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Tribal Historical Overview - Laws and Treaties - Fort Berthold 1866 & Executive Order of 1870

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Atkinson and O’Fallon & 1851 Fort Laramie | Fort Berthold 1866 & Executive Order of 1870 | Little Bighorn & Executive Order 1880

Laws and Treaties

Agreement at Fort Berthold, 1866

As more settlers poured into the West the government, pressured by the railroads and settlers for more land, approached the tribes to cede additional lands. On July 27, 1866, the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara signed an agreement by which they granted such rights-of-way to territories east of the Missouri River, and were to receive in return an annuity of $10,000 for the next 20 years. When the treaty was presented for ratification, Congress added an addendum onto this agreement, including the Mandan and Hidatsa in its terms and provided for cession of a tract of land on the east bank of the Missouri River roughly forty by twenty-five miles. (Kappler, 1904-41, report. ed. 1971, Vol. 2, pp. 1052 - 56)

These lands were well below the villages of where the Mandan and Hidatsa were in 1866. Although no longer continuously occupied by them, they used these lands for hunting purposes. These were their ancestral homelands for centuries to which the Arikara settled in 1837. In addition, these lands contained ancient burial sites, and like many cultures considered the area as sacred ground. Congress, however, pressured by the railroad companies, was unwilling to recognize the tribes’ claim to these lands and the treaty was never ratified. (Meyer, 1977, p. 111)

Executive Order of 1870

The Fort Berthold Reservation was established under the Executive Order of 1870. In the late 1860s the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara complained of their wood supply dwindling by whites cutting timber on their lands and selling it to passing steamboats. When the chiefs complained to Washington, a Captain Wainwright, an officer at Fort Stevenson, met with the chiefs. They consented to the establishment of a reservation that included most, if not all, of the territory claimed by them at Fort Laramie in 1851. (Meyer, p. 112)

Because the Sioux had claimed possession of a parcel of the land in question the previous year, the government took off the southern boundary of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (Sahnish) territories. The southern boundary of the reservation became a straight line from the junction of the Powder River from the Little Powder River to a point on the Missouri River four miles below Fort Berthold. In order to accommodate the villages then occupied by the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara/Sahnish, the United States government included a strip of land east of the Missouri River. These provisions became legal in the Executive Order of April 12, 1870. (See map from Demographics)

Continue to Battle of the Little Bighorn &
Executive Order of 1880...