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Standing Rock Timeline - 1650s to 1862

Waniyetu Wowapi (winter count) | 1650s to 1862 |
1863 to 1874 | 1875 to 1888 | 1889 to present

1650s to 1862


Dakota and Lakota bands hunted buffalo on the Plains in summer, and lived in north woods area of Minnesota in winter.


Teton bands are living full-time in northern Plains as nomadic buffalo hunters.


Probable date for acquisition of horse among the Tetons.


Yanktonai (Middle Sioux) settled along eastern side of Missouri River. They pursued the buffalo, acquired horses and tepees; eventually some bands farmed and lived in earthlodges.


July 13—The Northwest Ordinance is passed by the Continental Congress, stating that “the utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in the property rights and liberty, they never shall be invaded or disturbed.”

September 17—The U.S. Constitution is adopted. Article I, section 8, grants Congress the power to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.” This establishes a government-to-government relationship with tribes. Consequently the federal government, rather than states, is involved in Indian affairs.


Congress gives the War Department authority over Indian affairs.


First Indian treaty included provisions for education of Indians by the United States and the Oneidas, Tuscaroras, and Stockbridge.


The U.S. Congress appropriates ten to fifteen thousand dollars annually to promote “civilization” among the Indians. This money goes to Christian missionary organizations working to convert Indians to Christianity.


United States negotiates the Louisiana Purchase with France, thereby acquiring vast amounts of land inhabited by Indians in the Northern Plains. The purchase increases American contact with Yanktonai and Hunkpatina living east of the Missouri River.


Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Pacific Northwest make first American contact with many northern tribes.


On October 18th, the Lewis and Clark Expedition had contact with Yanktonai band in the area of present-day Cannonball, North Dakota.


Congress appropriates money for the “Civilization Fund,” the first federal Indian education program. Christian missionary societies received this money to establish schools among Indian people.


The secretary of war creates a Bureau of Indian Affairs within the War Department.


General Henry Atkinson and Major Benjamin O’Fallon met with a number of Missouri River tribes to establish treaties of peace and friendship. In actuality the U.S. wanted to curtail British trading with tribes in the area. Treaty negotiated with Teton, Yankton, and Yanktonai at Fort Lookout along Missouri River on June 22, 1825. In the treaty, the Indians acknowledged the right of the U.S. to regulate trade and intercourse with them, promised to return horses stolen from Americans, and promised not to furnish guns to tribes hostile to the U.S. In return, the U.S. promised to provide friendship and protection, and to furnish licensed traders in their territory.

August 19—Some Yanktonai from the Dakotas sign Prairie du Chien Treaty. It established specific boundaries and territories for tribes involved: Yanktonai, Chippewa, Sac and Fox; Menominee, Iowa, Winnebago, Ottawa, and Potawatomi. Each tribe gave up any claims to be in designated territory of another tribe or hunt in that territory without permission. The U.S. was interested in establishing one tribe in one area to facilitate land cessions. The government soon began dealing with each tribe to acquire their treaty lands.


A German prince, Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, and Swiss artist Karl Bodmer, traveled up the Missouri River, spent the winter at Fort Clark (northwest of the present city of Bismarck, North Dakota). Yanktonai visited and Bodmer painted a portrait of Psihdje-Sahpa.


Smallpox epidemic kills more than 15,000 Indians in the Upper Missouri River including over 400 Yanktonai.


Bureau of Indian Affairs is transferred from the War Department to the newly created Department of the Interior.


Santee negotiate Treaty of Traverse des Sioux and Treaty of Mendota with U.S. ceding much of their Minnesota homeland to the U.S. in return for annuities payable over 50 years. Four Santee tribes were left with a reservation 150 miles long and 20 miles wide across the Minnesota River. The Yanktonai were angered by the cession, asserting they too lived in these lands and should have been part of the negotiations.


September 17—After gold was discovered in California in 1849, traffic across Indian lands increased. U.S. holds Fort Laramie (Wyoming) Treaty Council with Plains and Mountain tribes to open central plains for transportation routes through Kansas and Nebraska. Tetons attend. Yanktonai omitted from treaty because their traditional areas were far removed from the overland route to the Pacific Coast which the treaty aimed to safeguard.


Alfred J. Vaughn, agent for Upper Missouri tribes, reported a band of Yanktonai headed by Little Soldier built a permanent earthlodge village on the east bank of the Missouri River, above the mouth of Spring Creek, near present day Pollock, South Dakota.


Winter—Smallpox epidemic among Yanktonai killed many.


Santee negotiate treaty with U.S. and their reservation as established in 1851 treaty is cut in half. The Yanktonai, along with the Tetons, oppose this treaty and claim rights in the ceded lands.


Dakota Territory established. Yanktonai and Hunkpatina occupy areas of the east bank of the Missouri River.

Gold discovered on the headwaters of the Missouri River.


Unresolved grievances lead to Santee Sioux uprising in Minnesota. Traders and agents defraud Indians of annuity monies; government annuities late and not distributed once they arrived. There is dissatisfaction with 1851 Treaty in general.

Settlers in Minnesota and the Dakota Territory, fearful of further troubles with Indians, demanded protection. There are many rumors of Santee Sioux from Minnesota fleeing onto Dakota prairies. Rumors and reports indicate unrest among Sioux who traditionally lived in Dakota Territory, including Yanktonai and Teton. Public pressure from newspapers, politicians, and general population demand Army action to protect frontier settlements.

Continue to 1863 to 1874...