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Arts & Life

United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians: The Supreme Court case to buy the Black Hills

The Supreme Court

This interview posted above is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty pledged that the Great Sioux Reservation, including the Black Hills, would be "set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians."

In the 1980 case United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, the U.S. Supreme Court found that 1868 treaty had been repeatedly violated by the U.S. government and white settlers.

The US Supreme Court ruled that the Sioux nation required compensation for the broken treaty and ordered payment for the lost land.

As Mario Gonzalez explains, there was incentive for the tribe not to accept the money. In a new episode of the Heart of All Oral History Project, Gonzalez says that by accepting payment, the Lakota people could forfeit all claims to the Black Hills.

Today, the tribe has still not accepted the compensation awarded to them by the court. It continues to draw interest in a US treasury account. Right now it is valued at two billion dollars.

That attached audio clip is from the newest episode of the Heart of all Oral History project, produced by Little Wound School in the Pine Ridge reservation, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

New episodes air Wednesdays on KILI radio. This week's full episode "Education to Repatriation part 2" will be available Friday on streaming services.