Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2013


Great Plains Quarterly 33:4 (Fall 2013).


Copyright © 2013 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


Historically, Indian-white relations have been marred by mistrust and dishonesty. This is especially true in numerous land dealings between the United States government and the Lakota/ Dakota/Nakota people of the northern Great Plains. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court noted, "A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history."1

Our focus here is to chronicle and analyze the tragic diminishment of the Great Sioux Reservation, first established by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.2 The land loss progressed with the Homestead Act of 1862, Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, Act of 1877, Allotment Act of 1887, Act of 1889, the Wheeler-Howard Act, the Pick-Sloan Flood Control Act of 1944, and the Indian Land Consolidation Act. Today, the Lakota/Dakota/ Nakota people remain committed to reversing this trend by reacquiring lost tribal lands and reestablishing the prominence of their culture, language, customs, values, and beliefs. What we present is a multifaceted approach for tribes to consider in reacquiring lost lands. Although outright purchase of land is an option for any tribe, Brian Sawers recommends, because of the high cost of land, that tribes "rely on incorporation and eminent domain to consolidate ownership and control allotted lands in a tribal enterprise."3