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American Indian Case Study 2

Part 2: Native American Indian Values and Discovery of Gold

More Background

Traditional Native American Indian Values sometimes have contrasting values with non-Native values.  Family and community groups are important where at times in non-Native society, the focus is on taking care of one’s self.  Other Native values include cooperation and generosity while non-Natives may yearn to compete and take, take, take.  In the past, the traditional value of living in harmony was opposed by the conquering nature of the Army helping settlers trying to move to new lands.

In 1851, the first treaty signed at Fort Laramie established boundaries of the Great Sioux Nation. Government officials and Sioux leaders signed the Treaty to bring peace.  Native leaders valued cooperation and a respect for life. At that point, the Black Hills and surrounding areas were considered part of the Great Sioux Reservation.  In 1868, a second Ft. Laramie Treaty was signed, making the boundaries of the Sioux Reservation smaller. According to a Holy Man named Black Elk, “They made a treaty with (Chief) Red Cloud that said our country would be ours as long as the grass should grow and the water flow.  You can see that it is not the grass and the water that have forgotton.”  [Black Elk Speaks, p18]

Settlers spread their wings westward on the American Frontier – while American Indian Territory was being invaded by strangers. This difference in viewpoints led to conflict, physical altercations, and Indian Wars. A few years later, in 1874, a Custer expedition found gold in the Black HIlls.  Prospectors and gold miners entered the Black Hills area, and the government ordered all Sioux people to move to an even smaller piece of reservation land. Chief Sitting Bull refused, as did other bands of people.  Fighting escalated. General Custer lost his life at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. Hundreds of Sioux men, women, and children lost their lives at the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. Treaty promises were broken and many lives were lost.


In the Next Post
Native American Indian Case Study Part 3

Effects on Native American Values



Other Resources:

Information and maps regarding the Treaties click here.

NMAI Smithsonian – to view the actual 1851 Treaty click here.

National Archives- to view the actual 1868 Treaty click here.

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