01. The Misfortune of the Indians

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America and Two Essays on America, pp. 387-88.

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02. Population Chart

Figures of 5,000,000 American Indians in 1491, 600,000 in 1800, and U.S. population of 5,000,000 in 1800, see Russell Thornton, American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492, p. 90 ("In sum the European expansion throughout North America in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries produced a demographic collapse of American Indians primarily because of disease, warfare, and destruction of Indian ways of life. The removal and relocation of Indians also contributed to the collapse, but probably only in a small way. The collapse was so severe that by 1800 the total American Indian population had been reduced to 600,000 from 5+ million in three centuries. Meanwhile, the non-Indian population of the United States had increased to over 5 million.").

Figure of 250,000 American Indians in 1890, see The National Museum of the American Indian, FAQ Page ("How many Indians lived in America before 1492? This is sometimes called an unanswerable question that historians nevertheless must try to answer. There is sadly little clear information about populations to be found in historic records or archaeological evidence. Even careful estimates differ widely, as they are based largely on assumptions. For America north of Mexico around 1491, these estimates range from perhaps 1.8 million people to more than 18 million—a difference of ten times. More recent population figures are clearer. Many historians believe that the Native population of the United States reached its lowest point—about 250,000—at the end of the 19th century. By the end of the 20th century, the population had rebounded to 4.1 million. National data from the 2010 U.S. census have not yet been published.")

Figures of 63,000,000 for the United States in 1890 and 106,000,000 in 1920, see Janet A. McDonnell, The Dispossession of the American Indian, p.4 ("From 1890 to 1920, the population of the country jumped from 63,000,000 to 106,000,000, a 68-percent increase.").

Figure of 350,000 American Indians in 1920, see U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany, ("The territorial wars, along with Old World diseases to which Indians had no built-up immunity, sent their population plummeting, to a low of 350,000 in 1920.").

2010 Figures, U.S. Census Bureau [pdf].

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03. Chief Big Foot

Note: The person depicted in the photo at the top of this section may not be Big Foot the Miniconjou, also known as Spotted Elk. See Calvin Spotted Elk.

The claim that Big Foot's body was left in the snow for days comes from PBS - The West ("Big Foot himself was among the first killed. His frozen corpse, half raised as though trying to warn his people of their imminent disaster, lay untouched for three days until it was unceremoniously dumped into a mass grave.").

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04. Lewis and Clark

See Edward Lazarus, Black Hills, White Justice, p. 9. ("Lewis and Clark distributed national medals (a tradition among French and British traders) and wrapped a newborn baby in an American flag, symbolically conferring American citizenship on the Sioux infant. Such friendly acts neither tempered Lewis's opinion of the Tetons, 'the vilest miscreants of the savage race,' nor brought home to the Sioux the full portent of the explorers' visit. They could not fathom that a man named Thomas Jefferson had bought the entire Sioux domain, and much more, for three million dollars, or that (under the white man's 'doctrine of discovery') their homeland was previously owned by Napoleon. The Sioux knew who controlled every bluff and creekbed from the Platte River to the Yellowstone — and it was neither a president nor an emperor.").

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06. The Oceti Sakowin

See Stacy Makes Good; see also Robert Larson, Red Cloud, p. 9 ("The Chippewa word for Lesser Adder, incidentally, was Nadoweisiw, the last syllable of which was garbled by the French into the word Sioux, the term by which most Americans know Red Cloud's people today. Unfortunately, it is a negative word meaning 'enemy.'").

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09. The Horse Creek Council

For more information on the Horse Creek Council, see Lesley Wischmann.

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10. Maps

For a good illustration of the diminution of Sioux lands, see National Geographic.

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11. Red Cloud

See Grace Raymond Hebard and Earl Alonzo Brininstool, The Bozeman Trail, p. 177 ("In 1865 the United States government wanted to build a wagon road into the Montana gold region by way of Powder River - right through the heart of the finest hunting grounds possessed by the Sioux. Very naturally Red Cloud entered a most emphatic objection to such a proposition. He declared it would drive away the game, which was the chief sustenance and support of his tribe. That country was then the very cream of the buffalo range - and the buffalo furnished everything required by the Indian in the way of food, clothing and skins for lodges - which was all he desired for his welfare and happiness.").

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12. The Fetterman Fight

For an alternative interpretation of Fetterman's boast, see John H. Monnett.

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14. Lakota Hurdles

See Robert M. Utley, The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull, pp. 104-05 ("When as old men the warriors of this time recounted the battles of their youth, they remembered mainly who were the bravest, who counted the coups, and who died. The details of battlefield movements, even of individual deeds, blurred in the shadow of the honor roll. When pressed, they would talk about their battles with the white soldiers, but they plainly preferred to recall the glories of war with enemy tribes. That was real war, war understood by both sides, war that conferred honor and prestige without threatening tribal survival. That threat came from the white people. They fought a different kind of war, a serious unremitting war not confined to the battlefield, one that the Sioux never really understood.").

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15. Red Cloud Wins

See Larson, Red Cloud, pp. 114-15 ("Politically, the need to reconstruct the South had become the government's top priority. Economically, the need to complete the first transcontinental railroad had become paramount to most of the country's business interests.").

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16. The Treaty

Complete Treaty Text.

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18. Red Cloud Goes to Washington

Red Cloud's quote comes from Larson at 132.

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19. Not Ten Years In Peace

Tocqueville at 381.

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20. Custer's Gold

The quote comes from the Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1875, p. 7. This quote is also mentioned in George Hyde, Red Cloud's Folk, p. 248.

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21. Grant's Duplicity

See United States v. Sioux Nation, 448 U.S. 371, 378 (1980) ("In a letter dated November 9, 1875, to Terry, Sheridan reported that he had met with President Grant, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Secretary of War, and that the President had decided that the military should make no further resistance to the occupation of the Black Hills by miners, 'it being his belief that such resistance only increased their desire and complicated the troubles.' These orders were to be enforced 'quietly,' and the President's decision was to remain 'confidential.'").

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22. Little Big Horn

Julia Face quote, see Jeffrey Ostler, The Lakotas and the Black Hills p. 98.

Kate Bighead quote, see PBS - The West.

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23. The End of the Buffalo

Dodge quote from Andrew C. Isenberg, The Destruction of the Bison, p. 155, citing Sir William Butler, An Autobiography, p. 97

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24. You Won't Get Anything to Eat

George Hyde, Red Cloud's Folk, p. 282, fn. 2.

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27. The Same Rights

Grace Hebard and Earl Brininstool, The Bozeman Trail, pp. 195-96.

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29. Our Liberty

James Creelman, On the Great Highway, p. 302.

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30. Can You Blame Sitting Bull?

The quote comes from James Creelman, On the Great Highway, p. 301.

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32. Welcome to the Reservation

Pratt quote from Ostler, The Lakotas and the Black Hills, p. 114.

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33. The Dawes Act

"Pulverizing engine" quote attributed to Chief of Indian Affairs Commissioner William Jones by Janet A. McDonnell, The Dispossession of the American Indian, p. 6.

See also id at p. 122 ("The pattern of land loss established during the period 1887 - 1934 continues to this day. A survey of the four largest reservations in Montana illustrates the scope of this loss ... Tribes in Montana lost 5,332,317 of their original 11,631,407 acres. Over 80 percent of the best allotted land in Montana ended up in the hands of non-Indians.").

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36. Wounded Knee

American Horse quote from James Mooney, The ghost-dance religion and the Sioux outbreak of 1890, p. 885.

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37. The Hotchkiss Gun

Image via Wikipedia.

Alfred Koerner's text on the Hotchkiss Gun is available from

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38. The Black Hills Claim

Red Cloud's quote comes from Hebard and Brininstool, p. 196.

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39. Mount Rushmore

For more on the trials and hangings of the 38 Santee Sioux in 1862 see Douglas Linder.

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40. The Dwindling Estate

These figures come from McDonnell, p. vii.

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43. Common Misconceptions

Further information on tribal rights and obligations can be found on the Bureau of Indian Affairs FAQ page.

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44. Pine Ridge Today

These statistics come from Nicolas D. Kristof.

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46. The Precedent

For more on the Taos Pueblo precedent, see Diana Rico.

See also 25 USC § 465, authorizing the Executive, through the Secretary of the Interior, "to acquie, through purchase, relinquishment, gift, exchange, or assignment, any interest in lands, water rights, or surface rights to lands, within or without existing reservations, including trust or otherwise restricted allotments, whether the allottee be living or deceased, for the purpose of providing land for Indians."

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48. People Get Ready

Music: People Get Ready. Used with the kind permission of The Frames.

Sun Rise Touch the Clouds Red Cloud and American Horse Shaking Hands Three Chiefs Three Lakota Girls Lakota Girl and Puppy By a Tipi Dead Bodies in the Snow at Wounded Knee Frozen Body at Wounded Knee Family Huddled By Tipi Sioux Delegation to Washington Chief Iron Shell Joseph Bird Head Chief Gall's Granddaughter Sitting Bull American Horse Rifle Guns, Pine Ridge Mass Grave at Wounded Knee Family Being Watched Over Sioux Delegation to Washington Red Cloud and Major Burke Modern Lakota in Headdress Angry Man Man Sitting With Child Blackboard Reading If Only the Apology Gave Us Our Land Back A Modern Buffalo Hunt Mother Kissing Child Smiling Boy Russell Means Press Conference Armed Sentinels at Wounded Knee II Armed Sentinel Leaning on a Snowman Wounded Knee Drummers Sacheen Little Feather Refuses Brando's Oscar Boy On Horseback Looking At Passed Out Man A Car Filled With Trash And People A Boy In A Decrepit House A Drunken Man Crying Boy Hiding In a Kitchen Cabinet Boy Pulling Arrow Singing Man Aaron Huey: Honor the Treaties Pow-Wow Girl Setting Up for the Pow-Wow Laughing Man Holding A Child Russell Means Shaking Hands with Ken Frizzell Chief Oliver Red Cloud Running Girl Smiling Farmers Running Girl Newborn Child Lakota Man at a Wedding Teaching the Lakota Language Father and Son at a Pow-Wow Smiling Family Smiling Visual Artist Jack Little High School Graduation Motorcycles at a Pow-Wow Boys Riding Horses at Dawn Corporal Brett Lundstrom, USMC Corporal Lundstrom's Funeral Smiling Girl Having Fun Tipis By Mountains American Flag Wishing for a Nice Pow-Wow Grounds
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49. Sun Shine

Hebard and Brininstool, p. 199.

The treaty image is Lone Dog's winter count of 1855-56, depicting a peace agreement between the Dakotas and General William Harney.