A Summary of the 1851 and 1868 Treaties
The Great Sioux Nation, whose real name is the Oceti Sakowin, is comprised of seven sub-nations who spoke the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota language. The Tituwan sub-nation spoke the Lakota dialect and lived in the western most portion. The Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) occupied a vast land area that covered 24 American states and parts of 4 Canadian Provinces. Other smaller nations also lived within the area as the Indigenous concept of territory followed natural law and was much different than the European concept of territory. The people of the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) originated from the mouth of Wind Cave in the Black Hills. The Black Hills were so sacred that they were used for ceremonial, prayers, medicinal, and burial purposes only.
The advance of the European-Americans with the subsequent devastation of the people and the destruction of the buffalo, their primary economic source, caused the Oceti Sakowin to wage war on the United States of America. When the USA realized that they could not win the war, they asked the Oceti Sakowin for a treaty for peace. In 1851, and again in 1868, the Oceti Sakowin agreed to treaties for peace at the request of the USA, both times relinquishing large tracts of land but always keeping the sacred Black Hills intact within their care in the center of the territory. The people of the Oceti Sakowin lived in this region for more than 15,000 years according to present-day anthropologists, however, the stories of the Oceti Sakowin go back much further than 15,000 years.
On March 3rd, 1871, the U.S. Congress passed a law which said that treaties made prior to that date would not be changed or abolished. It also said that no new treaties would be made in the future with Indian nations. From that date to this, since the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 was made prior to March 3, 1871, all American laws passed within the 1868 Treaty Territory are illegal. To try to enforce any American law that violates the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 would be in violation of the American March 3rd Act of 1871. Furthermore, to violate any treaty is also be a violation of Article VI of the Constitution of the United States which states that “treaties are the supreme law of the land.”
The land areas outlined in the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868 include all of western South Dakota, and all land from the East bank of the Missouri River to the summits of the Big Horn Mountains. This includes all of the Black Hills and is the current, legal land base of the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation). A larger land area surrounds this central base and is reserved for the “absolute and undisturbed use and occupation” of the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) as stated in the 1868 Treaty. This “reserved area” for hunting and fishing includes portions of Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota. Anyone residing within this Territory without the express invitation of the Oceti Sakowin is trespassing, including the United States of America.
In 1894, a leader named He Dog created the Sioux Nation Treaty Council to remind everyone about the Treaties and to strive to have the Treaties enforced. These efforts were forced underground for many decades. Any Indian speaking of the Treaties was imprisoned, killed, or sent to Canton, an insane asylum specifically for the Indians where lobotomies were performed without anesthesia.
Knowledge of the Treaties, however, was secretly and quietly handed down through the generations to this day. Currently, leaders among the ‘Indigenous Treaty people’ have been appointed to continue the work begun in 1894 by He Dog. Efforts have continued for the last 30 years at the United Nations to have the Treaty enforced and the Great Sioux Nation granted their freedom and independence.