Indian Treaty proposed
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
The long awaited news has finally arrived. On Aug 15 the First Session of the 44th U.S. Congress stipulated in the Indian appropriation act that no money should be paid to any band of Sioux Indians, "while said band is engaged in hostilities against the white people; and hereafter there shall be no appropriation made for the subsistence of said Indians, unless they shall first agree to relinquish all right and claim to any country outside the boundaries of the permanent reservation established by the treaty of eighteen hundred and eighty-six for said Indians, and also so much of their said permanent reservation as lies west of the one hundred and third meridian of longitude, and shall also grant right of way over said reservation to the country thus ceded for wagon or other roads, from convenient and accessible points on the Missouri River, in all not more than three in number..."
This action known as the Agreement of Aug. 15, 1876, also redefined the Sioux Reservation to exclude all of the lands between North and South Forks of the Cheyenne River including the entire Black Hills. On the condition that the Sioux accept the reduced reservation, cede the hunting grounds, and quit fighting - the government would provide schools, and other necessities of life. The Indian Bureau hoped this would lead the Sioux to ways of industry, education and morality.
With this bold stroke, congress forces relinquishment of the Black Hills and northeastern Wyoming by the Sioux. The transfer of the rights granted under article XVI of the 1868 treaty was now merely a matter of form.
Note: A well-stacked presidential commission appointed on Aug 24 carried this ultimatum to the Sioux. Experienced interpreters, Indian commissioners, missionaries and former Indian agents were seated on this commission chaired by George W. Manypenny. Red Cloud, Spotted Tail and other chiefs signed the treaty late in 1876. Congress ratified it on Feb. 28, 1877. And when the president's signature was affixed, the Black Hills were at last legally opened to prospecting and settlement.
(Information sources: The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Route by Agnes Wright Spring. Fort Laramie in 1876 by Paul L. Hedren.)