Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868)

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For the 1851 treaty, see Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851).
General William T. Sherman (third from left) and Commissioners in Council with chiefs and headmen of different bands of the Sioux, including Arapaho Indians, Fort Laramie, Wyoming, 1868. Photograph by Alexander Gardner
Map of the 1868 Great Sioux Reservation, and the subsequent changes in reservation borders

The Treaty of Fort Laramie (also called the Sioux Treaty of 1868) was an agreement between the United States and the Oglala, Miniconjou, and Brulé bands of Lakota people, Yanktonai Dakota, and Arapaho Nation[1] signed on April 29, 1868 at Fort Laramie in the Wyoming Territory, guaranteeing the Lakota ownership of the Black Hills, and further land and hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. The Powder River Country was to be henceforth closed to all whites. The treaty ended Red Cloud's War.

In the treaty, the U.S. included all Ponca lands in the Great Sioux Reservation. Conflict between the Ponca and the Sioux/Lakota, who now claimed the land as their own by U.S. law, forced the U.S. to remove the Ponca from their own ancestral lands in Nebraska to land in Oklahoma that was less conducive to the needs of the Ponca.

The treaty includes an article intended to "ensure the civilization" of the Lakota, financial incentives for them to farm land and become competitive, and stipulations that minors should be provided with an "English education" at a "mission building." To this end the U.S. government included in the treaty that white teachers, blacksmiths, a farmer, a miller, a carpenter, an engineer and a government agent should take up residence within the reservation. One of the most famed "mission building" schools from this provision was the Carlisle Indian Industrial School; Chief Manuelito sent his sons to this school, believing that it would help them eventually protect their freedoms.[2] Repeated violations of the otherwise exclusive rights to the land by gold prospectors led to the Black Hills War. Migrant workers seeking gold had crossed the reservation borders, in violation of the treaty. Indians had assaulted these gold prospectors, in violation of the treaty, and war ensued. The U.S. government seized the Black Hills land in 1877.

More than a century later, the Sioux nation won a victory in court. On June 30, 1980, in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians,[3] the United States Supreme Court upheld an award of $15.5 million for the market value of the land in 1877, along with 103 years worth of interest at 5 percent, for an additional $105 million. The Lakota Sioux, however, refused to accept payment and instead demanded the return of their territory from the United States.

In more recent proceedings the U.S. Courts have seen that some of the monies associated with the claim have been expended and, as such, claim that the agreement is valid. In fact, several thousand tribal members have filed for and are awaiting for a final decision by the Court to decide to issue the resources to tribal members.[citation needed]

The treaty and its aftermath is the subject of a 1986 video by the Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium.[4]


  1. ^ "Fort Laramie Treaty, 1868." Archives of the West. (retrieved 19 Dec 2010)
  2. ^ Suzan Shown Harjo (2014). Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations. Nation to Nation. Washington D.C.: National Museum of the American Indian. p. 127. ISBN 1588344789. 
  3. ^ 448 U.S. 371 (1980)
  4. ^ Jim Underwood ; producers, Mike Feduk, Darrell Wheaton (Director) (1986). The Treaty of 1868. Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 


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