The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was originally established as part of the Great Sioux Reservation. Article 2 of the Treaty of Fort Laramie of April 29, 1868 described the boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation, as commencing on the 46th parallel of north latitude to the east bank of Missouri River, south along the east bank to the Nebraska line, then west to the 104th parallel of west longitude. (15 stat. 635).
The Great Sioux Reservation comprised all of present-day South Dakota west of the Missouri River, including the sacred Black Hills and the life-giving Missouri River. Under article 11 of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, the Great Sioux Nation retained off-reservation hunting rights to a much larger area, south to the Republican and Platte Rivers, and east to the Big Horn Mountains. Under article 12, no cession of land would be valid unless approved by three-fourths of the adult males. Nevertheless, the Congress unilaterally passed the Act of February 28, 1877 (19 stat. 254), removing the Sacred Black Hills from the Great Sioux Reservation. The United States never obtained the consent of three-fourths of the Sioux, as required in article 12 of the 1868 Treaty. The U.S. Supreme Court concluded that “A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history.” United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, 448 U.S. 371, 388 (1980).
The Standing Rock Agency was established at Fort Yates in 1873. The Executive Order of March 16, 1875 extended the Reservation’s northern boundary to the Cannon Ball River.
In the act of March 2, 1889, however, Congress further reduced the Great Sioux Reservation, dividing it into six separate reservations, including the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. (25 stat. 889). The Standing Rock Reservation boundaries, delineated in section 3 of the 1889 act, have remained intact since that time.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe operates under a constitution approved on April 24, 1959 by the Tribal Council of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The Tribal Council consists of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, a Secretary and fourteen additional Councilmen which are elected by the tribal members. The Tribal Council Chairman provides leadership and administrative direction to the tribe.
The Tribal Council Chairman and Council serve a term of four years. Six of the fourteen additional Council members shall be residents of the Reservation without regard to residence in any district or state. Each of the remaining additional council members shall be a resident of the district from which his/she is elected.
The At-large Council members are elected by the district people as whole.
Regular Tribal Council meetings are the first Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the month. Committee meetings are held the second week of the month. The last Monday of the month is for gaming and other tribal business.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stands by its right to self-government as a sovereign nation, which includes taking a government-to-government stance with the states and federal government entities. Having signed treaties as equals with the United States Government in 1851 and in 1868, which established the original boundaries of the Great Sioux Nation. The tribe staunchly asserts these treaty rights to remain steadfast and just as applicable today as on the day they were made.
The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was greatly reduced through the Act of March 2, 1889, also known as the Dawes Act and the Allotment Act. This opened up the reservations throughout the United States to settlement by non-Indian entities, thus creating checker-boarded land ownership within the Standing Rock Reservation. The tribe maintains jurisdiction on all reservation lands, including rights-of-way, waterways, and streams running through the reservation; this in turn leads to on-going jurisdictional disputes in criminal and civil court. Recent cases such as Nevada vs Hicks have contributed to the contentious issues in this iron triangle between the Federal, State, and Tribal governments.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (Nation) operates under a constitution approved on April 24, 1959 by its own elected council members, under the auspices of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
The Tribal Government consists of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, a Secretary, and 14 council members, consisting of a member elected from each of the eight districts, and 6 at-large council elected by the tribe. The Administration consists of the Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, an Executive Director (not elected), and 6 political appointees; Administration carries out resolutions and motions made by the tribal council. Note that there is no Treasurer, as the tribe has an excellent Finance Department which handles all of its accounting for payroll, business transactions, and bank reconcilement; this provides for adequate checks and balances.
The Tribal Council passes legislation, makes budgets, approves of financial transactions, and makes major decisions affecting the tribe including:
* Managing the tribe’s real property, including trust lands.
* Engaging in business ventures.
* Passing and enforcing ordinances to serve the general welfare of enrollees, the environment, and the public safety of reservation residents.
* Entering into Contracts for business and for government needs.
That is to say, the tribe operates similar to a corporation, which may make business decisions, hires employees, grants business licenses, and operates corporate subsidies to develop tribal economy.
The tribal court hears and prosecutes civil and criminal complaints, where questions of jurisdictional remedies are exhausted before going to a federal court. These three branches of tribal government are meant to provide a balance of power, which, at this point, continues to evolve as it struggles to modernize its method of governance. Law Order For the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal
The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is situated in North and South Dakota. The people of Standing Rock, often called Sioux, are members of the Dakota and Lakota nations. “Dakota” and “Lakota” mean “friends” or “allies.” The people of these nations are often called “Sioux”, a term that dates back to the seventeenth century when the people were living in the Great Lakes area. The Ojibwa called the Lakota and Dakota “Nadouwesou” meaning “adders.” This term, shortened and corrupted by French traders, resulted in retention of the last syllable as “Sioux.” There are various Sioux divisions and each has important cultural, linguistic, territorial and political distinctions.
The Dakota people of Standing Rock include the Upper Yanktonai in their language called Ihanktonwana which translates “Little End Village” and Lower Yanktonai, called Hunkpatina in their language, “Campers at the Horn” or “End of the Camping Circle”. When the Middle Sioux moved onto the prairie they had contact with the semisedentary riverine tribes such as the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara. Eventually the Yanktonai displaced these tribes and forced them upstream. However, periodically the Yanktonai did engage in trade with these tribes and eventually some bands adopted the earthlodge, bullboat, and horticultural techniques of these people, though buffalo remained their primary food source. The Yanktonai also maintained aspects of their former Woodland lifestyle. Today Yanktonai people of Standing Rock live primarily in communities on the North Dakota portion of the reservation.
The Lakota, as the largest division of the Sioux, subdivided into the Ti Sakowin or Seven Tents and Lakota people of the Standing Rock Reservation included two of these subdivisions, the Hunkpapa which means “Campers at the Horn” in English and Sihasapa or “Blackfeet,” not to be confused with the Algonquian Blackfeet of Montana and Canada which are an entirely different group. By the early 19th century the Lakota became a northern Plains people and practically divested themselves of most all Woodland traits. The new culture revolved around the horse and buffalo; the people were nomadic and lived in tee pees year round. The Hunkpapa and Sihasapa ranged in the area between the Cheyenne and Heart Rivers to the south and north and between the Missouri River on the east and Tongue to the west. Today the Lakota at Standing Rock live predominantly in communities located on the South Dakota portion of the reservation.