Indians of the DAKOTAS

One of a series of autobiographical drawings by Sitting Bull, the great leader of the united Sioux against the whites. The buffalo on the upper right-hand corner gives his name. The black object hanging from his hand shows that he has killed and scalped one Crow, whose body lies on the ground. Now he proves his worth by counting a coup on another, hitting him with his bow; although the Crow is armed with a gun and narrowly misses him. (PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION)
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SIOUX! It was more than a name for a great tribe of warriors and hunters.

      In the days of westward expansion, it became a cry of terror which swept across the plains like an echo. Redoubtable foes, the Sioux were rarely vanquished in war. Their defeat came, in the end, not alone by soldiers but by hunger and exposure.
      But the story of the Indians of the Dakotas--which include four other tribes besides the Sioux--did not end with Custer's Last Stand. The struggle to build a new life has been a long one, fraught with reversals. The Indians of North and South Dakota are today people in transition between a time lost forever, but still recalled with bitterness, and a time yet to come, when poverty and isolation will no longer scar the living.


      All of South Dakota's eight reservations, one in North Dakota, and one which straddles their common border, are today Sioux lands, a total of nearly 5 million acres. North Dakota is the home of four other Indian tribes: the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewas, and members of the Hidatsa, Arikara, and Mandan Tribes.
      Many Indian tribes have played parts in shaping the history and character of North and South Dakota, but the leading role has been that of the Sioux (Dakota) Indians for whom these States were named. The name Dakota (or its variants, Lakota and Nakota) probably means "allies."

Early Tribes

      Long before the Sioux migrated to the Dakotas from the east, three sedentary tribes had settled along the Missouri River which bisects the two States.
      Of these, Mandans are believed to have arrived first. They once occupied several villages of semisubterranean earth lodges in what is now South Dakota, but had moved farther north when discovered by the explorers, Lewis and Clark, in 1804. They were a Siouan language group.
      The Mandans were a picturesque tribe who are best known through reports by Lewis and Clark. Their earliest origins are more a matter of conjecture than certainty. While Mandans were building the villages along the Missouri, another agricultural tribe, the Arikara, or Ree Indians, were also settling farther south along the same river. A Caddoan-language group originally from what is now Nebraska, the Arikaras lived peacefully in their homes beside the Missouri until driven north about 1750 by an invading band of western Sioux. Arikaras, too, were discovered by Lewis and Clark, occupying three villages of earth lodges between the Grand and Cannonball Rivers.

This Mandan youth, painted by artist Karl Bodmer, wore an elaborate hairdress incorporating strings of bones, trade beads, feathers. and fur strips. (PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION)
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      Farther northeast, the Hidatsas, or Gros Ventres, a Siouan-language group, had established an agricultural life near Devil's Lake, within the area of the present Fort Totten Reservation of North Dakota. Sometime in the 18th Century, pushed by the Sioux, Hidatsas moved across the prairies to the junction of the Heart and Missouri Rivers.
      All three groups were greatly reduced in numbers by the smallpox epidemic of 1837, which swept up the Missouri and over the plains, killing thousands of Indians. In 1870, survivors of the Mandans, Arikaras, and Hidatsas were placed on a reservation at the junction of the Missouri and Little Missouri Rivers of North Dakota. Although cut back in size through the years by land sales, the present Fort Berthold Reservation is still the home of the Three Affiliated Tribes.
      At varying intervals, other groups of Indians drifted west across the Dakotas. Among these were the Cheyennes, an agricultural tribe during their early Dakota residence. Later, after many years in which they were attacked and pursued by the Chippewas and the Sioux, the Cheyennes adopted a horse-and-buffalo way of life, becoming one of the most fierce and warlike of Northern Plains tribes. For a time, Arapaho Indians also lived in the Black Hills of South Dakota, their migration being similar to that of the Cheyennes. Kiowa, Ponca, Omaha, and Assiniboine Tribes also stopped briefly in the Dakotas, only to be driven out by the Sioux.

An Hidatsa village located on a bluff over the Missouri River. The traditional "bull-boat" of buffalo skin stretched over a frame of light wood may be seen on the river. (PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION)
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      Members of the Algonquian linguistic family, and once the most numerous tribe north of Mexico, the Chippewa (Ojibway) Indians had started their western migrations during the white settlement of eastern North America. They spread out into Canadian Ontario and the whole Great Lakes region, and finally fanned into Sioux areas to the west, all the while pushing the Sioux southward in fierce conflicts over rich hunting grounds in Minnesota.
      As they moved west and south, they tended to break up into more or less independent groups. For a century or more before the establishment of the international boundary between Canada and the United States, the Plains Chippewas wandered freely throughout the area, mingling with the Crees, a group fairly closely related in language and culture.
      As hunting, trapping, and lumbering diminished and agriculture became the dominant activity of the area, the Chippewas were left somewhat stranded. Many of them had settled in the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota, close to the Canadian border, and roamed an area that went south to Devil's Lake and indefinitely westward from the Pembina range.
      The southern boundary, and to some extent the western boundary of lands claimed by the Chippewas, remained undisputed until about 1880. (Their overlap into Canada created international complications for a time.)
      Congress in 1873 appropriated $25,000 for the purchase of a township on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota as a home for the Turtle Mountain Indians, with an additional $10,000 provided to pay for the cost of the move. Most of the Turtle Mountain (Pembina band) refused to leave their North Dakota location, however.
      Final settlement of the claims of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewas was provided for in a treaty negotiated in 1892 and approved by Congress in 1904. Under the treaty terms, the Turtle Mountain Band ceded claims to all territory except two townships within the Turtle Mountain areas. The treaty further provided for a cash payment of $1 million to the tribe for the land ceded (9 million acres); and provided also for the allotment of lands on the reservation and for public domain land grants to tribal members unable to secure land within the designated reservation.
      The Turtle Mountain Chippewas still remain on these lands today, governing themselves through an elected 8-member council under a constitution approved in 1959. Their early intermarriage with Europeans are evident in the appearance of these handsome people. Unfortunately, the remoteness of their reservation from the mainstream of industry and commerce, and the fractionated land holdings which prevent large-scale ranching and farming, have resulted in conditions of chronic poverty in the 20th century.


      Although closely and prominently identified in American history with the hills and plains of the Dakotas, the Sioux were not native to the area, but came from more easternly parts. (The name Sioux is a French shortcut for the Algonquin name given these people--Na do wis sue, an allusion to snakes or snake-like movement.)
      The Sioux have been identified in the public mind with Indian life in the Dakotas throughout our history, largely because they were in the path of white migrations and resisted them.
      The three major divisions of the Dakotas exhibit significant cultural, geographic, and historic patterns:
      (1) Eastern, or Santee Sioux, speaking the Dakota dialect, were the last Sioux Division to leave traditional homelands near Lake Superior, and today still proudly consider themselves the original Dakotas. The four Santee subgroups are Mdewakantonwan, Wahpekute, Sisseton, and the Wahpeton. They were widely scattered after the Minnesota Sioux Uprising in 1862. Their descendants today live on Fort Totten Reservation in North Dakota, on Lake Traverse (Sisseton) and Flandreau Reservations in South Dakota, Santee Reservation in Nebraska, Fort Peck Reservation in Montana, and in small reservations in Minnesota.
      (2) The Middle, or Wiciyela Sioux Division, who speak the Nakota dialect, were first met by white explorers in north-central Minnesota around the end of the 17th century. Shortly thereafter they moved west, splitting into the Yankton and Yanktonai groups. Members of this Sioux Division are today found on the Yankton and Crow Creek Reservations in South Dakota, and Standing Rock and Fort Totten Reservations in North Dakota and Fort Peck, Montana.
      (3) Western, or Teton Sioux "men of the prairies," whose dialect is Lakota, have always been by far the largest Sioux Division, outnumbering all others combined. They are, in addition, the Sioux prototype whose characteristics are most often used in portrayals of the North American Indian. Seven subbands make up this large Division: the Oglala, Brule, Sans Arcs, Blackfeet, Minnekonjou, Two Kettle, and Hunkpapa. Of these, the Oglalas were both the most numerous and the most resistant to white invasion.
      Today, most of the Sioux population of the Dakotas stems from the Teton Division. All its seven bands are represented in South Dakota, occupying Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Lower Brule, Cheyenne River, and Standing Rock Reservations.
      Bands of Tetons, first of the Sioux to wander into the Great Plains, were first encountered by French explorers in the middle of the 17th century. Even then, they seem to have begun the change from their original woodlands culture, for early French chronicles had associated them with the buffalo. Yankton Sioux bands, and then the four Santee groups, followed the Tetons west. The Sioux took over vast areas of the wilderness and claimed them as their own. As the 19th century began, they had become the dominant tribe of the Northern Plains.
      The bison, or buffalo, was basic to the Sioux economy, providing food, clothing, shelter, and an amazing variety of tools and equipment, as well as sacred objects for ceremonial use. The buffalo was often more than a means of subsistence; it became the center of a Sioux band's culture as well, determining their entire way of life.
      The Sioux hunting pattern was similar to that of other Plains Indians.
      Acquiring horses--often stolen in raids--they became more mobile. Large groups, sometimes composed of several bands, were able to travel hundreds of miles during the summer chase, carrying their shelters with them. These were tipis, or conical tents of animal hides supported by several poles which also were used as the base of the travois, or load-bearing platform pulled by horses to transport household goods, supplies, and the infants, aged, or sick.
      The summit of Sioux religious expression was the Sun Dance, an annual ritual performed during the summer encampment and lasting several days. Among the Teton Sioux and some other Plains tribes, the Sun Dance was climaxed by a form of self-torture in which dancers attempted to pull free from a skewer which pierced their breast muscles until either the muscles or the skin was torn away. The skewer was secured by a rope attached to a central pole 20 to 30 feet from the dancer. This performance was demonstration of the dancer's physical endurance and represented the most powerful of all varieties of Sun Dance vows.
      Sioux warriors also sought personal fame on the hunt and in war. For example, to count "coup" by touching an enemy in combat with the hand or stick and escaping resulted in the very highest honor. The counting of "coup" was long remembered and retold at gatherings.

Coming of the Settlers

      Although habitually at war with other tribes, the Sioux did not actively resist white immigration until the whites began to intrude in great numbers. With discovery of gold in California during the late 1840's, waves of prospectors and would be business entrepreneurs swarmed over the plains en route to the west. Some stopped half way, and troops were assigned to patrol the region. The Plains wars began in earnest.
      In the years following, Indian attacks had reached a point demanding Government intervention. A great peace council was called near Laramie, Wyoming, with some 10,000 Northern Plains Indians, predominantly Sioux, attending. In the resultant treaty the tribes pledged peace among themselves and with the United States, and promised U.S. citizens safe passage across Indian lands.
      Neither side lived up to the treaty terms and in 1855, General W. S. Harney, hero of victories in Mexico, was summoned to command a campaign against the western Sioux. His defeat of a group of Brules led by Chief Little Thunder terrified all Teton bands, and several years of relative peace followed.
      Then, in 1862, an event since known as the Minnesota Uprising alarmed Sioux everywhere. Members of the eastern Santee Sioux Division had ceded most of their Minnesota lands in 1851 in return for annuities, supplies, and other considerations. Settlers continued to destroy the Indians' game, however. The Santees asked to be given new hunting grounds in the West, because their normal way of life and means of livelihood were being destroyed by the growing population in the Dakotas.
      Supplies were not forthcoming to the Santees as the winter of 1862 set in. They asked for provisions from a private store, and were told by the owner, Nathan Myrick, "Let them eat grass." The Santees then went on rampage, killing Myrick and several other settlers.
      Not all Santee groups participated in the uprising and some actually helped the U.S. Army by rescuing white hostages. Nevertheless, the Government retaliated by confiscating all annuities and lands assigned to the Eastern Sioux and sentencing more than 300 Santees to death. (President Lincoln later pardoned all but 38 of these). Many Eastern Sioux fled or were removed to the Dakotas, where they were eventually established on reservations. Some crossed the border into Canada, where their descendants still remain.
      The Minnesota Uprising brought renewed attacks by the Sioux upon all travel routes from the Missouri River to the Pacific. Wagons, stages, and telegraph lines were destroyed; travelers and entire white families were murdered; and the frontier became a scene of terror. The Army was moved in, and within months, large bands of Sioux were defeated in several North Dakota battles.
      The Sioux were further inflamed with passage by Congress in 1865 of a bill authorizing new routes to the west through the great Teton buffalo ranges. The Sioux considered their very existence at stake if tribal lands were to become a thoroughfare for white prospectors and settlers.
      Red Cloud, an Oglala Chief, had become one of the most powerful leaders of the Tetons. As a Sioux spokesman he protested the building of new roads and military posts, but without success. Plans for the new trail to goldfields in Montana and Idaho continued. Red Cloud and his people grew determined to stop the white invaders. Sioux warriors, strengthened by large groups of Cheyennes, were spaced throughout the country from the Yellowstone River to the Black Hills, besieging immigrants, soldiers, and surveyors. Attempts to cross the land became utterly impracticable. In the end, Red Cloud won.

Sitting Bull, influential Sioux leader, under whom the tribes united to oppose the incoming white settlers. (PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION)
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Red Cloud, head chief of the Oglala Sioux and a noted warrior. This photograph was made on a visit to Washington in 1884.(PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION)
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The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868

      Under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, the United States agreed to keep whites from hunting or settling on Indian territory; to abandon the proposed trail west; and to pay annuities for appropriated Indian lands. The Treaty also established a Great Sioux Reservation which was to include all of what is now South Dakota west of the Missouri River, "for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians named herein." For their part, the Indians were to release all lands east of the Missouri except for the Crow Creek, Yankton, and Lake Traverse (Sisseton) Reservations previously created.
      By the end of 1868 nearly half the Sioux were gathered onto reservations, and for 2 years, conditions of the Fort Laramie Treaty were observed. As a sign of the amiability of the times, in 1870 Red Cloud, accompanied by a large entourage of headmen and chiefs, was guest of honor in a much publicized tour which included official and public appearances in Washington and New York.
      But during this period, recalcitrant warriors of various Teton bands under Sitting Bull were still roaming the Powder River country of Montana and Wyoming. Construction of a railroad along the Yellowstone River and other treaty infringements set the stage for Indian wars of the 1870's.
      In 1874, following glowing and widely-publicized reports by General George A. Custer that gold had been discovered in the Black Hills, prospecting parties hurried toward the Dakotas. The Government ordered soldiers to keep gold-seekers off Sioux lands, and military forces stationed at points along the Missouri were to seize and destroy wagons and prospecting outfits. The Sioux, although annoyed with the Army's "invasion" of the Black Hills, remained patient.
      Then, in the fall of 1875, several Sioux bands left their reservations with Government permission to hunt buffalo in the unceded Powder River country of Wyoming. They were suddenly ordered to return by the end of January, or be declared hostile. The message, arriving late, found the Indians in severe cold and with almost no food. They were unable to travel, and remained quietly where they were. As a result, Oglala Chief Crazy Horse and his camp fell under an attack by General George C. Crook. The Sioux escaped to the hills, but in the following spring, Crazy Horse and his men came out of hiding to defeat the U.S. Army in several encounters, climaxed by a decisive victory over General Crook in the Battle of the Rosebud. Crazy Horse then moved north, joining Sitting Bull with the main body of Sioux and Cheyennes.
      The Army faced formidable adversaries in Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. Crazy Horse was reputed to be the military genius of the Sioux Confederacy. Sitting Bull, although not a war chief, was a medicine man of great influence.
      After the Battle of the Rosebud, the Army realized that defeat of the Indians was a bigger undertaking than expected. New tactics were planned and the 7th Cavalry under Custer was sent to find the Indians' encampment.

Reliance on Federal troops to solve the "Indian problem" brought bloody years of blundering encounters between cavalrymen and warriors, and led to disasters such as Lt. Colonel George A. Custer's undoing at the Little Big Horn. (PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION)
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Custer's Last Stand

      General Custer and his men moved into the valley of the Little Big Horn on the morning of June 25, 1876. His Crow scouts had sighted Sioux campfires at dawn, but Custer, making a mistake common to U.S. military leaders of the time, underestimated Indian strength.
      Custer's famous "last stand" was brief. Within an hour or two, he and his entire command were annihilated. Several miles away the other two columns under Reno and Benteen continued to fight a second day until the Indians, sighting a relief column, disappeared into the hills.
      The Battle of the Little Big Horn was the last great Sioux victory. Scattering throughout the country after their triumph, Indians were run down and defeated, band by band, by U.S. Army forces. Beaten, disarmed, and dismounted, they had no choice but to accept the terms of an 1876 agreement under which they at last relinquished not only the sacred Black Hills, but the long-fought-for Powder River and Yellowstone buffalo country as well.

Tension on the Reservations

      In the 1870's, buffalo herds were systematically slaughtered by white commercial hunters. With the appalling destruction of the buffalo, the food supply disappeared and the tribes were forced to accept reservation life and rationed food.
      One after another, Sioux chiefs surrendered. In 1877, Crazy Horse came out of hiding and surrendered to his old adversary, General Crook. The Oglalas settled at Pine Ridge. In 1881, most of the Sioux bands who had escaped to Canada under Sitting Bull following the defeat of Custer returned to the United States under Gall, surrendered, and were taken to Standing Rock Reservation. Late the same year, Sitting Bull, too, returned and gave himself up to the U.S. troops.
      Confined to reservations, unable to hunt or fight, betrayed by broken treaties and forbidden by the Government to seek supernatural help through the Sun Dance, the despairing Sioux turned to a new cult, the Ghost Dance. Started by a Paiute prophet who claimed to have received a message from the Great Spirit, the Ghost Dance spread like wildfire through the reservations.
      The new religion called for dances and songs which would hasten the return of the buffalo, the arising of Indian dead, and the disappearance of the white man. It was harmless, in that it promised these things by supernatural means, and ruled out violence, but white settlers feared it as preparation for new Indian hostilities. As 1890 drew to a close, nearly 3,000 troops had been called into Sioux country to maintain peace. Frightened at the military concentration, some Sioux bands who had joined the Ghost Dance cult abandoned their reservations and were branded as "hostiles."

The Sioux' Last Stand

      Late in December 1890, troops from the 7th Cavalry intercepted a group of Sioux under Chief Big Foot on the Pine Ridge Reservation where they had fled after Sitting Bull was killed. About 20 miles northeast of the Reservation, the party stopped and pitched camp at Wounded Knee Creek, where they were joined by four additional troops of the 7th. Sioux tipis were entirely surrounded by soldiers, and guns were trained on them from a nearby bluff.
      Ordered to surrender their arms, the Sioux warriors produced only two rifles, and soldiers then entered and searched Indian tipis.
      There was a rifle shot. Soldiers at once directed their Hotchkiss guns at the Sioux warriors. Some of the survivors of the first gunbursts fled in panic, pursued by hundreds of soldiers and raking gunfire. Bodies of women and children were found scattered as far as 2 miles from Wounded Knee, slaughtered in flight after all Sioux resistance had ceased.
      Within a few days after the Wounded Knee Massacre of December 29, and some sporadic fighting at the Catholic Mission and the Indian Agency, the remaining Sioux refugee bands came in from the Badlands to surrender. The tragedy ended for all time armed and overt opposition, and they began their long and difficult road to a new life.


      Approximately 40,000 Indians live in the two Dakotas, the vast majority on or adjacent to 12 reservations.
      The reservations are: Turtle Mountain (Chippewa), in northernmost North Dakota; Devil's Lake (Sioux), in central North Dakota; Fort Berthold (Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan), in western North Dakota; Standing Rock (Sioux), which straddles both States; Cheyenne River (Sioux), on the southern edge of Standing Rock; Sisseton (Sioux), in northeastern South Dakota; Lower Brule and Crow Creek (Sioux), in the center of the State; Flandreau (Sioux), in the eastern half of the State; and Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Yankton (all Sioux), on the southern edge of South Dakota.
      Indian life in the Dakotas is generally far below the minimums of economic and social comfort we think of in our modern society. There are more Indians out of work than in jobs. Apathy and discouragement characterize many reservations and Indian communities in outlying areas.
      Many Indians of the Dakotas have not fully learned the economic ways of modern life nor relinquished their old yearnings to live the life of their forebears. The end of the buffalo economy was a traumatic experience.
      The reservations of the Dakotas total about 6 million acres--but this land is fragmented by various kinds of legal ownership. Nearly 3.5 million acres is individually-owned, little more than 2 million acres is tribally-owned, and approximately 127 thousand acres is Government-owned. There are many large parcels of land within reservation areas--particularly on the Sisseton Reservation--that are non-Indian owned. This "checkerboarding" is the result of injudicious land sales over a long period, before the present administration subjected land sales and leases to careful review to protect the best interests of the Indians.
      This mixture of ownerships in reservation areas present a patchwork of units often too small to manage efficiently or economically. All are in rural areas of the region, where farming and ranching are the best possible sources of livelihood. With the fractionated ownership status of Indian lands, the paramount difficulty becomes one of instituting workable land units to create income.
      Some of the tribes have initiated a program of land consolidation to provide consolidated tracts for lease or sale. The Bureau of Indian Affairs manages the lands, as trustee, and at present there are about 8,700 leases in effect, and 1,400 range units established.
      Several reservations along the main stem of the Missouri River have lost many thousands of acres of valuable bottom land due to construction of huge dams and reservoirs. To some Indian families, this loss--including loss of firewood, natural shelter for livestock, excellent cropland and pasture, good water supplies, and game cover--has had an enduring impact.
      The Bureau of Indian Affairs operates an office in Billings, Montana, devoted to investigating the impact upon Indian lands of Missouri River Basin development. Thus far, recreational enterprises, industrial and business expansion, and major irrigation improvements have yet to be seen to any great extent in the Dakotas Basin reservations. Better homes and improved community facilities and services have been realized to a growing extent.
      As in other Indian-population States, the problems can be summed up as requiring concentration in two directions simultaneously: development of natural resources and development of the human resources.

In Indian country and elsewhere, modern farming means mechanization. These Sioux farmers have halted combine operations to make some minor repairs. (PHOTO: MARTHA ROBERTS)
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Natural Resource Development

      Tribal leaders, together with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, are exploring every means of improving tribal economies through the development of resources. Probably the exploitation of sand and gravel deposits has had the longest history as a source of income, although the amount has been relatively nominal.
      Oil production has been limited to the Fort Berthold Reservation, although exploration has provided small amounts of lease income to the Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, Rosebud, and Pine Ridge Reservations in the western portion of the Dakotas. Lignite coal deposits offer more promise. North Dakota has an estimated 350 billion tons of lignite coal reserves and nearly 50 percent of these deposits are in the five-county area covered in part by the Fort Berthold Reservation. Deposits of lesser extent occur on the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Reservations (South Dakota). Two lignite-fired steam generation plants are now operating near Fort Berthold Reservation; and at some future date the lignite may become the basic raw material for a number of chemical industries in the area. Other reservation resources include iron, manganese, clays, shales, and limited forest holdings.
      In 1953, the Turtle Mountain Ordnance Plant was established at Rolla, North Dakota, near the Turtle Mountain Reservation under the management of the Bulova Watch Company. Members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa have proved so adept in the manufacture of miniature precision jewel bearings that they now comprise about 75 percent of the 150 employees.
      For over 5 years members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe have demonstrated their proficiency in snelling fishhooks in three small plants on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. These Wright & McGill Company plants were established with the aid of the Bureau's Branch of Industrial Development. Employment at these plants has risen to its present level of 360, all Indians, including the manager.
      Other industrial and business facilities recently established on Indian Reservations include:
      Five Star Cheese Plant, Standing Rock Reservation;
      Sioux Mufflers, Inc. (automobile mufflers), Crow Creek Reservation;
      Chalomar, Inc. (semiconductors), Lower Brule Reservation;
      Rosebud Manufacturing, Inc. (kitchen cabinets and vanities), Rosebud Reservation;
      Broken Arrow Resort, Turtle Mountain Reservation;
      Cheyenne River Livestock Sales Ring, Cheyenne River Telephone Company, Cheyenne River Reservation;
      Adequate Shelter (transitional homes), Rosebud Reservation;
      Electro-Tech Educational Corp. (electronic assembly and construction), Yankton Reservation;
      Products Miniature of South Dakota, Inc. (molded plastic products ), Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Reservation;
      Dakota Moccasin Company, Pine Ridge Reservation;
      Sioux Lanes (bowling alley and cafe), Standing Rock Reservation; and
      Stores on the Fort Berthold, Lower Brule, and Cheyenne River Reservations.

Cheddaring and cutting cheese at a Selfridge, North Dakota cheese plant. The company is housed in a building owned by the Standing Rock Reservation Indians and gives employment preference to tribal members. (PHOTO: MARTHA ROBERTS)
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      Vigorous and varied educational offerings for Dakota Indians are considered fundamental to the social and economic improvement of reservation communities. Numerous Federal day schools, as well as several boarding schools, are still in operation in the Dakotas, although the trend is toward public schooling for Indian residents wherever possible. A number of non-Indian children also attend the Federal schools; and the Bureau has entered into cooperative agreements with some public school districts for sharing the costs of schools jointly operated by the school districts and the Federal Government.
      Adult education programs in rural communities are also on the increase, and many of the reservations are involved in educational phases of the "war on poverty"--not only in adult basic education, but in Head-Start programs for preschoolers, the Neighborhood Youth Corps earn-and-learn program for high schoolers, and work experience programs for unemployed, unskilled adults.
      There is also a continuing rise in the number of youthful Indians who go on to higher education. During 1967 alone, about 270 grants totaling over $250,000 were made by the Bureau to Indian students pursuing 4-year college courses; and a number of tribes also granted scholarships to tribal members.

Indian third graders pay close attention to their reading lessons in a boarding school operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs at Wahpeton, North Dakota. Language skills are stressed in the Bureau education system. (PHOTO: DON MORROW)
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      By early 1968, over 800 conventional low-rent and mutual help housing units were occupied or under construction on nine reservations. Another 500 such housing units were proposed or planned and additional reservations were preparing to enter the program. The Housing Improvement Program had been or was providing new or improved housing for some 400 families; and a pilot project for adequate shelter housing, sponsored by the Office of Economic Opportunity, had completed 375 units on the Rosebud Reservation. The Division of Indian Health of the U.S. Public Health Service is continuing its efforts to establish water supplies and sanitation facilities for individual Indian households, including homes constructed under these housing programs.

New low-income housing units constructed by the Standing Rock Reservation Tribal Housing Authority at McLaughlin, South Dakota. (PHOTO: MARTHA ROBERTS)
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Tribal Government

      Tribal governments are playing an ever-increasing role in the development and management of their reservation resources. Indian leaders are increasingly active in efforts to make tribal governing documents compatible with expanding opportunities for participation in a variety of government programs.
      Monies made available through the Indian claims judgment awards, and as compensation for land taken for the construction of the Missouri River Reservoirs, have afforded several tribes opportunities to initiate various social and economic development programs. These programs include activities in community development, agricultural development, business and industrial development, educational grants and loans, credit programs, and family plans. In some instances tribal enterprises were established. The tribes have rapidly accelerated their involvement with other Federal programs such as those provided through the Office of Economic Opportunity, Farmers Home Administration, Housing Assistance Administration, and Economic Development Administration.

Ancient beading techniques are preserved in an arts and crafts project for Indian women at McLaughlin, South Dakota. (PHOTO: MARTHA ROBERTS)
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Social Services and Law Enforcement

      A staff of social workers serves each of the tribes, providing social services, such as general assistance and child welfare services. General assistance entails financial assistance to Indian people on reservations who are in need but not eligible for State programs such as aid to dependent children, old age assistance, aid to the permanently and totally disabled, and aid to the blind. Child welfare services include foster care and appropriate institutional care for dependent, neglected, and handicapped children needing care outside their home. This service is given in close cooperation between the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the county welfare offices in all phases of the welfare program. Counseling is provided to assist families to cope with serious social problems.
      Law and order services for Indians on reservations within the Dakotas are provided by the tribes and BIA. This includes a range of enforcement and protective services by Bureau and tribal personnel, who utilize Federal and tribal law, and in some instances State law, in carrying out their various responsibilities. The great majority of offenses committed are misdemeanor in nature and are processed in the several Indian courts. The major or felonious offenses are prosecuted in the Federal courts.
      Emphasis by the tribes and the Bureau is being made to strengthen and improve the level of services, and to update and revise tribal and order codes. Continuous efforts are being made in the field of training for Bureau and tribal law and order personnel, including in-service training as well as training for specialized needs in non-federal facilities including colleges, universities, and police academies.

Health Services

      The U.S. Public Health Service Division of Indian Health provides comprehensive health care programs at all reservations in North Dakota and South Dakota. Hospitals are operated at Turtle Mountain, Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Sisseton, Rosebud, Yankton, and Pine Ridge Reservations; and contract medical and dental care is provided on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Health centers are operated on Fort Totten, Crow Creek, and Lower Brule Reservations, and School Health Centers at Indian schools in Pierre, Flandreau Community, and Wahpeton. A tuberculosis sanatorium and a health center are operated in Rapid City, S. Dak. In addition, field health teams provide assistance to Indians of the Dakotas in environmental health, health education, public health nursing, and preventive dental care.


South Dakota
North Dakota


      Created in 1849, the Department of the Interior--a Department of Conservation--is concerned with the management, conservation, and development of the Nation's water, fish, wildlife, mineral, forest, and park and recreational resources. It also has major responsibilities for Indian and Territorial affairs.
      As the Nation's principal conservation agency, the Department works to assure that nonrenewable resources are developed and used wisely, that park and recreational resources are conserved for the future, and that renewable resources make their full contribution to the progress, prosperity, and security of the United States--now and in the future.

Scanned and formatted by Kathryn Thomas
North Dakota State University Libraries
February 23, 2004