantities but absolutely necessary in the conduct of their households.

The impression seems to prevail in the Department that the Indians have not been receiving full value for their hides.  The average price of the hides sold by the Indians of this reservation during the year ended September 30, 1899 was $3.83 per hide, which was, in my opinion, all they were worth. I have looked after the disposition of these hides personally.  When I first took charge of this Agency, I did not think the hides were bringing as much money as they should, but since I have taken the matter in hand, I do not believe the Indians have any grounds for complaint.  My method has been to invite bids, not alone from Indian traders, but from outside parties; the hides were invariably sold to the highest bidder, sometimes a single killing at a time — and sometimes the hides for four killings would be sold at once, so as to enable the purchaser to make a carload shipment to the necessary market.

The per capita payments have averaged 15¢ bi-weekly to each person.  The holder of a ticket calling for rations for five people would receive the rations and 75¢ in cash.

The sale of the hides and the payment of the money in the manner above indicated, was may by myself, upon the written request of all the chiefs of the reservation.  There are, on this reservation, a great many old people, physically unable of earning any money, and should they be deprived of these small amounts of hide money, I do not know where they would look for some of the necessities listed above.

From my experience, I am prepared to say, positively, that more can be realized by selling the hides to the highest bidder as I have been doing in the past, than could be secured by sending the hides to a commission house, and avoiding thereby anything in the way of deductions made for hides that may have been cut slightly, or for dirt.  The successful bidder, purchasing the hides at this Agency, is able to get a much lower freight rate by reason of making shipments in carloads, and by selling the hides here a saving in transportation is represented by at least 25¢ a hide.

I now have on hand all the hides received from the killings made since, and including, the 3rd day of October, and they are well taken care of and in excellent condition.  When ready to sell these hides, I shall, unless instructions to the contrary are received, invite bids for the entire lot and sell to the highest bidder.  I shall be ready to sell as soon as cold weather sets in and it is possible to freeze the beef.  I will have at that time about 1600 hides.

I respectfully request that the Department reconsider its ruling in the matter and that I be authorized to proceed with the disposal of the beef hides, as I have done in the past, believing that the interests of the Indians are best served that way.


No.27:.1890…School Teacher expresses concern of John Grass, et al, in the evening after the killing of Sitting Bull

St. Elizabeth School

Dec. 15, 1890, 5:00 pm

Maj. McLaughlin

Dear Friend

John Grass, Rev. Philip Deloria, Two Packs and Long Bull have come in a body to ask me to address a letter to you in regard to the reports thus far come to them from…rather, in relation to the results of having killed Sitting Bull.

All the families in our vicinity have assembled here and are encamped around the school enclosure.  The friends for whom I write, wish me to say, they have no guns with which to defend themselves and would like you to send them fifteen and with an ample supply of cartridges for use in case circumstances demand the same.

There are some good Indians in the vicinity of Sitting Bull camp who may come to our camp.

Will it be advisable to let them stay with us?  If some of the evil disposed whose reputation we know to some extend, should come also, are they to be driven off or be all allowed to remain with us?

These friends present speak they tell me, for the people here.  They say they hear the Military is chasing the offending party to this direction and fear the Indians in this vicinity may not be known to them as peaceful ones.

Should the trouble continue to the time for receiving their rations…could the usual supply of food be sent to them?  They fear it may not be wise to leave their families lest danger may come during their absence.

Gall is also present, having entered later, and thinks as the others have expressed themselves.

The rest of this letter is missing.  This is written in long hand by the teacher, Mary L. Francis (AB)


No.28:.1890…School Teacher asks for more guidance on killing of Sitting Bull

St. Elizabeth School

Dec. 16, 1890, 12 Noon

Maj. McLaughlin

Dear Friend

Yours of 2:15 am has been received and its contents interpreted to the people.  John Grass, Gall and Hawk Shield are grateful for the guns, etc. sent but feel they are not sufficient in time of danger should it come.  I have tried to impress upon them the fact that you have done all you possibly could in complying to their request.  That you fully appreciate every circumstance and are careful…on the alert to it cautiously and wisely for their interest and good.

I regret very much intruding upon your very valuable time but am pressed to it and you will, I am sure, understand if I make a request that you cannot grant because it is not in your power.  The four guns with ammunition have been received.  Gall and Hawk Shield both ask for a rifle with 50 cartridges for themselves.

Seven beef cattle, the usual number, will be required at this point for the issue.  In regard to the ration issue, they say they cannot yet decide until they hear from you again.

I am told that John Grass and Gall are remaining here chiefly on our… the school’s ——- and we ladies are not willing they endanger their lives for our sakes.  They are important leaders among their people and their lives very dear to themselves as to their friends.  I have thanked them for their kind and touching consideration and entreated them to leave us, assuring them we fully appreciated the circumstance of their being marked men, as it were, should any of Sitting Bull’s followers come this way.

Considering this, do you advise our crossing to the Agency?  We do not wish to break up the school, neither desire it wise to be rash in remaining here should the people continue to feel as anxious as at the present moment.  We do not wish to be a burden to anyone but must have some place of shelter.  The Bishop advises our crossing the river when the people asked for their children, which they have not done as yet.

We thank you very much for taking the time to give us so full and correct an account of the contest…am so sorry that so many precious lives had to be sacrificed and trust that peace will soon reign among the disturbing element.

In case you advise our leaving the premises, shall we leave persons to look after the buildings?  Rev. Philip Deloria and Hawk Shield offer their services but two or three more are considered necessary.

I send this communication with ration papers signed by Joseph Thundercloud, who will await your reply.

Very sincerely yours, Mary L. Francis

Later…3:00 pm…Red Thunder is here and we intend to drive him off.  If he comes again, or others like him, what shall we do?


No.29:.1891…McLaughlin addresses causes of the trouble in 1890

(written in 1891 by James McLaughlin, U. S. Indian Agent at Standing Rock)

In stating the events which led to this outbreak among the Sioux the endeavor too often has been merely to find some opportunity for locating blame.  The causes are complex and many are obscure and remote.  Among them may be named the following:

First.  A feeling of unrest and apprehension in the mind of the Indians has naturally grown out of the rapid advance in civilization and the great changes which this advance has necessitated in their habits and mode of life.

Second.  Prior to the agreement of 1876, buffalo and deer were the main support of the Sioux.  Food, tents, bedding, were the direct outcome of hunting, and with furs and pelts as articles of barter or exchange, it was easy for the Sioux to procure whatever constituted for the necessaries, the comforts, or even the luxuries of life.  Within eight years from the agreement of 1876, the buffalo had gone and the Sioux had left to them alkali land and Government rations.

It is hard to overstate the magnitude of the calamity as they viewed it, which happened to these people by the sudden disappearance of the buffalo and the large diminution in the numbers of deer and other wild animals.  Suddenly, almost without warning, they were expected, at once and without previous training, to settle down to the pursuits of agriculture in a land largely unfitted for such use.  The freedom of the chase was to be exchanged for the idleness of the camp.  The boundless range was to be abandoned for the circumscribed reservation, and abundance of plenty to be supplanted by limited and decreasing Government subsistence and supplies.  Under these circumstances, it is not in human nature not to be discontented and restless, even turbulent and violent.

Third.  During a long series of years, treaties, agreements, cessions of land and privileges, and removals of bands and agencies, have kept many of the Sioux, particularly those at Pine Ridge and Rosebud, in an unsettled condition, especially as some of the promises made them were fulfilled tardily or not at all.  (a brief history of negotiations with the Sioux was given in my letter of December 24, 1890, to the Department).

Fourth.  The very large reduction of the Great Sioux Reservation, brought about by the Sioux Commission through the consent of the large majority of the adult males, was bitterly opposed by a large, influential minority.  For various reasons they regarded the cession as unwise, and did all in their power to prevent its consummation and afterwards were constant in their expressions of dissatisfaction and in their endeavors to awaken a like feeling in the minds of those who signed the agreement.

Fifth.  There was a diminution and partial failure of the crops for 1889 by reason of their neglect by the Indians, who were congregated in large numbers at the council with the Sioux Commission, and a further diminution of ordinary crops by the brought of 1890.  Also, in 1888 the disease of black-leg appeared among the cattle of the Indians.

Sixth.  At this time, by delayed and reduced appropriations, the Sioux rations were temporarily cut down.  Rations were not diminished to much an extent as to bring the Indians to starvation or even extreme suffering, as has been often reported; but short rations came just after the Sioux commission had negotiated the agreement for the cession of lands, and as a condition of securing the signatures of the majority, had assured the Indians that their rations would be continued unchanged.  To this matter the Sioux Commission called special attention in their report dated Dec. 24, 1889 as follows:

During our conference at the different agencies we were repeatedly asked whether the acceptance or rejection of the act of Congress would influence the action of the Government with reference to their rations, and in every instance the Indians were assured that subsistence was furnished in accordance with former treaties, and that signing would not affect their rations, and that they would continue to receive them as provided in former treaties.  Without our assurances to this effect it would have been impossible to have secured their consent to the cession of their lands.  Since our visit to the agencies it appears that large reductions have been made in the amounts of beef furnished for issues, amounting at Rosebud to 2,000,000 pounds and at Pine Ridge to 1,000,000 lbs, and lesser amounts at the other agencies.  This action of the Department following immediately after the successful issue of our negotiations, cannot fail to have an injurious effect.  It will be impossible to convince the Indians that the reduction is not due to the fact that the Government, having obtained their land, was less concerned in looking after their material interests than before.  It will be looked upon as a breach of faith, and, especially, as a violation of the express statements of the Commissioners.

Already this action is being used by the Indians opposed to the bill, notably at Pine Ridge, as an argument in support of the wisdom of their opposition.

In forwarding this report to Congress, the Department called special attention to the above-quoted statements of the Commission, and said:

The Commission further remarks that, as to the quality of rations furnished. There seems to be no just cause for complaint, but that it was particularly to be avoided that there should be any diminution of the rations promised under the former treaties at this time, as the Indians would attribute it to their assent to the bill.  Such diminution certainly should not be allowed, as the Government is bound in good faith to carry into effect the former treaties where not directly and positively affected by the act, and if under the provisions of the treaty itself, the rations is at any time reduced, the Commissioners recommend that the Indians should be notified before spring opens, so the crops may be cultivated.  It is desirable that the recent reduction made should be restored, as it is now impossible to convince the Indians that it was not due to the fact that the Government, having obtained their lands, had less concern in looking after their material interests.

Notwithstanding this plea of the Commission and of the Department, the appropriation made for the subsistence and civilization of the Sioux for 1890 was only $950,000, or $50,000 less than the amount estimated and appropriated for 1888 and 1889, and the appropriation not having been made until August 19, rations had to be temporarily purchased and issued in limited quantities pending arrival of new supplies to be secured from that appropriation.

It was not until January, 1891, after the troubles, that an appropriation of $100,000 was made by Congress for additional beef for the Sioux.

Seventh.  Other promises made by the Sioux Commission and the agreement were not promptly fulfilled; among them were increase of appropriations for education, for which this office had asked an appropriation of $150,000; the payment of $200,000, in compensation for ponies taken from the Sioux in 1876 and 1877; and the reimbursement of the Crow Creek Indians for a reduction made in their per capita allowance of land as compared with the amount allowed other Sioux, which called for an appropriation of $187,039.  The fulfillment of these promises, except the last named, was contained in the act of January 19, 1891.

Eighth.  In 1889 and 1890 epidemics of lagrippe, measles and whooping cough, followed by many deaths, added to the gloom and misfortune which seemed to surround the Indians.

Ninth.  The wording of the agreement changed the boundary line between the Rosebud and Pine Ridge diminished reservations, and necessitated a removal of a portion of the Rosebud Indians from lands which, by the agreement, were included in the Pine Ridge Reservation to lands offered them in lieu thereof upon the diminished Rosebud Reserve.  This, although involving no great hardship to any considerable number, added to the discontent.

Tenth.  Some of the Indians were greatly opposed to the census which Congress ordered should be taken.  The census at Rosebud, as report4ed by Special Agent Lea, and confirmed by a special census taken by Agent Wright, revealed the somewhat startling fact that rations had been issued to Indians very largely in excess of the number actually present, and this diminution of numbers as shown by the census necessitated a diminution of the rations, which was based, of course, upon the census.

Eleventh.  The Messiah craze, which fostered the belief that “ghost shirts” would be invulnerable to bullets, and that the supremacy of the Indian race was assured, added to discontent the fervor of fanaticism and brought those who accepted the new faith into the attitude of sullen defiance, but defensive rather than aggressive .

Twelfth.  The sudden appearance of the military upon their reservations gave rise to the wildest rumors among the Indians of danger and disaster, which were eagerly circulated by disaffected Indians and corroborated by exaggerated accounts in the newspapers, and these and  other influences connected with, and inseparable from, military movements frightened many Indians away from their agencies into the Bad Lands and largely in-  (balance of letter is missing).


No.30:.1891…Pony recovery claims discussed by James McLaughlin

                           Standing Rock, June 23, 1891

……….High Bear, who you refer to as having been the husband of White Deer Woman.  In this case you will find two claims made by Mrs. Chase Medicine (#98 Blackfeet Band of this Agency) where she makes claim for her deceased sister, Pretty Antelope, the former wife of High Bear of the Cheyenne River Agency.  Pretty Antelope and White Deer Woman being one and the same person. She owned 8 ponies in here own right and her husband, High Bear, owned 2 in his own right.

Brown Wolf, Eagle Bear and several others of the better class of Indians here, state that, when High Bear came from Cheyenne River Agency and married Pretty Antelope here, he was poverty-stricken and had no property whatever and that the two ponies mentioned in Mrs. Chase Medicine’s affidavit as being High Bear’s were given him by his wife’s (Pretty Antelope’s) father.

However, after rereading the affidavit of Mrs. Chase Medicine, which shows her deceased sister’s husband is living, he is entitled to at least a share of the property, under rulings in similar cases.

I thought you might be interested in your Blackfeet relatives.  The Brown Wolf mentioned was the father or grandfather of the young man who was with us last Sunday.  (AB).

Little Killer (#115 Hunkpapa) states that he owned 11 ponies in his own right which he made claim for and that his  mother, Red Bird Woman, owned 5 which were also taken by the military and that he so stated to Louis Primeau when making the claim and that Louis omitted to include them. He states that his mother is now dead and that he and his brother, Kiyanluta (Flying Red) are her only living heirs and that Okiapsin (Don’t Help Them), the person you mention, is the son of his said brother, Flying Red, who fled from here last December during the Ghost Dance Craze and is now at Pine Ridge.  He says that Don’t Help Them did not own any ponies at the time and has no interest in the claim.

I am well acquainted with Don’t Help Them and know him to be a great scamp and unreliable.

Little Killer is a good Indian, was here in 1876 and belonged to John Grass band at that time and never was a member of Big Foot’s band, but his brother, Flying Bird (I think this is an error, and he means Flying Red. AB) and his two sons, one of whom was Don’t Help Them, fled from here last fall and are said to have joined Big Foot.

So, the Hunkpapa and Blackfeet often “threw in” together, as you have said.  These names are familiar to me as I read, and it is interesting to note their problems (AB).


No.31:.1893…Payment rumor for ponies taken in 1876

Fort Peck, Mont., Feb. 14, 1893

To McLaughlin

There is a rumor among the Indians that they are to receive pay at your Agency for some ponies taken in 1876.  Just where the stock was taken I do not fully understand.

Will you give me that information you can?  Yellow Hawk and Elk, both claim stock.

Yellow Hawk, you will remember, was the man who killed himself on the way from your Agency to Pine Ridge, two years ago in order to ascertain if he could come to life.


Ind. Agt.

You may not be interested in this man, but I have heard about him often since I came to Yates.  He could die and come to life again.

But this time he made a miscalculation and did not return.  Too bad.  (AB)


No.32:.1894…Disposition of Sitting Bull’s Cabin….may have gone to Coney Island

Geo. B. Forrester,                                                                             Sept. 17, 1894

169 Front Street

New York


Major James McLaughlin

Fort Yates, North Dakota

Dear Sir:

The log cabin that was brought to Coney Island which was formerly the home of Sitting bull, I purchased from Mr. Parkin when he broke up the camp.  Will you kindly give me any matters of interest that you have in connection with the erection of this cabin and its sale to Mr. Parkin.  Any items of interest that you may give me in connection with this log cabin will be thankfully received.

Respectfully yours,

(signed) Geo. B. Forrester.



No.33:.1894...John Grass writes to McLaughlin about Indian Court business

Oak Creek, S. D. (Grass’ home), 3/6/94

Maj. James McLaughlin, U.S.Ind. Agt.

Dear Sir:

I would like to say one thing about the court business, there was a deaf in the guardhouse.  We did not hear about it before, me and David Howard, and I am very sorry they put him in the guardhouse.

I am sorry for that he cannot talk, and there is other thing I don’t please.  That woman she like to get the $10.00 ten dollars from him, that deaf, which are he received by interest money, therefore she want a police man in.

Hurry and take him over the Police quarters.  It was Afraid of the Hawk, there is nothing wrong.  But he want to done Gall’s word, and therefore we wish to you look for the Gall’s power now.  He never quite that jealous to me and David Howard.

But only we want a man to make him quite it was you, now we wish you would discharge him, that man working for Gall, that was Afraid of the Hawk, it no matter about it.

Respectfully yours,

John Grass Sr.

 This letter is written in lead pencil on both sides of part of a report blank.  This copied exactly as written. (AB).


No.34:.1894…Indian Court offenses ruling

June 11, 1894, A dispute over a steer.

Judges are Crazy Walking and John Grass.

Crow Head and Used as a Shield were brought forward for disputing over a steer which Used as a Shield claimed he had raised.  Owing to absence of witnesses, the case was held over until next court date.

On June 25 the case was tried and the court decided from the evidence introduced, that the animal belonged to Crow Head.


No.35:.1894…Gall dies

St. Elizabeth School, Dec. 6, 1894

Maj. James McLaughlin W.S.I.A.

Dear Friend:

I understand no special messenger has been sent to you to announce the news of Abraham Gall’s death.

He died about 7:30 last evening, the 5th inst.

I send this to Campbell today, hoping it will reach you promptly.  We are waiting for Rev. Wm. Deloria’s return from Yankton Agency before having the burial services.

The deceased passed away very quietly and calmly  – at peace, we have good reason to believe, with God and man.

You will excuse all delay, please, in regard to reports due.

Most respectfully, yours,

(signed) Mary L. Francis


No.36:.1895…Indians enlisted in Company “I” 22nd Infantry at Fort Yates

Name ….. Age …..  Married (M)….. or Single (S) …..Remarks

Joseph Goose 57      M

Anselm Kill Crow 27      M

Callous Leg 34      M

Hurry to Kill 33      M ………. Enlisted as Eagle Shield

Good Boy 41      M

Eagle Boy 31      M ………. Enlisted as Eagle Man

Red Bow 36      M

One Horn 34      M

White Bird 28      M

Dog Man 44      M

Blackbird, Jr. 33      M

Crow Necklace 44      M

Swift Elk 28      M

Eugene Iron Necklace 26      M

First Grown 37      M

Dog Eagle 39      M

Daniel Ankle 22      M

Red Fox 39      M

Black Hat 39      M

Elk 38      S

Young Eagle 30      M

Medicine Bear 53 Widower

Lawrence Kill Assiniboine 26      M

Blackbird, Sr. 54      M

Fridolin Sleeping 22      S

Ran Over (Kahinrpayapi) 18      S

Santee 37      M ……… enlisted as Eagle Bird

James Good Voice 28      M

Thomas Fly 52      M

John Tickasin 29      M


Standing Rock Agency, N.D.

February 25, 1895

(signed) James McLaughlin

U.S.Indian Agent


No.37:.1897…John Grass seeking restructuring of horse purchase

Standing Rock, May 22. 1897

Major Couchman, U.S.Indian Agent,

Cheyenne River Agency, S. D.

Dear Sir:

About three or four years ago an Indian of this reservation named John Grass, one of the Judges of the Court of Indian Offences, and also one of the best men of the reservation, purchased a horse from Mr. Rosseau of Cheyenne River for $90, and paid him $70 on account leaving a balance of $20 due.

Soon afterwards Grass was taken sick and found that he would not be able to pay the $20, so he returned the horse with the understanding that Rosseau would give him a horse worth $70, or return Grass him money ($70).

This was not done and Grass will go to your Agency shortly to have the matter settled.

I hope you will be able to assist him in getting a horse worth the money he paid, or his $70 back.

Very respectfully,

John W. Cramsie,

U.S.Indian Agent.


No.38:.1898…John Grass employed as Assistant Farmer

.John Grass employed as Assistant Farmer at $300 a year, on June 30th, 1898


No.39:.1898…Judges of Indian Court

Judges of the Indian Court as of June 30, 1898:

These judges received $10 a month.

John Grass, Sr.

Gabriel Grey Eagle

Miles Walker

Wolf Necklace

John Fisher


No.40:.1898…Trans-Mississippi Exposition & Indian Congress

Standing Rock, August 6, 1898

Captain W. A. Mercer, U.S.A.

U.S.Indian Congress

Trans-Mississippi Exposition,

Omaha, Neb.


The names of the Indians forming the delegation of Indians sent from this Agency to the Omaha Exposition are as follows:

1. His Thunder Shield

2. Sitting White Cow

3. Swift Dog

4. Grass

5. Frank Carry the Kettle

6. Joseph Shooter, wife and two children

7. High Bear (Matowakantuza) and wife

8. Wolf Necklace

The expenses incurred in dispatching these Indians from the Railroad point, Mandan, 65 miles distant, amount to $17.66, which comprises provisions purchased at Mandan for the journey to Omaha, meals furnished at Mandan, and expenses of journey from Agency to Mandan of employe to secure transportation and dispatch of the Indians on their journey.  Please send me check for the amount.

Very respectfully,

Geo. H. Bingenheimer, U.S.Indian Agent


August 16, 1898

Bingenheimer writes:  I send by steamboat today some tent poles, etc. for shipment to Omaha, Neb, etc.”


Omaha, Sept. 30th, 1898

Geo. H. Bingenheimer, etc.

……I have to state that, with one exception, I believe your Indians here are contented and fully enjoy themselves.

The President and many other noted men will be here in about two weeks and all the Indians seem to look forward to that meeting with much pleasure.  The indications are that the closing weeks of the Exposition will bring immense crowds and I dislike to have the Congress broken into if it can be avoided.  Can you not arrange in some way for putting their hay and attend to the necessary matters in connection with their home affairs.  If you can, it will be duly appreciated.


I think Grass was the one exception.  He seemed to want to get home.  Worried about his son and about the hay.  Perhaps I’ll find something more in other files (AB)

His Thunder Shield was at the Exposition.  Went away without his tipi and poles and if these things are not at his place….then they are to be found at Flying By’s place.  More blankets, quilts, 2 coffee pots and a 2 gallon kettle are to be sent. (AB)

Joseph Shooter was there also.  Cannot find the list of Indians who were sent.  But know that Grass was there (AB)


Oct. 10, 1898

Same Exposition would like Policemen who participated in the arrest of Sitting Bull to be sent to Omaha.  Only 2 or 3 of them left and they object to wearing Indian dress.


Oct. 21, 1898

Bingenheimer orders the Indians home from Omaha at once.


No.41:.1898…Census of Standing Rock Agency

Census of Standing Rock Agency…3726 on August 25th, 1898


No.42:.1898…Cases tried by Indian Court this year

123 cases tried and punished in the Court of Indian Offenses during the year, as of August 25th.


No.43:.1898…Catholic Congress.

Catholic Congress at Lower Brule Agency & Cheyenne River Agency

Sept. 8, 1898

The following named Indians have permission to visit Lower Brule Agency for the purpose of attending a meeting of delegates of the Catholic Church, viz:

Antoine Clement, 3 persons

Frances Fearless No. 1, 2 persons

Louis Cross, 3 persons

Walking Shield, 1 person

Swift Eagle, 2 persons

John Grass, Sr., 2 persons


Sept. 12, 1898

Grass, Sr. gets permission (8 days) to attend the Catholic Congress to be held at Cheyenne River Agency.  (Quite a crowd went that time.  Benjamin and John Cadotte among them (AB)


No.44:.1898…The Case of Chased Often vs. Used as a Shield

Dec. 1898

Probably addressed to Indian Agent Bingenheimer

……………In regard to the cattle dispute between Chased Often and Used as a Shield and Black Lightning;  the last named man I never heard of before.  He lives in Oak Creek District, so I am told.  I’ll send word for him to be at Standing Rock on the date appointed by Mr. Reedy for a rehearing of the case

You ask what I know about the case; the animal has Used as a Shield’s ear mark.  Chased Alone claimed at the trial that it was put on a short time before the animal was sold.  I personally knew that to be wrong for about a week before the cattle were taken into Standing Rock I had the animal thrown and I examined the ear marks.  There is no doubt they were put on when it was a calf for the hair was about an inch long, where they had been lobbed off, and everything clearly proved the old mark.

Beside that, the testimony in the case, in my opinion, justified the decision I gave.


J. W. Jones, Farmer

Chased Alone did not get by on this…trying to do your Ate’s (John Grass’) Paw out of a stock animal (AB)


No.45:.1901…Petition to Washington to follow Great Father’s commitments in treaties…example after example of violations of terms of all treaties

                                                                                  Standing Rock Agency, N.Dak.  Oct. 31, 1901

The Honorable Commissioner of Indian Affairs     Sir:

We, the Sioux Indians of the Standing Rock Reservation, have several matters which we wish to present herewith for your consideration, and would respectfully request that they be looked to at the earliest favorable opportunity.

n seeking your favorable action on these matters we wish you to know that we, as a nation, are grateful for all benefits received from the Government, and take cognizance thereof and always hold such in mind, when seeking other than that which is voluntarily given.  We assure you that our prayers made herein are offered in the highest good faith, and our sole object is to procure a proper adjudication of our rights as evidenced by our treaties from time ti time with the United States Government.  Therefore we beg of you a patient audience in the matters set forth as follows:

Article VIII, Treaty of 1868

Referring to the provisions of the above article, we wish to call attention to the fact that there was no farming done here by the Indians, with implements or seeds furnished by the Government, of any consequence prior to 1877.  There was, prior to 1877, some plowing done under contract, but this amounted to but little and was of small value to the Indians.

A great many of the Indians, in their blind and misguided endeavor to comply with the terms of this article, and receive the benefits under it, went upon land in good faith for the purpose of cultivating it, but none of them knew how to perfect their certificates and have them recorded in the “land-book,” and, as a matter of fact, no such “land-book” was ever kept at this Agency, nor was there any apparent effort to instruct in the steps necessary to procure the benefits under this article.

It is safe to assert, and we believe that the facts which could be gathered will uphold such assertion, that 50% of those who located for farming purposes, and intending to receive the benefits promised under such article, actually received nothing, while of the other 50% who acted similarly and received something, under provisions of such article, did not receive the full allowance under the article.

The older Indians who complied as best they could and made honest efforts at cultivation of the soil, have either died or are fast passing away, and their children, who are educated and well-equipped to handle the means which should have been given their fathers, now find themselves back upon the reservation, ready and capable of working for their support, with nothing to begin with and only the limits of the reservation to look to to supply them.  The efforts at farming in this immediate locality have conclusively proven it to be a grazing county and cattle-raising the feasible industry.  So what should be coming to us under this article could be put into the purchase of cattle and would be, thereby, of great benefit and assistance in placing the younger generation on a permanent self-supporting basis.

Article X, Treaty of 1868.

This article provides that a suit of good, substantial woolen clothing, etc., should be furnished.  The quality of the goods furnished has, almost without exception, been inferior to the terms of the treaty.  The letter of the Acting Commissioner, above referred to, gives the information

“that in some years probably the quality of the clothing or goods furnished may not have been up to the standard, owing to the fluctuating prices from year to year of the articles furnished, but as Congress, from to time, appropriated a certain stipulated amount for clothing and domestic articles, it was for the best interests of the Sioux that the articles offered under contract should be accepted, rather than to buy a reduced quantity in order to obtain better quality.”

Inasmuch as the Government was required by the terms of the treaty to furnish the stipulated articles to all entitled thereto, of a specified quality, and since they have, admittedly, not done so, because Congress happened not to adequately provide in its appropriations for such purchase, is, in our judgment, no reason why the Government should be excused from falling short of the terms of its agreement, and it should now make good these losses, sustained by our being forced to accept goods of an inferior quality to that stipulated.

As to the payments of $10.00 to the roaming Indians prior to 1881, the date of their surrender at Fort Buford, and the payments of $20.00 to those Indians who had settled down and engaged in farming, no moneys or benefits were received by them under this provision and, as the terms of the treaty contemplated the expenditures for their benefit, they desire to know how and for whose benefit the money due them was expended.  Information as to how and for what the $5,464,400.00 under this head, appropriated from 1871 to 1900 has been expended, is requested.  We cannot understand what our proportion of this vast sum was expended for, as during this period, by other provisions our rations were furnished, clothing supplied, schools, farming implements, seeds, cattle, etc., provided, and thus all of our needs satisfied.

Only one appropriation seems to have been made to carry out that part of the provision of Art. X, which gives to each lodge of Indians, or family of persons legally incorporated with them, who shall remove to the reservation and commence farming, one good American cow, and one good, well-broken pair of American oxen.  This was made appn. Act. F.Y. 1871, $126,000.00, the share of which that should have come to this reservation being $23,000.00, which sum would purchase approximately enough animals to provide 136 families.  This is not, nor has it been near enough to supply the number who were entitled to the benefits of this provision.  We desire to take up the matter of ascertaining the number of those who actually received, and those who were actually entitled to these benefits, and secure the difference which will exist in our favor.

Article XII.

The surviving chiefs and headmen, who were parties to the treaty of 1868, repeat that the treaty of 1876 was not signed by three-fourths of the adult male population, and that the few that did sign it did so under the representations made to them at the time, that they were signing only a lease of the lands in question, for the purpose of allowing the whites to get out the minerals, and the benefits to be received under such treaty were, in effect, the payment of rental by the Government.

We, therefore, maintain that, according to Article XII of the treaty of 1868, no lands were ceded by the treaty of 1876; that title thereto could not pass, in view of the fact that the necessary three-fourths of the adult male population did not sign, and that title to the lands therein described still remains in us, and that any and all benefits received thereunder from the Government should be considered as an advancement, and, if such advancement has exceeded the rental of the land for the period since that time, that we are indebted in this excess amount to the Government, and that the Government should treat with us for the purchase of the title to this land or else restore it.

We desire an adjustment of the claim for pay for oak and cottonwood logs, cut and used as house logs and wood used for fuel, taken from the reservation for the building and use of the military posts at Grand River Agency and Fort Yates, since 1866.

We desire that the southern boundary line of our reservation be permanently established.  At the time of the establishment of the present designated dividing boundary line, which is the Moreau River, the said stream emptied into the Missouri river five miles below where it now empties into that stream, thus cutting off this strip of five miles from our reservation.  We seek to have it fixed where first located and where it was intended by all parties to be located, viz: five miles below the present mouth of the Moreau River.

The record will show that this nation has, on all occasions, time and again in its meetings and councils, protested against the bringing in of the Santees to the beneficial effects of our treaties with the Government, and we here repeat that they have no right, co-extensive with us, and should not be included in the benefits of treaties, whereby our lands, in which they have no real interest and can set up no valid claim, were ceded.  The few Santees who signed the treaty of 1868 were sneaked in, and attached their names fraudulently, well-knowing at the time that only by such illegal measure could they possibly become beneficiaries.  We, therefore, disclaim them as proper or legal members or parties to the treaty, and whatever has been furnished them was not due them, and reimbursement to us, therefore, should be made.

Section 21, Treaty of 1889

Under Sec. 21 of the above treaty, Indians are to receive for all lands ceded $1.25 per acre for sections 16 and 36 in each township; $1.25 per acre for all lands disposed of to settlers within the first three years after opening for settlement; 75¢ per acre for that disposed of within the next two years; and after that, 50¢ acre for all disposed of until at the end of ten years, at which time what there was remaining to be disposed of by the Government was to be taken by the Government at 50¢ per acre.  The ten years expired in February 1900, and a statement as to the amount of this land disposed of during the foregoing periods, and the residue undisposed of at the end of ten years, is desired, that we may calculate our assets therein to a certainty, and know what our financial condition is.

We desire to have our hide money paid to us monthly, as was done prior to October, 1899, as it will in this way do us much more good than having it all come in a lump annually, it being needed to supplement that part of the ration issue which is inadequate, and for the purchase of other small articles needed in the home from month to month.

Referring to an expenditure of $25,000.00 for paying expenses of a Commission for procuring assent to the treaty of 1889, we wish to respectfully call your attention to the remarks of JOHN GRASS, speaking for the Indians, as evidenced by the official report of the proceedings of the council which met with the Commission at the time of the signing of said treaty.

He asked:  “Does the money, which was $25,000.00, for the payment of the expenses of the Commission in traveling through this country, is that to be paid by the Indians from their lands?”

To this question, Gen. Warner, speaking for the Commission, said; “I answer that question, No, not a dollar of it.  There may be a little confusion in the minds of some on that question.  This bill appropriates $25,000.00 for that purpose.  The great Council passed another law with reference to treating with the Indians for their lands, in which a like appropriation was made of $25,000.00 and the money to pay for the Commission and all of the expenses come out of the other law, and not one cent out of this, as the Great Father directed.:

This statement, in substance, was also made by other members of the Commission.  In view of the fact that such was the clear understanding at the time of making and signing the treaty, and that there is nothing in the treaty requiring the Indians to reimburse the Government for this $25,000.00 expended, we maintain that this sum is an improper charge against us, as being reimbursable by us, as made in the above referred to letter of the Acting Commissioner.

Section 17, Treaty of 1889

This section continues in force Art. VIII, treaty of 1868  – providing for schools, teachers, etc., for a period of 20 years from the date of said treaty.  We can see no reason why section 20 should have been inserted in the treaty, as provisions covering practically its terms are made in section 17, when construed in the light section 19.  Therefore we claim that no reimbursements should be charged against us and required of us, except the ½ of the 5% interest on the permanent fund, which is to be, and has been, used in providing industrial and other suitable education.  In the letter of the Acting Commissioner above referred to, a charge of $30,000.00 for schools under section 20 and a charge of $25,000.00 for schools under section 26 are made, both of which we claim are not reimbursable out of the proceeds from sale of lands under section 21 as claimed by the Acting Commissioner.  In addition to these, charges are made in the same communication aggregating $3,455,000.00 for education, expended and contemplated, but it states that there is a question as to whether or not this amount is reimbursable to the Government.  This amount, we maintain, is clearly not reimbursable by us.

Our reimbursements for educational purposes cannot exceed ½ of the interest of the permanent fund, if the spirit of the treaty is carried out, and this reimbursement, at that, must be for something different in an educational way than that provided for by the continuance in force of Art. VIII, of the treaty of 1868.

The points we are raising here are questions largely of construction of the terms of the treaty, and the Commission, when negotiating with us to obtain assent to the terms of the treaty, made to us explanations of the different sections of the treaty, and stated that their interpretations thereof were authorized, and that hereafter the treaty would be construed in connection therewith, and we wish you, the Honorable Commissioner,  to know that we make the demands, upon all the question we are seeking to adjust, in complete harmony with the assertions of the Commissioners who conducted the negotiations, and which assertions are justly to be considered in connection with the treaty in determining our rights thereunder.

Section 17 provides, “that after the Government has been reimbursed for the moneys expended for said Indians under this act, the Secretary of the Interior may, in his discretion, expend in addition to the interest on the permanent fund, not to exceed 10% of the principal of said fund, in the employment of farmers, purchase of agricultural implements, teams, seeds, etc., including reasonable cash payments per capita, and other articles necessary to assist them in agricultural pursuits.”

We believe that if a proper accounting of the amount due us for the sale of these lands be made, and reimbursements due by us to the Government be likewise calculated, that it will show a sum of money to our credit sufficiently large to warrant the conferring of additional benefits by the use of part of the principal; and in calculating this matter, to ascertain whether or not we have sufficiently large to reimburse the Government, contemplated expenditures should not be figured, as it above provides, not when the Government has been reimbursed for contemplated expense, but “after the Government has been reimbursed for the moneys expended for said Indians under this Act, the Secretary may, in his discretion, expend, etc.”

Under this authority we seek his early and favorable action.  Section 22 provided for all necessary expenses, “contemplated and provided for,” but we maintain that the provisions of section 17, which do not include contemplated expenditures, should govern and control section 22.  Even though the permanent fund were drawn upon for 10% the remaining 5% will be an ample balance to cover the contemplated expenditures.

General Warner, explaining this section at the Council conducting negotiations with the Commission, said; “ but you left out of your count, that after the $3,000,000.00 of the lands have been sold, that not only the 5% interest is to be distributed among you, but 10% of the principal may be distributed among you.”

Other Items in Acting Commissioner’s Letter which prompted this petition

Among other items we find charged against us in the letter of the Acting Commissioner referred to, the following may be mentioned:

A charge is made of $50,000.00 for removing Sitting Bull and his followers to the United States in the winter of 1880-1881.  This, we contend, is an improper charge, and should not have been included.

It was the understanding, in this connection, that he and his followers, and those who surrendered at that time at Forts Keogh, Buford and Peck, that they were to be paid for the ponies, arms, and ammunition, etc., which they turned in at that time.  So far as the records at this post show, all that was actually received was in the spring of 1883, when the military authorities turned over to Agent McLaughlin 86 head of cattle for the Hunkpapa, and about 81 head were distributed among Hump’s band of Minneconjou.

We would also state in reference to the charge of $20,000.00 made for the purpose of defraying the expense of securing assent to the treaty of 1876, that this charge is also an improper one, and should not be included.

We would also state that a right of reimbursement exists arising from the time of the disarmament of the Indians of this reservation in 1876.  When the arms were taken from the Indians by the soldiers at that time, the soldiers did not scruple to help themselves to all sorts of articles of value and ornaments belonging to the Indians, such as bead-work, elk teeth, buffalo robes, etc., amounting in the aggregate to thousands of dollars, and for which no restitution has been made, and to which the Indians are justly entitled.

We would finally say that these matters are brought forward and strongly urged on your attention at this time, as this is the time when we are in need of money or cattle to assist toward attaining that self-support which we, as well as the Government, look forward to.  The funds which we are seeking from this source, if put into cattle for us under the supervision of the Government, will accomplish more good, and make our progress toward self-support more rapid than any other help which could be extended to us.

In conclusion, therefore, we most earnestly and respectfully pray for speedy and adequate action for our relief, in the adjustment of our affairs as hereinbefore set out.


No.46:.1902…”Agree to cattle lease or I will drive the cattle onto the reservation anyway” says the Honorable Commissioner of Indian Affairs

Held at Standing Rock, North Dakota, May 21, 1902

Interpreters:  Louis P. Primeau, Charles McLaughlin, Robert Higheagle

U. S. Indian Agent: Bingenheimer

DR. GEORGE GRINNELL: My friends, I come to you a stranger and from a long distance, but because I bring with me your White Haired Father (former agent, James McLaughlin) you may know that my coming to you is not for a bad purpose but for good.  For a long time the Standing Rock Sioux have been in trouble about their land, trying to learn how it should be treated in connection with the cattle men.  A great many people in the East have heard of your uneasiness and your trouble and some of them have thought one thing and some another.  Some people have gone and told another story.  So the government is doubtful… They do not know what is the truth and because of this doubt and uncertainty, the Great Father, Mr. Roosevelt, who is the head chief over us all, sent for me and asked me to come out here and find out what was straight and true.  And so I have come and with your White Haired Father. I have been over some of the Reservation.  I have looked at your land.  I have talked with some of your people.  Today I am meeting you in council and I want to hear what all of you have to say.  Here is one thing before me at which I am looking and I am looking at that one thing, and this is the leasing of these lands that the Standing Rock Indians occupy.

I cannot talk to you about the old treaties because I do not know anything about them.  These ancient things I do not know of, but what I am looking at now is this lease, out of which you must make your living, a living for yourselves, your wives, your children and for those other children whoa re not yet born who are to come after us.

I am here today not to talk to you but to listen to you and all the things that you say will be written down in a book and taken away to the East.  I should like to hear everyone that wants to talk about this lease say what he has on his mind, the Indians and the half-breeds and the mixed-bloods generally.

COL. McLAUGHLIN:  My friends, it give me good pleasure to be with you today and see so many of you present at this council. Looking over your faces it brings me back many years, and I was pleased when I was directed to accompany Dr. Grinnell to your Reservation, that I might see you once more and visit a number of your homes.

Now, in this matter, I want you to understand that I am here aiding and assisting Dr. Grinnell under the direction of the President of the United States, President Roosevelt.  I am acting under orders of  my superior, the Secretary of the Interior.  I am simply aiding and assisting Dr. Grinnell.  He is the head of this mission  – of this work.

I wish you to understand who Dr. Grinnell is.  There is, today, no white man in the United States who has the confidence of the American people to a greater extent than  Dr. Grinnell has.  He has the confidence of all the Indians of the Country who know him and he has visited many of the tribes, and owing to his general knowledge of Indian affairs and his fairness in trying all matters, the President of t he United States sent for him and directed him to visit your

DR. GEORGE GRINNELL: My friends, I come to you a stranger and from a long distance, but because I bring with me your White Haired Father (former agent, James McLaughlin) you may know that my coming to you is not for a bad purpose but for good.  For a long time the Standing Rock Sioux have been in trouble about their land, trying to learn how it should be treated in connection with the cattle men.  A great many people in the East have heard of your uneasiness and your trouble and some of them have thought one thing and some another.  Some people have gone and told another story.  So the government is doubtful… They do not know what is the truth and because of this doubt and uncertainty, the Great Father, Mr. Roosevelt, who is the head chief over us all, sent for me and asked me to come out here and find out what was straight and true.  And so I have come and with your White Haired Father. I have been over some of the Reservation.  I have looked at your land.  I have talked with some of your people.  Today I am meeting you in council and I want to hear what all of you have to say.  Here is one thing before me at which I am looking and I am looking at that one thing, and this is the leasing of these lands that the Standing Rock Indians occupy.

I cannot talk to you about the old treaties because I do not know anything about them.  These ancient things I do not know of, but what I am looking at now is this lease, out of which you must make your living, a living for yourselves, your wives, your children and for those other children whoa re not yet born who are to come after us.

I am here today not to talk to you but to listen to you and all the things that you say will be written down in a book and taken away to the East.  I should like to hear everyone that wants to talk about this lease say what he has on his mind, the Indians and the half-breeds and the mixed-bloods generally.

COL. McLAUGHLIN:  My friends, it give me good pleasure to be with you today and see so many of you present at this council. Looking over your faces it brings me back many years, and I was pleased when I was directed to accompany Dr. Grinnell to your Reservation, that I might see you once more and visit a number of your homes.

Now, in this matter, I want you to understand that I am here aiding and assisting Dr. Grinnell under the direction of the President of the United States, President Roosevelt.  I am acting under orders of  my superior, the Secretary of the Interior.  I am simply aiding and assisting Dr. Grinnell.  He is the head of this mission  – of this work.

I wish you to understand who Dr. Grinnell is.  There is, today, no white man in the United States who has the confidence of the American people to a greater extent than  Dr. Grinnell has.  He has the confidence of all the Indians of the Country who know him and he has visited many of the tribes, and owing to his general knowledge of Indian affairs and his fairness in trying all matters, the President of t he United States sent for him and directed him to visit your Reservation and investigate the question of the leasing of your lands.  Some of you have heard of him, many of you do not know him,. But he knows of you very well, and he is a friend of you people and therefore you need have no hesitancy in speaking freely to him and with him.  Let your speeches be reasonable, temperate, and I know they will be truthful, and these matters will all be discussed in a friendly spirit, and we are now ready to hear from you.

THUNDER HAWK:  My friend, as they wish to hear just the exact conditions and how they come to make a proposition to lease the lands, then my friend, Louis Primeau, knows all about it from beginning to end and we would prefer that he first make a statement how the thing came about before we attempt to speak.

LOUIS P. PRIMEAU:  Dr. Grinnell, I would like to say that we are glad to see you here and ever since I have been among these Indians of Standing Rock Reservation I have endeavored to do the best of my ability to work for their best interests, and I have done so this summer and was pushed ahead by them and at their request to do what would be best when the  leasing proposition was first broached here.  We prepared our speech, a resolution of the council assembled in order to give and answer to the explanation of the letter from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, asking that we lease a part of our Reservation.

At the council held here to consider the proposition made by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the Indians decided that they were not prepared yet to entertain a proposition of that kind.  That they would rather wait until the Commissioner paid a visit here, and we understood at that time that he was to pay a visit to Standing Rock Reservation, and when he came here they wanted to talk over the old treaties, and any money coming to them from those treaties, if they could bring it about so they would be paid, they would use this money in the purchase of stock cattle and could stock their reservation and utilize the grasses that seem to be surplus land.

COL. McLAUGHLIN:  What was the date of that council?

LOUIS P. PRIMEAU: In May or April last year, 1901.  After the council they made a resolution and had me writ it out, their reasons for declining the proposition, and from then on we understood that we had to do something, but we were patiently waiting the coming of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and he came to Mandan sometime in September and Major Bingenheimer was up there and met him up there and, on his return, told us that he had said that since they had a chance  –  the Indians of this Reservation always complained that they did not have sufficient rations  – and they had a chance now to realize and get a revenue from their unoccupied lands, and since they would not accept that they need not talk rations to him anymore and he intended to see that these lands should not lie idle but would make use of them.

From this on we began to consider the necessity of coming to some agreement, of doing something in order to have a say so as to what disposition to make of these surplus lands. And we wrote off headings suitable to put to a petition and amended it from time to time to try to suit the Indians and something also that would suit the Government, or those who were intending to lease the land.

We finally decided upon or got a heading for a petition written out that seemed to please everybody with the exception as to the price per head and the different delegations from the substations that were sent here, each one had his price that we were to mention here in the general council, namely $1.50 a head was mentioned by the Indians of Oak Creek for the privilege of grazing cattle on the Reservation for twelve months.  The Rock Creek Indians wanted $2.00 a head, and the Upper Indians wanted no less than $1.00 with a view to having the price brought up by bidding.

Our reasons for hurrying it up were that the permit system was to be inaugurated here and we read in the papers, in the Pioneer Press, that Agent Hatch of Cheyenne Agency had been in Washington and they had inaugurated the permit system on his Reservation, and in order to get some proposition in ahead of that, so the permit system would not be put upon this Reservation, we hurried the thing up in order to avoid that and being trampled to death by the promiscuous turning loose of cattle on the Reservation.  We preferred to take a committee and go here in the Northwestern part of the Reservation and select an area of land in an irregular shape 900 square miles, supposing that it would accommodate somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 head of cattle.  We thought that choosing between two evils we had better choose the lesser and to lease the unoccupied portion of our Reservation, which is the Northwest corner here where no one lives, and one of the arguments used in bringing about the consent of the Indians was that we would have a committee to designate the boundaries of that piece of land and it would be the Northwestern portion of the Reservation between the Northwest corner and the State line, coming down thirty miles or even farther if it did not reach into any camps, and they would go South then as far as they felt like leasing the lands over to the divide of the Grand River and from there to go West, and anything that is short after they get back to the Western boundary, if there is anything short of the 900 square miles, they would make it up from the Western boundary of the Reservation across the Grand River.  That is where the term “pipe shape” comes in.  This is the piece of land and dimensions of it, as it would afterwards be decided upon by the committee.

It was this argument that convinced the Indians that it was for their best interests to give up that part of the Reservation, that they had no use for as that time with the number of cattle they had, rather than to tolerate the turning of loose cattle into trample us to death on the Reservation. The price was decided upon by the different districts in this Reservation and they came together here.  I came back from Oak Creek after being down there and took a vote on the proposition and they were all willing now that they would rather lease that part of the land and let the cattlemen fence themselves out that the balance of the Reservation might be kept to themselves.  On my way back when I came to the farm school, I understood that the Commissioner of Indian Affairs had written inaugurating the permit system on our Reservation here, so that we sent word out to the different stations and I also notified major Bingenheimer that we were in the right frame of mind now to consider some proposition of that kind, that is, for leasing the land, and to notify the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to that effect.  So the Indians came in from the different districts upon an appointed day and met right in this council room here for the purpose of the different delegations coming here and to decide upon what they intended to do.

The question was brought up here of the feasibility of leasing the land and they talked it over after Major Bingenheimer had addressed them and told them that it would be better for them to lease a part of their Reservation because the Commissioner intended to inaugurate the permit system and cattle would be in here and would run all over and already orders of that kind had been received, and they asked him to retire while they considered the matter.  That was right in here where each man presented his argument and they took a vote on it, which would be the best price to ask, whether $1.50 per head should be considered as presented from Oak Creek, or $2 per head, as presented from Rock Creek, or whether the $1. per head of the Upper Indians, what price they should ask.  They took a vote on it here and they decided that they would ask no less than $1 a head and mentioned the number of cattle  – I think about 40,000 or 50,000 head to be put on this piece of land.  They decided upon this by a vote  – that they should ask no less than $1 per head.  After they had unanimously consented to that they sent over to Major Bingenheimer to come  – that they were ready now to tell him what conclusions they had come to.

It was repeated to him by some of those present here  – I do not know which ones  – what was the decision and that they were now ready to sign a paper, with their petition.  And also I would mention in that connection that someone present here told me to tell them that since they had decided to lease a certain part of their Reservation on certain conditions  they would also appoint their committee that was to designate the boundaries of it at once.

COL. McLAUGHLIN:  That carries the matter up to about the time proposals for bids were received?

LOUIS P. PRIMEAU:  Yes sir.  There was such a turmoil in there at the time because it was getting towards evening and they were so glad that they had finished their business for the day they commenced going and left the chiefs to select the committee the following morning, and accordingly, the following morning they selected the committee over at the police headquarters and made a diagram of the pipe-shaped piece of land and with this diagram presented it to the Agent and told him how the committee would be.  They mentioned the following committee:  Thunder Hawk, Antoine DeRockbraine, and myself, Louis Primeau, and the Agent.

That brings it up to awaiting the committee to go out to designate the boundaries of this lease  – until proposals for bids came in.

JOHN GRASS:  My friends, this is the thing that we have been waiting for a long time.  You have come here yourselves to fix it up right for us and we are proud of it.  The nation now is tired of this business.  Maybe the people that have made us tired of this is the Agent and the Commissioner and the Secretary.  I am not going to say as much as Louis Primeau said but I am going to say right to the point.  A part of this country was borrowed for cattle.  We said we could not lease any of our land.  All of a sudden the Indians of the Reservation were all brought together here, and what we heard was the Commissioner had given orders that cattle were to be driven in here on our Reservation.  We were afraid of the Commissioner and that was the reason that we thought it would be better to lease the thirty miles square that we have leased.

The question was brought up here of the feasibility of leasing the land and they talked it over after Major Bingenheimer had addressed them and told them that it would be better for them to lease a part of their Reservation because the Commissioner intended to inaugurate the permit system and cattle would be in here and would run all over and already orders of that kind had been received, and they asked him to retire while they considered the matter.  That was right in here where each man presented his argument and they took a vote on it, which would be the best price to ask, whether $1.50 per head should be considered as presented from Oak Creek, or $2 per head, as presented from Rock Creek, or whether the $1. per head of the Upper Indians, what price they should ask.  They took a vote on it here and they decided that they would ask no less than $1 a head and mentioned the number of cattle  – I think about 40,000 or 50,000 head to be put on this piece of land.  They decided upon this by a vote  – that they should ask no less than $1 per head.  After they had unanimously consented to that they sent over to Major Bingenheimer to come  – that they were ready now to tell him what conclusions they had come to.

It was repeated to him by some of those present here  – I do not know which ones  – what was the decision and that they were now ready to sign a paper, with their petition.  And also I would mention in that connection that someone present here told me to tell them that since they had decided to lease a certain part of their Reservation on certain conditions  they would also appoint their committee that was to designate the boundaries of it at once.

COL. McLAUGHLIN:  That carries the matter up to about the time proposals for bids were received?

LOUIS P. PRIMEAU:  Yes sir.  There was such a turmoil in there at the time because it was getting towards evening and they were so glad that they had finished their business for the day they commenced going and left the chiefs to select the committee the following morning, and accordingly, the following morning they selected the committee over at the police headquarters and made a diagram of the pipe-shaped piece of land and with this diagram presented it to the Agent and told him how the committee would be.  They mentioned the following committee:  Thunder Hawk, Antoine DeRockbraine, and myself, Louis Primeau, and the Agent.

That brings it up to awaiting the committee to go out to designate the boundaries of this lease  – until proposals for bids came in.

JOHN GRASS:  My friends, this is the thing that we have been waiting for a long time.  You have come here yourselves to fix it up right for us and we are proud of it.  The nation now is tired of this business.  Maybe the people that have made us tired of this is the Agent and the Commissioner and the Secretary.  I am not going to say as much as Louis Primeau said but I am going to say right to the point.  A part of this country was borrowed for cattle.  We said we could not lease any of our land.  All of a sudden the Indians of the Reservation were all brought together here, and what we heard was the Commissioner had given orders that cattle were to be driven in here on our Reservation.  We were afraid of the Commissioner and that was the reason that we thought it would be better to lease the thirty miles square that we have leased.

GEORGE SHIAKA:  My friends, my heart is very good because you came here.  We Indians are all here.  What we tried to finish like men  – and you ought to know that we tried to finish it like men  – I am glad to have you here.  I think that you think we are men and that is why you have come here to see if we can finish anything up.  Any decision that we have come to in the past, I don’t know anybody that has done us justice in the past.  And when this lease question was brought up right here where we had the council the decision that the nations came to was from Cedar Creek to take a piece of land for thirty miles square.  The decision they came was to lease the land where there wasn’t anybody living.  We wish to tell you this straight that we did not wish to have it run any further than we decided on.

My friend, look at us, we are all Indians.  Whenever we heard that anything came from the President we always tried to listen to it and we always tried to walk in the way, but yet, if we did walk in the way we have never known of anything yet that was told us that was the truth

There were four men picked out to lay out this land we wanted to lease.  There were two half-breeds who understood writing and an Indian and our Agent.  We wanted them to lay out this land for us that we wished to lease.  We did not wish to have anything else leased over it.  That is why we picked out these men.  We said that we would lease the land for five years for not less than one dollar a head.  It would have to be over a dollar a head.  Nothing less than one dollar head.  We did not mention any particular white man’s name to lease the land to.  I think that is the reason that you gentlemen, under the President, have had such a hard time.  My friends, this is the decision we have come to  – we would like to have you settle it for us just as straight as you can.

My friends, the Commissioner said that he was going to drive cattle in on us  – and this why my body seems that it is tied up  – and that is the reason why we went ahead and leased the land, consented to lease the land.

My friends, we wish you to understand just the way that we wish the lease of this land, and Louis Primeau is the fifth man we designated to pick out this land and make the speech.  That is all I want to tell you straight.  I am pretty near bursting to talk but that is all I have to say.

HERBERT WELSH:   I know you gentlemen have come from far away and are tired.  We are also tired from being bothered so much about this least of our land.  In the first place we agreed to lease our land on that order that came from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and also from our Agent, who seem to have threatened us to least our land.  What I mean is, that if we did not agree to lease our land these cattle were going to be driven on us.  In order to have this matter explained to you clearly we appointed four speakers to speak on this subject so that you will understand it clearly, including Louis Primeau.

It was right here in this hall that we Indians consented to lease our land.  When we had that council here to talk over this lease proposition it was I that asked the Agent to leave us along so that we could talk about it among ourselves.  Although the decision was to lease thirty miles square, yet the piece that we agree to lease would not necessarily be square.  Beginning at Cedar Creek  – following a line of thirty miles that run down South  – reaching North of the Grand

Now there is another piece of land to the South of the Lemmon lease which we call the Walker lease.  Within that proposed lease there are living a good many families and they have their farms and they have their cattle and horses, all of which could be within that fence.  There are about 100 of these families and I do not see how they can be protected and I do not think that the Walker lease will ever be made  (ed note: but it was)..  I am giving you my opinion only.  I cannot make you any promises.  In a few days now I shall be going away and I shall take with me your father here.  If he and I can feel that we have settled up this matter and that we have made the road smooth for you people here, we shall go away with glad hearts.

If your minds can be freed from these troubles and these anxieties that have been bothering you so long you can go ahead and sow your wheat and take care of your cattle and protect your hay and make a living as white people make theirs, which is what you must do now.  There are plenty of men here who can remember, as I can, when the prairie out there was covered with those great black beasts that had horns, and we lived on them, but now we stop in one place and our buffalo are spotted and we must dig in a garden and raise a crop.  That is the best way we can live.  It has made me glad to come here and see you all  – people whom I have knew before  – but it has made me gladder still to come here with your father and to have him introduce me to some of her children (ed note: might mean either Mrs. McLaughlin’s boys or is a misprint of “his” children).  These are two people you will never forget.

COL. McLAUGHLIN:  My friends, one moment I wish to speak to you.  My friends, I have taken a great interest in this lease question.  I have followed it very closely since the opening of the bids in Washington.  I was in the Interior Office when the bids were opened, and I want you to understand, and I speak to you as your old agent who was with you for many years, that I am strongly in favor of your leasing your unoccupied lands.

As Dr. Grinnell stated to you, you will receive from $23,000 to $24,000 a year, about $7. per capita, for each and every one of you, every man, woman and child, for grass that would otherwise be burned up and rotted every year.  The grass would either burn or rot.  And that we might be able to understand this matter more clearly and be able to report intelligently we made a tour of the Reservation along Grand River and examined and visited every location involved in this Lemmon Lease.  We are well-prepared to consider this matter, as I said before, intelligently, and whilst we feel that you ought to derive some revenue from this part of your reservation that has never been used by you, we feel, at the same time, that there is a certain number of your people whose locations are involved within the lease, and it is the claims and the rights and the privileges of those people that we are now trying to protect.

I will say that I congratulate you upon your good fortune in having the gentleman who secured the lease of your lands, Mr. Lemmon.  I have been personally acquainted with Mr. Lemmon for the past five years and I know him to be a good friend of the Indians.  When I was at the Pine Ridge Reservation five years ago investigating a matter similar to this  – the matter of the trespass of cattle  – I found 42 cattlemen who were there and he was the favorite stockman at that agency.  All of the Indians had the utmost confidence in and respect for him.  Now, I am confident that Mr. Lemmon and you people will get along well together, in, in case of any trouble or misunderstanding between any of your people and his men, his employees, all you have to do is to be patient and report to him and he will see any wrongs righted.

Now, as Dr. Grinnell stated in his talk to you, Mr. Lemmon’s lease has been entered into about three months ago and approved by the Secretary and under the law I see no way by which it can be rescinded or set aside and the best we can do for you now is to make a compromise with the lessee so as to protect the Indians who are located within that lease, and, as Dr. Grinnell stated to you regarding the Walker lease, I doubt very much if you have any further trouble or hear from it any more, as I do not believe that it will be approved.

Now I wish to have an expression from you people at this council regarding any compromise that Dr. Grinnell and myself and Mr. Lemmon may be able to make in protecting the Indians who are located at Grand River within this lease.  I wish to hear from you as to your willingness to accept any compromise that we may make that will be satisfactory to Thunder Hawk and the Indians who are located upon that tract  – any compromise agreement that we may make with Mr. Lemmon that will protect them fully in their locations.

You people outside of those who are within that lease are not affected by any compromise that we may make and it is simply to protect those people that we wish to arrange with Mr. Lemmon.  Now if we can make an arrangement with Thunder Hawk and the others who live within that leased portion that will be a protection to them and entirely satisfactory, will you people consent to it and concur in it?

Of course there will be ample time.  We want it talked over with the people who are interested, those whose locations are involved.  I want to know, yes or no, as to whether you will be satisfied in case we satisfy them?

I understand you people very well  – that you consider the principle involved in this.  It is to protect this principle that we want to have a compromise settlement.  All of you outside of that leased portion are the gainers by the rental price that this land brings.  Only those who are within that leased tract are the persons affected, and if we can make a compromise settlement by which those people will be fully protected you people ought to be satisfied.  Now I put the question to you again.  Are you satisfied to leave it to their decision?

HERBERT WELSH:  I would like to say that I reside outside of this enclosure that is to be made there, but of course it displeases me just as much as though I were included within that lease.

You say that this is already settled  – this Lemmon lease, but as we understand it we have the privilege of deciding upon a proposition of this kind by a three-fourths vote and we did so.  We voted to lease a certain tract of land.  More than that was included in the Lemmon lease.  Those who took it upon themselves to give this additional lease  – other than what we had already outlined  – they should carry the odium of what has been done.  Speaking for myself, if I were living inside that enclosure and they wanted to compromise with me, I would say “Let those cattlemen hitch up their wagons and come to my place, tear down my house and build it outside of the fence.” What I wish to infer by saying that is that the additional amount of land is against our good will  – it is against our will that such is going to be leased.

JOHN GRASS:  Do I understand that this tract of land  – what is termed the Lemmon lease is not to be as it was originally described?

DR. GRINNELL:  Substantially, yes.

JOHN GRASS:  If that is the case then I would like to wait and see a decision that would  be brought about in the courts by a lawyer who has this in hand for us.

It seems that this trouble is not settled yet.  We have given our understanding and our reasons for signing the petition and deciding on a piece of land where no one was living  – it seems this Lemmon lease included some families and that is altogether against what we decided upon and our reasons for signing it.

We have had a lawyer take this case before the court and he said he should notify us Indians when he had done something in the matter.  We have heard nothing from it.  We never knew it was decided.  We are listening yet.  We did not know but what it was still going on in the courts and the decision was still pending.  We thought that when we would explain it to you just exactly how we entered into this agreement here and you understood it you would understand what was our intention in the first place, but it seems that it is not according to our wishes. It is something else, according to somebody else’s views, and, if such is the case, of course I cannot say anything any further.

DR. GRINNELL:  My friends, I told you when I spoke a little while ago that this thing was done more than three months ago and now it could not be undone.  I tried to explain to you that what we call the Lemmon lease was signed February 1st in Washington, just about the time some of you people were down there.  That is done.  It is finished.  It is ended.  You hired a lawyer in Washington and we went before the court and the decision was against the Indians.  This was two or three weeks ago. I supposed you knew it.  I supposed it had been told you a long time ago.

Now that lease includes some families.  What we want to do is to protect those families  – to keep their stock from running in with the cattlemen’s stock  – to keep their (sic: cattlemen’s) stock from running over their hay meadows and eating them and trampling them down and getting in among their gardens and, in winter, from breaking down their fences and getting into their hay stacks.  The question now is, do you people here, all of you, want to see Thunder Hawk and those families who live up on Grand River protected or do you want to see them ruined?

I would rather see them protected and, especially since protecting them will make the shape of this piece of land that has been leased to Mr. Lemmon, more nearly like the pipe-shaped piece you have been talking about.  Helping and protecting these people who are within this lease from harm would not cost anyone who lives outside of it one cent of money. It will simply be saving these people and their crops.

Col. McLaughlin and I want to fix things on this Reservation so that nobody will be harmed by the leasing of this land but that everybody will be benefited in some degree.  I should like to hear some of your principal men speak about this

JOHN GRASS:  We are waiting to hear from our attorney and you say that this has already been finished and settled and nothing can be done whiles we hear different news from the East.  It seems that you are pulling us in opposite directions.  We do not like to give it up until we hear from our attorney.  If it is settled we will be perfectly willing to talk something else then.

THUNDER HAWK:  In the first place I was opposed to this.  I was the only one that held out against that.  You were all willing to lease the land and carried me by storm.  Now he says it is down to me and if I make a proposition that you think would be for my benefit will you try to arrange it for me satisfactorily?

When the Indians first were considering this proposition they decided that they would lease a part of their land and when they had decided I followed suit.  It was the understanding that the Agent & myself & others were to go & designate the boundaries of that, but it never was done.

My friend Lemmon, I think he has added to what we proposed to let him have.  I started from the Western boundary of the reservation and counted those half-mile stones  – the division stones  – and counted until I reached thirty miles.  My friend, you have gone way beyond that.  It was understood that they were to avoid all settlements.  That was the understanding at the time.  Now this line was to run down Sou7th and to take in the valley of the Grand River 3 miles north of Grand River and run due West and make a loop around so as to leave out all the settlements that would be within the enclosure and cross the South side and come East again 3 miles South of Grand River and come down on a parallel line with where it started from.  That is the way I would like it arranged.  I request that my home, or any man’s home, shall be included in the fence.  That is the proposition I would like to make.

DR. GRINNELL:  My friends, I may say to you again that about February 1st in Washington the Commissioner of Indian Affairs marked off a certain part of your land and leased it.  Mr. Lemmon did not make out this lease.  It was done in the Commissioner’s Office.  Mr. Lemmon took what land the Commissioner marked off for him and signed the lease.  That was done more than three months ago.  A suit was brought in the courts in behalf of the Indians against the Secretary of the Interior and the Indians lost.  The Indians were thrown out of court and the Secretary of the Interior won.  That means that the lease was approved by the court and cannot be changed.  There are about 24 families in the Grand River within this lease.  These families ought to be protected.  I hope you will see that they are.  Of course we all know very well that the committee that was appointed to lay out this boundary line never laid it out.  It was in Washington in the Commissioner’s office that the shape of the land was marked off.  And what you had agreed among yourselves and what you wished marked off was not considered at all.  That is not pleasant for me to say nor for you to hear but it is true. Thunder Hawk, the principal man of those who live up there on the Grand River, is the man most affected.  Are you willing to assent to my proposition that he will agree to?

I think it would be a good idea if you will let me make the suggestion that we now adjourn this council and give you an opportunity to talk it over and then tomorrow we can come together on this same subject and consider it again.  Then, if you will all be here tomorrow at one o’clock, the same as you were today, we will call the meeting adjourned.

JOHN GRASS:  I wish to speak for myself.  Tomorrow I will not be here.  My wife is sick and I can only stay away from home this one day.  I have said all I have to say and I am listening now for what Mr. Springer (their attorney) has to say of our case and so long as I am not notified of the result of the case he has in charge I cannot say anything else.

RED FISH:  My friends, when anything belongs to a person and he chooses to sell it on certain conditions I think that his conditions ought to be respected.  It may not affect some of us but we are all Indians together and we are to look after each other’s interests and the reason we designated this piece of land in the shape of a pipe was because it had to be that shape in order to avoid all settlements.  There has been lately a fad of selling land but if we keep leasing it and cutting off portions of the Reservation we will have nothing left to sell unless we resort to the Sun.

As you appear before us we think that you are good men and we are very much pleased with your appearance and we were in hope and we are still in hope that you will arrange things according to the understanding that we had and the way we intended.  We have been much displeased with those people deciding things away off over the air where we cannot see them nor hear their voices.

COL. McLAUGHLIN:  My friends, just a word and I will close, as Dr. Grinnell has announced adjournment of the council for today.  Dr. Grinnell, being very prudent and very cautious and careful of weighing every word that he says to the Indians, he stated that he did not think that the Walker lease would be approved, giving it as his opinion that such would be the case.  As it stands, now, with the injunction suit dismissed,  the Walker lease might be approved if the Secretary saw fit, as there is no injunction preventing him from doing so.  He is not enjoined, the case being dismissed.  But I feel confident that we are in a position to protect you insofar as the Walker lease is concerned and that a report of the facts and conditions as they exist will influence the Secretary to pay no further attention to that lease.

But with the Lemmon lease it is much different.  It was entered into and approved by the Secretary before the injunction suit was brought by you people.  The injunction suit being now dismissed, the decision being against you people, the Lemmon lease is in full force and will remain so, and now, my friends, all we can do is to protect the locations involved within this lease, and that we can only accomplish through the goodwill of Mr. Lemmon in the matter.  We have  talked with him and made certain propositions to him and he has made certain propositions to us by which Thunder Hawk and all of those people within the lease will be well protected by a proper understanding and a compromise settlement.  Now we wish you to consider this matter, and, as Dr. Grinnell has adjourned the council until one o’clock tomorrow, I would like very much to have especially the leading men, the chiefs and the leading men remain, and, if you wish to meet us in council any time this evening we will respond to your call at any time this evening or even late into the night.

DR. GRINNELL:   My friends, a good friend of yours has just now suggested something that may perhaps hurry things up a little bit if you feel like accepting it.  A long time ago, when the question first came up of the leasing of this land, you appointed a committee consisting of Thunder Hawk, Louis Primeau, Antoine DeRockbraine and the Agent, to mark out these lines.  At that time you were willing to trust these men with this important duty of marking out the lines.  Are you willing now to trust them with this much smaller duty of arranging for any compromise that may be suggested?

If you feel like doing that then arrange to meet with us here this afternoon or this evening and the whole matter can be talked over and perhaps settled in a short time.  What is your opinion of that?

JOHN GRASS:  The committee of four that we selected to designate the boundaries of this lease, they were instructed what part of the Reservation they wished to lease and with those instructions we knew they would carry out our wishes but this case is quite different.

MISS COLLINS:  My friends, we have had this matter before us now for a year, a year next month, and we have stood for one thing, and that is that the Indians of Standing Rock Reservation have a right to say whether they will lease their land or not and how they will lease it.  A hard fought battle we have gone through.  The Indians have stood up wonderfully well for their rights.  There has been nothing, so far as I know, wrong, as far as the Indians are concerned, going on about this matter.  Now we have the highest authority, the President of the United States.  We have carried it up and up until we reached the President of the United States.  The President has kindly taken the matter up himself to look into it.  A year ago last fall when you made your agreement you selected a committee that you instructed to lay out the lease and you expected them to lay out the lease so as to leave out friends and relatives outside the lease.  Can we not trust the committee, the four, to talk it over with them?

Let them meet with Col. McLaughlin and Dr. Grinnell and with Mr. Lemmon and see if you cannot come to some agreement by which fences on either be run around them or some way so as to leave our friends not inside the enclosure.  There ought to be some way arranged.  That can be done.  I believe it can be done.  I want you to consider the matter.  I have no authority to say to you do it or do not do it.  It is your matter entirely.  I want you to think like men, to act like men, and talk with these good men, and talk with these gentlemen as if they were men to same as you, and come to some agreement.  I would be delighted to see this thing ended because you must plant your fields and look out for your future.  Let us come to some agreement.  If you will tell these gentlemen what it is you want to do I believe we can come to an agreement.  I would like to see the Indians on Standing Rock Reservation at work building up homes and going on as you have begun to do and by and by you will be citizens and will not have to ask the Great Father when we can sell or lease our lands or when we can leave the Reservation.  Now my friends, consider this matter like men.

HERBERT WELSH:  I understand that when the Commissioner visited here he said that “when he would fire off a gun he could never recall the powder that would explode from the gun.”  It is known that this rule was first promulgated  – that it should take three-fourths of the male adults to consummate any trade.  It is in conformity with this law that we stand as we do and after we have decided  – three-fourths of us have decided upon a certain thing, we cannot change our views upon the matter.

GEORGE SHIAKA:  Of course I admit that we are Indians but at the same time we are human beings and whenever they make a proposition to us and ask us our views on a matter we present certain things and come to a conclusion and they then take it away from us and do not consider us at all.

I will admit that we are Indians but think now we belong to the general government and under the laws of the United States and whenever we say something in our defense or look after our affairs it ought to be considered as they would treat the white children.  We did not know  – our delegation we sent to Washington  – that this thing had already been decided upon.  We thought we had the privilege of stating our case to the government and what our intentions  were when we signed this paper.  Had we known it had been settled before it would have been useless for us to have gone forward.

Whenever they sent a commission here to treat with us for a portion of our Reservation we never refuse and are not particular about holding them to their contract; because they fail to fulfill any part of their contract we do not say “Give us back this land.”  I do not see why they should be so particular with us.  Knowing and being already instructed by the people of this Reservation before I went to Washington, I was told to stand out for thirty miles square in the irregular shape that we agreed to lease.  I could not do much and I put it in the hands of a lawyer.  Whenever that lawyer writes me it was decided against us, then it will be time for me to change.




DR. GRINNELL:  My friends, we have come together again today after the adjournment of yesterday to continue the consideration of the compromise which shall protect the people living on Grand River within the Lemmon lease.  Yesterday, when we talked about it, it was a new thing to you.  You did not understand it very clearly, but now you have had a night to sleep on it, perhaps it will be plainer to you.  Yesterday you did not know until I told you that the court at Washington had decided against the Indians in the suit which you brought to set aside the Lemmon lease.  This is true.  It was decided more than a month ago, nearly forty days ago, and Louis Primeau has, in his possession, telegrams showing what the decision has been.  It is very important that those of your people who live within this leased land should be protected from the cattle which will be all about them.  They are the ones chiefly affected by the lease and they are the ones who ought to be considered first.  We want to learn what you think about it.

Now we will ask Louis Primeau to read the telegrams that he has received from Washington and then we can all talk about this matter.

Louis Primeau read the following telegrams and explained them in the Sioux language


Washington, D.C., May 22

L.P.Primeau, Fort Yates, N.D.

Suit decided against Indians but their cause is just.  Can appeal within two yrs.

William M. Springer.


Washington, D.C., 22.

L.P.Primeau, Fort Yates, N.D.

We advise Indian council to accept Lemmon lease on liberal compromise agreements.



HERBERT WELSH:   Relative to this proposition here and what you spoke of last evening, some of the people present did not quite understand it and for the protection of those who unfortunately would be within the enclosure of the Lemmon lease and, in order to save you too much trouble and too much talk, we decided upon four men to come and talk over the compromise with you, but one of the four has gone home, John Grass, and we have chosen another men to take his place, the place of John Grass who has returned home, and that is Mad Bear.  I wished to mention it.

I wish to say something further on this land proposition.  That is, I understand just exactly what you told us and how you understand this trouble, how the Indians understand things and what they supposed they were doing.  I understand what you told me yesterday, that the Secretary of the Interior signed the Lemmon lease and it has become a law.  I also understand that the Indians, when they came here in council and proposed to lease a certain part of their reservation it was thirty miles square.  That is what they thought they were doing.  And I understand that the Commissioner of Indian Affairs drafted another lease according to his own views and the only difference between the two leases is that it is farther around the one the Commissioner outlined than the one originally intended by the Indians.  I also told you yesterday that the Indians of this Reservation, assembled in council here, had decided upon a certain thing and they did not feel as if they would like to go ahead and tear down what they had built up.  I will make an illustration:

The same as a man standing afoot and four mounted men riding him down and going on over him.

If this is the way the government intends to serve us we have nothing further to say in the matter.

I would like to ask you a question.  The area of land that we intended to lease was 900 square miles and how much more is added to this lease than we had intended to lease in the first place?  Who is the man that has caused this to be done in this way?

DR. GRINNELL:  I will answer the question that my friend asks of me.  The land that is included in the Lemmon lease is about one quarter more in area that the land that the Indians said among themselves that they would lease.  You understand that there were no maps of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Department at Washington, or elsewhere, and the people in Washington did not know where the lines ran, but the person who marked off the lines on such maps as they had was the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

GEORGE SHIAKA:  I have been thinking all night over the council we had yesterday.  This is the decision I have come to.  At the end of this lease, which is to be for five years, the cattle and horses will have eaten off all the grass and those who are there inside the lease will starve to death.  A lot of those who are included in that lease are related to me and I would hate to see them lose anything.  Any of their stock.

Now I would like to ask my friend Mr. Lemmon to build his fence so as to leave those people out who are inside the lease now.  Then we could get along a great deal better what way.  If this gentleman sits here and does not say anything we are going to make an awful lot of work for the Department and also for ourselves.  Of course we are waiting to hear from the white people who are in Washington, but we can also decide for ourselves which will be the best way for us to get along.

Now I would like to ask Mr. Lemmon if he had determined on fencing this in.  Would he be willing to help these people.  They would like to make a proposition to Mr. Lemmon.  Will he agree to it  – something that would be beneficial to the Indians?

Maybe if he would not agree to this I think he might want us to help him out sometime.  We would like to hear from Mr. Lemmon and hear what he has to say.  We are tiring ourselves out and these men from Washington and I would like to hear from him  – what compromise he has to make.  You told us to think over this and so I was thinking over it all night and I told you the decision I had come to.

DR. GRINNELL:  What my friend Shiaka has said to us today and what we have all heard is just what we tried to say to you yesterday and what you all heard.  We want you people to agree to an arrangement with Mr. Lemmon by which those  people living inside the lease will be fenced off and shall not be exposed to the cattle that are inside of the big fence.

Col. McLaughlin and I have talked with Mr. Lemmon and asked him if he would do that very thing that Shiaka speaks about now and he said he was willing to do that or something of the kind.  We speak to you about it here in open council because we do not want anything covered up in this matter.  We want it to be understood by everybody.  Mr. Lemmon is willing to do something of that kind and if the people who are within the lease are willing to have him do it the matter can all be arranged and everything will be smooth and pleasant.

The question now is, are you people willing to have that done?  Are you willing to have these men, who are inside the lease, protected?

One of the speakers said that four men had been appointed to decide this matter and to counsel with Col McLaughlin and myself.  If these four men who have been chose why can they not meet Col. McLaughlin and myself this afternoon and talk with whole thing over?

RED FISH:   The Indians that decided to lease thirty square miles of their Reservation are here and they are all here to listen to it.

You said that there would be about 24 families inside the lease.  You asked us what would be the best way to do to protect these people that were inside this lease.  I do not believe that if you built them houses of money over there it would be of any benefit to them.  Even in a year or two years the grass from here to the Porcupine Hills would all be ruined.  The reason that the Indians leased this land was because each one wanted to receive an equal share of the revenue derived from the surplus land.  I fear that you will use too much of our money in protecting those families living within the lease.  The protection that will furnish them will come from the money that would accrue from the use of this land and will reduce the per capita payment to be made from that.  He also told us that, in addition to the $3. per capita payment with this lease money, it would be $10. a year, but it seems to me that he has exploded his place in the air.  I was very grateful and I bought a lot of tobacco on time thinking I was going to have enough money to pay for it, but I guess I won’t.

When we mentioned that we were perfectly willing to lease a piece of land 30 miles square we did not mean it would be a square block, but when we said in the shape of a pipe it was in order to get around those settlements here and that was our reason for making it out in that shape.  The Reservation right straight across here in a direct line would be 68 miles across and that is not a very large tract of land.  We thought that irregular shape  – the shape of a pipe  – it that was all figured in a square it would amount to 900 squares miles as we first intended.  Our principal reason for the Indians ever deciding or thinking of leasing a part of this Reservation was for fear they were going to drive cattle on the Reservation here as the Agent had told us.

MAD BEAR:  When our delegation returned from Washington last winter they brought the news that they had employed an attorney to bring suit against the government to restrain them from leasing the land, and they wanted the Indians here to concur in what they had done in Washington, but they all seemed as if they didn’t want much to do with it and here yesterday they used it as a shield to go behind  – that they were waiting to hear from the man that has their case in charge.  If they had thought so much of it at the time they would have concurred in what we did and be grateful for the work we did.  Now they have gone to the trouble to send these gentlemen from Washington to adjust matters and it is no use for you to say that this matter is not settled.  If it was not settled they would not tell you so.  I understand and I am convinced that it is settled and the best thing we can do would be to make a compromise  – that will be best under the circumstances.

In yesterday’s council the gentleman here who has come to befriend us told you that the people that will be within this Lemmon lease are the ones who will suffer by this lease and they are the ones to be consulted and we want to try to do something to protect them from the cattle within there.  Whilst it is to our interest to look after it, at the same time it does not interest and affect like it does those that will be within the enclosure  – and I think that those people who are living within the enclosure  – any arrangement that would be satisfactory to them ought to be satisfactory to us.  That is the way I feel.

In the council with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs when he was here a few days ago we asked some questions and he said we had counseled with the white people long enough  – when we asked a question or a number of questions we were to expect an answer or a reply and not keep going right on and forgetting all about it and not even giving them a chance to answer the questions we have put.  In order to get an understanding as to just what a position we were in and what answer we would expect, we designated Miss Collins and Louis Primeau and Rev. Philip De Louria to speak first to explain our case and ask the questions we want and then after they get through let the Indians get up and talk as suits them.

In the council with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs I asked the question  – “Whose fault it was.”  – “ Who was responsible for this misrepresentation of this petition?”  “I would like to know who is to blame for it?”  He said, “Do you wish me to answer now?”  I said, “Yes,” but I did not receive any answer.  We were sitting in council as you see us today when we decided upon leasing that tract of land we have mentioned repeatedly, the 30 miles square, and I think that these people who are living within that enclosure and Mr. Lemmon here had better talk that matter over.  Let the fence run in such a way as will be agreeable to both parties and it will suit me.

I wanted to say that when Walking Shooter there was talking with the Commissioner he tried to cross-question him so much and tangle him up and I told him I wanted to say something and when I got up to speak they had closed the council for the day and I did not get a chance to ask the question I wanted to.  Also Miss Collins rose at that time to say something and they told her to sit down.  They made us both sit down.

Hereafter, when you Indians are expecting a lawyer to look after your affairs, you should stand together and that would give the man strength to work for you.  A number of people can raise a log.  No matter how large it is, if there are enough, they can lift.  One man cannot.

You had better decide upon it because we know that the Lemmon lease has been decided upon and the next best thing to do is to make a satisfactory arrangement.  When I was down to Oak Creek they had selected me to go to Washington and look after this lease and we said we must stand by the original plan  – to lease what the Indians intended to lease.  After they heard that the Commissioner had advertised to lease a larger part of the Reservation than they had intended to lease.  They had expected me to make certain concessions if they thought it for the best interests of the Indians to increase the revenue from our lands they might lease a strip on the Western boundary.

Whenever you decide upon a thing in council you ought to try to understand it and stand by what you say, not part understand it one way and the others another and the next day some say, “I don’t understand it that way.”  You ought to do business right.

Walking Shooter tells me to stop talking but I have got more to say.  I just wanted to tell them here before the council  – there was a proposition made in regard to the Lemmon lease.  We did make a proposition to the Secretary or the Commissioner.  He denied signing it.  We said he did sign it and I don’t see why he denied it.  When we decided this proposition to consider the lease you people here cannot tear down what the people have done.  You haven’t the authority to dictate terms outside of what the nation did.

HERBERT WELSH:  It is the decision of the Indians in council that we agree to lease a tract of land 30 miles square.  The Secretary of the Interior does not have anything against us or we haven’t anything against him but he has gone beyond our agreement on the lease proposition.  We understand, we Indians, that the Department is trying to make us agree to the additional portion that they themselves have agreed to lease.  If we were to do that we are not carrying out what has been made for us as a law.  We have heard the telegrams that have been received and read by Louis Primeau in regard to the attorney we had employed at Washington, also the results of their work.  Our lawyer also said that he could appeal our case within two years.  Do you understand that?

If I should say, “Yes it  is a very good scheme for you to protect and do something that would protect those Indians within that enclosure,”  that would be an admission that I agreed to the original lease that the Commissioner of Indian Affairs took upon himself to lease, and, as I said before, of course if you want to ride me down, as a I said a while ago, while I am afoot, I would rather that you would ride me down.

TWO BEARS:  This lease proposition is a thing that has been the subject with which we have had to do for a long time and I have been trying to understand all that there is in it.  I wish to say first a certain thing  – that when this lease proposition first came up I said everything against it but when the Commissioner said that he was going to drive the cattle in on us I began to have fear.

It was mainly on that account that I was willing to consent to lease this 30 miles square, but the Department did not decided upon our agreement but rather they decided upon their own agreement, but if the Great Father is going to decide this matter, then I would say that I go right back on my own proposition.  I am in favor, or rather I consent that whatever Mr. Lemmon should do in regard to this question I will be satisfied.  The men that are living inside of this enclosure have brains.  They know what is best for them so they themselves can make a proposition of benefit to themselves.

ROSEBUD:  I wish to say a few words to you gentlemen from Washington, but I would like to say that I do not intend to make any complaints because I did not have a chance to speak on this subject.

For the sake of the presence of our former agent I wish to say a few words.  You were our agent here and you have instructed us to learn the ways of the white people and make a living.  It is you wish that you should look ahead to the coming generations.  I have already mentioned that, in one way, we wee that we are progressing in such a way as to benefit ourselves.  You told us to put in crops, but we could not do it.  Since we have failed in raising crops you instructed us to try stock-raising. We have tried that, but if there is no rain and the ground is dry the cattle are lost just the same. For this reason the Indians on the Grand River  – there is not one there that does not own at least a head of stock  – the reason why they could not spare this land is that our cattle are increasing  – also our children, and I have been wondering how it is when you see us in this state that you allow these gentlemen to use our land for their stock.  And for this reason I am displeased.  If there were ten strands of wire on a fence during a severe winter the cattle could break through and get into it just the same.  Another danger is that should there be any dead animals within this enclosure the blame would naturally be put upon the Indians.  The why I am displeased is that they are trying to divide these neighborhoods up on the Grand River by the building of this fence.  Even if the fence is built very strong our stock can get into it.

In accordance with the instructions of this telegram, that has just been read, that we were to make a settlement smoothly, that is my wish.  It has been stated that this 30 miles square was going to be in a square form  We did not intend that it should be in a square block.  It could be long and not so wide.  This 30 miles square, that we outlined or agreed to lease, will hold a lot of cattle.  I see that our speakers here, a number of them, are living on the Missouri River and they will have an easy time sleeping while we Indians, who are living there at that fence, will have a hard time.

I would like to ask a question of this gentleman here.  Whose and is this that we are living on?

DR. GRINNELL:  I think it belongs to these Standing Rock Indians who are still sitting around here.

 Rosebud gets really mad and accuses the White Men

ROSEBUD:   If that is the case I do not see that that fence can come over here.  You have asked us to leave our land but we did not agree to it.  The Commissioner has told us that, if were not willing to lease a portion of our Reservation,  the cattle were going to be driven on us and for this main reason we concluded to consent to lease a portion of our Reservation.  This lease that we had decided upon took in the land that nobody occupies, where nobody is living.  How is it that, since that land is ours and we agreed to lease a certain portion of it, yet you were not satisfied  – you wanted more land than we could spare.

Supposing now, if you had a piece of property and you would loan it out for fives and the person you loaned it to would lengthen the term.  Would you be pleased with it?  No, you would say, “This is my property and it was that I was willing to loan it for a certain period of time, not you?”  So, this was all that we were willing to spare  – all we could spare  – and we  were willing to least it.

Our Agent told us that whenever there was a white man that bid the highest on this lease proposition that man would appear before us in council and enter into a contract.  I do not remember ever saying that Mr. Lemmon could come over here  – that we were willing to lease a part of our Reservation to him.

Some of the Indians went to Washington and when they returned from Washington I think we had an open council in which we asked what they had done while they were in Washington.  They never told us anything of what they have said the afternoon at that time.  These Indians told us that while they were in Washington they did not have anything to do with this Lemmon Lease but Mr. Primeau would talk in some corner and he had a great deal to do with this Lemmon lease.

The Agent told us that if there was a white man going to get that lease that white man would appear before us and make an agreement with us in open council, but that has never been fulfilled.  When this white man comes before us in open council and makes such an agreement with us the conditions and terms we would agree upon would then be settled  – the term of the lease would not exceed 5 yrs.

We agreed to lease this 30 miles square and the Great Father is wanting to lease more than what we agreed on.  The only way to settle this is not to agree to any more than what we ourselves had agreed to lease.  We had agreed on this 30 square miles to lease and you gentlemen have come from Washington and the Inspector here has also come from Washington.  He knows us Indians well.  We want to bring up some more different subjects, but we are talking this lease proposition too long.  I suppose it is your wish to look ahead and see how long you want to live well.  This is also our wish.  God created us to live on this earth.  Our Agent’s instructions are to obey the commandments of God and this is just the time now to obey such orders  – to make this decision smoothly about the lease proposition.  I am an Indian but I have  followed these orders very closely  – also my family.

McLaughlin swears that he & Dr. Grinnell had nothing to do with the lease

COL. McLAUGHLIN:   I wish to reply to some of my friend Rosebud’s remarks.  I understand sufficient of the Sioux language to get the general meaning of his speech and my friend, Rosebud, in this talk would seem to blame me for being a party to this lease, that I had something to do with bringing it about.  I had nothing to do with this lease matter of yours.  It is true I was called in several times to the Committee and also into the Interior Office to counsel with them in relation to it, but always in the presence of your delegation or with Louis.  The lines were determined by the officials of the Department in the Interior Office, and, in justice to your delegation, I must say that they worked faithfully for your interests whilst there and tried in every way to have these lines modified.

Dr. Grinnell and myself are not here asking for any lease or to increase your leased portion at all.  As you all understand, and as we told you yesterday, the lease is made and the lines cannot be changed and we are out here to try to make some arrangement by which those within that lease will be protected.  It matters not whether your ideas have not been carried out or not, the lines are determined by the wording of the lease along certain lines and they will remain there. No change can be made in these lines now.  It is our desire now to protect those people, to protect them just the same as though they were outside that leased portion.  You all understand   this.  We explained it to you yesterday and again today and it is unnecessary for one speaker after another to get up and argue along these same lines.

The question now before you is the compromise settlement we desire to make with Mr. Lemmon and these who are directly interested.  We are not here to make a lease, to ask you for any more land.  We are here to try to protect those who are within the lease.

Bulls Ghost demands to see some written authority from the Great Father

BULLS GHOST:  I am inside the lease and I would like to ask a few questions as to what will be the best way for me to do to get along inside the lease.  We expect to lease a certain part of our land and you gentlemen must be receiving more pay that we expect to get or else you wouldn’t be so persistent in seeing that this thing is carried out.  We are the ones who are to receive pay or are to receive a revenue from the land that is leased.  I suppose you are good men and you come from Washington and you are not going to receive anything, and yet I do not see why you are so persistent in carrying out these lines.

I am a ward of the Government and the Government takes care of me and when they send a man out to treat with me they tell me that he is a good man.  Then they say that I listen to what he says and I give him what he asks for and not I have not anything left but a small reservation.  You two gentlemen who have been sent from the Great Father here, if you have got a paper from the Great Father to show that protection he is offering for us who happen to be unfortunate I would like to have you read it to us.  Show us what it is.  When a man comes here he always comes with certain manuscripts and authority and what the Great Father wants him to do.  You have not read any paper from the Great Father showing what he intends to do for the people living within this lease.

I want to concur with what my friend Rosebud said here.  God created the earth and we live upon it and this land belongs to us and we ought to be consulted when a proposition to lease it is to be made, sold or leased or whatever it might be.  We ought to have something to say about it.  The head men and chiefs who have spoken in this council today and yesterday also have told your, and they have spoken the sentiment of the Indians, at large, on this Reservation, how they described this piece of land that they intended to lease and whatever they said was just.  They speak the sentiment of the Indians on this Reservation.  I would like a reply from you in regard to this  – whether you have any such papers or not  – what you intend to do with this lease?

DR. GRINNELL:  I have nothing in writing.  That has got to be a matter of negotiation between Mr. Lemmon and yourselves.  I have talked with Mr. Lemmon enough to know that he will build a fence around these people who are in the lease there and he, himself, will pay for the fence so none of these Indians will be charged a cent for it  – a big fence which will give them a lot of land in it and in that way the white man’s cattle will be out.

BULL GHOST:  Even though two men like Lemmon should come to convince me that it would be a good thing to fence in I would not believe it. It seems that these two gentlemen from Washington do not consider it sacred at all that we made an agreement and the requisite number of people consummated a transaction of that kind and then they disregard it altogether and fixed things according to their own notions.  This lease taking in so many of our people up along there  – if that was changed so as to have the lease run along where there is not anybody living  – we could come to an agreement that way.  We Indians did not understand anything about this  – we did not know anything about it until you came here and talked to us about it,  I mean this decision as to the lease, the court decision.  We want to know if this is all now, if this attorney that we had has not anything more to do with it?

BEAR FACE:  I have got a few words to say here and I wish you would listen to me.  I believe in everything the government says that will benefit the Indians.  There has been much said by the Indians and it is for reason I have stood up here  We have been informed of a certain decision by the court.  For my own self I believe that decision, but I would like to ask Mr. Lemmon what has been decided for us.  I would like to ask him is it not a fact, or is it so, that we are going to get $7 per capita out of this revenue from the lease?  $7 every year.  Yesterday we were told that if we lived that long, a year from now, every person would be entitled to $7.  We are told by the white man that those of us who are trying to get property are generally the ones that die off the quickest.

One question I would like to ask.  Suppose a man who is living today and is entitled to the $7 to be paid next year should die before that time.  Will his share be paid out to his children just the same?  There is one more think I would like to say.  I can see by the feelings of the Indians that whenever one makes a long speech he makes himself very disagreeable to the others. Therefore I will cut my speech short.

Col. McLaughlin has been our agent for a long time.  When he was agent it was always his wish to do something for us by which we could better our condition.  He told us, “I will now take you on this road until you come to a certain place, then, if you have another agent, he will continue leading you on this same road.”  We have remembered the Great Father’s Law, that is the three-fourths majority law, and since I myself have been keeping the white man’s way if there is any way I could hold the Indians to better their condition I have always raised my voice in such case.  I want to mention a certain thing that has been very disagreeable to me.  It has been the custom whenever we desire to do anything or are going to do anything, we generally notify the Agent beforehand.  I told the Agent that the council should be opened with a prayer.  He told me to make such an opening by prayer outside.  This I did not understand  – whether he meant outside the meeting house or outside the Reservation.

I would like to say in closing that, since we have been dragging this subject along, we ought to conclude by consenting to what proposition may be drawn up in regard to the matter.

A “mixed blood” reveals distressed feelings about his ancestry

JOSEPH CLAYMORE:  I would like to say something.  I am a mixed-blood.  I know that there is not a white man that has any use for me and I can also say that there is not one of you full-bloods who has any use for me.  Look at you men, all sitting around here with these two gentlemen who are speaking to you here.  It is you, yourselves, that have come to the decision that you have made today.  I can say the way I see it  – you are trying to make children out of these two gentlemen.  You people consented to lease some land and I was the last one that consented to it.  They have made that agreement and they have told you about it.  These gentleman are going to speak with Mr. Lemmon about these 24 families who are inside that lease and find out what would be the best way to do for these people to get along.  What I don’t like about it is that you are bringing other things up that are different from what they came here to talk about.  You all claim to be men and whatever we do ought to do it right.  If that is the case why is it you behave like this?  We Indians of Standing Rock Reservation selected four men yesterday  – I though that we selected these four men to talk with these two gentlemen about this lease.  The way I understand it is that these two gentlemen are here to find out what will be the best way for these 24 families that are within this lease to get along.

You also spoke about Louis Primeau getting a telegram here.  We understand it  – this is settled now.

When I said there was neither any white man or Indian had any for use I will tell you what I meant by that.  My father was a white man and I do not know how to talk English, I do not know how to write.  That does not make any difference  – I have got eyes and I can see which way the white men go and I can follow them up.  Whatever way you Indians here were raised I was raised just the same way.  Whatever I have earned, I have earned by the sweat of my brow and I have often been very tired.  I never stole it from anybody.  The Indians and the white people were enemies and the Indians stole horses from me twice, then the white people also stole horses from me twice.  I live among the Indians and whatever happens to the Indians I expect to have the same thing happen to me.

You said the Agent told you that the cowmen wished to lease part of your Reservation, you said that you refused at the time but show me the squaw man or the half-breed who learned you that and I will put him out.  I would like to ask these two gentlemen a question about that.  What I would like to ask is  – now this lease is to be fenced and supposing some other stock that did not belong on this lease would be put in there  – if they should come outside the fence in the other parts of the Reservation, what would be the result?  This is the reason that I consented to this fence.  What suits me about this fence is that there would not be any other cattle allowed outside this fence on the Reservation.  That is why I am satisfied with the fence.

One time the Commissioner Jones was here he make a remark  – John Grass was the man who asked the question  – which was this: Would any Indian or mixed-blood on the Reservation having over 100 head have to pay one dollar a head? The Commissioner made the answer that Pine Ridge and Rosebud and Cheyenne Reservations were the ones that was meant for  – this $1 per head.  He also said that anybody who owned 100 head outside of this lease had to pay $1.20 a head  – more than 100 head I mean.  Scotty Phillips and a cousin of mine brought 1800 head and run them in on our Reservation.  Re LaPlant also brought 1000 head no longer than a week ago across and turned them loose on our Reservation.  William Benware brought in 600 head I know that they do not belong to him.  They belong to the Bank there at Everest.  He turned them loose, also.  I would be very much obliged to you if you would take pity on me and tell me who is going to look out for us  – for our rights.

DR. GRINNELL:  It is the Agent’s business to look out for those things and the Agent will look after it if he is told of it.

MAJOR BINGENHEIMER:  I will ask if there is anyone there that has not been reported to me?  I will se that they are taken off if they are here.

JOSEPH CLAYMORE:  That was last year  – I had Louis Primeau for interpreter and told you about it then.  There was a cattle inspector there at the time.  His name was Jim Nichols.  One of my sons belongs to that association.  He told me so at the time.  He said; “I understand you are driving those cattle off that are down there and if you do that any more I will have you arrested.”  The one who ought to look out for us is Major Bingenheimer and I have told him lots of times about things like that.  There are lots of mixed-bloods sitting here that understand this better than I do but we are afraid, we dare not speak up at all.  We are afraid.

You all know mighty well that this thing is decided now and I think the best thing for you to do is for you men to go and talk with these two gentlemen and fix it up the best you can about this lease, that is for those who are living inside the lease.

There is another thing I would like to ask.  They wanted the Agent to explain for them about this lease that they had talked about.  One of the gentlemen got up and said that there was only about a quarter over on the lease  – more than we consented to.  I can see that is what you people don’t like  I would like to ask him now a question and have him answer me, whether the government in the future will ever get us in another fix like this.

I will explain to you why I ask the question.  We Indians never said that we were going to lease such and such a strip of land, but by the laws that we are under whenever the government sees fit they will measure out such a strip of land and put it on us and then it will be our own, and if the future there is ever a question brought up about that it will have to be looked into, and whatever side would have the three-fourths that would be the side that it would be decided on.  The reason I mention this is, the main lot of the Indians to not like this one quarter being over the lease we agreed.  That is why I mention this.  It is time that you four men that have been selected and the chiefs should go to Mr. Lemmon and these two gentlemen and fix something up the best you can for the 24 families living inside the lease.  There is no other way out of it.  They did not send these two men from Washington as fools.  They know they have got brains. That is why they sent them here.  They will do it right.  One of them we had here with us for many years and some things maybe we didn’t do right, but he always made us to it the right way.  That is all I wish to say.  I wish to say some other things that we would like to have done here on this Reservation but we are talking about this lease and so I will not have a chance to speak about them.

The white people always change what is agreed to on all contracts after they reach Washington

GEORGE SHIAKA:  I am beginning to see the purpose of your visit here. I have said some things on this same subject when I was in Washington.  I understand when you said that the present lease takes in just one quarter more than what we agreed on to lease.  Whenever there is any kind of an agreement made between the Indians and other parties, even if they are made satisfactorily to both sides, whenever it gets to Washington there is always more included to change it.  That is what I am afraid of.  The reason why things always come about this way is that even a young boy  – a white boy  – could come here and say a great many things and we would believe him and agree to it, and he would go home and, even though he might deny certain things, yet you would believe his words quicker than ours.  That is generally the case when we do certain things.  Now, supposing that I should make a proposition with Mr. Lemmon  – that I should say that you and I will sit down together and will talk about this matter and come to some agreement.  You, yourselves, would be satisfied with it but certain white people would be more ready to believe him than to believe me.

Thunder Hawk has said that he was satisfied with any proposition that will be made as regards these Indians inside the lease.  While I was in Washing I came to some agreement, but the Great Father, himself, has agreed to certain other lease propositions.  Such propositions I will not agree to.  I will not consent to that, but any proposition that is made to those Indians inside that lease, I will agree to that.

Now I have a great many things today to speak of in this council yet we are confined to this one subject so that I have not said anything more than about this one subject.  I have just told you that I am in favor of making a proposition to those Indians.  I wish that you would make out these papers carefully and show them to my friend, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. I am greatly interested in my subject, but I will stop.

WALKING SHOOTER:  My friends, I should like to say a very few short words to you.  We are to make friends with these men sitting here.  We would like to know how much land Mr. Lemmon is going to fence off for those 24 families and have it written down.  Then we can meet in council and talk it over.  We want a little map made of it to show what the compromise would be and let the Indians meet to look it over.  I think it would suit you, too, if we had a chance to look this thing over and meet in council and talk among ourselves and come to some conclusion  – come to an agreement between ourselves.  It would be pleasing to both sides.  That is all I wish to say.  We are talking quite a lot so that is all I wish to say.

RED FISH:  My friends, I am a great talker and I have been made to sit there and I am just bursting to talk.  I told you that these Indians agreed to lease the portion of land that was not occupied.  I think that in this lease three things should be included for the Indians.  Inside that lease should there be any coal beds, Mr. Lemmon should keep his hands off.  Perhaps there might be some precious metals inside that lease.  He will also keep his hands off from that.  He shall not lay his hands on any precious stones or any other mineral that may be useful.  It seems to me there must be something very precious that he knows to be there.  I think that, before you go home, something ought to be said about these homes that are inside the lease.  That fence should go around them.  My friends, I do not blame you for this but I do blame the officials at Washington at the Department.  The Indians inside this lease will suffer a great deal and there should be some compromise made.  This is all that I would like to mention about the lease.

President Roosevelt  wants justice rendered as far as possible!

DR. GRINNELL:  My friends, a good many of you have talked and some of you have talked twice and a long time each one.  You have all kept very straight to the road we had marked out for ourselves except my friend Red Fish and he got wandering off on a side trail.  I want to back now to the lease question to say to you over again the whole trouble about the lease and the whole error about the difference in fixing the lines from what you agreed to and what the Commissioner marked out took place long before Col. McLaughlin or I were interested in this thing at all.  It is only within three or four weeks that this thing has come before us and the lease was signed back in February.

It was because of all the dissatisfaction and because of the complaints that you were making and that were being made for you in the East that Mr. Roosevelt, the President, about three weeks ago, wrote me a letter asking me if I would come out and try to settle things here.  The President does not want to see the Indians treated unjustly or, if they have been treated unjustly, he wants to have justice rendered as far as possible under the law.  When I got the President’s letter I went to Washington to see him and almost the first thing I said to him as, “It is no use for me to go out there unless Col. McLaughlin goes with me.”  So we came here, not to try to get any more land away from you but to try to help you, and now we have asked you people sitting around here to take pity on those of your relatives who are within that lease on Grand River, help them to get out of it.  We are not trying to get any more of your land to give to Mr. Lemmon but we are trying to get away some of Mr. Lemmon’s to give to you.

I am glad to see that so many of your leading men think it is best that these poor people, who have been fenced in there, should be taken out of the lease.  And so we will go ahead and make an arrangement with Mr. Lemmon and with the people who are inside of the lease and, if both of them can be satisfied, I am sure that everyone else will be.

And now before long Col. McLaughlin and I will be going away back to the East to our places and I am sure before he goes the Colonel would like to speak a few words to you, his children, so I will ask him now to address you and then to adjourn the meeting.

McLaughlin sums up the issues

COL. McLAUGHLIN:  My friends, I wish to explain and answer a few questions that Bear Face asked.  That was in regard to the per capita payment of the lease money, its distribution among you people. Mr. Lemmon is under bond to the Department to pay this money over to your Agent.  Mr. Lemmon does not pay the money to you but to your Agent, who will distribute the money among your people.  The amount of money, divided among the number of Indians that the Agent states are now on the rolls of this agency, would give to each man, woman and child about $7 per year.  The payment is made just the same as this per capita interest money is paid.  That is, the share of persons who have died within the year is paid to the heirs of such deceased persons, and every man that appears on the rolls that are now being paid will be paid the first payment of the lease money when they pay next year.  The Agent tells me that, instead of paying it annually, he is going to pay it semi-annually, that is twice a year, the first of June and the first of December.  So, in that case, it will be divided, the $7, making two payments of it which will be $3.50 each.  That, I think, answers the question in regard to the per capita payment.

Now in regard to the question raised by Red Fish.  Mr. Lemmon has not leased this land for the purpose of mining coal or taking rock from the Reservation of minerals of any kind even if he were to find it.  The lease would not permit that.  He simply wants the grass  – it is the grass that he wants for his stock to graze upon.  You simply loan this land to Mr. Lemmon for a period of five years.  It reverts to you at the expiration of that period, and, as I told you yesterday, I feel confident that you will receive fair treatment from Mr. Lemmon and any of his employees, and if any of his employees are persons not fit to remain in that country you will report to him and I am confident he will have no persons who should be improper persons on the Reservation.  I know that he will be your friend and I hope that you will all be friendly to him and his employes.

Now, my friends, we have discussed this matter very fully and I am pleased to see so many of your leading men and by the remarks here today I am confident you fully understand it.  We are now ready to proceed with the people who are more interested.  The only ones who are vitally interested are those within the lease and the committee that you mentioned, of four persons, and Dr. Grinnell and myself, and the Indians whose claims or locations are involved will meet together in some room.  We will prepare maps, and having traveled over the country, we are quite familiar with the locations, and I think we will be able to arrive at some satisfactory agreement.

We understand your side of the question fully and we have tried to make you understand our business here, which is to protect those of your people who are within that lease and Mr. Lemmon has expressed a willingness to meet the necessity for that protection.

Therefore we will now adjourn this council and meet with those of your committee and the Indians who are located within that leased tract.  It will take us some time to prepare the maps and a full understanding of the matter and we will be here some time yet, but we want to get through with this lease proposition first.

You are in here at the present time receiving your per capita money and I believe you are to receive your beef tomorrow and your rations the next day and you will have plenty of time to see us after we get through with this and we will be glad to see you after we get this thing off our minds that we were sent here for.

HERBERT WELSH:  Here in the past we have selected three witnesses whenever there was a question like this and we want three witnesses, Father Bernard, Reverend Deloria and Miss Collins.

The Council then adjourned


No.47:.1906..Indian Court ruling

June 23, 1906, The case of John Grass and the ownership of a house.

The Court convened.  The Judges were Crazy Walking, Eugene Yellow Lodge and Gray Eagle.  The case of John Grass and Mrs. John White Horse claiming ownership of a house.  John Grass  claims that John White Horse gave him the house, stable and corral.  The Judges decide that John Grass should have the whole thing, house, stable and corral.  Judges Grey Eagle and Yellow Lodge assenting and Crazy Walking dessenting.


No.48:.1906…The Chiefs are no longer powerful…Congress will eventually open your reservation for settlement

1906 Council considering re-lease of “Lemmon Pasture”

(Lease surplus lands OR politicians will open them for settlement)

October 30, 1906:  The council was called to order by U.S.Indian Agent, W.L.Belden, of the Standing Rock Indian Agency, who explained the object of the meeting, saying he wanted every Indian member of the council to consider well the matter before them, that of leasing their surplus lands.  He stated that the first thing to be done should be the selection of two interpreters by the council.

The names of Anoine DeRockbrain and Ben White were put before the council and unanimously elected interpreters.

Special Agent Thomas Downs then took the floor and said that he was very glad to again renew his acquaintance with the Indians of Standing rock, that he had spent several very pleasant months with them last fall and this spring, that he had met most of them in council before and he hoped this meeting would be as pleasant as previous ones had been.  He stated that the council was brought about by Mr. Brosious of the Indian Right’s Association, who was here some time last year and it appears talked with some of the leading members of the tribe living in the southern part of the reservation who were favorable to the leasing of any surplus lands.  He further explained that sooner or later there would be an effort on the part of politicians and others to have the reservation opened up for settlement, and, if the land is not being used, that it was a very good argument in their favor.

“If you are able to hold your lands,” said Col. Downs, “for ten years the increase in their value will, in my opinion, amount to more than $1,800,000.00, and, I think the only way you will be able to hold your lands will be to lease them, so there will be no good reason for opening the surplus lands up for settlement.  Your lands, if sold at this time, would bring much less than they would be worth in ten years.  It would be better for you and your children if you only leased your lands to hold them and get nothing for them, but this is not necessary, you will be able to get a fair price for your surplus lands if you will only lease them.  I understand that it is your desire for Father Bernard Strassmeier, Rev. D.W.Reed, and Rev. Herbert Welsh to be present at the council.”

At this time Joe Claymore arose and said he did not think that the parties mentioned should have anything to say in the matter of leasing but he saw no objection to their being present and acting as interpreters and witnesses.  Special Agent Downs then invited the chiefs and head men to occupy seats near the speaker’s stand, mentioning John Grass, Mad Bear and others, who came forward promptly and occupied seats designated.  Special Agent Downs then announced that the meeting was in the hands of the Indians in whose interest it was called.

JOHN GRASS, one of the Indian chiefs, spoke in substance as follows:

“I have often thought about what Special Agent Downs has stated to us, and we should consider these matters well before we decided what we will do in regard to leasing our surplus lands.  The President has made a rule that an Indian will be allowed to select his allotment, and speaking among ourselves we think this a good rule.  As all the people have not taken their allotments we do not realize that there will be any surplus lands outside the Lemmon pasture.”

“Some of our young men want to lease and, of course, we are willing to again lease the Lemmon pasture but, as we have not all taken our allotments, I am wondering what we will do in the matter. We have been told that we should take our allotments and that we should select the best land.  This will be very good for us and our children.  There was an Indian Rights man came here and had a meeting with some of the young men and expressed this settlement.  We have a custom that a 3/4th majority rule.  You may take it and consider it whether we will re-lease the Lemmon pasture for another five years, and lease for five years any additional lands we may have.”

CHASE FLYING said, I want to speak on this matter, too, and we all want to do the best for ourselves and children.  It is not for myself, but I am thinking it would be the best for the younger men to use any surplus lands for grazing their own cattle.  But I am in favor of leasing our occupied lands.

SHIAKA, said, I speak for my own thoughts.  If I had wanted to have someone to land me I would have gone to you when I first came.  Col. Downs had called on us to express our own minds on this matter.  The first law that the Great Father was that each one is to make a home and we must take our allotments.  The Great Father wants us to improve our homes.  And my friends, we would like to find out if it would be better for us to take the allotments which is to be our homestead.  I, speaking for the tribe, do believe it would be best for us to keep on taking our allotments and that is why we are willing to release the Lemmon pasture and any land outside the Lemmon pasture, but I am asking myself, will it not be better to take our allotments first for we do not know what lands we will have left until all have taken their allotments.  I understand we have the right to select the best land.

JAMES ALL YELLOW, said, I am friendly with the Indians and have lived with them a long time, but I do not want to lead them.  I want them to think and act for themselves.  Now my friends, I had some trouble with Special Agent Downs last April when he was in charge of this Agency.  You all know about it.  It was over misunderstanding as to what I said at a council held for the same purpose as this one.  Our present Commissioner is a very good man and he usually leaves matters of this kind to us.  In listening to talk, I have gained this, that it would be a good thing for us to lease our lands.  We are all in favor of re-leasing the Lemmon pasture and more.  It will not be like leasing the entire reservation.  The Commissioner will be satisfied if we lease part and use part.  Col. McLaughlin did not say when he was here at our previous council that, after we took our allotments, there would be a proposition in Congress to open our reservation.  We all know that there will be more land on this reservation than will be allotted us.  In thinking over this matter, I think we can hold our lands only by leasing.  The inspector, referring to Special Agent Downs, is getting along in years. He has wide experience and is able to help us a great deal.  We should consider well the matters he has talked to us about.  For my part I am willing to lease, several townships outside of the Lemmon pasture.

The Chiefs are no longer all-powerful

CHARLES DeROCKBRAIN:  When the agent called us to hold a council we held a meeting and a copy of the letter from the Commissioner was read to us at the Bullhead Station.  In view of this letter, most of we people agreed that we would be willing to re-lease the Lemmon pasture.  We understand from what Special Agent Downs says that this will not prevent any of our people from selecting their allotment in the Lemmon Pasture.  Judging from the few houses scattered about over the reservation there will be surplus land after all allotments have been made.

Brown Wolf stated that some of us had a dispute about this matter.  In the past we looked to the chiefs to decide everything for us, but now we think every one has a right to speak for himself as to whether we will lease.  The people have agreed to release the Lemmon pasture.  At this time we feel that there will be some who will want to take their allotments outside the Lemmon pasture and there will be some who will want to take allotments inside the pasture.  This we understand we can do.

LOW DOG:  Now, my friends, we know that the land is getting to be valuable.  We Indians own this reservation and must look after it.  If the white people want to look after it for us we want to look after it also.  The Special Agent wants to be fair with this matter and everyone should have the right to express his own thoughts.  Now it has come to my mind as we have not taken our allotments, what surplus lands will we have outside the Lemmon pasture and what surplus land will we have to lease.  If we are allowed to take our allotments in the leased portion of the reservation what will we get for it?

RED TOMAHAWK:  I wish to say a few words to the people here today.  James All Yellow got up and said that when Col. McLaughlin was here he said we could hold our surplus lands for our children, and I would like to know if this is true.

“Congress will eventually open your reservation for settlement”

SPECIAL AGENT DOWNS:  If in the future, when Congress is likely to be asked to open up your reservation for settlement, if you will get your Congressman to oppose it for the reason that all the unalloted lands are leased, it will be good argument in your favor;  but, on the other hand, if your unalloted lands are lying idle and you are getting nothing for them, you would not stand a very good chance of holding such tribal lands long.  As I have said before, the longer you are able to hold your lands the more you will be able to get for them when Congress sells them, for the land is steadily advancing in value.

RED  TOMAHAWK:  The question raised was answered by Col. Downs.  We realize that we have children growing up and they will want allotments and we should try to hold our lands and this we will be the better able to do by leasing.  I have selected my allotment there in a township likely to be in the lease if we decide to lease any additional lands outside the Lemmon lease.  We realize about $7.00 per capita from the Lemmon lease now and if the price is raised and we lease more land we should each get much more.

HERBERT WELSH:  Now, my friends, it is my turn to say some words to the chiefs and the headmen of the reservation.  I say we should pick out the best lands as allotments for ourselves and our children.  After this has been done we have come to the conclusion that there will not be much land left.  My reason for saying this is our leasing will take the best land from you but the privilege is given to us to take our lands where we wish.  So before we take our allotments we do not know what surplus we will have left.  If we have any surplus lands we could have horses and cattle but if we lease our surplus lands the per capita will be paid us but it goes to the stores of the reservation.

JOHN GRASS:  There are two factions here, one in favor of leasing and the other against leasing any additional lands outside of the Lemmon lease and I think it would be better to have no more talking and to take a vote on the question; as the more the question is discussed, the more bitter will be the feeling between the factions.

THOMAS FROSTED:  I think we should have a voice in setting the price of the lands for leasing.  He spoke of the treaty of 1869 and so forth.  He said they were all in favor of re-leasing the Lemmon pasture.  He said that, in the past, they looked to the chiefs but now they could act for themselves.

SPECIAL AGENT DOWNS:  It has been stated that debate on the question should close.  I am sorry to say that you have two factions here.  These should not be and I hope you will not let it continue after the council.

A standing vote was then taken and all except five or six voted in favor of closing the debate.  Special Agent Downs said they should vote on the question of leasing by districts, that Cannon Ball would vote first, then Porcupine, Bullhead, Oak Creek and Agency.  The signing of the lists for those against releasing the Lemmon lease, and for and against leasing any additional lands was begun and continued during the morning of the following day, Oct. 31, 1906

In the afternoon of October 31, 1906, the council was called to order by Special Agent Downs, who addressed the council as follows:

My friends, I thank you very much for the unanimous consent to again lease your lands.  I think you are exceedingly fortunate in having so good a reservation.  I have traveled over your reservation and I feel warranted in saying this.  Not only are your lands suitable for grazing but a good deal of it is farming land.  I have been told that you have just harvested 35,000 bushels of grain.  I might mention that a number of men were influenced by me to sow the grain. The seed were sown and I am glad to see such an abundant harvest.  We can fully realize that what Mr. Calkins said is true, that white people are looking on your lands with longing eyes and wonder how they can get hold if it.  Mr. Calkins, the representative of the CM&St.Paul Ry., has told you that they want to lease a township of land in the near future.  The vote was nearly equal for and against leasing.  It is my desire to keep the lists open in order to give each and everyone a fair chance to express his wishes in this matter, as your judgment dictates.

If your land is leased, and the grass burns off, the lease is the loser, not you.  He would have  to pay the lease rent just the same.  I think the best thing to be done is to select delegates who should take a map and go over it carefully and report to you what land could be leased.  Each district should elect its own delegates.  These delegates should be known as the business committee and should have a meeting immediately and transact any business in regard to the leasing proposition.  They should take a map of the reservation and mark out the land outside the Lemmon lease which it is proposed to lease.  If it is the desire of the council to do this we will retire from the room and you can take the matter up yourselves.  There is a map in this table drawer which you may use.  Now is not this a fair proposition?  Now, if you are all willing to do this all say “I.”  All of those opposed say “No.”

The motion was unanimously carried and the several districts proceeded to elect their delegates.

The lists for and against leasing were held open and, by noon of Nov. 1, 1906, there were nearly 100 Indians changed their names from the list against leasing additional lands outside the Lemmon lease to the one in favor of it.  The accompanying lists shows that 522 male adult Indians are in favor of releasing the Lemmon pasture and 3 against releasing and that 348 are in favor of leasing additional lands outside the Lemmon lease, and about 175 against leasing additional lands.

On Nov. 1, 1906 when the report was received from the Business Committee showing the selection of 8 2/3rds townships to be leased in addition to the Lemmon pasture, Special Agent Downs called the council to order and addressed it as follows:

It might be well for you to express yourselves as to the amount of irregular labor fund you desire should be in purchasing cattle to be issued to you,  that is, do you want 50%, 66-2/3% or what percent do you want?  50% would mean that half be used for labor and half for the purchase of cattle.  66-2/3 would mean that 1/3 would be used for labor and 2/3 for cattle.  The Commissioner of Indian Affairs wants an expression from you on this matter as, to the amount you want expended for stock cattle and how much for labor.  Last year y our agent had authority for $60,000.00 for labor.  If as much is allowed you this year, 2/3 of it for purchase of stock cattle would be $40,000.00.  This would leave you $20,000.00 for labor.  What do you want?  Let us hear from you.

There were several prominent Indians who spoke on the subject, all expressing themselves as being in favor of having 2/3 of the irregular fund used in the purchase of stock cattle to be issued to them.  Among the speakers were Herbert Welsh, Black Bull, John Grass, Wacutemani, Joe Claymore, Siaka and Mad Bear.

A vote was taken on the question and there were only nine voted against and 500 in favor of two thirds of the irregular labor fund being used in the purchase of stock cattle.

There being no further business to come before the council, it was adjourned sine die.


No.49:.1908…Hon. Com. of Ind. Affairs opens up more of reservation for white settlement

Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1908 letter) forcefully opens up more of the Reservations to white settlement

To the Superintendent of the Cheyenne River Agency, April 17,1908

I carried out my agreement with the Indians, made in your presence the other night, and seized the first opportunity which offered to have a talk with the President directly on the subject of modifying the Gamble Bill.  Senator Gamble, I ought to add, had throughout shown an excellent spirit, not wishing to be in any way needlessly coercive. He has the same feeling which all of us have in Washington and which all the philanthropic bodies express in their resolutions, that the Indian question will never be settled until we have got rid of the reservation system; and, while he is disposed to everything within reason to prove his kindly disposition toward the Indian, he has also his much large white constituency to think of, and their interests to consider, whenever that is possible without trenching upon the legal rights of the Indians.

I was sorry for the attitude which so many of the delegates present at the last conference in my Office assumed toward the whole question.  They were telling me what they would “cede” and they would not “cede,” and the like.  Of course, I appreciate that it is very hard for them to realize that they are not called upon to “cede” anything, that the law-making power has full control of the matter, and that my action in giving them any opportunity for discussing even ways and means and methods was a pure gratuity growing out of my kindness of feeling for them, but which I, or my successor, may be forbidden to repeat if the Indians take advantage of it to play the part of obstructionists.  If, by their general treatment of such business, they simply embarrass this Office in its effort to be considerate of them, only one result can follow, and that is the opening of all reservations in the future without reference to the Indians’ wishes, either as to method or anything else.  I should deplore such a sequel; but if the Indians insist upon bringing it upon themselves, I do not hesitate to prophesy, from my long study of the trend of things, that it will surely come and before very long.

When I took up the subject with the President I found him about the state of mind which, as I indicated to the Indians, I expected.  Indeed, his first question was why we were not opening both reservations entirely, and then he went on to say that he wished we could tomorrow open all the reservations, and that we must do so as fast as we can. He does not believe in the artificial system which the Government has maintained for so many years.  He considers it both dwarfing to the Indians and unjust to the white people who are struggling against heavy odds to develop the country for the benefit not only of their own race but of all other races included in our population.  I presented with great fullness the wishes of the Indians as expressed by the two delegations, but they did not change his general opinion, even as to opening the tier of townships in the Cheyenne River Reservation in which the delegation described so many of the older Indians are living.  He parting remark was that he felt sorry for the Indians who found it so hard to face modern conditions of civilization, but that the whole history of human progress was punctuated with hardships for individuals, and it would be a wrong to any race to retard its advancement as a whole in order to spare discomfort to the less progressive members of it.

Since then I have consulted with Senator Gamble and Inspector McLaughlin, and we have arranged a programme which, if the committees and the Congress accept it, will be in the nature of a compromise.  On the Cheyenne River Reservation it saves a reservation for the Cherry Creek Indians, but opens both tiers of townships on the northern border, as on the Inspector’s map.  In the Standing Rock Reservation it opens the tier of townships on the south border, but includes in the diminished reservation 2½ townships running north and south on the west border, which the Inspector said were the best for a sheltered winter range for cattle.  We are going to try, also, in behalf of the old-fashioned Indians allotted on the disputed tier of townships in the Cheyenne River Reservation, to procure legal permission for them to obtain wood for domestic purposes from the public domain in their neighborhood for an interval which will probably extend over two years or more.

I hope that your Indians will take common-sense view of this situation.  You may say to the body of the tribe that their delegates did all that anyone could have done in their place; but that the opening movement is now so marked that I doubt whether there will be any Indian Reservations on the map of the United States ten or fifteen years hence, and that the wise course for the Indians is to accept the inevitable and bend all their energies to getting ready for it.

Sincerely yours,


Charles F. Rastall, Esq.,

Superintendent Cheyenne River Agency,

Cheyenne Agency,

S. Dak.


No.50:.1910…Sioux Indians search for Attorney to handle Treaty Claims

Sioux Indians looking for an Attorney to handle Treaty claims against the Indian Office, and the very first “audit” of the Sioux Fund created by the Treaties

Washington, D. C.

March 15, 1910

The following is a brief statement of the principle matters discussed in a conference between members of the delegation of Sioux Indians of the Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota, and Z. Lewis Dalby, attorney-at-law at the office of the latter, March 15, 1910.

There were present John Grass, Weasel Bear, Antoine Claymore, Thomas Frosted, John Tickasine, A. C. Wells, Claude Kill Spotted, Antoine DeRockbrain, Robert High Eagle.  Robert High Eagle and Antoine DeRockbrain acting at interpreters.

Col. James McLaughlin, U. S. Indian Inspector, was present during the first part of the conference, introducing Mr. Dalby to the members of the delegation and pointing out some of the matters in regard to which they wished to consult him.

Education Fund: Article 7 and 15, Treaty of 1868; Article 5 and 8, agreement of 1876 and Articles 17, 19 and 20, Act of March 2, 1889:

Members of the delegation stated that very little had been done by the Govt. infurnishing schools and teachers in accordance with these provisions prior to the passage of the Act of 1889; and it was the general understanding that the expense of whatever has been done in this direction has been charged up to the Sioux Fund.

Mr. Dalby called attention to Sec. 22, Act of 1889, providing for the reimbursement of the U. S. for all expenditures to the Sioux Fund.  He pointed out, however, that these expenditures for education could not be regarded as expenditures under the Act of 1889, because that Act simply recognized the unfulfilled obligation under a former Treaty and Act and directed its fulfillment.  The consideration for supporting this agreement on the part of the U. S. arose out of the Treaties of 1868 and 1876, and not out of the Act of 1889.  The clause in regard to the reimbursement of the expenditures made under the Act of 1889 should be construed so as to apply to all expenditures in pursuance of new provisions in that Act, for which the consideration moving from the Indians to the Govt. arose as the time of the passage of that Act.

The Education Fund created from the interest from the permanent fund provided for in Article 17 of the Act of 1889 is evidently for a further educational purpose, in addition to that contained in the Treaty of 1868; and if, as supposed, this fund was used in the fulfillment of the provisions of the Treaty of 1868, the Sioux Nation apparently has a just claim for the amount of that Fund so used.

From information given by different members present, it was thought that this claim on the part of the Standing Rock Sioux might amount to $300,000.  but Mr. Dalby pointed out that it would not be possible to speak positively or definitely about this, or any other claim, without first having a careful accounting of their funds, from 1868 to the present, and he suggested that one of the first duties of their attorney, should they determine to employ one, would be to procure such an accounting to be made.

In this connection Mr. Dalby also pointed out that this and practically all other rights arising un the various laws and Treaties were apportionable among the Indians on the several existing reservations upon a pro rata basis, including certain rights to the Santee and Flandreau Sioux and the Ponca Indians under Sec. 13 and 17, Act of 1889.  He suggested that the censuses provided for in Art 10, Treaty of 1868, and Art 10, agreement of 1876, should furnish satisfactory basis for determining these proportions, and that it should be one of the first duties of the attorney of the Standing Rock Indians to secure a determination of the proportions belonging to that reservation.

Expenses of surveying and disposing of lands: Sections 25 and 26, Act of 1889:

Attention was called to these provisions, and it appeared to be the belief of the delegation that the expense of surveying, platting and disposing of the surplus lands had been actually charged up to the Sioux Fund.  Mr. Dalby stated that, if an accounting showed that this had been done, the Sioux Nation would have an undoubted right to recover the amount so charged up.

Agricultural and Other Aids to Individuals:  Article 3 and 10, Treaty of 1868 and Art 6, Agreement of 1876:

In brief, these articles provide in substance that whenever a head of family selects land and is ready to go to farming, the Govt. shall expend for him in seeds and agricultural implements $100 the first year and $25 each year following:  give him a cow and a yoke of oxen within 60 days of his settlement, and build him a house with his aid.

Members of the delegation said that, prior to 1876, nothing was done by the Govt. under any of these  provisions, but as few, if any, Indians were really ready to settle down prior to that time, probably no right arose.  But they thought that after 1876 there were a good many ready to settle down who failed to receive the encouragement promised in these provisions, and many who actually did settle down and go to farming who did not receive the benefits promised.  For the most part, where any benefits were received after 1876 under these provisions, they were in the form of work done in the breaking and the planting of small patches of land and not in the form of seeds and agricultural implements furnished.  It seemed to be the general opinion that not more than half of those really entitled to the benefits of these provisions received them.

Mr. Dalby explained that claims of this nature would probably be personal and not tribal, although on account of their general character, it would be proper to impose upon the tribal attorney, when employed, the duty of looking after them on behalf of the individuals interested.  He pointed out that, in order to make good such a claim, it would be necessary in each case for the claimant to show that he had met the conditions imposed by the Treaty or Act, this is, that he had been ready to engage in farming or that he had actually engaged in farming, and that the promised benefits had not been given him.

But before anything could be accomplished towards the recovers of any of these personal claims, it would be necessary for Congress to pass an Act recognizing them as a class and prescribing the method of presenting and proving them in individual cases.

Clothing and other allowances; Section 9, Treaty of 1868:

Members of the delegation stated that the clothing furnished had not always been of the quality promised in the Treaty, and inquired whether this would not constitute a basis for a claim.  Mr. Dalby replied that, although this would be a just basis for a claim, nevertheless, if the full amount of clothing promised was actually delivered, it would be difficult to establish a claim based merely upon the quality of the goods delivered, as it would be hard to prove now that they were not up to the required standard.  But it was clearly provided in the Treaty that the amount of this appropriation should not be diminished during the 30 years covered by it; although congress might, by law, provide for the expenditure of the money for other purposes.  Therefore, if a smaller amount than the original appropriation for this purpose was subsequently expended for clothing, the original appropriation for this purpose was subsequently substituted by law for such clothing, then, apparently, there would be proper basis for a claim for the difference.

Attention was also called to the provision of this section for the annual expenditure of $10 for each Indian roaming and hunting and $20 for each Indian engaged in farming and it was the opinion of the delegation that these provisions had not been fully carried out; in fact that probably not more than half the amount promised in this connection had been so expended.  Mr. Dalby stated that, if these amounts had not been expended as promised, the Sioux Nation undoubtedly had a just claim for the difference between the amount actually expended and the amount that should have been expended.

An accounting, carefully examined in connection the with annual censuses and Agency reports, will doubtless show the extent of any claims under these provisions.

Expenses of ratifying Act of 1889; Section 29, Act of 1889:

Members of the delegation inquired whether the expenses of the Councils held for the purpose of ratifying the Act of 1889 should have been charged to the Indians, stating that they understood that this expense had been so charged.  Mr. Dalby called attention to the appropriation made in Sec. 29 of the Act of 1889 for this purpose, and to the provision Section 22 of the same Act for the reimbursement of the US for all expenditures incurred under the Act, and stated that it would probably be held that these two provisions together justified the charging of these expenses to the Sioux Fund.

Members of the delegation then stated that this question was expressly raised by the Indians in the Council, and that they were then told by the Commissioners, on behalf of the US, that this expense was to be borne by the US.  And they stated that their action in ratifying the Act was taken with this distinct understanding on the part of the Indians.  Mr. Dalby inquired how many of them could testify positively to these facts, and of those present it appeared that John Grass, Weasel Bear, Antoine Claymore, Thomas Frosted and John Tickasin had been present at the Council and could testify to the facts as above-stated; and they said that there were many other men, now living on the reservation, who had also been present and could testify similarly.

Mr. Dalby then replied that, if these facts could be shown, they would constitute a basis for a just claim that it might be possible to enforce.  The Act of 1889, by its very terms (see Sec. 28), was dependent upon the ratification of the Sioux Nation for its validity.  If, in giving that ratification, the Sioux Nation acted upon information from the Commissioners of the US that this expense was to be borne by the US, then, clearly, equity would make this a part of the consideration of the ratification, and hence make the charging back of this expense to Indians improper.

Black Hills Treaty executed under duress:

Members of the delegation stated that, for many years, this has been a subject for discussion among the Indians at their Councils; that this treaty was really made by the Indians at the bayonet’s point, and the Indians considered that they had no choice in the matter and therefore that the Treaty had really no legally-binding effect as against them.

Mr. Dalby called attention to the provision of the appropriation Act of Aug. 15, 1876, which made the agreement which was afterwards made by the Indians in the Black Hills Agreement a condition to the continued receipt of annuities and other benefits by the Indians, and asked whether there was any force exerted upon them in the negation of that Treaty beyond telling them that if they did not execute the agreement they would be deprived of those benefits.  The delegation replied that there was other force as the agreement was made practically in the presence of the Military, and they believed they had to make the agreement regardless of their own wishes or judgment in the matter.

Mr. Dalby then said that even supposing that the Agreement had been thus forced upon them it would not now be possible to overturn it and go back to the condition that existed prior to the agreement, and that the only thing that could possibly be accomplished now would be to secure just compensation for the territorial and other rights given up by the Indians in that agreement.  He then called attention to the fact that under that agreement rations had been furnished to the Indians for a long time, probably $20,000,000 or more having been expended by the Govt. for that purpose and as he understood, and remarked that it might be half that this was ample compensation for the property and rights given up under this agreement, in which case there would be no basis for any recovery.

It was the sense of the delegation, however, that this should not be considered full and just compensation, as the territory then taken away from them included the mining regions of the Black Hills, which had produced a very much larger amount of wealth.  In reply, Mr. Dalby called attention to the fact that, although it was known at that time that there was mineral wealth in the Black Hills, it was not known how extensive that wealth was, but that that wealth had been legally developed afterward, and in that connection he remarked it might beheld that their right to recover (even if the right were recognized as existing at all) would be limited to the value of the territorial and other rights given up by the Indians, as that value appeared to be at the time of the Agreement.  But members of the delegation thought that, even on this basis, the amount received under this Agreement was not a fair and just return for  t he property and rights taken away from them at that time.

Mr. Dalby stated that he would not be willing, at the moment, even without the most careful study and consideration, to give an opinion as to whether or not a valid claim could be based upon this mater; but if the tribe saw fit to enter a contract with him to become their attorney, as had been suggested by the delegation, it would then be his duty to give this matter all the study and investigation that it merited, and that he would then do so and advise them to the best of his ability in the premises.

Territory East of the Missouri River

Members of the delegation stated that, at the time of the Treaty of 1868, and for a long time afterward, a considerable number of the tribe were settled on the east side of the Missouri River, opposite of Fort Yates; that about 1878 they were ordered to removed across the Missouri River upon the present Standing Rock Reservation, indeed, were practically forced to do so; that many of them had, at that time, tracts of cultivated ground in this territory, and some of the returned the following season and cultivated some of the land.  This strip of the country which had been thus occupied by them was about 26 miles long and 12 or 14 miles wide.  The reason given for the removal of the Indians was that the land was to be “Public Domain.”  Although the Indians were forced to remove, they had never, either as individuals or as a tribe, received any compensation from it for the land or for their improvements.  The delegation inquired whether these facts would not constitute a basis for a claim

In reply, Mr. Dalby called attention to that part of Art. 2 of Treaty of 1868 which includes “All existing reservation on the east bank” of the Missouri River as a part of the Great Sioux Reservation”  Assuming that the facts stated indicate that this tract of land “existing reservation” at the time of the negotiation of the Treaty of 1868, then the Sioux Nation should have had compensation for the land when it was turned into the public domain, and the Indians, who were settled upon it, should have had compensation for their improvements; and, if no such compensation was paid, this would constitute the basis for a just claim.

Expense of the Removal of Sitting Bull

Members of the delegation referred to the removal of Sitting Bull and his followers down the river by steamer, from Montana to Fort Randall and then back to Standing Rock, and asked whether this expense should have been charged up to the Sioux Fund.

Mr. Dalby replied that he did not at the moment recall any provision of any law or Treaty that would be directly applicable to this matter.  It is, however, one that would be naturally determined in connection with the general accounting of the Sioux Funds; first, it would be determined just what expenditure was actually made and to what fund that expenditure was charged up; if it was found to have been charged up to the Sioux Funds, than it would be in order to investigate to see whether there was a proper legal basis for charging it to that fund; and if there was a property basis for so charging it, then these facts would give rise to a just claim for the amount thus improperly charged.

Timber cut by the Military

The delegation stated that, beginning in the fall after the negotiation of the Treaty of 1868, and continuing for about 5 years, the soldiers cut timber for use as fuel and for building of log houses near the Grand River Agency.  The same thing was done at Fort Yates up until 1884.  No compensation was ever paid to the Indians for this timber and the delegation asked whether this would constitute a basis for claim.  The delegation was unable to state the amount of value of the timber.  Mr. Dalby replied that it would probably be difficult to recover on a claim of this kind both because of the difficulty of proving the amount of the damage and also because the Govt. would probably take the ground, that the soldiers were, as a matter of principle, entitled to take wood for fuel, and for necessary shelter, provided they did not commit any unnecessary waste.  He stated that while he could not give any positive opinion at once on this question, just has he had been unable to give a positive opinion on several others which had been asked, he would make a note of it, along with the other others, for further consideration and investigation, with a view to proper action in their behalf, in case he should become their attorney.

Gristmill, Article 4, Treaty of 1868

The delegation stated that they had never had any gristmill as provided in this article.

They had a sawmill, but it was run only about 3 years, beginning about 1876.

Mr. Dalby then called attention to Article 9, 1868, providing that the U.S. might withdraw certain employees provided for, but that in that event, should add $10,000 a year to the education fund.  The delegation thought that only one of the employees named who had been withdrawn was the miller.  They stated, however, that the carpenter shop and the blacksmith shop were not started until 1878, about the time that Fort Yates was built.

Railroad Rights of Way, Article 11, Treaty of 1868

Mr. Dalby called attention to Article 11, Treaty of 1868, providing for assessment of damages for R. R. Rights of Way by a commission of three, one member of which should be a Chief or Headman of the Sioux, and asked whether any Chief or Headman had been appointed upon any such Commission. The delegation stated that they could not answer this question at once but that they would make inquiry on that point.  Mr. Dalby stated that the matter might not be very material, but he asked the question because the form of subsequent legislation had led him to think that, possibly, this provision had not been followed, and that this fact might have some bearing upon possible claims for property compensation for such rights of way.

Accounting of Sioux Funds…Duties of Attorney

It was mentioned by some members of the delegation that they had, at various times, received certain statements of account from the Indian Office, but that they had not been able to determine from these statements the status of many matters discussed in this conference.

Mr. Dalby stated that in speaking of a thorough accounting of their funds, he meant not only a statement of account which might be made by the Indian Office, but in addition, a thorough scrutiny of that statement and of all the charges and credits to the Sioux Funds, viewed in the light of the provisions of laws and treaties authorizing or directing such charges and credits.  He pointed out that it is proper and logical that this sort of scrutiny should be given these accounts by someone acting on behalf of the Sioux Indians, whose first duty is to them and who possesses thorough familiarity with the laws and treaties out of which their rights arise; that is, by their attorney employed and paid by them.  If an examination of this kind should reveal valid claims on behalf of the Sioux Indians, these claims would be against the U.S., hence the propriety of having this examination made by some other person than an officer of the U.S. whose first duty must be assumed to be to the U.S. rather then to the Indians.

This, of course, does not involve my criticism of the Indian Office, for however faithfully and well the Indian Office may perform its duty, this principle would nevertheless be true.  Moreover, and still without any necessary criticism of the Indian Office, it would be remarkable if some errors and mistakes have not crept into those account in the progress of so many years, by reason of the changes of Administrations and the resulting changes of employees and systems.  And the logical way to discover any such errors, the way which would obtain in all similar matters among white men, is by means of an examination made by the representative of the parties most interested, that is to say, by the attorney of the Sioux Indians.  It is understood that such an examination as this has never been made up to the present time.

After such a careful examination of the accounts and records, and the discovery of any just claims against the United States which may exist, it would be the duty of the attorney for the Tribe to suggest the formulation and passage of an Act of Congress, either recognizing such claim and authorizing their payment, or else referring them to the Court of Claims for hearing and determination with authority to give judgment against the United States for the amounts to be found due.

Employment of Attorney

The question of the employment of an attorney to represent the interests of the Indians of the Standing Rock Reservation was brought up.  The delegation stated that, while this matter had been discussed to some extent before they came to Washington, there had been no general expression of opinion by the Indians in council regarding it.  Members of the delegation expressed themselves, however, as personally in favor of the employment of an attorney, believing that that would be to the best interest of the Tribe, and said that they would bring the matter up for discussion in the council after they returned home, and if the Tribe, after hearing what they had to say, should agree with them, they would probably invite Mr. Dalby to come to the Reservation for the purpose of meeting the other members of the Tribe and discussing with them in council the question of making a contract to represent the Tribe as its attorney.

Mr. Dalby replied that in this matter he wished them to feel perfectly free, and not under any obligation whatever on account of having had this conference with him, to employ him in case they decided to employ an attorney, but to feel quite at liberty to employ someone else if they had reason to believe that another would serve them more efficiently than he; but that should  they decide to invite him to visit their Reservation for the purpose of opening negotiations he would do so with pleasure, and if such negotiations should result in a contract with him to be their attorney, he would perform his duty in that connection to the very best of his ability.

He pointed out that the law prescribes a certain form for the making of a contract of this kind, and that the regulations of the Department would require that they obtain authority from the Department to negotiate with him before he could properly go to the reservation for that purpose.  This matter, however, appeared to be well understood by the delegation already.


No.51:.1911…Ceding of Black Hills declared illegal by 1911 Council Meeting

The Committee organized by the nine Reservations, who were in the General Council, November 15, 1911, to pass on the following Resolution:

RESOLUTION OF THE Committee appointed by Delegates in Council at the Lower Brule Reservation, Lower Brule, S.D., November 13th, 1911.

Whereas, a careful examination of the subject of a certain treaty or agreement with reference to ceding the Black Hills Country was made, and Whereas, it is the opinion of this Committee, that from the examination of facts among the several Indians interested to the aforesaid agreement, it has been ascertained that, the Agreement of 1876 was obtained without the consent or signature of three-fourths majority of the adult male population of the respective Tribes, notwithstanding that it was required and agreed according to Article 12 of the Treaty of 1868 and Article 19 of the treaty of 1889.

That only a small percentage thereof signed it.

That the signatures were secured through the War Department and by means of threats of removing the Indians from their homes to the Indian Territory.

That such signatures were obtained only by duress.

That, furthermore, the agreement was not fully read or explained to the Indians.

That the Chiefs who signed said Agreement or Treaty of 1876, acted individually and not “duly authorized” to do so as it is stated in the last clause of the heading of the Treaty of Agreement of 1876.

That some of the surviving chiefs who had signed said Agreement or Treaty of 1876, herewith furnished affidavits.

That the Arapahoes, parties to the Treaty or Agreement of 1876, were away huting at the time and did not sign said Agreement or Treaty.

That the Sioux Nation held that the Black Hills Country and the surrounding regions were never ceded to the Government and for which concession is now demanded.

NOW THEREFORE, BE It, RESOLVED, That the Agreement or Treaty of 1876 is illegal.

Dated, Lower Brule School, Lower Brule, S.D., Nov. 13, 1911.

Signed, Antoine De Rockbrine, Chairman                   Signed, Chas Turninghawk

Reuben Estes                                                                                    John Grass

Chas. H. Kealear                                                                             William Carpenter

Yellow Calf                                                                                       Paul Croweagle

Reuben Quickbear                                                                         Harry F.G.Woods

Good Lance                                                                                     John DeSmet


R.P.Higheagle, Jacob W. Eyes, Secretaries


No.52:.1911…Indian affidavits regarding ceding of the Black Hills


My name is Little Dog.  I am 69 years old and am a full blood Hunkpapa Sioux and allotted here on this Standing Rock Reservation where I have lived all my life.

I wish to state what I heard Chief Thunder Hawk has said about the Black Hills Treaty, when he returned from the council at Red Cloud’s Agency in 1875.  The commissioners at that council said “Thunder Hawk, you are a young man but you have a big stomach.  If you will sign this treaty your tribe’s children to the fourth generation shall be fed.  But if you do not sign this treaty, your people shall be removed to the Indian Territory, to the sunny country.”

I was present the next year when a commission came to the Standing Rock Agency, a man by the name of Hinman was with the commission.  I was with the crowd who were asked to sign the treaty to cede the Black Hills to the Government.  “If you do not touch the pen to sign the treaty, you will be removed to the Indian Territory,” said one of the Commissioners.  Some of the Indians got scared and touched the pen.  “If you do not sign this treaty your rations shall stop,” said the commission.  After this we were issued nothing but flour.  I was given my share of the flour.  I went home and mixed this flour with water.  I made a dough, put the dough under the ashes.  When I took it out  – I didn’t know whether it was baked or not  – I took it out, it was hard as a rock, but I ate it.  That was my first experience in baking bread.

Robert F. Higheagle, swears that I understand Sioux and English and correctly explained the foregoing statement to Little Dog and he understood it and signed (his mark) in my presence. Subscribed and sworn to before me this 8th day of June , 1918, at Bullhead, South Dakota.

M.G.Hatch, Notary Public, my commission expires Nov. 20, 1921


My name is Circling Hawk and I am 77 years old.  I am a full blood Hunkpapa Sioux and have lived all my life here on this Standing Rock Reservation and have an allotment here.

After the Custer fight a good many of the Indians fled to Canada and located at what is known at Wood Mts.  This was Sitting Bull’s band.  A certain general came over and had a talk with Sitting Bull and asked Sitting Bull to have the Indians to return to the United States.  The general said to Sitting Bull that the Sioux Nation had ceded the Black Hills to the U.S. but it will be of no validity without Sitting Bull’s say so; that Sitting Bull’s followers must surrender their arms like the rest of the Sioux Nation in the U.S. and for the cession of the Black Hills Country the Government is to provide you with the necessary farming implements and a span of horses and other things, and that for the cession of the Black Hills country and surrender of arms the Govt promises to provide rations and clothing for the Indians for thirty-five years.  And your Indians will have money, continued the general to Sitting Bull.

Sitting Bull replied, “The great spirit has placed me and my people on this great island and I am to be fed out of thirteen different kinds of animals and to be sheltered by different kinds of trees and all the shrubbery of the Earth as well as being provided by water from the clouds.”  And the Sitting Bull, speaking to the Indians, said, “I have been given a proposition in regard to the cession of the Black Hills Country.  I have accepted this proposition and have given the Black Hills Country.”  Then he turned around and spoke to the officer negotiating with him, saying, “The Black Hills country was a lump of gold and there will be two classes of people who will be leading the Indians.  Whichever one leads the Indians to their best interests will secure more of this gold, and the other one less.  Behold me and the people present here  – we have been created by the Great Spirit and as long as we live we shall be fed and clothed from the cession of this valuable place of property.”

By the two classes of people Sitting Bull mentioned would lead the Indians he meant the U.S. and the Canadian Governments.  He meant that the Canadian Govt had treated his Indians better than the U.S. but he agreed to sell the Black Hills but didn’t want to return to the United States.  I was there with Sitting Bull’s band at the time and heard his speech to the officer.  There were about two thousand Sioux Indians there with Sitting Bull.

Attested to and sworn to by Robert Higheagle, June 7th, 1918


I am 83 years old, a member of the Upper Yanktonais Indians and am enrolled and allotted on the Standing Rock Reservation.  I was present at the different treaty meetings at Pine Ridge and at the Fort Laramie treaty.  At that Fort Laramie treaty, or peace conference, they came up on a steamboat and had a meeting at Long Lake, there were only two chiefs there, Black Hat Fish and Black Eyes.  At that time the Commissioners stated that under that treaty that the Indians were to receive the total of the money which was between seven or eight millions.  At that time the right of way of the Northern Pacific was mentioned and that this money was to be paid to the Indians I do not know the amount.  I do not know anything about the Log House meeting at Fort Yates,  I was away in Poplar, Montana.  Half of the Upper Yanktonais were there and also the Cut Heads.  We did not know anything about it until we moved down here.

Attested to by Jerome Cottonwood and sworn to by Benjamin White, June 6th, 1918


I am 62 yrs. Old.  I was about 17 years old in 1876.  I am a Sioux Indian.  I am one of the party that signed the treaty but not as a delegate but I was told by Chief Two Bear that I should sign the treaty as there is no way of getting out of this treaty.  I heard one of the Commissioners telling the audience that the Sioux Nation will be given the size of the land that they ceded to the Government down South somewhere.  Chief Two Bear advising the Indians that it would be better to sign the treaty but the man that force good many Indians to sign is Louis Agard.  The Indians have no intention of ceding the Black Hills to the government.  My father was sick at the time and wish me to go to the meeting to sign it.  It was not a peaceful conference but all seemed to feel that there is no way of getting out of this treaty as they were threatening them if they do not sign they will be taken to South.  I understand the one that has false hair took charge of the meeting.  One of the commissioners said this reservation is lost and that all the others have already signed the treaty and if they refuse the Standing Rock Indians are to be taken to South.


I live on the Standing Rock Reservation, I am 69 yrs.  I was about 27 years old in 1876, I am a Yangtonaise(sp) Sioux.  I was one of the Indians that signed the treaty but I was not as delegate.  I was standing among the Chiefs that signed it so I also signed the treaty.  I do not talked to anyone before going to the Council.  From listening to the tribe talk, but all seemed to be against the idea of signing.  My father told me to go.  He understand that they are going to make some Indians as Chiefs and it is for this reason that I went to attend the council.  It was not a peaceful conference.  I cannot say for certainty as to the number of Indians, but about 500 Indians were there.  I do not remember the number of Commissioners as I was standing from a distance.  I do not know which was the Chairman.  I do not remember of any word that have been said at the meeting as there is no one spoke at the meeting.  There is no one making any speech however it was announced from the Indians that the meeting will be postpone because Red Cloud was not at the meeting.  The Chiefs had a night meeting and in this meeting they stated that it is all over and that the Indians were told to go home in the morning and they should prepared to drive 55 head of cattle home as their food and also a white shirt was provided to all that signed the paper so I have signed it.  The only Indians there were Sioux.


My name is Old Bull.  I am 67 years old and a full-blood Hunkpapa Sioux.  I have an allotment on this Standing Rock Reservation where I have lived always. I wish to state that there was a matter in dispute in the cession of the Black Hills Country.  Chief Thunder Hawk told us this.  During the time of the first council in 1875 at Red Cloud Agency, One Horn stated that inasmuch as so many Indians are out it was best to not go ahead and make the treaty, and that until such time as these Indians return there would be nothing doing about the matter. So the first commission’s work was a failure.  Nevertheless they came again the following year, and had the Black Hills Treaty signed, so I heard.  I was not here but was up north in Canada with Sitting Bull and there were about five thousand of the Sioux up there with us.

Witnessed by Benjamin White and swore to by Robert Higheagle, June 8th, 1918 at Bullhead, S.Dak.


My name is Cross Bear and I am 73 years old.  I am a full blood Hunkpapa Sioux and have lived on the Standing Rock Reservation all my life where I am allotted.  First, I want to quote the speech of Chief Thunder Hawk at the Standing Rock Agency when he returned in 1875 from the first Black Hills Council at the Red Cloud Agency.  Thunder Hawk said, “The commission negotiating with the tribe about the Black Hills asked me how old I was.  After my answer the commissioner said I was a young man and they expected I was an older man;  that the Great Father would provide rations and annuities to the Indians interested in this Black Hills country and this issue of rations and annuities was to last until the fourth generation. I was ordered to come back to the Standing Rock Reservation so as to be present at the Black Hills council to be held here at the Standing Rock Reservation, and the commission provided me with 100 head of beef for our subsistence on our way home.”  That is what Thunder Hawk reported

The following year I happened to be near the Standing Rock Agency where they were holding this council about cession of the Black Hills Country, and I was called in and asked if I was in favor of signing the treaty, and it was through Thunder Hawk’s speech that led me to sign the treaty so as to get rations and clothing.  I signed because the Government promised to issue rations and clothing to the Indians up to the fourth generation for signing the Black Hills treaty.  After I signed the treaty I left.

Witnessed by Benjamin White, and swore to by Robert Higheagle, June 7th, 1918 at Little Eagle, S.Dak.


My name is Leo Weasel Bear and I am a full-blood Hunkpapa Sioux.  I am 68 years old and am allotted here on the Standing Rock Reservation where I have always lived.  I was 18 years of age at the time the treaty of 1868 was made.  I was 24 years old at time  treaty of 1876 was made. Not being familiar with the terms of the different treaties I will simply mention those promises which the Government has not fulfilled.  The reason why the treaty of 1876 was questionable was at the time the negotiations were on the council was surrounded by soldiers, and this council was the one held by the Indians at the Red Cloud Agency in 1875.  The following summer a commission on part of the United States came to the Standing Rock Agency.  Likewise at this time we were surrounded by the military at the time the negotiations were on.  Threats were made by the military forces that if we did not sign the treaty we were to be removed to the Indian Territory, that if we accepted the treaty and signed it we were to remain where we were.  We signed this treaty against our wishes, being treated like little children when you want them to do anything you make some sort of threat.  I am in fact and in fact the Indians interested are quite familiar with the article 12 of the treaty of 1868 was meant for the entire tribe who were off the reservation at time of the 76 treat.  We realize that this law has been violated on the part of the United States.  Therefore the treaty of 1876 is illegal as this three-fourth majority law was disregarded.  I also wish to add that in connection with the provisions of the 1876 treaty the commission promised that the last Indian living shall be fed and clothed if the Black Hills were ceded.  I was here at the Standing Rock Agency when the commission got the 1876 treaty signed there and I heard one of the commissioners say to the Indians that if you do not sign this treaty you shall not receive rations and clothing.

Witnessed by Benjamin White, swore to by Robert Higheagle, June 8th, 1918 at Bullhead, S.Dak.


The first Treaty was made in 1868. In this treaty was agreed that the United States Government was to issue provisions to the Sioux Indians and that the United States Government and the Sioux Indians should be at peace and that friendly relations should exist between them.

One of the signers of this treaty on the part of the Sioux Nations was named Mazapankeska, 2nd was Afraid of His Horse, or Tasunkekokipapi, 3rd, Two Bear, 4th, Little Soldier, 5th Arapaho Indian, 6th Red Cloud, or Mahpiyaduta, 7th is Long Mandan and the 8th No Two Horns or Nenupinwanica, 9th Fire Heart, 10th Ghost in the Center or Cokapinyaya, 11th is a Santee Indian named Wapahasa.  These were the Indians who signed the treaty of 1868 in which treaty it was provided that any future treaties with the United States Government should be signed by 3/4 male Indians over 21 years old belonging to the Sioux Nation.

By this treaty it was also provided that the Sioux Nation should have held the land described as follows to wit:

Commencing at the mouth of the Big Sioux River and running due West to the source of the Powder River, thence following the Powder River into the Yellowstone and into the Missouri and from there running East until even with sources of the Big Sioux River thence South to the place of the beginning.

This territory was set apart for the use of the Sioux Nation because of the fact that there was lots of buffaloes and other games in it and the Indians live on hunting.

The Black Hills were a part of this territory and an Indian named Goose found some gold in the Black Hills and when this fact became known to the white people they went crazy and a great rush was made by them to the Black Hills and demand was made by the United States Government sent out Commissioners to negotiate with the Indians for the Black Hills and the Council was held at the Pine Ridge Reservation, but some of the Indians threatened to shoot any Indian who sign the treaty and nothing was accomplished.

The next year another Commissioner was sent out by the United States Government, this one visited the different reservations and told the Indians that if they did not sign the treaty they would be moved to the Indian Territory, this scared some of the Indians and they signed the treaty under duress.

There were three hundred and six Indians who thus signed the agreement which was not enough under the Treaty of 1868 which was provided that 3/4 male Indians over 21 years of age should sign such a treaty.

In spite of the fact that the United States Government did not get legal treaty it made new boundaries of the lands set apart for the Indians and made it much smaller, taking out all the Black Hills besides other lands included in the treaty of 1868.  We did not lease or sell the Black Hills to the United States Government and we want half of the gold the white people mined there and want to keep the Black Hills as long as world shall exist through the Grace of Almighty God.

I have seen with my own eyes that the white people cut down an immense lots of timber in the Black Hills which they use for their own use and we want pay for half of all timber they cut and the lumber.  The white people also made grindstones out of certain rock in the Black Hills and we want half of the money they got for those grindstones.  They also manufactured certain red stones into rings and we want half of the money they got for that.

When the treaty of 1868 was made it was provided that the land set apart for the Indians should be for their exclusive use and that no white people should come into that territory, in spite of that the United States Government allowed the white people to come in the territory and slaughtered all the buffaloes and other game.  It was expressly provided in the 1868 Treaty that if the white people should trespass on this territory, the United States Government should compel them to leave in 90 days, and this provision was violated, but the Indians had agreed to be in peace with the white people and made no attempt to drive them out.  In spite of the agreement the United States Government put soldiers at Ft. Yates and allowed them to live and roam around at their own pleasure and commit depredations by cutting down all the oak trees on the Porcupine Hills and all the timber at Big Head Bottom and those soldiers also cut a lot of hay annually on the Standing Rock Reservation without paying the Indians for the same.

I depend on the Commissioner to look into this matters for me.


I am living at Standing Rock Reservation, age 79 yrs.  I was 37 yrs. old in 1876.  I am a Blackfeet Sioux.  I was an interpreter when the treaty of 1876 was signed.  There were 4 interpreters.  Mrs. Fish, or Allison, acting as Military Interpreter and Rev. Hinman as Commissioner’s Interpreter and Louis Agard and myself as Indian Interpreters.  As I have heard repeated statements from the Commissioners that if we do not sign it (the treaty) we will be taken to South and also the rations that were promised to Indians to the last surviving Indian seemed to sound good to the Indians who have signed it, that is why I signed it.  My Tribe did not want to cede territory to the U.S.  In 1872, during Grant’s administration, I was one of the delegates that were called to Washington and, at that early date, this Black Hills was a question.  The Indians, themselves, wished to use me as their Interpreter.  The Indians do not care to sign but the Commissioners said if they do not sign the Sioux Nation will be taken to South.  The nature of the summons was not of a peaceful conference, what few signed it at the time have been forced to sign it.  When I arrived at the place of meeting, there were, in my opinion, about 1000 Indians, as they were dancing at the place as well as the Council was going on.  There were about 10 whites taking part in the council as Commissioners.  I do not remember who conducted the meeting, I used to know his name but I have forgotten since.  All the Indians did not wish to sign but, as they were told that if they did not sign they would be taken down to Oklahoma, and under protest, they have signed the treaty.  I saw no way other than to sign the treaty, but because there was no way out of it.  There were just Sioux Indians there.


I live in the Standing Rock Reservation, age 65.  I was 23 yrs old in 1876.  I was present at the treaty in 1876 but I did not sign the treaty.  I was present at the beginning when the Commissioners commenced reading a paper and among the words that I could remember was that there is a gold found in the Black Hills and it was for this reason the U.S.Government wish to buy it from the Sioux Nation but it requires 3/4 of all male adults.  Among the Indians some wanted to sell the land but majority against it.  I was not summoned to the conference, I went on my own accord.  I only went there to see what was going on.  In my own personal opinion about this agreement was not in peaceful conference.  At the first council held was about 7 miles west of old Rosebud Agency and there is about 5000 Indians and at the Standing Rock Agency about 1500 Indians.  At the first council I don’t remember the white man or how many, but at Standing Rock Agency, one is Three Stars, One Star, Cleveland and Hinman.  I understood Three Stars was the Chairman.  At the Pine Ridge all the Indians never thought about signing the treaty and it was impossible to sign said Treaty during the day time.  The Pine Ridge Indians as well as the Cheyennes were coming towards the meeting shooting so the meeting was postponed.  I did not sign the treaty nor I did not hear all that had been said at the time.


I live on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, age 67 years old.  I was 24 yrs. Old in the year 1876.  I am a Hunkpapa Sioux.  I did not sign the treaty of 1876.  All the Indians were notified to come to the meeting for the purpose of signing the agreement but I happened to be away at the moment.  To the most of the Indians that I have talked with they seem to feel that the only thing left for them to do was to sign the agreement as they were threatened to move the Indians if they should refuse.  If their arms were taken away from them they will never consent.  The Government promised that as long as an Indian living he would be provided with rations by the Government.  The conference was not a peaceful meeting but rather forced to signed the agreement.  I do not know exactly how many Indians that were there but it seems to me something like over 600 people.  There were about 7 or 8 white people.  I do not know which one conducted the meeting, but they say the one that has false hair. I do not sign the treaty, so I was at that moment went away.


Letter to Running Antelope  From Circling Hawk at Grand River Camp, September 26, 1895

I have something to tell you I gave the Agent a good talking to.  He wanted to appoint me an Officer of the Police force but I positively declined the proposition.  The 124 person that have gone down there the Agent has taken you off the rolls and again he says he is going to take up all the tickets and as soon as he does that I will let you know.  The Agent is going to have the police to lay away the guns but I think it was my talk to him that brought about this.  He has nothing but good words to hold out.  Everybody is very sorry that went away and since I returned they are all very pleasant but they are acting that way because they want all you people to return to the Agency.  My friends the Hunkpapas in general you will tell this to them all and tell them to be patient.  Go to the Agent in a body and ask for ration tickets.  The Agent at Standing Rock says he has given up trying to do anything with you and that at the end of this month he is going to let you all go.  (That is he will not claim you people).

I am,

Circling Hawk

I had a talk and that is the result the Agent.


No.53:.1911…Indian Court ruling for John Grass’ wife

The case of Mrs. Brought, Mrs. Charging Bear and Mrs. Grey Spotted for gambling at the farm school district, September 16, 1911:

While they denied, the police caught them playing with cards and betting material in their possession.  It seems that Mrs. Charging Bear was the prime mover in the affair and when the police went to take the cards she resisted vigorously.  Therefore, the court sentenced her to one week in the guard house.  The Judges were John Grass, Pius Big Shield and Paul Brave.

 Could this have been your nice Ina? (his adopted mother) Tut, Tut.  The underscoring is mine, of course.  If this were the wife of Grass, isn’t unique that he should be a judge?  But I think he sat when his father was in court over a horse and the judges found against him.  (AB)


No.54:.1931…Dept of Interior discussion on loses claimed with the 1881 capture of Gall

My dear Mr. Secretary:

There have been presented for investigation and adjudication, under the Act of May 3, 1928 (45 Stat.L.,434) a number of Individual Sioux Claims alleging losses occasioned by reason of the capture of Chief Gall, of the Hunkpapa Sioux—one of the most effective leaders of the Sioux, in the uprising which terminated in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

The capture occurred on Poplar Creek, Montana, within sight of the present Fort Peck Agency, in the year 1881.

Those Indians now presenting claims allege that they, themselves, were not hostile, merely being camped there when Gall approached with his followers and made camp with them.  While thus encamped, the United States forces, under Captain O.B.Reed and Major Elgis, overtook them, resulting in Gall’s capture, with incidental personal losses.

The chief question here involved appears to be a definition and application of the hostility clause embodied in the Act above referred to.

This matter has been rather broadly adjudicated in the Office Letter addressed to the Field Agent conducting this investigation in the field, dated September 12, 1930, approved by the Department September 15, 1930, on page 2 thereof, but does not seem to finally dispose of the situation as it pertains to this particular group of claims

In this connection, attention is invited to Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the year 1880 and 1881, volume 16, page 122, in the last two paragraph, entitled “Hostility and Military,” which are quoted in full below:

“The hostiles arriving from Sitting Bull’s camp, during the fall of 1880, as it was impossible for me to govern them with what force was at my command, damaged and stole from the Agency Indians until the ones the least disposed to disorderly conduct, joined with them, and it was with the utmost caution that the work was carried on.  But for the patience and bold front presented by a few here we would undoubtedly have had serious trouble.”

“On the 12th day of October 1880, Capt. O.B.Reed arrived here with two companies of the Eleventh United States Infantry, and from then on we were at least enabled to compel the hostiles to stop their regular demands for provisions; although they had never been successful in obtaining this, it was decidedly unpleasant to have them flourish their guns at times when we knew we were powerless.  Major Ilges arrived in December, and after trying all peaceable measures to induct the hostiles to surrender, he was compelled, on the 2nd day of January, to attack their camp, which was then directly opposite the agency on the south bank of the Missouri River. He captured about 100 men, 200 women and children. This was the starting point, and from then on the followers of the noted Chief Sitting Bull have surrendered one by one until S.B., himself, weakened by successive desertions caused by Capt. McDonald, C.M.P., and Capt. O.B.Reed, U.S.A,. Surrendered at Fort Buford.”

This seems to establish, beyond reasonable contention, the hostility of this group of followers of Sitting Bull under the leadership of Chief Gall.

Admitting the hostility of Gall and his followers, at the time of this incident, the present question revolves around the hostility, or amity, of those individuals who claim neutrality but who were actually encamped with Gall on that occasion.

In this connection, attention is invited to references made in statements of the following Indians in presenting their claims, as stated on the face of said claims, transmitted through the attorneys for the Sioux Nation, Mssrs., Case, Calhoun and Hooe, as follows:

Their number S.R.142-a, presented by with wife of Sleeps from Home, or Ptemanlutawin, through Bazawin, the mother of her deceased husband, “…. when military authorities took all horses from the hostile Indians.”

Their number S.R.138-a, presented by same individual as above, through Nahcowin, deceased (her aunt), “…. When military authorities took all horses from the hostile Indians.”

Their number S.R.125-a, presented by Pius Shootsfirst.  “The claimant stated that no payment ever made by anyone, however was given to understand that he would receive payment sometime in the near future for the reason that he was not in any way connected with the hostile Indians at that time.”

It is believed that these three instances are sufficient to evidence an admission of existing hostility on the part of the followers of Gall at this time, and that, since they were presented through the attorneys for the claimants, such attorneys had cognizance of the wording used, thus admitting the existence of hostility on the part of Gall and his followers at the time of the specific event referred to.  As all the claims so presented, almost without variation, contain the following wording:

“Under command of Captain O.B.Reed of the Eleventh Infantry, also Major Elgis with five companies of the Fifth Infantry.”

This fact appears to definitely tie this incident to that narrated in the Commissioner’s Report previously referred to herein.

If such individuals, as they themselves assert, were not actually numbered among the immediate followers of Chief Gall, it may be fairly assumed that such individuals were at least affording comfort to Gall’s band, if not more than that; and their relationship to him and his followers certainly could not be interpreted as hostile to them and in amity with the United States Government.

If we concede the foregoing, it would appear that no claims of this character have merit and it is our recommendation that they all be disallowed on the ground of hostility.

There  are groups of similar claims presented in connection with losses alleged to have been sustained at Forts Buford and Keogh by reason of the capture of , and seizure of, arms and horses from followers  of Sitting Bull, to which, it is believed a decision in the Camp Poplar claims should also apply, and it is hereby recommended that such decision be so rendered as to cover such claims.

Respectfully, J. Henry Scattergood, Assistant Commissioner

Approved: Dec. 14, 1931, Jos. M. Dixon, First Assistant Secretary



No.55:.1912…Opening of diminished portion of the Reservation…tribal opposition





March 16, 1912

WHEREAS, The Honorable, the Secretary of the Interior by his telegram, dated March 14, 1912, addresses to the Superintendent of the Standing Rock Indian School, authorized a delegation, composed of seven members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of Indians to be selected by Council, to be sent to Washington, D.C., to confer with the officials in regard to the opening of the diminished portion of the Reservation, and other matters pertaining to the interest of the Tribe, and

WHEREAS, The Honorable, the Secretary of the Interior by his telegram, dated march 16, 1912, addressed to the Superintendent of the Standing Rock Indian School, authorized said delegation to be selected by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Business Committee, and

WHEREAS, The purpose of said delegation is to speak for, and act in the behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of Indians, in matters that pertain and concern the Tribe as a whole, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, That by a unanimous vote of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Business Committee now assembled, that the expenses of said delegation be paid in any sum not exceeding Fifteen Hundred Dollars, ($1500.00), from the Standing Rock Reservation 3% Fund.

John Tickasin, Pres.                William Hawk

Robert P. Higheagle, Sec.       Frank LaFramboise

Benjamin White                       John Grass X

Witness to marks:      Thomas Frosted     Red Tomahawk X

R.P.Higheagle     Antoine DeRockbrain      Antoine Claymore X

Benjamin White     Joseph Otter Robe      Joseph Claymore X

Claude Spotted      Frank Bullhead

George Siaka      Lawrence Crowghost


No.56:.1912…Council Meeting re proposed diminished reservation and lease rip-off by Zimmerman

Tribal Business Committee Resolution of Jan 6th, 1912, opposing Congress’ opening of diminished portion of the Standing Rock Reservation

WHEREAS, The Tribal Business Committee of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation held a special meeting on the 6th day of January, 1912, for the purpose of discussing Senate Bill No. 109, which provides for the opening of the diminished portion of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which Bill was presented to the Tribal Council on November 25, 1911, by Col James McLaughlin, United States Inspector, and

WHEREAS, the Members of the Standing Rock Tribal Council have previously opposed Senate Bill No. 109, at different meetings held for the purpose of discussing said Bill for the following reasons:

FIRST, that all the unallotted lands mentioned in the bill are being utilized by the Indians for grazing purposes.

SECOND, that the timber allotments and a part of the lands that have been allotted, and which we are entitled to, have not yet been approved by the Department of the Interior.

THIRD, that a large number of deceased Indians, whose heirs are entitled to allotment have not yet received the allotments.

FOURTH, that we have not received any payments which we were led to expect from the net proceeds of the lands thrown open for settlement in the year of 1908.

FIFTH, that, there still remains a large amount of land on the open portion of this reservation which has not been entered by any settlers and is now available for homestead purposes.

SIXTH, that the allotments of many of the present allottees are worthless and, in many cases, the allottee is an infant or a minor, or an orphan, and such persons should have ample opportunity to select a new allotment from the unalloted lands of the reservation.

SEVENTH, that there seems to be conflicts between many of the original allotments and the timber allotments, and these conflicts should be harmonized before any of the Tribal Lands are thrown open for settlement.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that a delegation of the Standing Rock Sioux Indians be sent to Washington, D.C., during the present session of Congress to confer with the Interior Department and members of Congress, and to oppose Senate Bill No. 109, or any similar measure of the like character.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Superintendent of the Standing Rock Agency appoint all the members of this delegation, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a special request be made to the Superintendent to assist us in this matter.

Signed by:

John Tickasin, R.P.Higheagle, Claude Killspotted, Benjamin White, Antoine DeRockbraine, Thomas Frosted, Frank LaFromboise, James Dogman, Jose Otter Robe,  John Grass (by mark), Antoine Claymore (by mark), Frank Bullhead (by mark), Gabriel Grayeagle (by mark), and witness to mark, R.P.Higheagle and John Tickasin.

Council called to order by John Tickasin, Chairman, at 3:00 o’clock, P.M.  The resolutions passed by the Business Council at their meeting of the previous day and night, referred to Superintendent Hamilton for such suggestions and advice as he might deem proper to give.

SUPT. HAMILTON:  Mr. Chairman, Gentlemen and Friends:  My opinion has been asked by numerous white people as well as a number of Indians as to the proposed opening of the balance of the diminished reserve.  In every instance my answer has been this:

If I were a member of this Tribe, I certainly would oppose this opening.  On the other hand, were I a land speculator, a real estate man or property holder of any kind, I would be in favor of opening it for the advertising it would give the country.

But it so happens that I am here to represent your interests, and what I think is best for you.  In other words, your interests are my interests, and I am, therefore, heartily in accord with you in the stand you have taken here, to oppose this opening, and I think you have started in the proper way to probably, if not obtain a revocation entirely of this proposed bill, you will at least get some concessions to it.

You have proceeded in this matter in a sensible and business-like manner.  You have not done anything at which any of the authorities could take offense.  You are simply protecting what you deem are your rights and asking for that which you believe will be more beneficial to you and to your posterity.  Of course, we all understand, and I presume you all understand, that Congress has the power to open these lands without even consulting the allottees.  That was settled by the Lonewolf Case, I believe it was, that was decided by Justice Garland in 1903, in which he held that an Indian ward held the same relation to the Government as a ward holds to a guardian, the last providing that a guardian may handle the property of his ward as he thinks best for its interest.  I would now suggest the following procedure to you. I will forward these resolutions immediately, with a letter of recommendation concurring in the facts that you set forth herein, and will also recommend that this committee or delegation that you desire to send to Washington, be allowed to proceed there without delay.  If you are all agreed, I will also suggest that the expenses of this delegation be paid from the proceeds of the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Reservations, which are the funds that you are obtaining, or should obtain, from the sale of the lands now in the present open strip.  These are the funds which are now being used for your benefit, but which, I understand, a number of you were advised you would receive a per capita payment from.  Now, if this is satisfactory to you, I will include that among other recommendations.

In event this delegation is authorized to proceed to Washington, and I am authorized by the Department, to select the men to represent your Tribe, it will be my purpose to pick the man whom I believe the best-fitted to get action upon Senators, Congressmen and the officials of the Interior Department, so that if only a small delegation is authorized, I do not want some man who is not selected to feel that he was not worthy, but that the men who were selected had certain qualifications that would take batter with the people you would have to do business with than the people who were left behind might have.

After studying all of you closely, for the past year, I assure you I will certainly do the best I can to insure your interests, as I stated before, you interests are my interests, and while, in the busy hustle of business it may not have looked that way, my eyes have been open when they may have appeared to be closed to you, and if it is your desire to retain this land, then it is my desire also, and the men chosen will be those who have the furthering of your tribe and the interests of your tribe at heart.

Just at present I believe that is all that we can say on this matter.  You have covered the ground thoroughly in your resolutions and in event the committee is authorized, I will then take pleasure in working with your committee or delegation, suggesting and advising as to the best ways and means to go after the people in Washington.  If there are any question that any one wishes to ask, I will be very glad to answer them.  I thank you gentlemen for your kind attention.

Zimmerman Lease rip-off

ROBERT HIGHEAGLE, interpreter:  There are other numerous things that pertain to the Reservation that have been decided upon.  One thing that was decided was to have Mr. Zimmerman pay for the use of unalloted lands which he has been using, along with the other lands which he has leased in the Bullhead District, and which he has not paid for.

SUPT. HAMILTON:   What period or periods of time do you want Mr. Zimmerman to settle for?

ROBERT HIGHEAGLE:  From the time he started leasing.

BEN WHITE:  It will be three years next fall.

SUPT. HAMILTON:  In this connection, all of the unallotted lands included in that pasture fence, we can, of course, get, but Mr. Zimmerman has made unauthorized leases, and unauthorized contracts, and we have no means of knowing here in the office, whom he has leased from and whom he has not, as there has been some of this land inside and some outside of the pasture fence, and if you can make up a statement of these lands, we may be able to get payment for them.

Request for $2.25 for attending Council Meetings

ROBERT HIGHEAGLE:  Another thing the business council took up was that the members of this council are put to a great deal of expense on account of attending such meetings for which they wish to make a request that you try and help them out of irregular labor money.  They have decided that every member of this committee who attends council meetings should receive $2.25 per day.

JOHN GRASS:  Major, we are going to bring some heavy questions before you.  This committee has been organized and working here for many years, and we have decided to bring a certain question before you.  Each one of this Business Committee has a family, and it is very difficult to come and attend this Business Council meeting on account of the great distance and cold weather, and we are all working for the benefit of the Tribe, and we have taken horses away from our own work for  many days at a time at home, each time we are up here, and while being taken away from our own work for these meetings, we have to stand the expenses incurred while we are doing actual business for the Tribe here.  It should not be that these members have to stand this expense from their own pockets, as this is a very hard winter.  We realize that the work that we are doing is a very important work, and we wish to ask that we be reimbursed from the Irregular-Labor Funds at $2.25 per day for this work.  Previous to this time the expense of rounding up on the reservation has been paid out of the Irregular Labor money, and we thought it would be right to bring up this matter before you that the expense of keeping teams at the barn while here, and care for our horses at home, and the hotel bills are rather heavy also, and we therefore request that we be paid at the rate of $2.25 per day out of this fund.  In regard to the question of the delegation on their trip to Washington, we desire that they be paid out of the net proceeds of the 1908 land sales, and each and every member here is in favor of this.

SUPT. HAMILTON:  In reply to John Grass’ request, you have put me in a pretty tight hole.  I don’t know of any precedent established on any other reservation where the expenses of the Business Council, or Committee, are borne out of any Funds, either Gratuities or Funds belonging to the Tribe. This appropriation for Irregular Labor is intended to defray expenses of road building, and not so much for cattle roundups, but such things as cutting ice and other agency expenses.  The labor employed around the buildings, on the buildings or any emergency which happens to arise which requires some labor for the benefit of the Agency and Schools.

It is the successor to, or the sequel, rather of the old appropriation you used to have, “Labor in Lieu of Rations.”  It is intended to take the place of that old provision that the Indians were given rations for performing labor.  This latter appropriation is granted for the purpose of taking the place of “Labor in Lieu of Rations.”  In asking for the authority to expend this money, we ask for so many men and teams at $2.25 per day.  Then we ask for so many laborers and these to receive $.25 per day, and we have to adhere as closely as possible to the very identical words that appear in these authorities.  Last fall I had something like $700 suspended in my accounts that was paid for roundup expenses, and the way that I got around that was this:  I stated that it was always presumed that a man worked on a roundup, and had a string of horses anywhere from nine to ten or twelve and that these were equivalent to a team.  That suspension was not raised on me until some two weeks ago,  although they allowed me to make the payments from some time in September, I think it was.

Now if they would disallow requisitions of this kind, they would hardly countenance the payment of $2.25 per day to members of this Business council for attending their business meetings.  I believe that you should be entitled to compensation for the time you have put in in these committee meetings, but the Dept. looks at it otherwise.  If they allow such a thing as that to start on one reservation, and get the precedent established, every other reservation will want the saosted, Asst. Treas.

Cannon Ball, Claude Kills Spotted, Vice Pres., Basil Twobear, Asst. Sec., Red Tomahawk, Asst. Treas.

Porcupine Dist., Afraid of Hawk, Vice Pres., Charles Ramsey, Asst. Sec., and See The Bear, Asst. Treas.

Outside of that we have decided to get your kind advice and assistance in the matter.

SUPT. HAMILTON:  I think you have made a very wise selection in your officers.  All of those names sound pretty good to me.  They are all a good, hustling, bustling, pushing lot of men who will make any venture they go into a success.  Now, if all of the Indians of the Reservation will cooperate with you, there is no reason in the world why we cannot have the best fair here next fall that has ever been held anywhere near the reservation.  I have not thought of, or have not worked out a scheme of organization of committees as yet, but for a starter I would suggest this;  that the Vice Pres. In each district be made the Chairman of the Business Committee and Collecting Committee of that district, and that, if it is agreeable, and the Sec. has the time and is competent to handle the work, that the Asst. Sec. be made Sec. of the Business Committee.

… privilege, and they will probably be holding council meetings every other week, and it is not the purpose of the Department to encourage too many of these meetings, because it will keep you away from home too much.  However, I will try and study out some scheme whereby, if it is possible, we might issue rations for the time you are up here, but that is all I can see in sight.

Getting Ready for the Agricultural Fair

HIGHEAGLE:  Another thing which we discussed among ourselves is the reservation fair which it was decided to hold, at one of our previous councils, and in order to start it we have decided to elect the officers, so as to start raising the funds, and the Council has elected the following officers:  President, Robert Higheagle, Secretary, Ben White, Treasurer, Antoine DeRockbraine.

We have appointed Vice Presidents in every district and also an Assistant Secretary and Treasurer.

 At Wakpala the Vice President is Frank LaFromboise, the Asst. Sec. Walter Tiger, and  Asst. Treas. George Flying By.

In Bull Head Dist. Joseph Otter Robe, Vice Pres., Francis Red Tomahawk, Asst. Sec.,

The members of this Business Committee, that is the number of them, you can decide upon, but I do not believe it would require more than say five members all told.  If you find that this number is not going to be sufficient, increase it.

The duties of this Business Committee would be to begin to investigate and find what prospects there are for raising funds to carry on this fair.  Also we should keep this in mind; we must exhibit such articles as will bring in a revenue to the people who exhibit them.  For example, we will have stalls for the exhibition of bead work and poultry and best-looking milch cow or best-looking horse, etc., and after the prizes have been awarded, these articles may be sold.  It gives a person a chance to realize a good price for his product.  It appears to me that the women would join in heartily with this scheme, and, if they will prepare for it now, there is no reason why they should not realize a neat little sum for their articles that they will exhibit.  We will have prizes for the first best piece shown, the second best piece, etc., then after they have been awarded the prizes they will have the articles for sale, that is the bead work, moccasins, etc.  The same things might apply to chickens, pigs and such things as that.  The same may be said as to a man who exhibits potatoes, and if he has a surplus which he can sell, it will be a good advertisement for him.  These are the things which I believe you will have to acquaint the Indians at large with, as I do not believe all of them understand or appreciate what an agricultural fair is, because these things they have been attending around in the small towns on and near the reservation are simply horse races, and gambling and dancing exhibitions.

When you have your committees appointed I think it would be well to instruct them to advise the Indians, at large, that in addition to the usual steer-roping, horse-racing and broncho-busting there will be these other agricultural exhibits, and exhibits of  bead-work, poultry, stock, etc., in other words an exhibition of products raised and manufactured by themselves, and:  instead of making this fair where you spend all your money and the White Man getting it, you make it one where the White man spends his money and you get it. 

I can assure you of the hearty cooperation of all the employees of the Agency , and another thing, you want to look out that the Farm School and the Agency School do not beat you in their exhibits of vegetables, stock, etc., and take all the prizes.

JOHN GRASS:  Another question we wish to bring before you is the manner in which we wish to raise money for this fair.  In some cases we wish to raise it one way, and in some another, depending upon the class of people, and we want to use a drum and sing at some of our meetings.  In some instances men would want to donate a certain amount of money, another man would like to donate a horse or a steer to raise money for this fund.  In all of our ways of raising this money we wish to come to you and we wish to abide by the regulations..

SUPT. HAMILTON:  I am very glad you brought up that particular subject.  In preparing for this fair in the matter of making collections, you must not lose sight of your other daily duties.  As to the drum and singing as a mode of deriving some revenue for the preparation for this fair, I would have no objection, provided, that these meeting did not occur too often in any particular district.  I would suggest there, that probably once a month would be sufficient, and tht there be no dancing accompanying this singing at all.  As to the donation of colts, steers and such things as that, I see no objection to that.  We permit it in the donation of a beef for convocation purposes, and I think this fair will do a great deal of good along the same lines.

To insure a proper handling of the funds I have to suggest that they be centralized so that the Executive Committee, which I presume will consist of your president, secretary and treasurer, will know just how much they have to work on at all times, and I would also suggest that when these donations are received from the people who are able to donate, that they be diverted into cash and the funds turned into the hands of the General Treasurer and he, in turn, to deposit them.

JOHN GRASS:  In regard to the singing for getting up a collection once a month, this coming Saturday is an issue day, at which time they will be assembled here and at the sub-stations, and I would suggest that, as this is the first month of the year, that we start in Saturday for the month of January and base the months on those same days.

SUPT. HAMILTON:  I will phone the farmers to this effect.

JOHN GRASS:  We wish to express our thanks to you for favoring us in our undertaking.


No.57:.1912…Profiteering(?) on Indian ponies

April 11, 1912

To the Agent:

……I am advised that some of the mares that were issued were previously bought from the Indians, themselves, at low prices and were later turned in to be issued to other Indians at a handsome profit to the contractors…..”

Hon. Com.


No.58:.1913…Special praise for Chief John Grass

Jan. 13, 1913


As a reward for his unquestioned loyalty and inestimable assistance to the United States Government in its work of educating and bringing the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of Indians to their present gratifying standard of civilized life, Chief John Grass, who is a resident of this Agency District, and who, in former years, was Chief of the Blackfeet Band of Sioux, now domiciled in the Oak Creek District of South Dakota, is recognized as being eligible to represent the people of either or both the Agency and Oak Creek Districts in any position they choose to elect him.

For the past thirty years, Chief John Grass has been representing his people in various matters pertaining to their welfare, and has always exerted his influence and power looking to the betterment of the condition of his people, and has, while serving them honestly and faithfully, at the same time has rendered the Government a service of equal value by living a clean, honest and upright life, thus teaching his followers by his precept and example, the advantages to be gained by adopting a civilized mode of living.


J. Y. Hamilton


Standing Rock Indian Reservation


No.59:.1914…Still arguing about Ponies taken by the Military in 1881.

Standing Rock Indian Agency

Fort Yates, N. Dak.

December 1st, 1914


5. The matter of election of judges by the tribe was taken up and in conclusion a vote was taken, resulting in NINE votes in favor of leaving the matter as now handled, and THREE votes in favor of election of the judges by tribal council.

6. In the matter of horses that were taken away from Sioux Indians at Tongue River, Fort Peck and Fort Buford, in the Fall of 1880 and Spring of 1881, it was decided that the Superintendent be hereby requested to take this matter up with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.  It was further provided that a committee of four be appointed to take these matters up with the Superintendent, when he returns from Washington, D. C.  The committee appointed is as follows: Benjamin White, Paul Long Bull, Red Tomahawk and Albert No Heart.


No.60:.1915...John Grass’ claim to an estate

Fort Yates, N. D., Oct. 19, 1915

Mr. Paul L. Hallam, Examiner of Inheritance, Cheyenne Reservation, S. D.

Dear Mr. Hallam:

I would appreciate information relative to the case of Paralyzed Hand, or Napesanila, of Cheyenne Reservation.

John Grass appeared at this office and stated that this Indian died several years ago, and that he, or she, had an allotment at Ft. Pierre and relinquished same and was allotted at Cheyenne Res.  That she was married to one White Buffalo/ White Cow Man, he died 5 or 6 years ago.

John grass claims to be a nephew through his mother, Free Hearted, who was a half sister on the father’s side.  He also states that decedent had a sister living name Sits on a Cloud, a brother living, named Good Voiced Bull, a brother, Hates Him, a sister, Mrs. Marshall, a nephew Knife Grass, son of deceased sister, Shell Woman and a brother, Last Born. The last two live at Rose Bud, Sits on a Cloud lives here and the rest reside at Cheyenne Reservation.

I would appreciate any light you can give me on this case.

Yours very truly

Examiner of Inheritance

Is Free Hearted another way of saying Many Thank You Woman?

Is Sits on a Cloud, the same woman as Goes to Heaven and Sits on a Cloud?

Small Woman was a sister of Many Thank You Woman, as was this same Cloud Woman, as I took the story from ‘your’ relatives at Wakpala.  I am sending you this letter for the relationship of Grass.  This family tree of his is getting me down.

Last Born was known at Rose Bud as Fast Horse.

Emma Fine Feather is some kin of the Grass’.  Now, I think she must be that brother’s (of your Ina’s) gal or something—you know, His Wound, who was also known as Fair Weather and Black Eyes.  Fair Weather and Fine Weather, no doubt the same.

Your family grows more interesting each day.  And now I learn that it is correct about your Aunty Cross Bear counting coup, as depicted on that tipi wall.  Mrs. Cadotte told Mrs. Schoenhut and that Mrs. Cross will give me this story.  Mrs. Schoenhut suggested that she and I drive down there someday, and if we do, I shall send you the story at once.  I am very happy to learn this, seňor.  Now if that little old lady would  only ‘confess,’ what a lively tale that would be.

I also want to talk with Eagle Horn at Mahto one of these days.  Mrs. Schoenhut talked to him a little while when she was campaigning, but she was too rushed.  He said he knew Grass well, of course.  But he is an old man and not well and he said Mrs. S. hurried him so he could not think.  She said if I would go there…take some rib beef for boiling and smoke along with him…spend most of the day, I would, no doubt, get a great many interesting stories. He was very pleased that the book was being written.  Mrs. S. and I may go there one of these days.  He is very poor, in want, and is feeble and slow, but, no doubt, he remembers the past very clearly.

Perhaps some of these notes I enclose at different times are not of interest to you.  I make them for myself and, while I shall never use many of them, they are background and reminders.  So throw them away, seňor.

That pretty and attractive Fiske girl came to say goodbye to me yesterday.  The family left this morning for the Twin Cities.  She will go on from there alone.  Pleased that she has the opportunity to get away.  She is a wholesome child, and likable as can be. (AB)


No.61:.1933…Petition against moving Standing Rock Agency off Reservation

WHEREAS, the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Agency was located in 1873 at Fort Yates, Dakota Territory, and, concurrently, a military post was established as the same point, and

WHEREAS, Fort Yates was, for many years, the center of military and Indian operations on the Upper Missouri River, and where were stationed, or in this immediate locality, Generals Sully, Terry, Custer, Miles, Leggett, Godfrey, Crowder, Crook, and other officers of high rank and honor in the United States Army; and there are located the graves of Chiefs Sitting Bull, Rain in the Face, Gall, Running Antelope, Goose, Bear Face, Crow King, Thunder Hawk, Fire Heart, Grass (Charging Bear), Two Bears, and also Major Charles Galpin and the late Major James McLaughlin of the Indian service, and is nationally and internationally recognized as one of the outstanding points of historic interest in North Dakota and the United States, and

WHEREAS, throughout the years, the Federal Government has greatly improved the original site by establishing extensive agency buildings, all of brick or other permanent construction, erected under Government supervision, including offices, superintendent’s and other official’s residences, schools, including dormitories, and recreation hall, a well-equipped hospital, nurses’ home, and agency doctor’s residence, large barns, machinery sheds, blacksmith and machine shops, carpenter shops, issue buildings and storage warehouses, modern water works system and adequate landing facilities on the river to receive coal, merchandise and  other necessities, and

WHEREAS, under the land grant agreement with certain railroads, provision was made for reduced passenger and freight rates extending to the Government and its various branches, including the army, Indian and other activities, effecting a very material saving to the Government and Indians both in passenger and freight transportation, which, with adequate river transportation facilities and all-weather surfaced roads leaded to Bismarck and Mandan and to different points throughout the reservation, constitute the present location of the agency as the most economical and efficient, and

WHEREAS, at Fort Yates the Indians have established an extensive Fair Grounds, with exhibition buildings, grandstand, race track, rodeo corrals, and all other needed facilities, for their annual fair and other gatherings; and there is located the seat of Government of Sioux County, North Dakota and the Standing Rock Monument, and

WHEREAS, efforts are being made by certain interests to locate the Standing Rock Agency away from the reservation, where the Indians, who have been taught to stay at home and farm, would be put to great expense and lose much time traveling back and forth, and both government and Indians would lose heavily by reason of the loss of treaty transportation benefits and duplication of buildings and facilities.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Committee of Standing Rock Sioux Indians, representing that portion of the reservation situated in the State of North Dakota, that we earnestly petition and pray the President of the United States, Hon. Franklin D. Roosevelt; the Secretary of the Interior, Hon. Harold Ickes; the Commissioner of Indians Affairs, Hon. John Collier, to oppose any move to change the location of the headquarters of the Standing Rock Agency and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of these resolutions be sent to……………….

Dated at Fort Yates, North Dakota, this 15th day of July, A.D., 1933

Signed:  Benjamin White, Basil Two Bears, Claude Killspotted, Alvin Warrior.


 No.62:.1926…Monument purchased for John Grass

Jan. 27, 1926

…..$45 still due on the monument purchased for John Grass.  Since there is $219.28 to the credit of the estate of John Grass, it is recommend that this be paid ,  Stone cost $200.  Casket for John Grass was purchased from Hokanson-Turner, Indian Traders, and cost $65.

Eugene D. Mossman, Superintendent

Standing Rock Indian Reservation


No.63:.1928...Biography Information … No Two Horns

White Butterfly or Kimimilaska, age 76, born in Dakota Territory, east of Pierre (S. Dak.) in 1852.  enlisted about April 17, 1875 at Fort Lincoln, D. T. and, perhaps, under the name of No Two Horns, in General Custer’s Regiment as Scout or acting sometimes as mail carrier or a general messenger and was honorably discharged Oct. 17, 1875.  That he also served a period of 6 months and within this period has survived from several attacks from the hostile Indians in attacking the Old Fort Lincoln, and other times while on duty.  That while chasing hostile Indians from old Fort Lincoln, his horse fell with him, fractured his hip and since that time he is unable to bend his back and now affected with rheumatism.  That he did not serve in the Army of the United States between April 6, 1917 and July 2, 1921 or any time during said period.  That no member of his family served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard of the United States between April 6, 1917 and July 2, 1921 or at any time during said period, except a nephew, James Eaglehorn. Married Margaret Trackhider, first by County Judge and later a Clergyman Oct. 31, 1927.  No record except that of a marriage certificate.  Previously married.  In April 1875 married to Wicincala and from this marriage there is one issue but died and divorced her by Indian Custom in 1875, married again to Tacankuwastewin and from this marriage several children were born but all died young, except two daughters.  Two daughters living, Isabelle, born 1888 and Helen No Two Horns, born 1900.


No.64:.1939 …Bismarck Tribune article regarding razing of old Fort Yates Agency Building


Bismarck Tribune, Tuesday, April 18,.1939

Fort Yates Agency, 65 years old,

Joins Ghosts of Old West’s Great

Gone like the Old West, and leaving only the ghost of the great behind, is the Standing Rock Indian Reservation Agency at Fort Yates.

Floors that felt the tread of more aristocratic of the plains than any other building in North Dakota have been ruthlessly torn up as were the Indians from their native surroundings.

Walls that have resounded with the voices of the famous have been tumbled down to make way for a new and bigger agency for the administration of affairs on the Standing Rock

Ceilings that have echoed the boom of tom-tom, the rattle of the snare drum and the sweet music of violins, have been wrenched from their supports and the old-timers of Fort Yates are sad.

It was in the year that Indians made their last great stand against the encroachment of the white man at the Battle of the Little Big Horn that the agency was constructed of brick made on the ground.

Now, 63 years later, the federal government has ordered that a new building replace the historic structure.  The new agency will be one unit in the construction program that is making Fort Yates a modern village on the Missouri River.

Constructed in the Spanish style, the old agency was the stage for many historical events, many historical figures.

In one of its rooms the first man ever killed on the Standing Rock over a poker game fell dead.

Here the unforgiving Sitting Bull, his body conquered, but not his spirit, sneered when he was brought back after his long flight from the field of the Little Big Horn.

The great warriors, Gall and Crow King, here tried to learn the white man’s ways.  Here John Grass disposed justice to his people and the great orator, Running Antelope, harangued them.

Within its portals, Charles F. Picotte, Mrs. Charles E. Galpin and Charles Primeau sought to bring about better understanding between two races who blood mingled in their own.

Their spurs jingling, men immortal in military annals of the United States strode across its floors  – General William Tecumseh Sherman, Phil Sheridan, Nelson A. Miles, Hugh L. Scott and John J. Pershing.

Now most of them are dead  – red and white alike.

Dances and death the old agency has seen.  Here frolicked white and red in happier days.  Here in state lay the famous.

When the Indians were hungry, here came they for their rations, and money, too.

Now it goes to be replaced by a modern building, twice as long but far short of the things the predecessor has seen.

But old bricks or new, the ghosts will remain, say the old INDIANS,  “The agency site is haunted.”

Frank Bennett Fisk, Fort Yates’ distinguished author, photographer and pioneer, thinks it is well, for the ghosts are the legends and the memories of romantic, dangerous days.

(ed note: this article reads like it may have been written by Major Welch)


No.65:.1939 …Father Bernard, Frank Fiske and others discuss “Much of the History of Standing Rock Reservation”

Meeting presided over by Sidney Claymore.  Rev. Father Bernard was introduced as the first speaker,

Library, Fort Yates High School, March 9, 1939  (Father Bernard’s obituary is on page ___)


1873 was the first year when the Standing Rock Agency was moved from the Grand River to Fort Yates.  The reason being is that the militia had been established at Fort Yates in 1872 and it was thought more convenient to transfer that Agency from Grand River to Fort Yates.  It was called Yates after Captain Yates who was killed during a former encounter with the Indians.  This was a little before my arrival.  I arrived in 1886  – thirteen years later.  However the Indians, on my arrival, were in a primitive state although they already lived on reservations at that time.  Standing Rock was established about 1870.

Concerning the civilization of the Indians, it needed a great deal of diplomacy and tact on the part of the Government, and patience and cooperation on the part of the Church.  As I say, the Indians always had been more or less believers in a deity.  The word Takantanka (big holy or great holy) was quite well-known in those days.  However anything else spiritual they did not have.  The Indians are very firm and persevering in their religious beliefs.  You all have heard of the so-called Ghost Dance.  Previous to that we had the Sun Dance.  I never have seen the real Sun Dance.  Previous to 1886 it was prohibited by the Government because of its cruelty.

The Sun Dance was undertaken by men who had wonderful endurance.  I believe you have seen pictures of the Sun Dance.  Those who engaged in it had to fast for three days.  In the center of their gathering was a pole and attached to it were a great many ropes.  They cut their skins and ran the ropes through the gashes and hung themselves on these ropes and swayed to and fro from sunrise to sunset without eating or drinking.  They carried this on for three days.  After three days, if the were not released from this torture, they had to pay a ransom or had to be released.  The men who took part were usually those who some great distress in their family.  Of course as I say I have not seen the Dance but I know men who were right in it and know all about it.  Major McLaughlin gives a very full description of it in his book, “My Friend, the Indian.”

Major McLaughlin became Agent in 1881.  He had been the Agent before that at Devils Lake.  He had a wonderful talent which he used to great advantage with the Indians.  He had great patience with them.  At the same time he was very firm.  If he gave an order, it had to be carried out irrespective of consequences.  I will not today the story of Sitting Bull’s fight.  You know of Stanley Vestal who came to Standing Rock and got a few members of this community to give an idea of Sitting Bull’s character and life.  I, myself, was quite ready to answer his questions and tell what I thought of Sitting Bull.  However, when I read his book I was greatly surprised.  The life of Sitting Bull was presented as that of a great hero.

It took a great many years to bring the Indians to the idea of Christianity.  In order to civilize the Indians the Government and the Church combined.  Whenever the Agent gave an order that something must be accomplished and we saw the necessity of it, we said “Yes, it must be done,” so the Indians accomplished the end.  The people of Standing Rock progressed wonderfully for about twenty years.  The Indians cooperated with the Government and the Church, and we all helped each other.  Standing Rock Reservation is the best or, at least, the second best reservation among the Sioux Indians.

FRANK FISKE, Editor of the Pioneer Arrow, has resided on the reservation for a number of years.  (His obituary is on page _____)

When Mr. Lippert asked me to appear before you and talk about historical matters, I thought it would be an easy matter.  I thought I would not need much preparation, but as I gave the matter thought it dawned on me that I better prepare the matter or else I would overlook what is important.  Father Bernard has given you a very good talk starting in 1886.  That is about three years longer than I have been here.  I thought I would go back further in the past.  Mr. Lippert suggested that we go back to the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804.  I think this program is a good idea.  The newcomer on the reservation wants to know whence came the Sioux Indians.  I will take the liberty of going back further than that.  In fact I would go back to the time of the Egyptians or the Tartars, for I am inclined to believe that the Native Americans came from that ancient stock.  Sometimes I think they are Jewish, especially when they drive a hard bargain.  At any rate they were once upon a time lords and masters of this whole country.  They have always been misunderstood, and even misnamed.  Columbus called them Indians.  You know why.  We call them all kinds of names, but one is as good as another.  They are, in reality Native Americans.

When Lewis and Clark came up the Missouri River, they found the Sioux Indians living here and making war upon other tribes.  They told the explorers that they were poor, so it must be that they have always been discontented.  For instance, Chief Shake Hand, of the Yanktons, said, “We are very poor; we have neither powder nor ball nor knives, and our women and children at the village have no clothes.”  (Remember, folks, the Chief was saying this back in 1804.  You would expect it today).  “I wish,” said the Chief, “that as my brothers, the explorers, have given me a flag and a medal, they would give something to those poor people, my relations.  I went formerly to the English and they gave me some clothes; when I went to see the Spaniards, they gave me a medal, but nothing to keep it from my skin; but now you give me a medal and clothes.  But still we are poor.”

Lewis and Clark said there should be something done about it, and they then left the country of the Sioux.

Now this part of the country along the Missouri River was not always Sioux land.  The Arickarees and Mandans lived here long before the Sioux came.  There are scientists, such as Dr. Strong of Columbia and the late George Bird Grinnell, who back the theory that the Cheyennes lived here and that the remains of their villages are what we find scattered along the river.  So it seems that the country now embraced by the Standing Rock Reservation has but lately come under Sioux domination.  In fact the Grand River was known as the Padini Wakpe, or Rees Own River, because they lived there.  The Standing Rock was a Ree Shrine and likely over on the east side of the Missouri River since Lewis and Clark named that little creek that enters the river opposite the Agency, Stone Idol Creek.  However, this Country was given to the Sioux by the Great Father in Washington.  Yes, it was theirs in the first place, but the Great Father said, “I will not take it from you, therefore I give it to you,” and the spokesmen who came to sign the treaties said, “As long as the sun shall shine and the rivers flow, this land is yours.”

“How, How,” said the Sioux, and they put thumb marks and crosses on the paper to bind the bargain.  It was so kind of the Great Father to let them keep their lands.  If they had known what was coming, they might not have been so happy about it, where with drought, grasshoppers and dust storms.  Came the War of 1812 and we find the Sioux, as a whole, in league with the British.  Waneta, a great, but young, chief, fought valiantly and went as far east as Sandusky, Ohio.  He was wounded there but returned to make his camp at the mouth of Beaver Creek, fifteen miles north of Fort Yates and on the east side of the Missouri River.

The Sioux were not Missouri River Indians, but lived, for the most part in Minnesota.  The Chippewas succeeded in driving them west, though Waneta and other put up a hard fight through the years.  In 1862 when the Sioux Outbreak occurred in the valley of the Minnesota River, the outcome was that all of the Sioux were driven west and finally took their stand on the Missouri River.  For several years they had been sending an increasing number of their people to the west as their warfare with the Chippewas was not so encouraging.  Out on the Missouri fighting was better and they consistently made it bad for the Mandans, Arickarees and Gros Ventres, who finally were forced to combine forces as a common protection against their enemies.

The early treaties consisted mainly in promises of peace on the part of both the Sioux and the United States Government.  The treaty of 1815 at Portage de Sioux, held near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, was for the purpose of securing the allegiance of the Sioux to the U.S.Government, which was happily accomplished.  Thereafter things were quiet along the Missouri River.  The Sioux continued their warfare upon the neighboring tribes, but there was little to worry about until after the uprising in Minnesota.  This served to concentrate the numerous bands of Sioux, and they seemed determined to harass the white people all they could.

The so-called Laramie Treaty in 1858 was held to induce the Sioux to cease worrying the emigrant trains that were passing up the Platte River on the way to California.  The treaties were made in 1851.  One relinquished by the Sioux 35,000,000 acres in Minnesota at a price of six cents per acre.  Another was a huge council held at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, when ten thousand or more Indians met in peaceful conclave.  Several bands of Sioux and representatives of Arapahoes, Assiniboines, Crows, Mandans, Arickarees and Gros Ventres were there.  Everybody had a good time and gallant promises were made.  Let me see, what was accomplished?  Emigrants bound for California and Montana gold fields were to be allowed to pass in safety.  White man’s clothing was presented to t he chiefs, and a glorious time was had by all in dancing and feasting, after which the council broke up and the Indians returned to their favorite pastime of making travel a most dangerous thing along the trails laid out by the white people.

The Government then proposed to protect the Montana Trail by building three forts, but eighty-three men were killed at Fort Fetterman, and other men were killed before the thing was over. An how was it over?  Why the Government wanted to make another treaty with the Sioux and asked Red Cloud to come in, but the old chief refused and would not go down to Laramie until the forts along the Montana Trail were actually abandoned and the soldiers removed.

This was the only time I know of when the United States Government backed down and removed its soldiers from the field.  By this you may gain an idea of the character and the caliber of the old-time Indians who lived in this part of the country.  The speech of Red Cloud, the great chief, was masterful.  He pleaded for his people, his country and his honor.  This was the celebrated treaty of 1868.  Part was held at Laramie, the other at Fort Rice.  By its provisions, agencies were to be established, and that is how the first one was fixed here on the Standing Rock.  It was located at S-ely Island, not far from the mouth of the Grand River, and was called “Grand River Agency.”  Boundaries of reservations were fixed, too, and the Indians promised to abide therein, but these boundaries were far away, even to the Big Horn Mountains, and thereby hangs a tale, and thereby hangs much history.

This was the day that the Sioux Indians were in the headlines.  Names of chiefs such as Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Gall, et cetera, were becoming famous.  Young men attacked the wagon trains, and there was little peace.  Reservation life was spurned by the Sioux, but their country was still very large and they hunted the buffalo along the Yellowstone and its tributary steams, according to the provisions of the treaty of 1868 which designated that country as theirs to hold until the sun ceased to shine.

But the sun must have gone out for the Sioux when the order was issued in January 1875 for them to return to the agencies.  Some of the treaties made in the early days were made in good faith by the Indians and in good faith by the men from Washington.  They made concessions to the Indians in order to get them to sign, so, when they went back to Congress with the treaties, in many instances they would not ratify the treaties. That is why the Indians became dissatisfied.  The older Indians would promise that the younger Indians would not molest pioneers but they could not control their younger men.  The young men did not care about treaties.  While the Indians were at Fort Laramie, Sitting Bull’s camp was organized in 1875 and 1876.  Couriers were sent to get the Indians to return to the reservation by spring.  Unless they returned, everything would be turned over to the Army. And the Army men had to retreat.  After Indians had killed Custer’s men, they split up and scattered.  Sitting Bull, Gall and Rain in the Face fled to Canada.  They came back in 1881 and surrendered to General Miles at Fort Peck.  They were quartered at Standing Rock.  Sitting Bull and his own immediate followers were put on a steamboat and sent to Fort Randall.  They were brought back to Standing Rock in the spring of 1883.

That brings us up to the time Major McLaughlin came to the reservation.  The Indians were independent.  They did not want to recognize any authority.  Yet they were helpless.  They had to accept the rations from the Government and had to see their children taken to the schools, and, at the same time, their hearts were bad.  They had to get permission to do most everything

The old men were pretty wise.  I have a copy of a typical speech given by a chief long ago:

“Do not grieve.  Misfortunes will  happen to the wisest and best of men.  Death will come and always comes out of season.  It is the command of the Great Spirit and all nations and people must obey.  Misfortunes do not flourish particularly in our path, they grow everywhere.  What a misfortune for me that I could not have died today instead of the chief who lies before me.  The trifling loss my nation would have sustained in my death would have been doubly paid for in the honors of my burial.  They would have wiped off everything like regret.  Instead of being covered with a cloud of sorrow, my warriors would have felt the sunshine of joy in their hearts.  To me it would have been a most glorious occurrence.  Hereafter, when I die, instead of a noble grave and a grand procession, the rolling music and the thunderous cannon, with a flag waving at my head, I shall be wrapped in a robe (an old robe, perhaps) and hoisted on a slender scaffold to the whistling winds soon to be blown to the earth, my flesh to be devoured by the wolves and my bones rattled on the plains by wild beasts.  Chief of the soldiers, your labors have not been in vain.  Your attention shall not be forgotten.  My nation shall know the respect that is paid to the dead.  My voice shall sound the echo of your guns.”

This was by a so-called uneducated Indian.  After all, in what does education consist?  The old Indian was versed in the lore of his people.  He knew their history.  He had a thorough understanding of woodcraft.  He was cultured in the ethics of his people.  He knew all about etiquette.  I would say he was educated sufficiently for his needs.  His parents and grandparents saw to it that he was equipped with all knowledge necessary for his protection and happiness through life.  As for his oratorical abilities, I can not explain it.  It must have just “growed on him,” but, oh boy, how it did grow.

This country could not have been kept by the Indians forever.  The Sioux drove the Rees out.  So it was perhaps a survival of the fittest.  It was a wonderful country then.  The grass grew in abundance but it could not last as it was almost Utopia then.  The Indians were said by the Army officers to be the greatest horseman and greatest cavalry men on earth.

Later, when the Indians were confined to the reservations, some of them drove oxen.  When they came to the agency to get their rations it took them three days going and three days coming so they were on the road most of the time.

 FATHER BERNARD speaks, March 28, 1939:

According to Stanley Vestal’s account in his book, Sitting Bull is represent as a great hero of the Sioux Nation, whereas the real truth is quite the opposite.  Sitting Bull availed himself of the opportunity of the craze for the Ghost Dance.  His people were fast falling away from his influence, following the three Christian religious organizations on the Standing Rock Reservation, viz., Catholic, Episcopalian and Congregational Churches.

Sitting Bull was a pagan to the core of his heart, desiring no Christian faith.  Furthermore, the rations which he received from the Government and the annuities that were given once a year to all the Indians on the reservation according to the stipulations made by the Government and the Indians at the Treaty of Fort Rice in 1868, were not to his liking and so the presence of the Ghost Dance brought in to this Agency offered to him the occasion of revolting against the government and the Church.  Sitting Bull’s actions were closely watched by Mr. Jack Carignan, Sr., the then day school teacher of Sitting Bull’s children, at Grand River.  A regular report was made by him to Major McLaughlin.  Thus the Agent and the Government in like manner were well-informed of Sitting Bull’s doings.

After much correspondence between the Agent, the Government and the Military Department, the final crisis came.  Sitting Bull and his 350 followers either had to obey the Government or suffer the consequences.  Sitting Bull was very well aware of this fact, but he chose the latter.

On The morning of December 15, 1890, orders were issued by the Government and communicated to Major McLaughlin to bring Sitting Bull to the Agency for trial.  Lieutenant Bullhead and Sergeants Shavehead and Little Eagle, with their forty-three policemen, were ordered to Grand River for his arrest. Arriving at the scene of action Mr. Sitting Bull was quietly told to come to Fort Yates with the policemen.  At first he was willing, then he hesitated, and when his seventeen year old son, Crowfoot, cried out to him not to play the coward, Sitting Bull called out to his followers, “Hiyu po wanna makte polo” —- Come, friends, they are going to kill me now.  When the 160 fanatical Ghost Dancers heard his cry, they all rushed to their rifles and fired pell mell into the policemen, though the policemen had not, to that moment, fired a single shot.

The consequence of this unnecessary attack on the part of the hostile Indians upon the policemen was that Sergeant Little Eagle and Privates Armstrong, Afraid of Soldiers and Hawkman were killed instantly.  Lieutenant Bullhead and Sergeant Shavehead were mortally wounded.  These two policemen were brought to the Indian hospital at Fort Yates.  Lieutenant Bullhead lingered for two days but Sergeant Shavehead died in my arms on the morning after his arrival at Fort Yates.

The six policemen received a military funeral under the auspices of Major McLaughlin and Colonel Drum of the Army and conducted by Rev. Father Bernard of the Catholic Church and Rev. George Reed of the Congregational denomination.  Sitting Bull was buried privately the same afternoon, December 17, 1890, in the military cemetery in the presence of Major McLaughlin, Lieutenant Woods and the military prisoners who dug the grave.

This is a truthful account of the happenings of December 15 and 17, 1890, concerning Sitting Bull’s arrest and death.  I have these facts from trustworthy witnesses and my own knowledge.  This much I would like to say about Sitting Bull.  I feel very sorry that so many books are unjust to the Government.  Sitting Bull was a trouble-maker and he couldn’t go on making trouble.

I would like to say a few words in regard to the schools:

Fort Yates Industrial Boarding School

The first school was a private undertaking.  Mrs. Louise Van Solen, a well-educated mixed blood Sioux, seeing the plight of her Indians folks, started her school in a log cabin in the year 1877.  The location was near the large Indian warehouse.  She conducted this school for a short time only, since, soon afterwards, the Fathers and Sisters who had come from Indiana in 1876 took over this school.  In the year 1881, Major McLaughlin arrived at Standing Rock and seeing the poor accommodations of the school, with the aid of the Government engaged the Sisters of the order of St. Benedict to teach the different branches of education up to the eighth grade inclusive.  This school, named the Fort Yates Industrial Boarding School, did  very efficient work, first under the guidance of the Sisterhood up to 1924, and afterwards under the able management of the Superintendents and Principal E.C.Witzleben.  The school was discontinued a few years ago.

Kenel Boarding School

The second school of importance was the Kenel Boarding School, called officially Martin Kenel Agricultural Boarding School.  This school was founded in the year 1879.  The first few years it was under the control of the Benedictine Fathers and Sisters and then taken over by Major McLaughlin into the Indian Service in 1881 under the same management and continued until the fall of 1906 when the Rev. Martin Kenel, Principal of the school for twenty-two years, resigned.  The school was kept up a few more years under secular management and then abandoned as of no need any more for the Indians.  The pupils of the school were then transferred to Fort Yates Boarding School.

The Grand River Boarding School

Miss Mary Collins, the zealous missionary of the Congregational Church, was located at Grand River for many years.  Her endeavors were noble but never really appreciated by the Government.  When Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Morgan, saw her plight he determined to establish an Indian Government Boarding School and have all the children of her faith trained in that school.  The beginnings were hopeful and Miss Mary Collins tried her best to see the school well-filled with children.  Nevertheless, for one reason or another, the school never prospered very well.  After about ten years of existence, it was abolished again.

Saint Elizabeth Mission School

This School had its beginning in the early eighties.  As its name implies, it was a Mission school aided to some extent by the Government.  Hence it was also know as a Mission Contract School.  This school, from its very inception, was governed by very able ladies of the Episcopalian denomination.  Miss Francis, the Deaconess, was the bright star of the school.  Under her direction the school turned out some very fine scholars.  Her influence was greatly appreciated by the surrounding Indians.  Miss Francis guided this school for many years, and was succeeded by a Miss Baker, who in like manner controlled the affairs of the school in a very excellent manner.  Though fires and other calamities visited the school at various times, these magnanimous souls never abandoned their field of labor and so we find this fine type of school still going on.

Questions and answers in regard to Sitting Bull’s capture:

FATHER BERNARD:  The Indian police assembled at Lieutenant Bullhead’s home on Monday morning early.   Between 7:00 and 8:00 am, they made the arrest. It had been arranged briefly that the militia would back up the Indian police in case of trouble and the soldiers arrived early in the morning just after the battle.  One hundred and sixty armed Ghost Dancers fought against the forty-three Indian police.  Six Indian police were killed and two were wounded.  Eight Indians on the hostile side were killed.  The rest of the hostile Indians fled to Pine Ridge and arrived there the latter part of December 1890, and took part in the Wounded Knee fight on December 29, 1890.  Only about one-tenth of all the Indians were, at the time, in the Sitting Bull fight.  Sitting Bull was a trouble-make and his actions could not be tolerated.

Who killed Sitting Bull?

FATHER BERNARD:  When Sitting Bull was requested to come to the Agency, peacefully and stand trial, he was standing in the center, Lieutenant Bullhead on the right and Sergeant Shavehead on the left.  Red Tomahawk was behind.  When the fighting started, Red Tomahawk shot at Sitting Bull from behind and Lieutenant Bullhead shot from the right.  Red Tomahawk claimed he fired the shot that killed Sitting Bull.  Sitting Bull was a medicine man.  When Custer’s battle occurred, Sitting Bull was not present.  He was off making medicine.  It was Rain in the Face and Gall who were the real chiefs.  They were the fighters.  Gall was the main leader there.

Is Sitting Bull’s body still in the grave here at Fort Yates?

FRANK FISKE:  It was, the last time I dug it up.  We dug just to satisfy our own curiosity.  We know the grave had been opened before.  The bodies of the soldiers were moved to the military cemetery at Keokuk, Iowa, and other bodies to the new cemetery here at Fort Yates.  Sitting Bull’s body was left alone in the old military cemetery but the grave was opened at that time.  Frank Akre was there.  He ran a hotel at Fort Yates then.  Anyway my friend and I were still curious to know if the body of Sitting Bull was still in the grave and we were not satisfied in our minds with the stories we had heard.  We had heard that the body had been taken away, and also that muriatic acid had been poured in to destroy the body.  My friend’s father-in-law was the Chief of Police at the time, and there was a dance at the Agency that evening.  That was the night we selected for this deed.  We slipped up to his father-in-law’s house and got a pick and a spade and went to work, taking turns with the digging.  It was a bright, moonlit night and one would watch while the other dug.  We got to the bottom and sure enough there was the box.  It was badly decayed.  We reached in and pulled out some bones.  I took one of the thigh bones.  I had it for a while but didn’t want to carry it around so I returned it to the grave one night.  I don’t know if I returned it to the right place so on Resurrection Day Sitting Bull might have to look around for that thigh bone.

It was stated in Stanley Vestal’s book that muriatic acid was poured in the grave but it is my opinion that it would take more muriatic acid than is in the States of North and South Dakota combined.  I have also been informed that the lime and the muriatic acid would neutralize each other.

What convinced the Sioux to stay in a, more or less, confined area?

FRANK FISKE:  I would say the Indians considered themselves whipped.  After the Custer fight, when they say what they had done, they were scared and they disbanded.  Sitting Bull went to Canada; Gall and Rain in the Face went to Canada and remained there until 1881.  On their return they had another encounter with the Army; this time with General Miles, before they surrendered.  The Indians were starved and in a pitiable condition.  They had risen to the height of their power.  They were a wild people, they did as they pleased.  They were not use to taking orders from anyone.  After the campaign of 1876 they were actually starving.  They did not stay in one place long enough to rehabilitate themselves.  The last buffalo hunt was in 1882, I believe, when Major McLaughlin went out with them, and since then the buffalo had been killed off.  The climax came when Sitting Bull and his followers were sent to Fort Randall in 1881 and were not returned until 1883.  These old timers were proud but they knew they were whipped.

There was only about ten percent of the Indians joined Sitting Bull.  The majority of them would have joined him if they thought he would have succeeded in his wild scheme of the Messiah Craze or Ghost Dance.  Their Ghost Dancing practices were extreme.  Of course, wild beliefs had overtaken other people, too.  Many white people, who were supposed to be enlightened, believed the world was coming to an end.  I do not know whether Sitting Bull believed in the Messiah Craze or not.  I believe Sitting Bull was a disgruntled old man by that time and used the Ghost Dancing to his own advantage.

I heard quite a story in connection with Sitting Bull’s riding up to the Agency in 1889 and disbanding the Tribal Council.  Jack Carignan’s father and Harry McLaughlin were young boys then and they had gone to the Council meeting.  The meeting was being held in the new warehouse, and the place was crowded with Indians, white men from the fort and their wives, soldiers, some dignitaries from Washington and I have been informed General Crook was present.  The boys got up on the crossbeams of the ceiling to watch the proceedings.  The Council had been called for the purpose of getting some of the Chiefs to sign a treaty ceding certain of their lands to the Government for the price of, I believe, $1.25 an acre.  Sitting Bull was bitterly opposed to the making of a treaty with the Government, and did all he could to break it up.  They were having the Council, anyway, and Sitting Rode up to the Council with about fifty or a hundred of his followers.  When the people heard that Sitting Bull and his followers were there, there was a riot.  Some of the women fainted.  Everyone left because they were afraid  – all except Jack Carignan and Harry McLaughlin.  After everyone was gone they were still sitting on the crossbeams and laughed about the excitement.   Nothing further was done on the Council that day.  That night Major McLaughlin went down to the camp and got John Grass to sign the treaty and then other Chiefs followed in line  – all except Sitting Bull.  Then Sitting Bull was angry.  He grabbed onto this Messiah Craze.  He took this as a last stand.  Major McLaughlin talked to Sitting Bull and Sitting Bull said he would come to the Agency peacefully but he couldn’t give up this Messiah Craze.

The day soldiers came to arrest him, he hesitated and the fight was on.  I have talked to some of the white men who came up after the fighting was over.  Jerry Linton was one of them.  They went down to Sitting Bull’s camp to take care of the dead.  The offenders had left for Pine Ridge.  Some of them were in the vicinity of Wounded Knee when the fighting occurred there  I remember distinctly my father driving down to Sitting Bull’s camp after the fight with the policeman from the Agency.  The Indian women were crying for their dead.  The Indians felt pretty bad.  They knew they had done wrong and had made a mistake

SUPERINTENDENT LIPPERT:  McLaughlin’s 1885 report stated 1109 children of school age.  Two boarding schools and four day schools were in operation.  One day school was conducted by the Dakota Mission.

Currently (1939) there are about 1,300 children of school age on the reservation.

The Agricultural Boarding School, with a capacity of 60 children, located sixteen miles south of the Agency (which would have been at Kenel) with a farm of  65 acres connected with it, where boys above twelve years of age are admitted and instructed in farming and the care of stock, also in carpenter and blacksmith work.  They also provide the fuel for the school without expense to the Government, and haul all water used at the school from the Missouri River, a distance of about half a mile.  Each boy has half a day of class studies in the school and the other half is assigned to outdoor work.  This school has been continued throughout the year with a full attendance of 72 pupils and an average attendance of 41 9/12 for the entire 12 months.

The Industrial Board School, for girls of all ages and boys up to twelve years, is located at the Agency, and had a capacity of 100 pupils up to December 31st last, when an addition for a laundry was completed, giving room for 20 additional board scholars.  It has been in operation throughout the year with a full attendance of 143 pupils and an average of 107 11/12 for the twelve months ending the 31st ultimo.

The Cannon Ball Day School, located twenty-five miles north of the Agency, among the Lower Yanktonais, was opened for scholars last September, and a midday lunch was given to those attending.  The full attendance was 88 scholars, with an average of 51 8/10 for the school year of ten months.  The large attendance is an a measure due to the midday lunch furnished, but chiefly to the efforts of the teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Wells.

Day School No. One (Big Lake), located in the Upper Yanktonaise settlement eighteen miles north of the Agency, with a capacity of 30 pupils, was opened for scholars on May 1st and continued throughout the months of May and June, with full attendance of 27 pupils and an average of 19 ½.  This school was taught by a full blood Indian boy, Claude Bow, who was educated in the Agency Schools, with the exception of eight months training at Feehanville, Illinois.  He gave good satisfaction and controlled the children very well, but is desirous of going to school another term in order to improve his English before resuming teaching.

Day School No. Two, with a capacity of 30 pupils, is located three miles north of the Agency, and was opened on May 1st, with a full attendance of 28 pupils and an average of 19.  The short time that this school has been in operation shows satisfactory results.

Day School No. Three, with a capacity of 30 pupils, is located three miles south of the Agency, among the late hostiles, or followers of Sitting Bull, and was also opened on May 1st with a full attendance of 21 scholars and an average of 17.  This school has been under the charge of a full blood Indian teacher, Rose Bearface, assisted by another Indian girl, Frances White Cow, both of whom had a three-years course at the Hampton Normal School, returning in June 1884.

Grand River School:  This school has been erected during the present semester, at a point on the Grand River about forty miles southwest of the Agency and has a capacity of sixty scholars.  It is constructed on the same principal as the Cannon Ball Day School, having a classroom 20 x 30 feet, with kitchen, dining room and bedroom and will be opened for scholars, with two teachers, on September 1st next, making the seventh Government school at this Agency, all of which will be in operation after the 1st proximo. And it is to be hoped that the children can be brought to avail themselves of these increased educational facilities.

Little Eagle School:  Rev. T. S. Riggs, of the Dakota Mission, conducted a day school on Grand River, 32 miles southwest of the Agency, with Mr. Edwin Phelps, a full-blood Sisseton Sioux Indian, as teach, whose reports show this school in operation seven months of the year with a full attendance of 65 scholars and an average of 19 4/7 for the seven months taught, from December 1884 to June 1885, inclusive

McLaughlin’s comments in the 1880’s on Missionary Work:  The Missionary work at this Agency is chiefly under the auspices of Rt. Rev. M. Marty, Roman Catholic Bishop of Dakota, and the work has been conducted throughout the past year by four priests at an expense of about $2,850.00.  Of the four clergymen engaged in the work, Rev. Father Claude is stationed at the Agency,  Rev. Fathers Martin and Bede at St. Benedict’s Mission, sixteen miles south, and Rev. Father Craft at the Cannon Ball Station, twenty-five miles north, that latter making regular pastoral visits to all outlying settlements, including those on Grand River.  Services are held daily at three separate points on the reservation and there are three services on Sundays at the Agency and Farm School Missions.  These Missionaries report 218 Indian baptisms during the year, of whom 51 were adults.

Rev. T.L.Riggs of the Dakota Mission has religious instruction conducted by a native teacher, Mr. Edwin Phelps, at his Mission station on Grand River 32 miles southwest of the Agency, which station has been maintained throughout the year at an expense of about $350.00.

Rt. Rev. Bishop Hare of the Protestant Episcopal Church, also located a Mission on Oak Creek in November last and has had a native Missionary stationed there for the past three months.  He has recently completed a neat and commodious chapel with a parsonage attached, at a cost of about $1,400.000.  This station is beautifully situated at a point on Oak Creek about thirty-five miles due south of the Agency, and occupies a commanding view of the surrounding country.

The Missionaries have labored zealously, but the Christianizelation (sp?, his word) of the Indians is very slow as evidenced by the indifference of the old and middle-aged; it being difficult to convince them that the religious beliefs of their ancestors were erroneous, which, with their animosities and present race prejudices, requires “a labor of love” and great patience. The hope of change lies in the education of the rising generation, as it is only through the young that much can be affected.  To overcome their deeply-rooted superstitions and conquer the influence of their native “medicine men” the work must commence with the child.

FATHER BERNARD:  You note that by 1885 the missionaries were just beginning to attempt to educate the people on the Standing Rock Reservation.  I would like to make one remark in regard to President Grant’s policy.  In order to avoid trouble between the churches, President Grant thought it would be fine to assign one religious denomination to each reservation, for example; Cheyenne and Rose bud to the Episcopalian denomination, Crow Creek and Lower Brule and Yankton to the Congregational, etcetera. Of course it did not work out to have a whole reservation assigned to one religious organization, but we got along very well by working together.  We had an understanding that if any Indian wanted to leave one church and join another he could do so it he had a justifiable reason.

‘Goose Camp School,’ with about sixty followers was formed at the time the soil was very productive.  After the decline the camp was abandoned.  Its leader was called Goose.

FRANK FISKE:  Another school was right at Sitting Bull’s camp.

SUPERINTENDENT LIPPERT:  They established six new schools.  I did not indicate all of them.  The report indicates St. Elizabeth Mission and five other schools were established in 1885.  They had the four day schools in addition to the boarding schools.

FRANK FISKE:  They turned out some pretty bright pupils in those days.  I don’t know how they did it  – like the older Gaytons, who learned the trades; old man Kidder; others who became teachers, like Robert Higheagle; another is Ignatious Ironroad; also Dr. Eastman, who until he was seventeen years old had never been to school and was taken East and educated.  He became famous as a lecturer and writer. As the Indian came off the trail, he was a very rugged individual, strong of character.  When that strength of character was diverted into other lines that was probably what carried him along.  Reservation life was what caused the ‘softening.’  For that matter I do not think the white people are as aggressive as they once were either.

MR. REEVE: The earliest record of home-building I could find is an 1871 report where they forwarded with supplies several hundred yards of broadcloth or canvas to be issued to Indians for patching their tents.  The first cattle purchased to be issued for breeding stock was in August, 1873.  Edmund Palmers was Agent and purchased 132 cows, 202 oxen, 5 Duram bulls and 2 stallions.  They used the oxen to break up ground.  It took them about four years to get two hundred acres broken.  It was in the report of 1877 when W.T.Hughes was Agent.  At that time they purchased two batches of milch cows.  I don’t take that very seriously because he asked for two white herders and six Indian herders to keep the cows on range.  That year (1877) the Government hired 600 acres of new ground broken and 200 acres of old ground plowed.  The Indians cultivated 400 acres.  They raised 8000 bushels of corn, 2500 bushels of potatoes, 800 bushels of other vegetables.  Besides they cut 100 tons of hay and chopped 160 cords of wood.  John Grass and Two Bears each purchased a mowing machine for their bands, paying for them in beef hides.  A band would be issued ten or twenty beeves and would take them to the camp and butcher them and the band would have the hides.  They paid for these mowers with hides.  I believe this would be a good way to keep up our reimbursable payments.The absence of grasshoppers this year (1877) has inspired the hopes for the future. They completed fifty substantial log houses, 16 x 28 foot.  More such houses are needed.

706 acres of old land and 1200 acres of new land was plowed in 1879, according to the report of J.A.Stephen, Agent at that time. Sixty new homes were completed and 32 more in rapid progress of completion.  The cattle census shows 651 and 643 ponies.  The cattle report of 1879 showed 58 individuals lost cows and calves.  In the spring of 1879 the Government plowed 1000 acres at an average of $1.00 per acre.  The summer report shows that the ones who took care of their crops were quite successful.  The Lower Yanktoinais Indians, under their head Chief Two Bears, had been farming and cultivated 200 acres of corn.  Also a few acres of squash and pumpkins.  The Blackfoot Sioux also cultivated 100 acres of land the Government had broken up for them on the Moreau River.  They had a successful year raising corn.

Here is a little paragraph about Government quarters:

I have constructed this summer an excellent resident for the occupancy of the Agent and now finished several buildings for Agency employees there.  The buildings were before the work was begun very miserable shanties.  All the buildings have been erected by the regular Agency employees and the lumber for this purpose had to be drifted down the river about 25 miles.

In 1880 there were 125 Indians farming one-half to fifteen acres.  Issued to Indians in 1880 were 40 oxen, yoke; 480 heifers; 20 bulls; 50 wagons; 50 double harness; 24 breaking plows; 152 stirring plows; 160 double-shovel plows; 138 spades; 89 shovels; 240 scythes; 300 hay forks.

In 1881 there were 284 Indian families took up claims; 243 had homes built by the Government.  The balance wait an appropriation of funds to construct and finish their houses.  One-third of the livestock and ponies perished in the winter of 1881.

 In 1882 1400 acres were planted in crops.  A second crop was raised  – the grasshoppers were very bad.  28 mowing machines on the reservation.

In 1901 there were 13051 breeding stock on the reservation.

In 1902 the report by Major George Bingenheimer, he stated, “Rain has caused a luxurious growth of grass, making hay plentiful.  Oats did well and a good crop was harvested. Unfortunately, under the discouragement of previous years, the total area sown was quite small but there will be plenty of hay and feed.

In 1912 report: “Cattle raising is the one agricultural industry that offers insured success to the Indians of this reservation.  There are, at present, about 15000 head of cattle owned by Indians, or less than five head per capita.  When Major Belden was in charge, in March, 1908, all but 516 head were sold so the present stock has all been produced during the past four years.  The distribution of cattle among the Indians is more evenly than is usually the case.  The quality of cattle is quite good.  Considerable improvement by methods should be attempted.  The reservation could be stocked to a carrying capacity of forty acres per cow.”

SUPERINTENDENT LIPPERT:  You will note in this discussion what has been taking place is that the Indians have been breaking up from bands into homes and communities.  Here is what Major McLaughlin says in 1885:  “Very few Indians are now remaining in the present camp near the Agency.  Over one hundred families have broken up community life during the past year and located on claims along the Missouri, Cannon Ball, and Grand Rivers, and along the Porcupine and Oak Creeks, thus securing better ranges for their stock and an opportunity of procuring their winter’s supply of hay with greater ease, and this locating on claims separated from each other exerts a wholesome influence by arousing and strengthening their interests in individuality.”

This was what took place during that time.  You saw schools established; you saw the Missionaries establishing their churches and mission schools.  I did not mention ‘health,’  I will just pick a few items from this 1885 report.

The Agency physician reports the sanitary condition of the Indians good; that no epidemic disease has prevailed among them, with the exception of mild varicella during the winter months; and that the demand upon him for the white man’s remedies is steadily increasing.  The death rate has been large, though the births have exceeded it, there having been 175 births against 149 deaths.

The greater number of deaths have been from consumption and scrofula, occurring at the extremes of life, and the Doctor suggests that, in view of the fact that so large a number of the cases a physician meets are among the aged and infirm, or the very young, suffering from those troubles that require stimulation, that an alcoholic stimulant, such as brandy or whiskey, be placed upon the list of medical supplies.

McLaughlin’s report continued:  The better class of our Indians frequently speak about establishing a hospital, and I am satisfied that many would avail themselves of its privileges if one were provided.  In such an institution the sick children could be taken care of, and operations among the older ones undertaken that are not advisable with their present surroundings, and I would recommend the erection of a building suitable for hospital purposes at this Agency at as early a date as practicable.

FATHER BERNARD: The Hospital was built in 1886.  It was the year I came to the reservation.  The Agent got the first typewriter about 1890.  The Indians own 1902 head of cattle now.

I would like to talk about the annuities.  The Indians received annuities once a year, when all the Indians assembled at Fort Yates.  Everything to be issued was arranged in piles on the tables.  When an Indian was called and came up, he spread out a blanket and the articles were tossed on the blankets, those that could be carried out.

Sometimes the flour would not suit them and they scattered the flour and used the sacks.  It was the sacks they wanted

When I came here the first year the Indians had scrofula (tuberculosis of the skin).  I laid it to the eating of fresh beef.  I hardly see an Indian with scrofula nowadays.  Most of the deaths were from tuberculosis.  I saw a great many young ladies die from it.  A great many are buried at the cemetery here.  In those days a great many babies died.  An Indian woman had, perhaps, ten children and one or two usually survived.

Questioned by the audience:

When Buffalo Bill heard that the Government was not able to control the Indians of  Sitting Bull’s band, Buffalo Bill, who had been notorious, thought he could gain Sitting Bull’s favor.  Major McLaughlin was very much afraid that Buffalo Bill would come out here and try to get Sitting Bull.  Buffalo Bill did come as far as Four-Mile Creek but he received a telegram from Washington that it was not safe to do so as Sitting Bull was not in any mood to take any white man’s advice.

FRANK FISKE:  I saw Buffalo Bill. He was here.  He came to visit Sitting Bull and I guess to get him to join his show.  He had a wagon-load of presents with him for Sitting Bull.  My father was in charge of Government transportation and gave him a wagon to use to get to Grand River.  The story I have heard is that Louis Primeau met Buffalo Bill on Oak Creek and told him that Sitting Bull had gone to the Agency on another trail and that he rode a horse shod on only one foot.  Buffalo Bill went and looked at the track and sure enough the track showed that a horse with one foot shod and the other unshod had passed that way.  Buffalo Bill sent Steve Bird to tell Sitting Bull that he was here and Steve Bird did not go back.  He was afraid of Buffalo Bill.  In the meantime Major McLaughlin got authority to go after Sitting Bull and bring him in.  I always believed Buffalo Bill could have gone in and got Sitting Bull.  Of course that would have helped Buffalo Bill’s show.

SUPERINTENDENT LIPPERT:  We have seen bands break up into home groups and we have seen fourteen men employed to take care of 550 cows.  We have seen the livestock built up to 15000 head or more, up to the time that I first became acquainted with the Sioux in 1910, and then seeing those industrial efforts collapse. We are going to go back to the first Allotment Act and try and follow the influence of the allotting of the reservation and the various policies and Acts of opening the reservation by ceding it and by homesteading it up until the decline of agricultural prices following the World War in 1920 and 1921.

SIDNEY CLAYMORE:  At the time the reservation was established the Cannon Ball River was the boundary on the north, the Missouri on the East, the Corson County line on the south, and Parkins and Adams Counties on the West.  That included 2,300,000 acres, which was the number of acres originally set aside.  The Treaty of 1868 provided that the heads of families would be allotted 640 acres, the single men over 21 years of age would get 320 acres and all children would get 160 acres.  They did not start allotting until 1905.  The blue on this map is all land that had been allotted to Indians on this reservation (note: no maps found in this manuscript).  In 1908 Congress passed an Act opening part of this reservation for homestead entry.  This territory in the bottom townships was first designated.  Then it moved north.  The total acreage that was allotted to Indians for their use was 1,500,000 acres.  About 1910 Congress passed an Act permitting patents in fee to be issued to allottees who were declared competent and there were also in 1917 various patents issued and various allotments sold.  The red color indicates the acreage lost by the tribe through the issuance of patents in fee, sales, and homestead entry.  They retained only 900,000 acres of land for their own use.  In 1915 Congress passed and Enabling Act that opened the balance of the reservation.  There were no more allotments made after 1915.  Now we have here our present status map. The area in white is land that is out of our control and the blue is land the Indians retained.  The dark red is land purchased under the Sub-marginal Act.  The Yellow is Tribal land.  This Tribal land consists of 127,000 acres.  It is scattered up and down the reservation.

The Indians were given their choice in the selection of their allotments.  In cases where they were old or in cases of young children the allotment was selected by them.

Allotments were in family groups and were almost all along the rivers and streams.  Later, this land was all settled and the younger children were allotted upon the prairie.

Those who selected their own allotments were pleased.  Some of the younger children did not have the chance to select their own allotments.  I know of some children allotted at that time, and who are about 30 years of age now, who have never seen their land.  They know the description of it but they have never seen it.

If they were living on land they were given first choice to select that land as their allotment and there was not much moving done.  In those days when a child was born the parents selected the allotment for the child right away for fear it might die before it was allotted.

Alloting ceased in 1915.

The population in 1903 was about 3600 … today (1939) it is about 4003.

If a child died the estate was probated and the land usually went to the father and mother.

The idea of these allotments was for making homes, raising livestock and making a living.

Allotments that an allottee never saw were usually rented out and the rental collected and put to the allottee’s credit for his use.

Indian-owned land now (1939) is about 1,000,000 acres (including tribal land) out of original 2,300,000 acres.

Fee patented land is immediately out of the jurisdiction of the Government.  The allottee can do as he pleased with it and it is subject to taxation.  Indians still hold very little ‘patent in fee’ land.

Indians were allowed to come in and homestead any of the vacant land set aside up until 1936.

Retained land is restricted and you can see the land owned by the Indians and the Tribe is increasing rather than decreasing.  Aside: A few more days of this wind and they will relinquish some more.

Tribal land is under jurisdiction of the Superintendent and the Tribal Council.  Most of it is rented to ranchers with proceeds going to the tribal fund.

Why did they stop allotting land?  There was plenty of land but I suppose the politicians got after Congress.  In 1913 they decided to open the balance of the land for homestead entry.  It took an Act of Congress to open it for homestead entry and the same Act stopped further allotments.  No price was set on the land.  The balance of the reservation was opened for entry and the Government said it would sell the land for the Indians.  Some of the land was sold for 25¢ an acre, up to $2.00 an acre.  None went over $3.00 an acre.  Most of it went for 50¢ an acre.

MR. REEVE:  I might be following the cattle industry a little too closely but it follows the economical situation up until 1920 as closely as anything I can find.

1900 Annual report of Superintendent Bingenheimer:  Cattle owned 12,213 head…an increase of 5,520 in two years.  Rations were cut so that the Indians had to rely upon their own beef cattle for support.  They sold $33,341.46 of surplus cattle to the Government for rations. He recommended buying more outside beef to issue and also increase the other rations as they were formerly so the Indians could increase their herds.  He estimated  that if the Indians did not sell or kill any cattle they would have enough in five years to they would become self-supporting and the Indian problem would be over on the Standing Rock Reservation.

1905, June 30th Report of Superintendent I.N.Steen:  19,579 head showing a total increase of 5,542 and 4,021 of the decrease being disposed of by sale, eating. Loss, etcetera, one can readily see that there was a lack of thrift among the Indians.

Other things entered into the losses:  At the time the big lessees came in here and the Indians complained that the cattle would stray and if they were not rounded up and the calves and yearlings branded they were butchered and eaten as “Slow Elk.”  There is not much in the records about Slow Elk but it is commonly known that it was carried on.  Slow Elk was beef that had been stolen or that had strayed.  Quite a lot of Slow Elk was butchered and eaten from 1905 to 1921.

In 1908 there were a large number of cattle and livestock issued as Sioux Benefits.  8575 cows, calves, bulls and heifers were issued that year.  Also 746 mares.  The could either chose 18 heifers or an issue of 2 cows, 2 calves, 2 mares, forks, harrows, harness, plow and wagon.  Most of the Indians chose the latter.  There were a few other benefits issued the same year where the Indians took 2 mares and the rest in cash.

SIDNEY CLAYMORE: Sioux Benefits were really an allotment benefit.  The Government attempted to rehabilitate the Indians on these allotments.  They were told that they would be given a team, two cows, etcetera, or an equal amount of cash to buy those things.  The people entitled to those benefits were Indians who had approved allotments, who were 18 years of age, and who were single persons or were heads of families.  Since the allotting ceased in 191, we have young people 22 or 23 years old who never received Benefits because they never received an approved allotment.

MR. REEVE:  From 1908 to 1914 Sioux Benefit stock and machinery were issued.  In 1914 reimbursable loans were extended.  The status of the Indian stock in 1916 was as follows:

Reimbursable Steers 1,000

Reimbursable Heifers 2,525

Reimbursable Calves    981

Old Cattle (cows) 3,680

Old Cattle (heifers)    830

Old Cattle (steers)    757

Old Cattle (calves) 2,599

Total Cattle            12,372


Number of mares 4,261

Number of geldings 3,528

Colts 1,000

Total 8,799

Total Hay            29,613 tons

(average tons per head of cattle = 2.4 tons)

These figures show 1905 with 19,579 cattle reported and 1916 with 12,372, indicating that the Indian-owned cattle decreased very rapidly. If it had not been for the large number issued through Benefit money and reimbursable loans the Indians would have been out of the cattle industry.

In 1918 cattle dropped to 6,872 head and were up again in 1918 to 7,344 and about the same in 1920, showing 7,355.

Another thing effecting the livestock industry was the World War.  In 1918, there were 25,958 acres leased for farming.  In 1919, there were 37,218 acres leased and in 1920 40,906 acres leased for farming. Also there was a greater demand for leasing land for grazing.  The demand increased until in 1920 there were 593,784 acres under grazing lease.  In other words, most of the reservation was leased; land was being sold, and the Indians who farmed wheat were farming more all the time.  This report shows that the Indian who farmed three to five acres of wheat and oats was being discouraged because it was hard and expensive to thresh such a small amount.  Wheat was $2.40 a bushel in 1920  Everyone was trying to raise all the wheat and livestock he could, then prices dropped to a mere nothing. The Indians had thousands of acres plowed up and the stockmen went broke.

Reimbursable Loans:  In 1914 the Government started making reimbursable loans but did not issue much until 1915.  $600 was considered sufficient capital to start up an industry.  The Indian was supposed to have a farm plan but when he was asked what he wanted to buy it was usually granted him.  The main thing was sign his name four times to the contract.  The repayment plan was forgotten.  There was one herd purchased in 1915 whose offspring are still on the reservation.  The Indian still owes $230.00 but he has thirty cows and nineteen heifers.  The majority of the loans were not paid.  When the steers became two or three years old the Indians were supposed to sell them and pay on their loans.  The accounts that have not been paid will stay on the books until they are paid.  There are about $167,000 of reimbursable debts still on the reservation.  The reimbursable plan was revised last year.  There is no limit on the amount any more but there is a strict repayment plan.  It is a lot worse than the FSA plan.

SYDNEY CLAYMORE:  Along about in 1929 there were quite a number of old people on the reservation who owned large acreages of land and were unable to work and had no way of securing funds to the Government permitted the Agencies to use part of the regular Reimbursable Fund allotted to the reservation for old and indigent Indians and those old and indigent people could borrow up to $600.00 on part of their allotment.  If their land was good, they put up a quarter of a section as security; if the land was poor, they put up half a section.  The load was credited to them at $180.00 a year.  The idea of the Government at the time in taking a portion of the land as security was a sort of lien on the land.  The loan was to be repaid at some future time when the land was sold.  Of course, after 1934 the loans could not be collected as the Reorganization Act was passed, prohibiting the further sale of land.  How these loans are going to be collected we do not know.

MR. LIPPERT:  There is a correlation between the figures Mr. Reeve has given us that has not been tied in.  He kind of put his finger on it now and then.  For instance, he showed in 1905 that there were approximately 19,000 head owned by Indians.  Then he showed a decrease in 1908.  Also in 1905 he began talking about leases to large cattlemen. Then in 1908 he began talking about Sioux Benefit issues and, if you will recall, that was about the time the reservation began to be opened up for settlers.  The ceded portion was in 1908.  You see a decrease of Indian livestock, and, if you watch those figures and remember the maps Sidney showed you, you find a decrease in Indian-owned land from the time those large cattlemen came in.

In those days that land was not lying idle.  My experience from 1910 was that this land was going through a peculiar condition.  Here comes the homesteader in.  The big cattleman was there before the homesteader.  The homesteader comes in  – the big cattleman gradually goes out.  The population of livestock owned by the big cattleman and the population of the livestock owned by the Indian both decrease as the homesteader comes in.

Possibly the greatest crop yield ever produced in this area as a whole and the highest prices as a whole were in 1918.  That was during the War period.  Boy, you can’t talk 10¢ an acre grazing land against $2.00 and $2.50 wheat leases for the farmland.  It started in 1908; got a big start in 1910 when opened to homesteaders; got a bigger one when the war came, and then prices dropped.

The Indian livestock went with it.  That was what happened during that period of years.  We kind of snickered when reading Captain Bingenheimer’s report where he stated in five years the Indians could be rehabilitated in livestock.  Mr. Bingenheimer may have been off, but it world economics had not stepped in to upset the plan Mr. Bingenheimer had in 1905, he might not have been so far off.  Mr. Bingenheimer did not know there was going to be a World War.  He did not know the reservation was going to be opened for homesteading and he did not know anything about $3.00 wheat.  Although we laugh, I don’t think he was quite so far off.  19,000 head of livestock  – I wonder how many white-owned livestock were on the reservation at that time?

FRANK FISKE:  Not many in 1900.  The first lease was made in about 1903 to the L7 Cattle Company with Lemmon as its manager.  They ran a line fence between the reservation and their least.  Indian cattle could not get in and their cattle could not get out.  The first cattle were owned by white men and married into the tribe.  Other outfits were C-7, Hardy of Morristown, and ZT.  Walker’s brand was ZT.  Hardy was here in 1908-1910.  There were other small outfits but they did not have as many cattle as Hardy and Walker.  I would say there was about 25,000 head of white-owned cattle in those days in 1905.

DISCUSSIONS, MAINLY ON AGRICULTURE:  Even with the large cattle outfits there was still 19,000 head of Indian-owned cattle and a little more, too.  I think the attempt to change from a cattle country to farming was largely responsible for the decrease in Indian-owned livestock and also the large influx of men to get in the real estate business.

How did they raise those crops in those years?  There was one thing had a big influence and that was a lot of rain.  Some who came to this community since 1934 always ‘look a question mark’ at people talking about rain in this part of the country.

Rainfall around Fort Yates was not less than 15 inches a year from 1910 until 1926.  There were times in 1915 up until 1918 when the rainfall was up to 18 and 19 inches.  In 1906 this ground was covered with old, matted grass which held the dust.  When we were children we used to play hide-and-seek in the old grass.

A graph would show a gradual decrease in the rainfall.  Two years ago it started going up a little.  Now, I don’t  know.  But rain had quite a bit to do with the crop raising.

The soil had been built up for centuries and when it was drawn on too heavily it wore out.  I have a book published in 1929 stating that this country is not a farming country.  If you tried to tell those farmers in 1929 that this is not a farm country they would tell you that you were crazy.  Now, however, since 1930 they have had a little scare.  Even in 1930 they wouldn’t believe.  If you go up and talk to them now they are convinced this is not a farming country.

In 1888 Captain Harriman told me, Father Bernard, I think North and South Dakota should be fenced in and should be held for the Indians and the buffalo.  The Russian-Germans made the little town of Eureka the greatest wheat country in the world.  I visited there one day.  During the harvest season three trainloads of wheat was shipped out of Eureka each day.

I don’t think there ever were enough crops raised to deplete the soil.  I believe if we had rain we could raise crops on our good soil.   Good soil is soil above the shale…the soil survey shows good soil on this reservation.

The best way to find out if we have had enough rainfall in the past 25 years is to go back and get the average crop yields.  In the good days rains would start in June and would keep up until about the middle of August.

SIDNEY CLAYMORE:  In 1917 the Secretary and Commissioner Sells established a Competency Board.  They traveled over the reservations and it was their job to contact allottees and talk with them and find out if they were competent.  If the Board thought an allottee competent, he was issued a patent in fee by the Commissioner whether he wanted it or not.  That is the time the Indians lost the most land through patents in fee.

FATHER BERNARD:  I know that the Indians, when they learned that they could sell their land at a good price, were very anxious to dispose of their property.  Of course it had a very bad reaction morally, too.  They money was wasted on automobiles.  When the restrictions were removed, the Indians traveled extensively.  All laws were disregarded.  The Indians were deemed citizens and they used that as an excuse for their actions.  Rev. Reed told me his experiences and we always come to the conclusion that things were getting worse.

Grazing land sold as high as $10.00 an acre; farmland from $12.00 to $25.00 an acre.  Taxes were not as high as now.  At any rate, where an Indian with 1000 acres of land in family was concerned when he learned that he could sell the land from $10 to $25 an acre, he felt his money and land would last for a long time.  Of course he found it did not.  Very little of the land was lost through taxes.

SUMMARY of this 1939 Meeting by FRANK FISKE:

The so-called Laramie Treaty of 1868 provided for a lasting peace between the U.S.Government and all tribes participating in the treaty, being Sioux Indians west of the Missouri River.  All white who committed depredations upon the Indians would be punished, while the Indians promised to turn over to the Government all offenders against the white.  The treaty set apart the Great Sioux Reservation from the north line of Nebraska to Fort Rice (eight miles north of the Cannon Ball River), in North Dakota; bounded in the east by the Missouri River and on the west by the west line of the present states of North and South Dakota.  The treaty contained the clause,  “And the same is set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians herein noted.”

The Government agreed to build, at its own expense, an agency on the Missouri River, centrally located, north and south, where a complete set of buildings would be built, including storerooms, residences for the agent, physician, farmers, carpenters, blacksmiths, engineers, and others.  Schools would also be built, and grist and shingle mills. Each Indian would have the right to select 320 acres of land, providing he was the head of the family, or, not having a family, he could pick out 80 acres and the land would be patented to him after he had resided thereon for three years.  After securing the patent he would become a full citizen of the United States. Compulsory education of the Indian children was agreed upon.  Whoever abided by the land allotment would also receive seed and agricultural implements, and have the assistance of the agency farmer.

The treaty of ‘68 abrogated all previous treaties and provided that each Indian be furnished clothing annually for thirty years, and $10 for beads of families if he continues to roam and hunt, or $20 each if he settled down and tried to farm.  Each farmer family would get a good cow and a pair of American broken oxen.  Besides these emoluments, $500 would be awarded each year to the ten persons of each tribe who, in the judgment of the agent, had raised the best crops.

The treaty expressly stipulated that the territory designated in the treaty would be held and considered to be unceded Indian country, and that no white person shall be allowed to settle thereon or to, even, pass through it.  In ninety days after the establishment of peace, all military posts then established would be abandoned and the soldiers withdrawn, and the roads to Montana Territory that were guarded by those posts would be closed.

It was, also, expressly stipulated that no land within the boundaries of the reservation would be ceded unless three-fourths of all adult male Sioux Indians agreed to it and signed the treaty therefore.

Following the signing of the treaty of ‘68 there were several years of peace with the Indians.  In 1868 an agency for the Standing Rock Sioux was established at Ashley Island, above the mouth of the Grand River at the Missouri River.  Many of the Indians held little regard for the treaty and roamed hither and yon at will, but it was not until 1871 that they began to grow suspicious of the good intentions of the Great White Father, for he had allowed surveyors to work west from the Missouri River, at what is now Mandan, North Dakota, and were running the line for the proposed Northern Pacific Railway.  In 1874 General George A. Custer led his command on a trip to the Black Hills, cutting across the reservation, and on his return gave the world the news that “There is gold in them thar hills.”  That precipitated a gold rush wherein 10,000 people trekked to the Hills.  An attempt was made by Government troops to drive the miners out but it amounted to but a gesture.

Now it was imperative that another treaty be made to secure the right to mine gold in the Hills, and a commission was sent out from Washington and made good proposals for the Hills by offering the Indians $6,000,000 for a relinquishment of their rights, or a yearly rental of $400,000.

This attempted deal was held at the Rosebud Agency on September 4, 1875, and it dragged along until the 29th, when the commissioners gave up with the report that: “No agreement can be made.”  No wonder, for the Indians asked $70,000,000 for the Black Hills.

In June 1876 General Custer met the Indians at their camp on the Little Big Horn and his command was wiped out.  Then ensued months of warfare in which the United States troops pursued the hostile Indians until all were rounded up with the exception of Sitting Bull and Gall, who with their immediate bands, had fled to Canada.

Again in the Summer of 1876 a commission was sent out to make a treaty with the Sioux for the Black Hills, and this time it was successful for the Indians were so demoralized that they offered little resistance.  However, the stipulation that three-fourths of the male adult members necessary to validate a treaty by signing was ignored and only those signed who were found loitering about the agencies.  This treaty provided for the ceding of all the country from the Black Hills west and that portion lying north of the Cannon Ball River.  The treaty provided for rations and clothing, schooling and supervision, and the Indians finally came back to the reservation  – to keep from starving  – and settled down to a more or less dissatisfied contemplation of their woes and griefs.

In 1889 a treaty was made whereby the Indians relinquished the territory lying between the White and Cheyenne Rivers in South Dakota, and received $1.25 per acre for all land disposed of by the Government during the first three years; 75¢ per acre for that resold during the next two years and 50¢ for the remaining as it was resold.

During the Next decade conditions in the Sioux Reservations were tranquil enough save for the unpleasantness incident to the so-called Messiah Craze which culminated in the death of Sitting Bull and the Battle of Wounded Knee. Sitting Bull had refused to sign all treaties and the success of the government in putting over the treaty of 1889 broke the old chief’s heart & probably was a deciding factor in his suicidal leadership of his people in the Messiah Craze

The Indians prospered in the cattle business as it was carried through by the Indian Department, and they were happy and contented.  Some owned as much as 200 head of good beef cattle, while those who were indigent received beef issues through the Government which purchased much of the cattle owned by the prosperous Indians.  What farming that was practical was indulged in, and taking it all in all, the Sioux Indians were going forward very well.

But this was not to last forever.  In 1901 large cattle companies, operating about the reservation, found their ranges being cut down by an over-increasing influx of homesteaders, and they turned envious eyes to the rich grazing areas of the Indian country.  At first large tracts were leased and for a few years the cattle kings held their herds separate from those of the Indians, but in 1904 a large cattle company took over the leases and, disregarding boundary lines,  allowed their herds to run at will over the entire reservation.  Then the Government thought of allotting the land in severalty and of starting the Indians into actual farming just like the white man.  It seemed that the Indians had too many animals so cattle was shipped out by the train load until, between the devastation of the cattle company and the depletion of the herds by the Government, the Indians soon found themselves with very little of their great herds on hand.  By 1908 this reservation was allotted and each Indian family had moved onto its land.  Then began a series of individual leasing to cattlemen and farmers, and the selling of much of the land through the death of original allottees.  From the proceeds of the sale of inherited land, the Indians derived a living as the money was paid out through the Indian Office as it was needed for actual existence.  Since it was patent, by this system it would be but a matter of years until all the land was sold and the Sioux Indians would be homeless.

When John Collier became Indian Commissioner he stopped the sale of this land.  Of course, present conditions have stopped the sale of all land in this country whether owned by Indians or white people, but the move was a good one.  Now the Indian Department is making a steady advance along the lines of rehabilitation and that about ends the story of what has happened in the past.  Now we must look to the future and all work towards means of making this country again sale for human habilitation.  Personally, I think it will come through irrigation and a replacing of the people on productive lands in the river bottoms where they can work out their own destiny.

As the land was sold, the money was held in trust for the people and they could use it as they needed it.  I don’t suppose there is much left today.

MR. KING:  There is about $85,000 of individual Indian Money on deposit.



Funeral services were held from the Catholic church in Fort Yates on Tuesday, with Rev. Father Alfred, O.S.B., officiating, for Frank B. Fiske, age 69, writer and colorful authority on Indian history, who passed away at a Bismark hospital, on July 18, after several years of illness.

He was known throughout the Dakotas as an Indian authority, and has lived among the Indians on this reservation since 1889, at Fort Yates. He was born at Old Fort Bennett, in 1882. His father was a soldier there.

Mr. Fiske married Angela Cournoyer, an Indian woman at Fort Yates, and the widow and a married daughter, Francien, survive him; also one sister, Mrs. L. t. McKinstry of Fargo. Burial was made in the Catholic cemetary beside his parents.He was a veteran of World War I, and served Sioux county for years as county auditor and county treasurer. He also has served for years as chairman of the county Red Cross; War Bonds chairman, and chairman for Sioux county of the Greater North Dakota Association. For years he has served as justice of the peace, and was again nominated for this office at the recent primary election.

Mr. Fiske has operated a photography shop in Fort Yates since 1900. In 1912, he became an assistant river boat pilot on the Missouri river. He was active in river trade for five years. For a time he resided at McLaughlin in 1925, but returned back to Fort Yates.

He recorded Indian legends and vivid Dakota historical background in numerous articles and books. He was in the center of the history-making “Sioux Outbreak of 1890-91. During that period there were nearly 3,000 troops in the field in the Sioux country and some 6,000 Sioux warriors. Orders were given to the noted scout, William F. Cody, better known as “Buffalo Bill,” to induce Sitting Bull and several other chiefs to make terms. Buffalo Bill, who was believed to have influence with Sitting Bull, was to proceed to Standing Rock to induce Sitting Bull to come in, with authority to make such terms as might be necessary and if unsuccessful to arrest him and remove him from Fort Yates. Cody arrived at Fort Yates Nov. 28, 1890, where he visited at the Fiske home. Cody was about to undertake the arrest when his orders were countermanded under the belief that military interference was liable to provoke a conflict.

Mr. Fiske was a colorful and prominent character. Among his talents was the ability to play a good fiddle. Many of the numerous friends and pioneers he leaves behind can recall hearing him play the fiddle at dances, events and over radio stations, along with his musical partner in those years, Jack Carrigan.

Fiske enlisted in the army at St. Louis in 1918 and served in World War I. In 1929 he became publisher of the Fort Yates Pioneer-Arrow, and operated it successfully until he sold the paper to its present publisher, J. Bernard Smith, Selfridge.

His 1947 canoe journey was to provide him with data for his major historical work and to provide a highlight for Bismarck’s diamond jubilee celebration. He traveled in a 14-foot craft named “Far West,” accompanied by William Lemons, a Fort Yates teacher. In 1950, he received the North Dakota art award in New York, having been recognized for his Indian portraits by the State American Art Week Committee.

He also wrote two books, “Life and Death of Sitting Bull” and the “Taming of the Sioux”. He was working on another book at the time of his death. Frank as a boy became interested in photography. He soon began building up a collection of Indian photographs, and has the largest collection to be found anywhere. Among his pictures is one of Red Tomahawk which later was reproduced and now is on North Dakota highway markers. He also has in his collections pictures of many famous Indian chiefs.

Death Summons Father Bernard:

Pioneer Priest of Fort Yates Died of Cancer Yesterday at Yankton

Emmons County Record, Linton, North Dakota, October 17, 1940

Edited by Linda Haag

People throughout the whole Missouri Slope area today mourn the death of Father Bernard Strassmaier, beloved pioneer priest of the Standing Rock reservation who passed away at 9:45 yesterday morning in a hospital in Yankton, S. Dak. Death was caused from cancer of the stomach. In poor health for several months, he was taken to the hospital for the forepart of September. He was 78 years old.

Coming to the Standing Rock reservation 53 years ago, Fr. Bernard dedicated his life to administering to the spiritual and physical needs of the Sioux Indians. He was located at Fort Yates in the early days when there were no priests in this territory and made regular pilgrimages during winter and summer to the homes of Catholics in the Emmons and nearby counties where neighborhood services were held. He officiated at the Baptism, Confirmation and Marriage of scores of Emmons people.

On the reservation he carried on his missionary work among the Indians all thru the half century of his life there. Among the famous chiefs he converted were John Grass, Mad Bear, Grey Eagle, Weasel Bear, Bear Face and Fireheart. His parish today consists of nearly 2,000 members.

A native of Aresing, Bavaria, Germany, Fr. Bernard came to the United States in 1877 and was ordained as a Benedictine priest at Conception, Mo., June 1886. Six months later he came to the Indian territory. He celebrated his Golden Jubilee of Priesthood at Fort Yates in 1936, and again was honored in April this year with a celebration pageant which dramatized his life on his 53rd year of priesthood. He would have celebrated his 79th birthday this coming Nov. 15th.


No.66:.1939-1940…Grand River and Standing Rock Agents and Superintendents

Grand River and Standing Rock Agents and Superintendents

Grand River Agency, D. T., established in 1868, Jno. B. Dillen, Contractor and Builder, R. A. Papin, Forman.

J. A. Johnson, Acting Agent  …Apr. 1869 to July 14, 1869

Bvt. Maj. J. A. Hearn, U. S. Ind Agt (moved to Standing Rock?) …..July 18, 1869 to Nov. 1870

W. F. Cady, U. S. Indian Agent (moved to Standing Rock?)….Dec. 1870 to March 1871

J. O. O’Connor, U. S. Indian Agent…… Apr. 1871 to Dec. 1872

Edmund Palmer, U. S. Indian Agent…. Jan. 1873 to Feb. 1874

Relieved by Moffit, Acting Agent…. Feb. 1874 to March 1874

Jno. Burke, U. S. Indian Agent…. April 14, 1874 to Sept. 8, 1876

Relieved by R. C. Johnston, 1st U. S. Inf., Acting Agent ….Sept. 8, 1876 to Apr. 18, 1877

Relieved by W. T. Hughes, Acting Agent…. Apr. 18, 1877

Relieved by L. M. Kelly, Acting Agent…. Sept. 21, 1878

Relieved by J. A. Stephan, Acting Agent…. Oct. 21, 1878

Relieved by Jas. McLaughlin, U. S. Indian Agent…. Oct. 1, 1881 to March 31, 1895

J. W. Cramsie, U. S. Indian Agent…. April 1, 1895 to March 10, 1898

Geo. H. Bingenheimer, U. S. Indian Agent…. March 11, 1898 to March 31, 1903

J. H. Carrignan, U. S. Indian Agent…. April 24, 1903 to Feb. 8, 1905

I. W. Stern, U. S. Indian Agent ….March 1, 1905 to March 31, 1906

Col. Downs, Special Agent in Charge…. Apr. 1, 1906 to Apr. 30, 1906

W. L. Belden, U. S. Indian Agent…. May 1, 1906 to Dec. 4, 1908

W. L. Belden, as Superintendent ….Dec. 5, 1908 to March 31, 1911

James Y. Hamilton, Superintendent…. Apr. 1, 1911 to Jan. 31, 1913

J. W. McCabe, Superintendent…. Feb. 1, 1913 to Sept. 30, 1913

Albert H. Kneale…. Oct. 1, 1913 to Dec. 17, 1914

G. C. Covey ….Dec. 18, 1914 to March 15, 1917

Jas. B. Kitch…. March 16, 1917 to June 30, 1921

Eugene D. Mossman…. July 1, 1921 to June 30, 1933

Lorenz C. Lippert…. July 1, 1933 to…………..