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Dinosaurs and Indians: Paleontology resource dispossession from Sioux lands

Lawrence W Bradley, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

The emergence of vertebrate paleontology as an established, scientific discipline can in part be attributed to large vertebrate fossils found on land dispossessed from indigenous populations from around the world. Specifically, geographic locations of the North American continental interior are known to yield fossiliferous stratigraphic sequences. The Great Sioux Nation's boundaries were initially defined in the 1851 Ft. Laramie Treaty. The boundaries basically included land west of the Missouri River in South Dakota; north of the Platte River of western Nebraska; east of the Powder River Wyoming. Small areas of southeast corner Montana and southwest North Dakota were also included. On April 29, 1868 another treaty was concluded and reaffirmed the borders of the Great Sioux Nation. I argue that vertebrate fossils are another natural resource dispossessed from the subjugated native peoples within the central plains of the United States. Founding fathers of American paleontology have to some degree built their careers with fossils collected within treaty boundaries. As the Sioux land base retracted through dispossession and selling of allotted land to nonTribal members, the fossil dispossession never ceased. Throughout history valuable fossils have been collected from Sioux lands and used to promote museum exhibits and create university departments. Recent fossil disputes between various tribes and paleontologists have a better chance of being resolved when studying the historical geography of paleontology resources. A new concept of cultural physical geography would demand a multidisciplinary approach and increase chances for modern paleontologists to be sensitive to issues that are situated in the physical environment in which they seek to conduct their research. Furthermore, the methodology of an historical geography narrative within Native American geography may expose indigenous paleontology resource dispossession and allow paleontology to conscientiously advance into the twenty-first century.^

Subject Area

Geography|Paleontology|Native American Studies

Recommended Citation

Bradley, Lawrence W, "Dinosaurs and Indians: Paleontology resource dispossession from Sioux lands" (2010). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3397860.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3397860

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