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Welcome to the Oglala Nation: A Documentary Reader in Oglala Lakota Political History

Welcome to the Oglala Nation: A Documentary Reader in Oglala Lakota Political History

by Akim D. Reinhardt

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Popular culture largely perceives the tragedy at Wounded Knee in 1890 as the end of Native American resistance in the West, and for many years historians viewed this event as the end of Indian history altogether. The Dawes Act of 1887 and the reservation system dramatically changed daily life and political dynamics, particularly for the Oglala Lakotas. As Akim D. Reinhardt demonstrates in this volume, however, the twentieth century continued to be politically dynamic. Even today, as life continues for the Oglalas on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota, politics remain an integral component of the Lakota past and future. Reinhardt charts the political history of the Oglala Lakota people from the fifteenth century to the present with this edited collection of primary documents, a historical narrative, and a contemporary bibliographic essay. Throughout the twentieth century, residents on Pine Ridge and other reservations confronted, resisted, and adapted to the continuing effects of U.S. colonialism. During the modern reservation era, reservation councils, grassroots and national political movements, courtroom victories and losses, and cultural battles have shaped indigenous populations. Both a documentary reader and a Lakota history, Welcome to the Oglala Nation is an indispensable volume on Lakota politics.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803284340
Publisher: Nebraska
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 296
File size: 799 KB

About the Author

Akim D. Reinhardt is an associate professor of history at Towson University. He is the author of Ruling Pine Ridge: Oglala Lakota Politics from the IRA to Wounded Knee, winner of the 2008 Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize.

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Welcome to the Oglala Nation

A Documentary Reader in Oglala Lakota Political History

By Akim D. Reinhardt


Copyright © 2015 Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8032-8434-0


Origins of the Oceti Sakowin

John Blunt Horn, "Legend of the Camp Circle," in James R. Walker, Lakota Society, ed. Raymond J. DeMallie (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982), 13–14.

James Walker was the Office of Indian Affairs physician at Pine Ridge Reservation from 1896 to 1914. He was also a part-time ethnographer who conducted oral history interviews with Oglalas on a variety of topics. The following passage, which recounts the creation of the Oceti Sakowin, is from his interview with He Wotoka (John Blunt Horn), who was born circa 1857. This passage not only discusses the emergence of the Seven Council Fires but also accounts for Lakotas' and Dakotas' historic break with the Assiniboin people, who are speakers of a close Siouan dialect and eventually competed with the Lakotas for control of the northern Great Plains. Also see appendix A.

Long ago the Lakotas made but one council fire. Then they were all like brothers and made their winter camp on Ble Wakan [Sacred Lake], and this was called Ble Wakan Tonka [Sacred Lake Village, also known as Mdewakanton]. Then some wandered so far in the summertime that they did not return to the winter camp, which was made in the place of the pines. These people made their winter camp where the leaves fall in the winter [Wahpeton] and some made it upon the tinte, or plains [Tituwan, or Teton Lakota]. Then others [Isanti, or Santee] made their winter camp on Ble Isan, or Knife Lake. Then some stayed at the lake in the summertime and ate fish all the time and they stank like fish so they were called sin-sin [Sisseton]. So there were four council fires.

Then there was war with other Indians and the Lakotas all came together to help each other fight, but there were four council fires. They made the camp circle. Those who lived at Spirit Lake were the oldest camp and they placed their camp opposite the entrance from those from the plains made their camp on both sides of the entrance.

After this, those at Knife Lake went to where the leaves fall and made their camp there [Wahpekute splitting from Wahpeton]. They made two council fires. Then some who went to the plains went far away and would not come to help in war. They spoke to the messengers in a rough voice so that the Lakotas called them Hoe He, or Rough Voiced [Assiniboins]. But some came to help at council and they placed their camps on the north side and one on the south side of the entrance to the circle, but they made their council fire on both sides of the entrance. So they were called Ihanktonwan [Yankton]. Ever since then there have been seven council fires that would not be extinguished.


Oglala Winter Counts

"No Ears Winter Count," "American Horse Winter Count," and "Cloud Shield Winter Count," Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, National Anthropological Archives, Lakota Winter Counts: An Online Exhibit,http://wintercounts.si.edu.

After moving onto the Great Plains, Lakotas adopted the regional custom of recording history by illustrating buffalo hides. These calendrical documents are called wanietu iyawapi in Lakota, or winter counts. Each illustration (one or two per year) is a mnemonic device that cued the keeper of the winter count to remember and share an important event from that year. Some winter counts have acquired textual explanations during the post-contact era, sometimes in Lakota, sometimes in English. The Smithsonian, which houses a collection of winter counts, has worked with fluent Lakota speakers to clarify translations. By examining three Oglala winter counts from different tiyošpayes, we can gain valuable insights into early Lakota history on the Great Plains. These edited selections from the "No Ears," "Cloud Shield," and "American Horse" winter counts mostly refer to unique local events, but they also sometimes overlap and corroborate larger events. Note the early prevalence of imported diseases dating back to the eighteenth century and the rising tide of warfare during the nineteenth. Also keep in mind that many of the annual entries not included here dealt with matters beyond disease and warfare, such as spiritual events, unusual weather, family matters, and celebrations.

No Ears Winter Count

1766–67 Shooting Pine was captured

1771–72 They burnt the Mandans out [of their village]

1777–78 Assiniboins came

1782–83 The measles

1786–87 Iron Ornament killed while scouting

1787–88 Shad's father killed by Cheyennes

1790–91 Two Mandans killed on the ice

1791–92 They carried an American flag everywhere

1793–94 A truce with the Mandans

1797–98 Man with a war bonnet killed

1799–1800 Many pregnant women died [possibly an epidemic of puerperal fever; see American Horse, 1792–93, and Cloud Shield, 1798–99]

1801–2 Second measles

1802–3 A good white man came [to trade]

1803–4 They brought back iron claws [horseshoes]

1806–7 Eight were killed

1808–9 They killed a man in a red shirt and returned

1809–10 Blue Blanket's father killed by an Arikara

1812–13 They killed four Akikaras

1813–14 Big Road's father killed by Arikaras

1814–15 A Kiowa's skull was crushed

1818–19 Third measles

1828–29 They killed Mandans

1834–35 A Cheyenne was killed while returning to his camp

1836–37 They threw ice on each other [a battle with the Pawnees; see American Horse, 1836–37, and Cloud Shield, 1836–37]

1839–40 Starving on the warpath

1840–41 They killed two of Little Thunder's brothers

1843–44 Captives brought back

1845–46 Fourth measles

1850–51 Smallpox

1855–56 Hornet [U.S. Gen. William Harney] would not give up

1860–61 Many babies died

1865–66 All the horses died [see Cloud Shield, 1865–66]

1866–67 A hundred white men were killed [the Fetterman fight]

American Horse Winter Count

1775–76 Standing Bull [great-grandfather of Sitting Bull] discovered the Black Hills

1778–79 The Poncas came and attacked a village, not withstanding the peace that had just been made [sixty Poncas were killed]

1779–80 Long Pine was killed in a fright with Crows [Apsaalooke Indians]

1780–81 Many died of smallpox

1781–82 Many died of smallpox

1783–84 Mandans and Arikaras charged a Lakota village [twenty-five enemies were killed, one boy captured]

1784–85 A young boy with smallpox shot himself

1785–86 Bear's Ears, a Sicangu, was killed in an Oglala village by the Crows

1786–87 Broken Leg Duck, an Oglala, went to a Crow village to steal horses and was killed

1787–88 They went out in search of Crows in order to avenge the death of Broken Leg Duck

1788–89 Last Badger, an Oglala, was killed by Arikaras

1792–93 Many women died in childbirth [possibly an epidemic of puerperal fever; see No Ears, 1799–1800, and Cloud Shield, 1798–99]

1793–94 A Ponca, captured earlier as a child by the Oglalas, was killed [during a fight with Poncas when he was older]

1794–95 The Good White Man came with two other white men [to trade]

1795–96 The Man Who Owns the Flute [Flute Owner] was killed by Cheyennes

1796–97 They killed a long-haired man while avenging Flute Owner's death

1797–98 Little Beaver and three other white men came to trade [sent by The Good White Man]

1798–99 Owns the Pole, leader of an Oglala war party, brought home many Cheyenne scalps

1799–1800 The Good White Man returned and gave guns to the Lakotas

1800–1801 Nine white men came to trade

1801–2 Oglalas, Sicangus, Mniconjous, Itazipcos, and Cheyennes united in an expedition against the Crows

1802–3 The Poncas attacked two Oglala lodges, killed some of the people and made the rest prisoners [Oglalas went to the Ponca village shortly thereafter and freed their people]

1803–4 They made peace with the Gros Ventre Indians

1805–6 The Lakotas had a council with the whites on the Missouri River, below the Cheyenne Agency, near the mouth of Bad Creek [possibly Lewis and Clark]

1806–7 Black Rock was killed by the Crows

1807–8 Broken Leg was killed by the Pawnees

1809–10 Black Rock was killed by the Crows [he had taken his dead brother's name]

1810–11Red Shirt was killed by the Crows

1813–14 Many had whooping cough

1814–15 Lakotas went to a Kiowa village for a peace council, but someone clubbed a Kiowa

1815–16 They lived in log houses for the first time

1816–17 They made peace with the Crows at Pine Bluff

1820–21 They attacked a Crow village

1821–22 They had all the mni wakan [whiskey] they could drink

1822–23 Dog, an Oglala, stole seventy horses from the Crows

1823–24 They had an abundance of corn, which they got at an Arikara village

1830–31 They saw wagons for the first time [brought by a white trader named Red Lake]

1832–33 They attacked a Gros Ventre village and killed many

1834–35 They were at war with the Cheyennes

1836–37 They fought with the Pawnees on the ice of the North Platte River [see No Ears, 1836–37, and Cloud Shield, 1836–37]

1837–38 Paints His Cheeks Red and his family killed by Pawnees

1838–39 Spotted Horse carried the pipe around and went on the warpath against the Pawnees

1839–40 Left Handed Big Nose was killed by the Shoshonis

1840–41 Sitting Bear [American Horse's father] and others stole two hundred horses from the Flathead [Salish] Indians

1841–42 The Oglalas engaged in a drunken brawl and the Kiyuksa band separated from the others [see Cloud Shield, 1841–42]

1842–43 Feather Ear Rings was killed by the Shoshonis

1844–45 Male Crow [or He Crow] was killed by the Shoshonis

1845–46 White Bull and thirty other Oglalas were killed by the Shoshonis [see Cloud Shield, 1845–46]

1849–50 Many died of the cramps [Asiatic cholera]

1850–51 Wolf Robe was killed by the Pawnees

1851–52 They received their first annuities at the mouth of Horse Creek [annual payments guaranteed by the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie [see Cloud Shield, 1851–52]

1852–53 The Cheyennes carry the pipe around to invite other tribes to war against the Pawnees

1855–56 A war party of Oglalas killed a Pawnee; on the way home, their feet froze

1856–59 They made peace with the Pawnees

1861–62 Spider was stabbed and killed in a fight with Pawnees

1862–63 Crows scalped an Oglala boy alive [see Cloud Shield, 1862–63]

1863–64 Oglalas and Mniconjous took the warpath against the Crows and stole three hundred horses [eight Oglalas were killed when Crows pursued]

1866–67 They killed one hundred white men at Fort Phil Kearney [the Fetterman fight]

Cloud Shield Winter Count

1777–78 They met no enemies while out

1781–82 Many died of smallpox

1782–83 Many died of smallpox again

1784–85 An Omaha woman living with the Oglalas attempted to run away and they killed her [this led to war]

1785–86 The Oglalas killed three lodges of Omahas

1789–90 White Goose was killed in an attack made by some enemies [possibly Omahas]

1791–92 The Lakotas and Omahas made peace

1792–93 The Lakotas camped on the Missouri River near the Gros Ventre [Hidatsa] Indians and fought with them a long time

1793–94 Bear's Ears was killed in a fight with the Arikaras

1795–96 The Lakotas camped near the Arikaras and fought with them

1796–97 Badger was killed by enemies and scalped

1797–98 The Wise Man was killed by enemies

1798–99 Many women died in childbirth [possibly an epidemic of puerperal fever; see No Ears, 1799–1800, and American Horse, 1792–93]

1800–1801 The good white man came [to trade]

1801–2 A trader brought them their first guns

1802–3 Omahas assaulted a village

1804–5 The Omahas came and made peace to get their people, whom the Lakotas held as prisoners

1806–7 They killed an Omaha at night

1807–8 Many people came together and had many flying flags [possibly Lewis and Clark]

1814–15 They made peace with the Pawnees

1817–18 The Brave Man was killed in a great fight

1818–19 Many died of smallpox

1819–20 In an engagement with the Crows [Apsaalooke Indians], both sides expended all of their arrows and then threw dirt at each other

1823–24 They joined the whites on an expedition up the Missouri River against the Arikaras

1827–28 In a fight with the Mandans, Crier was shot in the head with a gun

1830–31 They killed many Crows who were attempting a sneak attack in winter

1834–35 They fought with the Cheyennes

1836–37 They fought the Pawnees across the ice on the North Platte [see No Ears, 1836–37, and American Horse, 1836–37]

1837–38 Paints His Face Red, a Lakota, was killed in his tipi by the Pawnees

1838–39 Crazy Dog, a Lakota, carried the pipe around and took the warpath

1839–40 They killed a Crow and his wife who were found on a trail

1840–41 They stole many horses from the Shoshonis

1841–42 The Oglalas got drunk on Chug Creek, and engaged in a quarrel among themselves [see American Horse, 1841–42]

1842–43 Lone Feather said his prayers, and took the warpath to avenge some relatives

1845–46 White Bull and many others killed in a fight with the Shoshonis [see American Horse, 1845–46]

1849–50 Making the Hole stole many horses from a Crow tipi

1850–51 Many died of smallpox

1851–52 Many goods were issued at Fort Laramie [see American Horse, 1851–52]

1857–58 They surrounded and killed ten Crows

1859–60 Black Shield said prayers and took the warpath

1860–61 Young Rabbit, a Crow, was killed in a battle with Red Cloud

1862–63 Some Crows came to their camp and scalped a boy [see American Horse, 1862–63]

1863–64 Eight Lakotas were killed by Crows

1865–66 Many horses lost to starvation [see No Ears, 1865–66]


Jean-Baptiste Truteau Describes Lakota Politics and Expansion (1795)

"The Journal of Jean-Baptiste Truteau, June 7, 1794–March 26, 1795," in Before Lewis and Clark, ed. A. P. Nassatir, vol. 1 (1952; reprint, Lincoln: Bison Books, 1990), 270, 296, 301.

By the end of the eighteenth century, Jean Baptiste Truteau was a seasoned veteran of the Missouri River trade, having worked the river for more than a quarter-century. A Frenchman employed by the Spanish empire, he had picked up a working knowledge of several Indigenous languages, including several Siouan dialects. In the following excerpts from his journal, Truteau provides insights into Tituwan politics, including ongoing commercial relations with Dakotas in Minnesota even as Tituwan Lakotas expanded across the Great Plains.

They [Yankton Dakotas along the Missouri River] replied to me that the Tetons did not have one great chief greater than all the others. That each man was a chief of his cabin ...

The Sioux nations are feared and dreaded by all of these others on account of the fire arms with which they are always well provided; their very name causes terror, they have so often ravaged and carried off the wives and children of the Ricaras [Arikaras]. Our being here gives them [the Arikiaras] great assurance, consequently they every day await the coming of the Sioux with courage, and with the resolve to make a strong fight. ...

The northern part of the Missouri [River] is inhabited by the great Sioux nation, almost all of whom are enemies of the Mandans, the Gros Ventres [Hidatsas], and the Ricaras and other nations also. The Sioux nation are of those who hunt beaver; and almost every spring they obtain great quantities from here, which they trade with those Sioux who frequent the St. Peter's River [Minnesota River] and that neighborhood.


Excerpted from Welcome to the Oglala Nation by Akim D. Reinhardt. Copyright © 2015 Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska. Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


A Note on Terminology,
Oglala Political History: An Overview,
Documents in Oglala Lakota Political History,
1. Origins of the Oceti Sakowin,
2. Oglala Winter Counts,
3. Jean-Baptiste Truteau Describes Lakota Politics and Expansion (1795),
4. Treaty with the Sioune and Oglala Tribes (1825),
5. Francis Parkman Observes an Oglala Political Meeting (1846),
6. Oglalas Meet with U.S. Officials (1867–1868),
7. Second Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868),
8. Breaking Up the Great Sioux Reservation (1889),
9. Breaking Up Pine Ridge Reservation and Organizing Bennett County (1910),
10. Preamble to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Oglala Tribal Council (1921),
11. John Collier's Plains Congress, Rapid City, South Dakota (1934),
12. The Indian Reorganization Act (1934),
13. Preamble to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota (1936),
14. Final Meeting of the Oglala Tribal Council (1936),
15. Oglala Sioux Tribal Council Resolution No. 1 (1936),
16. Meetings of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council (1936),
17. Christianity and Politics on Pine Ridge Reservation (1936–1937),
18. Initial Ordinances and Resolutions of Oglala Sioux Tribal Council (1937),
19. Early Ordinances and Resolutions of Oglala Sioux Tribal Council (1938),
20. Oglala Sioux Tribe Bans Display of "Uncivilized Practices" (1938),
21. Office of Indian Affairs Monitors the Cutting of Timber (1940),
22. Office of Indian Affairs Curtails Oglala Sioux Tribal Authority (1942),
23. Letters of Frank Ecoffey (1942),
24. Office of Indian Affairs Officials Suggest Forcing Pine Ridge Oglalas to Contribute to War Effort (1943),
25. Interior Secretary Harold Ickes Restricts Tribal Government Membership (1943),
26. Tribal Council Terminates the Tribal Buffalo Herd (1944),
27. Letter Granting Mr. and Mrs. Fast Horse Permission to Leave Pine Ridge Reservation (1945),
28. Resolution to Remove Pine Ridge Superintendent W. O. Roberts (1945),
29. Tribal Council Authorizes a Delegation to Washington DC (1946),
30. Porcupine District Council Demands a "White Man" as Farm Agent (1946),
31. Congress Authorizes Compensation for Gunnery Range Land Seizures (1956),
32. Commissioner of Indian Affairs Demands Greater Bureaucratic Efficiency (1960),
33. Edison Ward Interviews South Dakota State Attorney Robert Maule (1964),
34. Tribal President Johnson Holy Rock Interviewed (1967),
35. Former Tribal Council Member Thomas Conroy Interviewed (1967),
36. Future Tribal President Gerald One Feather Interviewed (1967),
37. Oglala Sioux Tribe Bill of Rights (1968),
38. Interior Department Certifies Pine Ridge Elections (1968),
39. Presidential Hopeful Robert Kennedy Visits Pine Ridge Reservation (1968),
40. Political Tensions on Pine Ridge Reservation (1970),
41. Tribal Council Attempts to Suspend the Tribal President and Vice President (1971),
42. Conflict on Pine Ridge Reservation (1972),
43. Tribal President Richard Wilson's Inauguration (1972),
44. Tribal Council Seats Representative Kills Straight (1972),
45. Pine Ridge Superintendent Stanley Lyman Interviewed (1972),
46. Tribal President Richard Wilson's Impeachment Hearing (1973),
47. Anti-Wilson Tribal Member Interviewed (1973),
48. A Tribal Policeman's Observations of Pine Ridge Reservation (1973),
49. Tribal President Richard Wilson Discusses Pine Ridge Politics (1973),
50. Chuck Trimble Discusses the Current Political Situation (1974),
51. U.S. Civil Rights Commission Report on Pine Ridge Election (1974),
52. United States vs. Sioux Nation of Indians (1980),
53. President Bill Clinton Addresses Pine Ridge Reservation (1999),
54. Camp Justice Protests Alcohol Sales and Unsolved Murders at Whiteclay, Nebraska (2000),
55. Protests at Red Cloud Administration Building End (2001),
56. Tribal President Cecilia Fire Thunder Is Impeached (2006),
57. Federal Approval of Casino Gambling on Pine Ridge Reservation (1993),
58. Prairie Wind Casino Opens on Pine Ridge Reservation (2007),
59. Amendment to the Oglala Sioux Tribal Constitution (2008),
60. Oglala Sioux Tribe Debates Legalizing Alcohol on Pine Ridge Reservation (2014),
Glossary and Pronunciation Guide,
Bibliographic Essay,

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