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The Sioux Indians



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Background leading to the US-Dakota War of 1862

What was known as the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, was the result of a system that methodically and purposefully forced the Santee (Eastern) Sioux off traditional land through a treaty system that was stacked against the Dakota Nation.


The first treaty with the Dakota resulted in the purchase of land at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers—the Minnesota River was then known as the St. Peter River. It was 1805 and Lewis and Clark were in the midst of their trek West. Zebulon Pike was sent to explore the upper Mississippi River. Pike purchased the land from the Dakota to accommodate a U.S. military fort to control British and French trading, no doubt in preparation for westward expansion. The parcel consisted of the area now containing Minneapolis and St. Paul.


From that point forward, every treaty took away things that prior treaties promised forever.

  • 1837 – Ceded all land east of the Mississippi River. A primary reason for this treaty was to introduce boundary lines to reflect ownership. Until this treaty, the Sioux honored traditional areas of tribal lands often shared with other bands.
  • 1851 – Treaty of Traverse des Sioux. This same treaty was also called the Mendota Treaty because it was signed in two different locations by different tribal entities. This treaty ceded all Sioux lands in Minnesota Territory with the exception of two strips, each 10-miles wide, one on the north, the other on the south side of the Minnesota River. These bands stretched a distance of roughly 150-miles. The entire Dakota Nation was forced to move to these spaces.
  • 1858 – This treaty was signed the same year that Minnesota gained statehood. It took away the north strip and forced the Dakota to the south side of the river. This treaty coupled with crop failure leading to starvation, late delivery of annuity payments by the federal government and refusal to distribute food from packed warehouses without cash payment, are what led to the war.

Organization Details

General Facts:
Language: Sioux, however, each division spoke its own dialect 1
Three Major Divisions: Eastern Dakota, Western Dakota, and Lakota 1
Today's Population: Approximately 150,000 1
Tribal Government: Societies divided into clans 1
38 Siouxs executed for Sioux Uprising:
26 Dec 1862 2
Battle of Little Big Horn:
25 Jun 1876 2
Beginning of Sioux uprising in Minnesota:
18 Aug 1862 2
Crazy Horse killed in the hands of U.S. soldiers:
06 Sep 1877 2
Dakota War:
1862 2
Great Sioux War:
1876-1877 2
Red Cloud's War:
1866-1868 2
Sioux meet the Lewis and Clark Expedition:
1804 2
Sitting Bull surrenders:
19 Jul 1881 2
Treaty of 1868 creates the Great Sioux Reservation:
1868 2
Wounded Knee Massacre:
29 Dec 1890 2
Location: Nebraska 1
Location: Minnesota 1
Location: Montana 1
Location: Rosebud Reservation 3
Location: South Dakota 1
Location: North Dakota 1

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