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Standing Rock Timeline - 1875 to 1888

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

1875 to 1888


Winter—All Lakota and Dakota living in un-ceded territory described in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty were ordered to report to the Great Sioux Reservation. Bitter cold weather prevents army from embarking on winter campaign and forcing Indians onto reservation. Many Dakota and Lakota from Standing Rock Agency are in un-ceded lands that winter.


August — Catholic priest, Father Martin Marty, arrives at Standing Rock Agency to begin missionary activities.

Census figures at Standing Rock reveal: Upper Yanktonai, 469; Lower Yanktonai, 794; Hunkpapa, 418; Blackfeet, 492; halfbreeds, 93; Indian scouts, 51. Significant numbers from all bands left reservation in early spring, as was their custom and right by law, to hunt in the un-ceded territories. Army ordered to force all Indians onto the Great Sioux Reservation.

June — George Custer left Fort Abraham Lincoln to take part in Army plan to gather all Sioux on the bounds of the Great Sioux Reservation.

June 17 — General Crook attacks Lakota bands in the Battle of the Rosebud (Montana). Crook’s troops are held back.

June 25 — Lt. Colonel Custer’s force of 267 men is annihilated by Lakota and Cheyenne at the Little Bighorn River in Montana.

After the Battle of the Little Bighorn, U.S. Army troops pour into the northern Plains to force all Dakota and Lakota onto the Great Sioux Reservation. All Indians must surrender their guns and horses and are held as prisoners of war on the reservation. U.S. begins to negotiate cession of the Black Hills with various bands of the Sioux Nation. Sioux people refuse to give up sacred Black Hills. Coercion, threats, and force by government officials cannot produce requisite signatures.


Congress votes to take Black Hills from the Sioux in open violation of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty which requires three-fourths of the adult Sioux males to approve. Government officials obtained few signatures.

Catholic boarding schools for boys and a separate one for girls open at Standing Rock. Bishop Marty initiated these efforts.

Benedictine priests opened another Catholic boarding school for boys at Standing Rock Agency. All boys had hair cut short and wore uniforms.


Industrial farm school for boys established and located 15 miles south of Standing Rock Agency by Benedictine priest.

Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, a non-sectarian Christian vocational school for educating ex-slaves, admits Indian students. Its motto is “Education for the Head, the Hand, and the Heart.” Many young people from Standing Rock are sent to Hampton.

December 16 — Standing Rock creates Indian police force as permitted by federal government. The police are under direct orders of federally appointed agent.


Carlisle Indian School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, opens. Its motto is “To Kill the Indian and Save the Man.” This is the first federally sponsored Indian school and it serves as a prototype where Indian children are removed from the home environment in order to hasten their “civilization into the white man’s world.” Young people from Standing Rock are sent to Carlisle.


Catholic girls’ boarding school moved 15 miles south of Standing Rock Agency because Fort Yates soldiers annoy the girls.


Winter — Severe weather causes heavy losses of livestock at Standing Rock. Over one-third of cattle and horses die. Weather wreaks havoc with efforts by Indians to farm or ranch.


Indian Offenses Act passed making practice of many Indian customs and all religious ceremonies illegal. The federal government outlawed these aspects of Indian life to hasten assimilation of Indians into the mainstream society and encourage acceptance of Christianity.

Hot winds and drought cause crop failure at Standing Rock Agency.

Catholic mission established at Cannonball.

Rev. T.L. Riggs of the American Missionary Society opens a day school at Antelope Settlement on the Grand River.


Sioux at Standing Rock had 1,900 acres under cultivation. Each family at the agency had an individual plot.


September 1 — Haskell Institute Training School, sponsored by the U.S. government, opens in Lawrence, Kansas.


Commissioner of Indian Affairs requires English to be used in all Indian schools because “it is believed that teaching an Indian youth in his own barbarous dialect is a positive detriment to him.”


Drought causes sparse crops at Standing Rock. Standing Rock Sioux farm communal plots according to band affiliation. They purchased mowers cooperatively and assist each other with tasks.


Severe winter causes Standing Rock Sioux to lose 30 percent of their cattle and horses. Average loss among non-Indian stockmen in Dakota-Montana area is 75 percent.


February 8 — Congress passes the Dawes Allotment Act, providing for allotment of Indian lands in severalty. Few allotments are made on Standing Rock at this time. The purpose of this law was to break up the Indian land base, the reservation. After individual allotments were made, the government would open the remaining land to homesteading. Most Indians were allotted very poor quality lands.


Pressure from citizens in the Dakotas results in a federal commission to break up the Great Sioux Reservation. Standing Rock, the first agency visited, overwhelmingly rejects the plan. Standing Rock’s firm stance against the bill kills it at this time.

Continue to 1889 to present...