A Brief History of South Dakota
Doane Robinson, 1905


SOUTH DAKOTA became a state of the Union during the period of reaction from the great Dakota boom. That boom brought to us not only many adventurers and promoters, but also a large class of honest but inexperienced persons, mercantile clerks, factory hands, and mechanics, who were attracted by the free government lands and who came to make farm homes, but who had no experience as farmers. Even those who knew how to farm in the eastern states found that eastern conditions did not apply to Dakota conditions and Dakota soil. The successful method of working our soil had to be learned by sore experience. It is no wonder, then, that thousands who came with high hopes of building homes and accumulating riches were sorely disappointed. Many of them, in utter discouragement, gave up their homesteads and returned to the East, where the impression became deep-rooted that Dakota was a failure. Following closely upon this reaction came a period of really bad crop years. A great drought in 1889 and 1890 made the crops in many counties a total failure.

Just at this time, also, a great religious excitement overwhelmed the Teton Sioux Indians, causing great uneasiness and even terror to the pioneers upon the frontier. The Indians meant no harm and it is probable that the excitement would have soon died away had they been left to themselves; but the military, fearing that the excitement would result in outbreak and hostilities, undertook to suppress the religious fervor, and this movement resulted in what is known as the Messiah.

This religious movement among the Indians originated with a Paiute Indian named Wovoka, who lived near Pyramid Lake, Nevada. He spoke English fairly well and had some education. He claimed to have had a vision on January 1, 1889, in which he was taken up to heaven, He found it a pleasant land and full of game. He was instructed to go back to earth and preach goodness and peace and industry to his people, who, if they followed his instructions, would be reunited with their friends in the other world, where there would be no more death or sickness or old age. He was then instructed in the dance which he was commanded to bring back to his people, and which was one of the strong articles of the new faith. Wovoka had simply mingled the pagan superstitions, in which he had been reared, with the Christian religion which he had been taught.

Wovoka's teachings spread rapidly among the Indians of North America, and as they spread they were given new significance. Wovoka was an Indian Messiah, who had come to restore the dead to life, bring back the buffalo and other game to the prairie, drive away the whites, and cause the Indians to live a life of ideal happiness. In a few months the Sioux at Pine Ridge agency had learned of this wonderful Messiah, and so interested were they that a great council was held to discuss the matter, in which all the leading men, including Red Cloud, took part. They decided to send a delegation to Pyramid Lake to consult the Messiah and be instructed by him. Three men were sent for this purpose, the leader of whom was Short Bull. They went out in the winter of 1889, returning in the spring of 1890. They brought with them a letter from Wovoka, which said:

"When you get home, you must make a dance to continue five days. Dance four nights and the last night keep up the dance until the morning of the fifth day, when all must bathe in the river and then disperse to their homes. You must all do in the same way. I, Wovoka, love you with all my heart and am full of gladness for the gifts which you have brought me. When you get home, I shall give you a good cloud which will make you feel good. I give you a good spirit and give you all good things. I want you to come again in three months; some from each tribe. There will be a good deal of snow this year and some rain. In the fall there will be such a rain as I have never given you before. When your friends die, you must not cry; you must not hurt anybody or do harm to any one. You must not fight. Do right always. It will give you satisfaction in life. Do not tell the white people about this. Jesus is now upon earth. He appears like a cloud. The dead are all alive again. I do not know when they will be here; maybe this fall or in the spring. When the time comes, there will be no more sickness and every one will be young again. Do not refuse to work for the whites and do not make any trouble with them, until you leave them. When the earth shakes at the coming of the new world, do not be afraid; it will not hurt you. I want you to dance every six weeks. Make a feast at the dance and have food that every one may eat, then bathe in the water. That is all. You will receive good words from me sometime. Do not tell lies."

Short Bull announced that he had been made the special representative of the Messiah among the Dakotas; that the Messiah himself would appear among them in two seasons; that is, about the autumn of 1891. He at once began to instruct the Indians in the dance, and was fertile in inventing new ceremonies. One of these was the use of the sweat house, in which the Indians were treated for purification. The excitement rapidly increased among the Sioux, and in a short time the majority of them gave up almost all their time to the dance and other religious ceremonies. It was several months, however, before the matter seriously attracted the attention of the white authorities. While the dancing was chiefly confined to Pine Ridge, there was some dancing at Rosebud and in Big Foot's and Hump's camps on the Cheyenne River, and in Sitting Bull's camp on Grand River.

During the autumn of 1890 the dancing began to attract the attention of the agents and other white authorities, and mistaken stories of its meaning were interpreted to them. The agents thought it wise to break up the dancing, and to do this placed some of the leaders, including Short Bull, under arrest. These leaders were released in a short time, but the interference of the whites caused great discontent among the Indians. Short Bull, too, was ambitious and made much of his relations with the Messiah, and finally, shortly after his release from arrest, he boldly announced himself as the Messiah, and declared that while it had been his original purpose to make his advent and the resurrection of the dead two years hence, owing to the interference of the whites he proposed to bring it on immediately. The Indians, at Pine Ridge especially, followed him blindly, and, upon his declaration that the resurrection was to come on immediately, they renewed their religious rites with increased fervor.

To avoid interference from the officers, the ghost dancers, as they were called, assembled in a large camp in the fastnesses of the Bad Lands. The agent at Pine Ridge became greatly alarmed, for many of the Indians about the agency had become very insolent and defied his authority. He asked that soldiers be sent to his assistance. The government therefore sent detachments of soldiers to Pine Ridge and Rosebud, and set up a cordon of military camps along the railroad between the reservation and the Black Hills, and from the vicinity of Buffalo Gap down the Cheyenne River to Fort Sully.

The government officials were exceedingly suspicious of the conduct of Sitting Bull, who always had been of a mean disposition, and defiant of the government's authority. When information came that his people were dancing, it was the judgment of the officers that he should be arrested and removed from the reservation. Major McLaughlin, for many years agent of Sitting Bull,, believed that he could control the Indians on his reservation without resorting to harsh measures, but toward the end of December, when he learned that Sitting Bull was preparing to leave the reservation without authority, he too believed that the time had come when the old medicine man should be arrested. Order is preserved upon the Indian reservations through a system of Indian police, and Major McLaughlin had detailed a large number of his policemen to watch Sitting Bull and report upon his conduct. To these policemen was given the task of arresting Sitting Bull and bringing him into the agency. In this they were to be assisted by Captain Fetchet and a company of soldiers from Fort Yates. The arrest was to be made at daybreak on Monday morning, December 15. Sitting Bull's home was on Grand River, in northern South Dakota, where he lived in two substantial log cabins, a few rods apart. Forty-three policemen, under command of Lieutenant Bull Head, who was a very cool and reliable man, surrounded Sitting Bull's house. Ten men went into the larger house, where they found Sitting Bull asleep on the floor. He was awakened and told that he was a prisoner and must go to the agency. He said, "All right, I will dress and go with you." He sent his wives out to the other house to fetch some clothing and to saddle his favorite horse. While dressing, he began abusing the police for disturbing him in his rest. While this was going on, about one hundred and fifty of Sitting Bull's followers gathered about, the house, entirely surrounding the police and crowding them up against the wall. When the police brought Sitting Bull out of the house, where he could see the friends that had rallied to his assistance, he became greatly excited and refused to go on, and called on his friends to rescue him. Lieutenant Bull Head and Lieutenant Shave Head were standing on either side of him, with Sergeant Red Tomahawk guarding behind, while the rest of the police were trying to clear the way in front.

Catch the Bear, a friend of Sitting Bull's, fired and shot Bull Head in the side. Bull Head at once, turned and sent a bullet into the body of Sitting Bull, who was also shot through the head at the same moment by Red Tomahawk. Shave Head was shot by another of the crowd and Catch the Bear was killed by A Lone Man, one of the police. Instantly there was a desperate hand-to-hand fight of less than forty-three men against more than a hundred.

The fight lasted only a few minutes. Six policemen were killed, including the officers Bull Head and Shave Head. The hostiles lost eight killed, including Sitting Bull and his son Crow Foot, seventeen years of age. The trained police soon drove their assailants into the timber near by, and then returned and carried their dead and wounded into the house, which they held for more than two hours, until the arrival of Captain Fetchet, with his troops, at seven o'clock. On the approach of the soldiers, Sitting Bull's warriors fled up Grand River a short distance, and then turned south across the prairie toward Cherry Creek and Cheyenne River. Major McLaughlin says: "The details of the battle show that the Indian police behaved nobly, and exhibited the best of knowledge and bravery. It is hardly possible to praise their conduct too highly."

Thus ended the life of Sitting Bull, the man who was most feared by the whites, and who probably had most influence in keeping the Indians in a state of hostility. One other man, however, was also giving the government much anxiety. This was Hump, chief of the Minneconjou Sioux, a grandson of Black Buffalo, whom Lewis and Clark met at Fort Pierre. He lived near the mouth of Cherry Creek. The fear of Hump, however, was quite groundless, for upon being requested to do so, he at once came into Fort Sully and enlisted as a scout in the government service.

There was a band of Hump's people, under Big Foot, who were dancing on the Cheyenne, and the government determined to put this band under arrest. When the troops approached to arrest Big Foot and his people, the Indians were greatly alarmed, and though they agreed to accompany the soldiers to the fort, they escaped in the night time, and set off to join the dancers in the Bad Lands. Soldiers were at once sent in pursuit, and on the evening of December 28 Big Foot's band was over taken on Wounded Knee Creek, about sixteen miles from Pine Ridge agency, where they were encamped, awaiting the return of scouts they had sent out to locate the camp of the ghost dancers. Big Foot himself was lying in his tepee, sick with pneumonia. Colonel Forsyth was in command of the soldiers, and he had with him four hundred and seventy men against one hundred and six warriors present in Big Foot's band. The night was passed comfortably, and the next morning the Indians were to be taken in to Pine Ridge agency.

Before starting it was deemed wise to disarm them, though they were miserably armed with old rifles of very little value. When this action was undertaken, the Indians became very much excited. Yellow Bird, a medicine man, harangued the Indians and urged them to resist, telling them that the soldiers had become weak and powerless and that the bullets would not injure Indians dressed as they were in the ghost shirts. As Yellow Bird spoke in the Sioux language the officers did not at once realize the dangerous drift of his talk.

One of the searchers began to examine the blankets of the Indians to see if they had arms concealed under them, whereupon Black Fox drew a rifle from under his blanket and fired at the soldiers, who instantly replied with a volley directly into the crowd of warriors, so close that their guns were almost touching. Nearly half of the warriors were killed with this first volley. The survivors sprang to their feet, throwing their blankets from their shoulders as they rose, and for a few minutes there was a terrible hand-to-hand struggle, in which every man fought to kill.

Back where they commanded the Indian camp, a battery of Hotchkiss guns had been planted, and at the first volley these guns opened fire and sent a storm of shells and bullets among the women and children who had gathered in front of the tepees. The guns poured in two-pound explosive shells at the rate of nearly fifty a minute, mowing down everything alive. In a few minutes two hundred Indian men and women and children, with sixty soldiers, were lying dead and wounded on the ground. The tepees had been torn down by the shells and some of them were burning above the helpless wounded, and the surviving handful of Indians were flying in wild panic, pursued by hundreds of maddened soldiers. The pursuit was simply a massacre, in which fleeing women, with infants in their arms, were shot down after resistance had ceased and when almost every warrior was stretched dead or dying on the ground. The bodies of the women and children were scattered along a distance of two or three miles from the scene of the encounter. The butchery was the work of new and untrained recruits, who were infuriated by the shooting down of their comrades without warning.

Thus was fought the engagement known as the battle of Wounded Knee. The next day the Indians attacked some soldiers midway between Wounded Knee and the agency, but were repulsed. These engagements comprised all the actual fighting of the war. Within a day or two, General Miles came out and took charge of affairs, and, establishing communication with the Indian leaders, soon brought about an under standing which ended the trouble. It is known now that no hostilities were intended by the Indians in the first instance, nor would there have been any had the Indians not been goaded on by the bad conduct of the officers.

[Transcribed by Sheryl McClure for South Dakota Genealogy Trails, March 7, 2007].



from "A Brief History of South Dakota"

by Doane Robinson, 1905

Transcribed by Karen Seeman




In 1865, about the time that the War of the Outbreak ended, the government undertook to build a highway from the California trail, in the vicinity of Fort Laramie, across by way of the Powder River valley to the gold mines in Montana and Idaho. This road was necessarily run through the richest buffalo range left to the Sioux Indians. Red Cloud was then fast coming into prominence as the principal chief of the Oglala Sioux. The construction of the road was intrusted to Colonel Sawyer, and he began work with a party of surveyors and an escort of only twenty-five men, from Company B of the Dakota Cavalry. Red Cloud met them near the Black Hills and protested against their entering the buffalo country. They paid no attention to his protest and went forward. Red Cloud then gathered a large body of the Oglalas and Cheyennes and, overtaking Sawyer's party at the Powder River, surrounded them and held them in siege for a period of fifteen days.

Red Cloud used no force, his intention being, by a show of strength, to bluff the roadmakers out of his country. At the end of two weeks the young Indians were becoming so unruly and threatening that Red Cloud did not longer dare continue the siege, fearing that

his young men would get beyond his control and massacre the white men. He therefore withdrew his Indians, and the expedition moved on to the Tongue River. By this time Red Cloud had his young men again well in hand, and he again surrounded Sawyer and held him for three days, and then withdrew. He had failed in his attempt to stop the road building. Sawyer went on to the Yellowstone and then returned without molestation, but Red Cloud had resolved that the road should not be built.


Red Cloud used no force, his intention being, by a show of strength, to bluff the roadmakers out of his country. At the end of two weeks the young Indians were becoming so unruly and threatening that Red Cloud did not longer dare continue the siege, fearing that his young men would get beyond his control and massacre the white men. He therefore withdrew his Indians, and the expedition moved on to the Tongue River. By this time Red Cloud had his young men again well in hand, and he again surrounded Sawyer and held him for three days, and then withdrew. He had failed in his attempt to stop the road building. Sawyer went on to the Yellowstone and then returned without molestation, but Red Cloud had resolved that the road should not be built.




from "A Brief History of South Dakota"

Doane Robinson, 1905

transcribed by Karen Seeman



There were four bands of the Santee Sioux, two of whom, known as the Medewakantans and the Wakpekutas, were the leaders in the outbreak. The other two bands, the Wahpetons and the Sissetons, were opposed to the outbreak and as a rule did all that they could to protect and assist the whites. When the government sent the troops against the Santees, most of the able-bodied Sissetons enlisted in the government service as scouts. The hostiles who fled into Dakota were constantly organizing raiding parties and sending them down to the Minnesota settlements to secure provisions, steal horses, and occasionally kill settlers. To prevent this the Sisseton scouts were divided up into small parties and located in camps, at frequent intervals, from the neighborhood of Devils Lake in North Dakota down to the central portion of South Dakota.

Among these friendlies was a mixed-blood Sisseton named Samuel J. Brown, who was then a boy about nineteen years of age, educated, intelligent, and influential. In the last years of the war he was made chief of scouts, with headquarters at Fort Sisseton, whence he looked after the Indian scouting camps above mentioned. In the month of April, 1866, at sundown one bright evening, an Indian runner came lo Brown, with information that moccasin tracks had been found at a crossing of the James River, near Lamoure, in North Dakota, and that the indications were that a hostile party had gone down toward the settlements.

Brown wrote a dispatch, stating the facts, to the commandant at Fort Abercrombie, on the Red River, which was to be sent there the following morning; then, mounting his pony, he set out
across the prairie directly west, to reach a scouting camp fifty-five miles distant, on the site of the village of Ordway, in Brown County. He reached this scouting camp at midnight, and was informed that the moccasin tracks which had caused the alarm were made by a party of friendly Indians who were going out to the Missouri River to meet the peace commissioners, that the peace treaties made the previous fall had been ratified by the government and the Indians, and that the war was over.

Fearing that the dispatch which he had written to be sent to Fort Abercrombie would create unnecessary trouble and alarm, Brown at once mounted another pony and started back to Fort Sisseton, hoping to reach it before the messenger left for Abercrombie in the morning. When he had crossed the James River and was galloping rapidly across the broad, flat bottom, he was overtaken by one of those severe spring storms which sometimes sweep over Dakota, a genuine furious, blinding winter blizzard. It came from the northwest and he believed he could make his way before it. In fact, on the bare, unprotected prairie there was nothing else to do; so he forced his way along, doing his best to keep in the direct course to Fort Sisseton.

When daylight came, however, he found that he had drifted far out of his way, and was down in the vicinity of the Waubay Lakes, twenty-five miles south of the fort. He turned his little pony in the face of the storm, which was increasing in severity, and fought his way to Sisseton, where he arrived before nine o'clock in the morning, — having since sundown the previous evening traveled a distance of more than one hundred and fifty miles. He fell from his pony exhausted and paralyzed, but he had accomplished his purpose in the line of his duty.

Mr. Brown, in 1905, was still living, a respected citizen of the town which bears his name, Brown Valley, Minnesota, between Lakes Traverse and Big Stone. He never recovered from the evil effects of his awful exertion, and was never able to take a natural step from that day. Mr. Brown was born in South Dakota, but a few miles from his present home. His ride merits a place in history beside those famous ones which have been preserved in the songs and stories of the people.



from "A Brief History of South Dakota"

by Doane Robinson, 1905

Transcribed by Karen Seeman



South Dakota had little part in the Civil War. Early in 1862 Company A of the Dakota cavalry was recruited with the intention of tendering its services to the President for service in the South, but it was deemed wise by the war department to hold it in Dakota for the protection of the settlements. Captain Todd, while serving in Congress, was appointed brigadier general by President Lincoln, and served with credit in the Missouri campaigns.

The midsummer of the year 1862 came on with a bountiful harvest, and every prospect was most pleasing in the young settlements along the Missouri and on the Sioux. New settlers had come to them, new homes were springing up on every hand, the flocks were thriving, and everyone indulged in rosy dreams of a bright and prosperous future; when suddenly out of the clear sky came the news of the awful outbreak and massacre by the Santee Sioux on the Minnesota. Instantly the bright prospect was changed to one of gloom. Almost with the first news of the outbreak came a straggling band of savages, who found Judge Joseph B. Amidon and his son in a hayfield at Sioux Falls and ruthlessly murdered them. Terror-stricken, the settlers left their homes, their ungathered crops, their cattle, swine, and poultry, and in white-faced, panting panic flew for their lives.

Governor Jayne sent a detachment of soldiers to conduct the settlers of Sioux Falls to Yankton, leaving all of their property unprotected, to be immediately stolen, wrecked, and burned by the savages; and so ended the ambitious dreams of the empire builders who had settled upon the Big Sioux. They wholly abandoned the place and several years elapsed before there was any further settlement at Sioux Falls.

The settlers at Bon Homme and Yankton gathered at the capital, where a strong stockade was built for their protection; but the country from the James River to the Sioux was wholly depopulated. To increase the terror of the little handful of pioneers who remained, the report came that the Yanktons, under the lead of the unruly chief Mad Bull, had broken away from the influence of Struck by the Ree and were about to join in the massacre. Governor Jayne called every able-bodied man in the territory to arms, and under the lead of the citizens of Yankton, commanded by Captain Frank Ziebach, and Company A of the Dakota Cavalry, which had been organized the previous spring with Nelson Miner as captain, a good military organization was effected, and peace, security, and order were restored. Struck by the Ree asserted his loyalty and Americanism over his tribe, held the restless young men to his standard, and protected the settlements from the hostile tribes from up the river as well as from the straggling Santees. In a few weeks confidence was restored and the settlers returned to their homes. Except the killing of Judge Amidon and his son there were no fatalities among the settlers of Dakota, but the fear of destruction was well founded and the panic and flight justified.

During the outbreak in Minnesota, a small settlement of about fifty persons on Shetak Lake, in what is now Murray County, was attacked and destroyed by a band of Indians under a chief named White Lodge, who took captive two women, Mrs. Wright and Mrs. Duly, and seven children. These captives were carried through South and North Dakota to the Missouri River, where they were discovered the following November by Major Charles E. Galpin, who was coming down the river with a small party of miners in a Mackinaw boat. When at the mouth of Beaver Creek in southern North Dakota, Galpin saw an Indian camp on the shore, and the warriors were making friendly motions to him to land. He drew up to the band, when Galpin's sharp-eyed wife, an Indian woman, discovered armed Indians skulking in the underbrush, and she gave the alarm in time. Her husband cut the painter by which he had tied the boat, with a single blow of the hatchet, and received a fusillade of bullets from the bank without damage. While the boat was still within hearing, a white woman ran down to the river bank and informed the boatmen that there were a party of white captives in the Indian camp. Galpin spread this news as he passed down the river.

The first point that Galpin reached, where he could give information, was Fort Pierre, where there was a trading store. There he found a party of young Indians, eleven in number, under the leadership of a mixed-blood Indian named Martin Charger, grandson of Captain Meriwether Lewis the explorer, who were known to their people as the crazy band, or fool soldier band, because they had taken an oath to help the whites at any cost to themselves. This band immediately set out on their ponies to reach the hostile camp up the river, and, if possible, effect the rescue of the captives. Their names were Martin Charger, Kills Game and Comes Back, Four Bear, Mad Bear, Pretty Bear, Sitting Bear, Swift Bird, One Rib, Strikes Fire, Red Dog, and Charging Dog. Before starting they had traded their furs to the trader for sugar and other Indian delicacies. They crossed the river at Pierre, going north on the east side. The second day
they found a party of Yanktonais encamped at the mouth of Swan Creek, and were joined in their enterprise by two Yanktonais, Don't Know How and Fast Walker.

They found that White Lodge's hostile camp had been moved down the river and was then located in the fine timber on the east bank of the Missouri, opposite the mouth of Grand River, in what is now Walworth County, South Dakota. They pitched their tepees near the hostile camp and at once entered into negotiations for the rescue of the captives. White Lodge was not disposed to give them up,—absolutely refused to do so upon any terms; but the boys were persistent, offered to trade their horses and other property for them, and after much parleying,
bullying, and jockeying, with threats of bringing their people, the Tetons, and soldiers to destroy White Lodge and his band, they succeeded in purchasing the captives, trading for them everything they possessed except two guns and their tepee.

The weather was severe. It was about the 20th of November, snow was falling, and the captives were brought out to them literally naked. White Lodge himself never consented to the trade, but the majority of his warriors took the responsibility in their own hands, against his will, and the old man threatened to undertake the recovery of his captives. The boys pitched their little tepee in the willows on the river bank a mile or two below the hostile camp, wrapped the captives in their blankets, and themselves tramped around the tepee in the storm to keep from freezing, and to guard their captives from the threatened attack of White Lodge.

The next morning they traded one of their guns to a Yanktonais, who had joined the party, for his horse, to which they lashed one end of an arrangement of poles carrying a sort of basket upon which the children could ride (the other end of the poles dragging on the ground), and started down the river for the Yanktonais camp. Mrs. Duly was lame, having been shot in the foot, and had to ride the horse. Mrs. Wright was strong and able to walk, but had no shoes. Martin Charger took the moccasins from his own feet and gave them to her. As they were making their way slowly down the river, White Lodge, with a few warriors, came down to carry his threat into execution.

The rear guard was placed under command of Swift Bird, and he made the most of a display of the two guns in the party. Marching as rapidly as they could, parleying and arguing with the old chief, they finally bluffed him off and got safely away with the captives.

The Yanktonais, for the boys' last remaining gun, traded them an old cart and harness, fed them, and gave them a supply of food to last them until Fort Pierre was reached. The children were packed into the cart, Mrs. Duly continued to ride the pony, and the remainder of the party walked, dividing into squads who assisted the pony by pushing the cart along. In this way
in two days they reached Fort Pierre, where with great difficulty they crossed the freezing river and were kindly received by their own people and the trader. Charles E. Primeau, the Indian trader, dressed the captives as well as he could from his rough stock of goods, and after a short rest they were taken to Fort Randall by Louis La Plant and Frederick Dupree, two well-known frontiersmen.

Probably there is not in history another circumstance similar to this, where young, untutored savages, who never had been under missionary influence, at such sacrifice of effort and of property, and with real hardship, so exerted themselves through sentiments of humanity. Martin Charger and his heroic comrades should always be held in veneration by the people of South Dakota. They were true heroes, and their brave and generous deed should be properly commemorated.

The government at once undertook a strong military movement against the hostile Santees, who fled from their Minnesota homes into the Dakota country. Two companies of South Dakota men, under the command respectively of Captains Nelson Miner and William Tripp, and known as the Dakota Cavalry, joined in the movement, and rendered excellent service until the end of the War of the Outbreak, in 1865. Most of their service was rendered in North Dakota, as there were no engagements of any moment within the South Dakota boundaries.




submitted by Linda Craig



May 16, 1895. | 29 Stat., 865.

Whereas, pursuant to section one, of the Act of Congress, approved July thirteenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-two, entitled "An Act making appropriations for the current and contingent expenses of the Indian Department, and for fulfilling treaty stipulations with various Indian tribes, for the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and ninety-three, and for other purposes", certain articles of agreement were made and concluded at the Yankton Indian Agency, South Dakota, on the thirty-first day of December, eighteen hundred and ninety-two, by and between the United States of America and the Yankton tribe of Sioux or Dacotah Indians upon the Yankton reservation, whereby the said Yankton tribe of Sioux or Dacotah Indians, for the consideration therein mentioned, ceded, sold, relinquished, and conveyed to the United States, all their claim, right, title and interest in and to all the unallotted lands within the limits of the reservation set apart to said tribe by the first article of the treaty of April nineteenth, eighteen hundred and fifty-eight, between said tribe and the United States; and

Whereas, it is further stipulated and agreed by article eight that such part of the surplus lands by said agreement ceded and sold to the United States as may be occupied by the United States for agency, schools and other purposes, shall be reserved from sale to settlers until they are no longer required for such purposes, but all of the other lands so ceded and sold shall, immediately after the ratification of the agreement by Congress, be offered for sale through the proper land office, to be disposed of under the existing land laws of the United States, to actual and bona fide settlers only; and

Whereas, it is also stipulated and agreed by article ten that any religious society, or other organization, shall have the right for two years from the date of the ratification of the said agreement, within which to purchase the lands occupied by it under proper authority for religious or educational work among the Indians, at a valuation fixed by the Secretary of the Interior, which shall not be less than the average price paid to the Indians for the surplus lands; and

Whereas, it is provided in the act of Congress accepting, ratifying and confirming the said agreement approved August 15, 1894, section 12 (Pamphlet Statutes 53d Congress, 2d session, pages 314 to 319),

That the lands by said agreement ceded, to the United States shall, upon proclamation by the President, be opened to settlement, and shall be subject to disposal only under the homestead and town-site laws of the United States, excepting the sixteenth and thirty-sixth sections in each Congressional township, which shall be reserved for common school purposes and be subject to the laws of the State of South Dakota: Provided, That each settler on said lands shall, in addition to the fees provided by law, pay to the United States for the land so taken by him the sum of three dollars and seventy-five cents per acre, of which sum he shall pay fifty cents at the time of making his original entry and the balance before making final proof and receiving a certificate of final entry; but the rights of honorably discharged Union soldiers and sailors, as defined and described in sections twenty-three hundred and four and twenty-three hundred and five of the Revised Statutes of the United States, shall not be abridged except as to the sum to be paid as aforesaid.

That the Secretary of the Interior, upon proper plats and description being furnished, is hereby authorized to issue patents to Charles Picotte and Felix Brunot, and W. T. Selwyn, United States interpreters, for not to exceed one acre of land each, so as to embrace their houses near the agency buildings upon said reservation, but not to embrace any buildings owned by the government, upon the payment by each of said persons of the sum of three dollars and seventy-five cents.

That every person who shall sell or give away any intoxicating liquors or other intoxicants upon any of the lands by said agreement ceded, or upon any of the lands included in the Yankton Sioux Indian Reservation as created by the treaty of April nineteenth, eighteen hundred and fifty-eight, shall be punishable by imprisonment for not more than two years and by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars.

Whereas, all the terms, conditions and considerations required by said agreement made with said tribes of Indians and by the laws relating thereto, precedent to opening said lands to settlement, have been, as I hereby declare, complied with:

Now, therefore, I, Grover Cleveland, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested by the Statutes hereinbefore mentioned, do hereby declare and make known that all of the lands acquired from the Yankton tribe of Sioux or Dacotah Indians by the said agreement, saving and excepting the lands reserved in pursuance of the provisions of said agreement and the act of Congress ratifying the same, will, at and after the hour of twelve o’clock, noon (central standard time), on the twenty first day of May, 1895 and not before, be open to settlement, under the terms of and subject to all the conditions, limitations, reservations, and restrictions contained in said agreement, the statutes hereinbefore specified and the laws of the United States applicable thereto.
The lands to be so opened to settlement are for greater convenience, particularly described in the accompanying schedule, entitled "Schedule of Lands within the Yankton Reservation, South Dakota, to be opened to settlement by Proclamation of the President", and which schedule is made a part hereof.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this 16th day of May, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-five, and of the Independence of the United States, the one hundred and nineteenth.


Compiled and edited by Charles J. Kappler. Washington : Government Printing Office, 1904






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