On September 17, 1851, the United States of America signed the Fort Laramie Treaty with the Cheyenne, Sioux, Crow, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arapaho, Assiniboine, and Arikara Indians. It allowed safe transport for settlers of the Oregon Trail and allowed for the establishment of roads and forts in the Indian Territories. It provided the Native Americans an annuity of Fifty Thousand Dollars for Fifty Years. When the Treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate. The annuity was cut from 50 years to 10, but all the tribes ultimately agreed except the Crow. Ultimately, several of the tribes never received the commodities promised as payments.
This was 12 years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Slavery was thriving and the South was booming because of the production of cotton and the inherent economic advantage based on the minimal cost of labor associated with the Black labor force. Blacks could be killed for no reason as they were mere property, they were whipped, raped, chained. Families were torn apart for convenience, Black women were made to be breeders or mistresses at the whim of their owners.
American Indians were being killed for their land,some were enslaved, women were raped, treaties were ignored and Manifest Destiny and westward expansion trumped agreements every time. There is not a competition. Native Americans aren’t so much a New Black as a different one and now to demonstrate they are one and the same. The dogs were sicced on Native American protestors reminding of treatment of Black protesters in the civil rights era.
In America, treaties with Native Americans meant nothing and Congress, your elected representatives, passed statutes taking away major portions of land from the Sioux. Other encroachments occurred as settlers looking for gold built roads and established towns in Indian Territory, pushing the tribal nations into smaller and smaller areas. They appealed to the government, which did nothing.
In 1920, because a Black man tried to vote in Ocoee, FL. Hundreds of Black people were killed, the rest forced to leave town. Ocoee didn’t have another Black citizen for 40 years as a result. The local headline of the Orlando newspaper from where many of the attackers came read, “Two White’s Killed In Race Riot.”
In 2016, after dogs were released on Native American protesters that bit women, children, and horses. Local law enforcement which was not present on the scene, allowing paid security to handle the situation, said the following:
“Protestors physically assaulted private security officers hired by Dakota Access Pipeline. The security officers were hit and jabbed with fence posts and flag poles. According to several reports from security officers, knives were pulled on them or they witnessed protesters with large knives.”
They quoted several of the paid security personnel documenting, alleging threats to themselves, injuries to the security workers and their dogs. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department will investigate and has promised to bring the appropriate protesters to justice. The statement in South Dakota reminded me of the headline a century earlier in Orlando.
Lost in the skewed coverage of the violence is the fact that more Native American land has been taken away to allow the building of a pipeline. The residents are concerned (rightfully) about the impact of the pipeline on their water supply which has both practical and religious ramifications. The Native Americans were granted after multiple requests, the chance to do a survey of the land to identify sites with religious or historical significance. One day after they identified several locations that were important to the tribes. On a Saturday when construction crews didn’t usually work. Workers skipped ahead of their current work locations and bulldozed over the sites the Native Americans hoped to preserve. The Native American’s have asked for a temporary restraining order to stop further destruction of significant sites, assuming it’s not already too late.
The passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, got the reluctant support of President Lyndon B. Johnson after images of Black protesters being attacked by dogs and police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge outside Selma, AL, and other locations were nationally televised. Perhaps the images from South Dakota will bring focus to the continued taking of land and rights from Native American lands in which our government is complicit?