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Standing Rock Timeline - 1889 to Present

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

1889 to Present


500 Standing Rock Sioux attend Fourth of July parade in Bismarck.

Word of the Ghost Dance religion, a pan-tribal religion, is heard on the Great Sioux Reservation. The religion, with origins among the Paiute in Nevada, promises a return to the old ways and is attractive to some Lakota and Dakota.

North Dakota and South Dakota are admitted to the Union.

Pressure from citizens of the Dakota Territory results in a federal commission, which seeks to break the Great Sioux Reservation into six smaller reservations and opens up nine million acres of land to homesteading. Despite opposition from the various bands, just over the requisite three-quarters of adult Sioux males agree. Standing Rock reduced to 2.4 million acres. Most good farmland is lost. The bill causes great dissention between signers and non-signers at Standing Rock.

Federal government outlawed butchering of rationed beef in public. The government deemed it offensive to Indian women and children. Standing Rock Agency complied by building slaughter-houses at issue stations.

Land surveys begin on Standing Rock in anticipation of break-up of Great Sioux Reservation. Sitting Bull and others protest to no avail.

Health is poor among Standing Rock Sioux. Agent reports deaths exceed births. Food rations cut sharply and Standing Rock agent reports many children and adults near starvation.


Severe drought strikes the Dakotas. Crops at Standing Rock are a total failure.


December 15 — Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa, killed at home on Grand River by Indian police acting under government orders. Supporters and family of Sitting Bull are killed, as well as police.

December 29 — Massacre of over 300 Lakota at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, by the U.S. Seventh Cavalry.


Sioux begin to organize Black Hills Councils on their reservations for the purpose of seeking return of this sacred area. Standing Rock contingent is active in this effort.


Gall dies. He was noted as a great warrior, particularly at the Little Bighorn. Later he became a judge in the Court of Indian Offenses. He is buried at St. Elizabeth’s Mission in Wakpala, South Dakota.


Fort Yates military post abandoned; men sent to Fort McKeen; military graves relocated at this time.


Town of McLaughlin established; named after Major James McLaughlin’s family.


Sioux County organized on September 3; named after the non-Indian term Sioux Indians; county seat at Fort Yates; area 1,169 square miles.

Standing Rock men form a general council to represent the peoples’ needs and concerns to the government agent on the reservation.


Many Indian men throughout U.S. enlist in armed services to fight in World War I even though they are not citizens. Richard Blue Earth of Cannonball, North Dakota, was the first North Dakota Indian to enlist. Albert Grass, also from Cannonball, died in the war.


Another wave of homesteading approved on Indian lands. Standing Rock Reservation opened to homesteaders May 13th. Ferry boat operating near Fort Yates, fare 25 cents to Mandan or Bismarck.


Indians who served in the military during World War I are recognized as citizens of the United States and entitled to vote in federal elections.


Black Hills claim is filed by Sioux Nation in U.S. Court of Claims.


Snyder Act confers U.S. citizenship on all Indians.


Indian Civilian Conservation Corps active on reservations. Standing Rock Sioux contingent is active on the reservation planting gardens, stringing fences, building dams, etc. during the Great Depression.


June 18 — Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) is passed, ending allotment, providing for limited tribal self-government, and launching the Indian credit program. Standing Rock did not adopt an IRA government.


Sun dance at Little Eagle, South Dakota, on Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Indian Reorganization Act permits greater religious freedoms for Indian people.


Sun Dance at Cannonball, North Dakota, on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.


U.S. government repeals act prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to Indians.


U.S. Court of Claims dismisses Black Hills Claim brought by Sioux Nation.


August 1—Indian Claims Commission established to end Indian land claims by making monetary compensations. Black Hills claim can be re-filed.


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of Oahe Dam (South Dakota). Despite intense opposition from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, 160,889 acres of prime agricultural lands were flooded. Twenty-five percent of reservation population had to relocate out of flooded area.


Indian Relocation Program established for all Indians. This program was part of the termination program initiated by the federal government. The government sought to end the reservation system and in preparation, relocated Indian families to urban areas.


June 9 — U.S. Representative William Henry Harrison of Wyoming introduces House Concurrent Resolution 108, which states that Congress intends to “terminate” at the “earliest possible time” all Indians, meaning that Congress will no longer recognize individuals as Indian and will remove all Indian rights and benefits.


April 11—American Indian Civil Rights Act passed, guaranteeing reservation residents many of the same civil rights and liberties in relation to federal and state authorities.


The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council granted a charter creating Standing Rock Community College to operate as a post-secondary educational institution.


Indian Claims Commission awards Sioux $17.5 million plus interest for taking of the Black Hills pending determination of government offsets.


January 4—Congress passes the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, expanding tribal control over reservation program and authorizing federal funds to build needed public school facilities on or near Indian reservations.

U.S. Court of Claims reverses Indian Claims Commission decision thereby removing monetary award from Black Hills Claims case.


October 8 —Congress passes a bill to terminate the Indian Claims Commission at the end of 1978. The U.S. Court of Claims is to take over cases that the commission does not complete by December 31, 1978.


Congress provides for new hearing in Black Hills Claim.

August 11—Congress passes the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA), in which Congress recognizes its obligations to “protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express and exercise [their] traditional religions.” This reverses official government policy prohibiting the practice of Native American spirituality passed in 1883.

November 1—Congress passes the Education Amendments Act of 1978, giving substantial control of education programs to local Indian communities.

November 8—Congress passes the Indian Child Welfare Act, establishing U.S. policy to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by giving tribal courts jurisdiction over Indian children living on or off the reservation.


U.S. Court of Claims awards Sioux Nation $17.5 million plus interest for taking of the Black Hills.


U.S. Supreme Court affirms Court of Claims ruling in Black Hills claim and awards Sioux $106 million. The court decries the taking of the illegal seizure of the Black Hills by the U.S. government, “A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history.” Sioux overwhelmingly reject money settlement in the Black Hills case and seek return of the land. Work on land return continues; no tribe has accepted any monetary compensation.


Legislation enacted to repeal the 1953 termination policy established by House Concurrent Resolution 108.


The Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act protects Indian gravesites on federal public lands against looting. The Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which goes into effect in 1996, finally protects the work of Indian artists, an effort that began in 1935.


On March 6, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council voted to officially amend the charter, changing the name of Standing Rock Community College to Sitting Bull College.


The Kenel District rebuilds Fort Manuel Lisa and developed tourism in their community. Manuel Lisa built the Fort in 1811.


The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe builds a multi-million dollar tribal headquarters building to house all the tribal government and employees.


Highway 1806 on the Standing Rock Reservation becomes a national Native American Scenic Byway. The entire 86 miles of the Standing Rock Native American Scenic Byway are within the borders of the Standing Rock Reservation. In addition to its rich history, the reservation is unique due to its location in two states—North Dakota and South Dakota.

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