Lakota People And The Treaty Of Fort Laramie

Lakota people suffered a lot and experience persecution all through North American expansion from the Native American Indians. They lived in dilapidated conditions in the United States. This was so unfortunate for them as they used to be superior and feared by other Indian nations and the whites. Typically, the relationship between the Indians and the whites had been tainted with deceit and dishonesty[1].  This was evident through the several deals involving land the United States government had with Lakota people living in the Northern Great Plains. Later wars emerged stirred by practical considerations and not due to their hostile instincts which led to the establishment of the Treaty of Fort Laramie to restore peace[2]. This paper will discuss the history of Lakota, the treaty of Fort Laramie and what George Armstrong Custer did after the ratification of the treaty.

Initially during 1700s, Great Sioux Nation lived in Minnesota before they started to migrate towards Kansas and Wyoming searching for buffalos[3]. Even with their nomadic patterns for hunting, Sioux Nation was peaceful without any disputes[4]. Originally, Sioux Nation’s economy and territorial sovereignty had not been influenced by whites. Nonetheless, in the mid-1800s, a large number of emigrants arrived along with new diseases and over population issues during the American expansion[5]. The ratification of the Fort Laramie Treaties later came to change the relationship between Sioux Nation with the government and also the European settlers[6]. With an aim to promote unity and establish a solid mutual relationship between the whites and Indians, the treaties incorporated European and American ideas on how property is owned.

The federal government as well made efforts to negotiate in 1851 at Wyoming and Fort Laramie to relationship between the whites and Indians[7]. The ultimate treaty eventually managed to bring peace and as well the Great Sioux Nation was awarded a big land and also a larger part of Dakota dynasty. Sioux Nation had two rivers that marked its boundaries; Heart River on the north and Missouri River on the east[8]. In addition to that, the United States admitted to provide protection to Sioux from discriminative actions by its people.

However, the United States assurance to protect Sioux was unfulfilled. Lakota began to be worried of the increasing number of emigrants and military troops within their territory[9]. This led to an increase in the hostility between European settlers, the American soldiers, and Sioux tribe[10]. The united states government together with the tribes converged again to resolve the conflict and established the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty[11]. There was an urge for requirement for an agreement to be made after the efforts for retaliation by the United States military failed to minimize the tension. The negotiation afterwards referred to as Fort Laramie Treaty, an agreement reached by the Indian tribe and the United States Citizens which managed to induce some sense of peace among the Indians and the white Americans migrating along the plains, by recognition of the Great plains that this area is a region of one of the alternate countries as well as the United States which advocated to prevent to set up permanent communities for its citizen in their territory.  The Great Sioux Reservation was formed drawing the Missouri River as its boundary at the east and its boundary at the south change to be its northern boundary. The boundary at the north as the 46th parallel at northern latitude, whereas the boundary at west as 104th meridian at western longitude[12].

All the way from 1860s to 1870s, chaos and Indian wars marred the American border. As a result, a study was done to investigate on the Indian emerging chaos and wars[13]. The report from the study pushed for the need for establishing an Indian Peace Commission which would solve the issue by stopping the war and creating harmony among Indians[14]. The United States government further engaged in establishing several treaties outdo the Indians by forcing them to surrender their lands and move into reserves. During a conference held in 1868 at Fort Laramie, a treated was made[15]. The treaty was intended to create peace and harmony between the Sioux and the whites settling at the Black Hills reservation in Dakota.

The Treaty of Fort Laramie was a binding treaty in 1868 between Arapaho, Santee Sioux, Yanktonai Sioux, the Lakota nation and United States[16]. It assured Lakota to own the Black Hills and offered more hunt and land rights in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. It also resulted in the closure of access of whites to Powder River County and end OF Red Cloud’s War[17]. Civilization was part of the issue the treaty strived to address as it incorporated articles to facilitate Lakota’s civilization[18]. This kind of civilization included introduction of financial incentives to farm land and as well provide English education. Moreover, the Unites States government added in the treaty that all whites including a farmer, blackmiths, carpenter, engineer and government servants ought to reside in the reservation.

In the 1868 treaty, Dakota’s Black Hills were acknowledged as sacred and significant to the people Sioux therefore being left for the Sioux people to use it[19]. Gen. George Armstrong Custer in the company of gold miners later in 1874 commanded an excursion on the Black Hills[20]. When gold was discovered, the miners shifted into hunting areas for the Sioux while asking the United States Army for protection[21]. Nonetheless, the Army had to stick by the rights in the treaty and moved against Sioux sects[22]. In a meeting between president Grant and the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Interior he openly asserted that he could no more defend the Black Hills against the invaders[23]. While heading the army detachment in 1879 at the Little Bighorn River, Custer came across a camp belonging to Cheyenne and Sioux[24]. Albeit the detachment led by Custer being overwhelmed, United States carried on their battle in the Black Hills against the Sioux till it took over the land.

In 1876, during winter, a declaration was made by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Sioux hunters hunting on the restricted land in the north to retreat back to the Reservations or else they would be considered to be hostile[25]. The Sioux hunting in the restricted land failed to conform to the orders give because of the adverse weather condition[26]. The method that the United States government used to handle the Sioux Nation later after the discovery made by Caster, it was changed to focus on their anticipation to possess the land precisely the Black Hills, despise being conceded in the treaty. In 1876, the 7th including Custer were instructed to go back and remove the Sioux tribe and move them into the reservation lands. Moreover, the United States was forced to accept a severe punitive policy against the Lakota after the 7th Calvary were defeated during the Little Big Horn battle in the month of June that same year. They were therefore attacked by the U.S Army which led to eruption of a war ending in the defeat of Cluster on June in the same year[27]. However, the United States victory did not last for long while the Indians arrested were taken back into the reserve and their horses and weapons taken from them hence being left to be entirely dependent on the United States government.

The Congress fast became intolerant and impatient to the whole idea of rationing food for Sioux and was prompted to pass a legislation to end annexations for sustenance[28]. Moreover, the Congress gave directions to the president to create a commission aimed at retrieval of the Black Hills[29]. Arriving at the Great Sioux Reservation in 1876, the commission communicated to the leaders of the tribes that the US had rescinded its role with regards to the rationing[30]. Remarkably, a mere 10% of grown male populace of Sioux singed this 1876 deal, which was in contravention of the direct provision that the Fort Laramie treaty of 1868 had given[31]. At that juncture, the US not only used forceful powers and maneuvers in reinforcing the agreement that is intimidating the Sioux by starvation, but also dishonored the past treaty provisions when they failed to obtain the necessary signatures[32]. The congress consequently endorsed into legislation the 1876 treaty, officially abolishing the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 since it concerned itself with above-mentioned lands. During the subsequent decade, the land holding was minimized by the delineated separate reservation belonging to the different Sioux groups since the reservation lands were allotted to personal parcel thereby widely reducing land holdings which was a great blow to the Sioux. Eventually, about forty-seven million acres of land intended for hunting activities and communally owned out of the total amount included in the Treaty of 1851 were lost.

In essence, Lakota people experience a lot persecution and live a poor life. The relationship between the whites and American Indians was marred with enmity. United States employed the use of treaties as a way to deal with Indians. Several treaties were created as an effort to resolve the conflict between the Indians and the whites but instead brought new problems to the people of Sioux. Sioux was always on the losing end. However, Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868 was expected to be a turning point in the relationship between the whites and Indians. This treaty anticipated to unite and foster peace among the White and the Indians but instead led to more conflict. Actually, treaties which were anticipated to unite people cause more chaos instead.