Sioux Nation History Timeline


Last Updated: 5 years

Souix History, was passed down from generation to generation by tribal historians, elders, and oral storytellers. A written account was made of the important events each year with pictographs painted on hides, which were called winter counts or story robes.

The Great Sioux Nation traces its roots to the “Oceti Sakowin” or “Seven Council Fires.” Each of the allied bands within this nation spoke one of three different dialects. The Santee spoke Dakota; the Yankton, Nakota; and the Teton, Lakota. Many Sioux still speak their original languages today, either as a first language with the older members of this tribe, or as a second language for the younger members, who now speak primarily English.

There are several theories concerning the origin of the Sioux Nation. Lakota creation stories trace the nation’s birth to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Tribal oral stories say the Sioux once lived within the earth, underground, and they emerged to the surface through Wind Cave in South Dakota.

Historians say the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota migrated to the area from the woodlands of Minnesota. 

By the end of the 18th century, the Sioux Nation was at the height of its power, dominating the northern Plains. Many of the tribes followed the buffalo herds, which provided them with food, clothing and shelter. Buffalo were considered sacred because of this life-giving role.

The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 created the Great Sioux Reservation, which reached from the Missouri River to the Wyoming-Dakota border. After gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874, the government tried to convince the Native Americans to sell the Black Hills, which are considered a sacred place to the Sioux, since this is where their creation stories say they emerged onto the Earth’s surface. 

When that effort failed, the government ordered all Indians living outside the reservations to return to them by Jan. 31, 1876, or be sent back by force. Among those who refused to follow the government order to return to the reservations were two groups led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. When Custer attacked them on June 25, 1876, he and his entire command were killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn in southeastern Montana, near the present day Crow Reservation.

In 1890, the Ghost Dance religion brought renewed hope to the people of the Sioux Nation. Dancers believed the buffalo would return, white people would go away, and ancestors who had died would come back to life. The whites were frightened by these dances, mistaking them for war dances.

On Dec. 29, 1890, as the 7th Cavalry searched Big Foot’s band for weapons at Wounded Knee, a shot rang out, triggering the massacre of nearly 300 Lakota Sioux, the majority of which were old men, women and children. The event marks the last major conflict between the U.S. Army and the Sioux Nation.

Today, there are nine Sioux tribal governments within the state of South Dakota, six with reservation boundaries and three without. They include the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Yankton Sioux Tribe. There are also Sioux tribes in Minnesota, and two branches in Canada.

Sioux History Timeline


1600 The area that is now Minnesota was inhabited mainly by the Dakota or Sioux Indian Nation.
1659: Pierre-Esprit Radissonand his brother-in-law, Médard Chouart Des Groseillers, leave Trois-Rivières to go trade furs in the west. They reach the territory of Wisconsin and are the first white men to make contact with the Sioux nation. They later convince British merchants to found the Hudson’s Bay Company.
1679 Looking for the Pacific Ocean by way of the Great Lakes, Daniel Greysolon, sieur du Luth made his way to a great Sioux village on Mille Lacs Lake and claimed the area for France.
1743: Two sons of explorer La Vérendrye survive their father and reach the Rockies, encountering the Sioux along the way. New France is then an enormous empire that goes from Hudson Bay to the Mexican Gulf (through all the american midwest), and from Acadie to the Rockies.
1743 – 1749 The acquisition of horses from the South and guns from the east forever change the way Plains Indians (Sioux, Crow, Blackfoot, Arapaho, and Cheyenne) hunt, fight, and live.
1762 After the defeat of the French by the British in the French and Indian War, the control of the Minnesota area east of the Mississippi went to the British and to Spain went the lands west of the River. Under the British, trade flourished. The competing rivals in the fur trade, the Hudson Bay Company and the Northwest Companies dotted the waterways of Minnesota with forts and trading posts.
1763 After seven years of warfare between the French and English in North America (the French and Indian War), King George III issues a proclamation banning any colonial settlement on Indian lands west of the Appalachian mountains. Many colonists ignore the proclamation.
1771 The first major small pox outbreak.
1775 Standing Buffalo and his band of Teton Sioux reach the BlackHills.
1775-1783 In the aftermath of the American Revolution, the Northwest Ordinance of the new U.S. government declares that “the utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians” in the U.S. territory west of King George III’s old 1763 Proclamation Line. With the closing of the Revolutionary War in the treaty of 1783, the area came under the control of the new United States.
1787 Congress passes Northwest Ordinance declaring that the “land and property [of Indian tribes] shall never be taken from them without their consent.”
1787 Under provisions of the new U.S. Constitution, Congress assumes the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and with Indian tribes.”
1789 – 1850 As a result of 245 treaties negotiated with Indian tribes, the U.S. government obtains 450 million acres of land for less than 20 cents an acre, or slightly less than $90 million.
1803 Tribes of the Louisiana Purchase Territory officially came under U.S. jurisdiction.
1826 Treaty of 1826-Assiniboine
1837 Second major smallpox outbreak
1834 Congress reserves most of the trans-Mississippi west for exclusive use by Indians.
1842 First wagons cross Sioux country on Oregon Trail.
1851 Fort Laramie Treaty between the United States and plains tribes recognizes Sioux ownership of 60 million acres of land, but allocates Powder River and Big Horn country to other tribes.
1851 Treaty with Assiniboines, Blackfeet, Gros Ventres and Crows for a hunting area–Rocky Mountains east to the mouth of the Yellowstone.
1852 May 24, Treaty of Fort Laramie Amended.
1854 & 1861 Nebraska Territory defined.
1853 – 1857 The United States acquires 157 million more acres of Indian land as a result of 52 treaties, almost all of which are violated by the government.
1855 October 17, Treaty with Blackfeet Nation. (Defines and restricts the hunting grounds of the Assiniboine. Refinement upon the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty.)
1855 Fort Stewart: Built on the Missouri River near present Blair, MT built by Frost, Todd & Co.
1857 Sitting Bull kills “Hohe” family by Poplar River
1860 Fort Kipp built on the Misouri River above the mouth of the Big Muddy, built by Jim Kipp.
1860 Mining Boom-first large non-Indian population for Montana.
1861 Fort Poplar-Built on the Missouri River near the Poplar River, built with help of Chas. Larpenture.
1861 & 1864 Dakota Territory defined.
1862. Congress passes the Pacific Railway Act authorizing the construction of a transcontinental railroad. Congress passes the Homestead Act granting free 160 acre tracts of public land on the Great Plains or in the Southwest to anybody who will occupy and farm the land five years. By 1870, more than 400,000 permanent homesteaders on the Great Plains own their land, almost doubling the Indian population of 239,000 in the trans-Mississippi West.
1862 Sioux wars begin with Santee uprising in Minnesota. Minnesota Massacre: Begin movement of Sioux toward Montana.
1862 Homestead Act passes Congress.
1865 End of Civil War.
1865 United States negotiates treaty with “friendly” Sioux bands.
1866 Indian lands are confiscated for railroad construction under the Railway Enabling Act, including a tract that deliberately runs through the sacred areas of the Sioux Pipestone Quarry lands.
1866 United States enters negotiations with hostile Sioux over travel routes to Montana. Red Cloud declares war when United States moves to fortify Bozeman Trail. Sioux annihilate Colonel William Fetterman and his troops.
1867 & 1868 Indian Peace Commission negotiates final treaties with Indians (last of 370 Indian Treaties on August 13, 1868.)
1868 Fort Buford military reserve established from the Assiniboine land.
1868 &1869 Addendum: Gros Ventre, Assiniboine, And River Crow assigned to Upper Milk River Agency.
1868 Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 establishes Great Sioux Reservation as permanent home of the Sioux Nation and preserves Powder River and Big Horn country as “unceded Indian territory.”
1868 End of Treaty Making Period
1869 January 2, Sitting Bull captured mail carrier between Fort Hall and Fort Peck
1868-1869 Sub-Agency built to furnish rations to the lower Assiniboine, Sioux, Gros Ventre and River Crows; located south of the Milk River and called Fort Browning.
1870 Baker Massacre.
1870 Grant’s Peace Policy-Fort Peck awarded to Methodist.
1870 Montana census (non-Indians) : 20,595
1871 Fort Peck Agency established at old Fort Peck to serve lower Assiniboine and Sioux.
1871 Indians attach themselves to the Agency.
1871 August 18 Executive Order–Fort Buford
1871 The U.S. no longer recognizes Sioux or any other tribes as an autonomous group.
1872 United States aids Fort Peck Agency.
1872 August 26, Grand Peace Council at Fort Peck.
1873 Fort Peck Agency opened at the confluence of the Milk River and the Missouri Rivers.
1874 Established north of the Marias River and Missouri River extending from the summit of the Rockies to the Dakota line set aside as an undivided reservation for Blackfeet, Assiniboine, Gros Ventre and Sioux.
1874 April 15–Act of Congress.
1875 L.A. Fitch goes to Fort Peck to teach Indians to toil the land and some of the rudiments of education.
1875 December 3, order for Indians to go back to the reservation.
1875 April 13–Executive Order
1875 December 3, order for Indians to go back to the reservations.
1876-1877 Sioux Campaign with Sitting Bull.
1876 January 31–Date set for Sioux to return to reservation from hunting expedition or be considered as hostiles.
1876 June 25–Battle of the Little Big Horn.
1877 Started moving the Fort Peck Agency to Poplar River and General Miles stationed at Fort Peck to maintain order.
1877 The Fort Peck Agency was moved to a site on which a portion of the town of Poplar now stands.
1877 Sitting Bull fled into Canada.
1879 Presbyterians secured permission from the Methodists for a mission on the reservation.
1880 Indians compelled to settle on reservation.
1880 11th Infantry established at Poplar Creek.
1880 Establishment of a military post at a point just north of Poplar, and known as Camp Poplar River. It was abandoned about 1893.
1880 Presbyterian Mission established at Fort Peck.
1880 July, Executive Order: much of the region south of the Misouri River had been opened to white settlement.
1881 Chief Gall surrenders.
1881 First Indian Tribe Allowed to Sue the Gov’t.
1881 When Sitting Bull surrendered at Fort Buford in 1881, his warriors came to Fort Peck and Camped on the site of the town of Poplar.
1883 Rev. George Wood moves from Poplar Creek to Wolf Point to establish church.
1883 April 10–Sun Dance and other Sioux customs and religious practices are forbidden by Secretary of the Interior.
1883 Winter–Buffalo Exterminated in Northeastern Montana.
1883 Starvation on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
1885 February 28, Proposal to divide the reservation.
1885 Northwest Rebellion in Sask., Canada.
1885 February 28 proposal to divide reservation in to smaller sections. (Greater Blackfeet)
1886 Order prohibiting Sundances.
1886 May 15, Secretary of the Interior authorized new contract for reservation
1886 December 28, Fort Peck agreement signed at Fort Peck. A treaty, establishing the confines of the Fort Peck reservation, was entered into between the Indians and the government
1887 February 8, Congress passed the Dawes General Allotment Act which granted 160 acres to each Indian family head and 80 acres to each other single person over eighteen.
1887 February 11, Treaty signed by adult Indians giving the United States 17,500,000 acres of land and the division of the remaining 6,000,000 into three separate reservations.
1887 Railroads through Reservation in Northern Montana
1887 Teacher moves into Wolf Point.
1888 May 1, Congress passed the act of fixing the boundaries of the three reservations.
1888 May 1, Act of Congress — Agreement which established the Fort Peck Reservation
1889 Cut the rations of beef to Indians on reservation.
1889 March 2, Sioux Act reduces reservations to present size.
1889 Statehood for Montana.
1889 Ghost Dance Religion
1889 Wounded Knee
1893 Army abandoned Camp Poplar River.
1895 Capt. 8th Cav. Acting Agent Wm. Sprole suggests to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs;”a canal to be taken out of the Missouri river, running the entire length of the Reservation,…”
1896 Government aid to Indian Missions discontinuted.
1897 Catholics establish mission at Fort Peck.
1902 July, Makaicu Presbyterian church established southwest of Brockton.
1904 December, Manisda Presbyterian church established at Chelsea.
1905 Canipa Presbyterian church organized in Wolf Point in connection with the Mission School.
1908 May 30–Allotment Act for land on Fort Peck.
1908 May 30–Act of Congress Five irrigation projects for Fort Peck Reservation were contemplated in an act of Congress. These projects were never completed.
1909 Yankton and Assiniboine Council elects Business Committee and considers certain applications for enrollment.
1912 November 11-Good Voice Hawk’s Winter Count interpreted by Ben Harrison.
1913 July 25–The surplus lands on reservation were opened for homestead entry.
1924 June 2–Indians Granted U.S. Citizenship.
1926 January 1100 Indians received checks for $100 each. The estimatd numbers of Indians on the reservation on government rolls is about 2400.
1927 March 2–Act of Congress
1927 Fort Peck Tribes Constitution
1927 There is a large encampment of Indians at Chicken Hill for their 5-day July Fourth Celebration.
1928 January 30–Docket J-31 in U.S. Court of Claims
1930 June 9–Senate Joint Resolution No. 167
1930 July 23–Docket J-31 Amended
1931 Irrigation Activities: The Little Porcupine unit has 2400 acres under constructed canels with a storage of 3800 acre feet depending upon the spring runoff.
1933 April 10–Docket J-31 Dismissed U.S.C.C.
1933 Submarginal Lands Act
1934 May 7–U.S. Supreme Court Refusal
1934 June 18–Indian Reorganization Act authorizes self government for all tribes.
1946 August 13–Indian Claims Commission Established.
1948 United Nations Convention on the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
1950 April 26–Docket 62 in Indian Claims Commission
1952 December 12–Docket 62 Dismissed I.C.C.
1954 June 8–Appeal Docket I-53 Dismissed U.S.C.C.
1954 October 25–U.S. Supreme Court Refusal
1960 Fort Peck Tribes Constitution & By -laws Revised
1967 Indian Policy Statement on Policy and Legislation.
1972 Congress passes the Indian Education Act of 1972, creating a BIA level Office of Indian Education as well as a National Advisory Council on Indian Education designed to improve the quality of public education for Indian Students.
1978 Indian Claims Commission Dissolved
1979 March 31–Assiniboine Claims Council Reformed
1979 December–Hearnings on S. 1796
1980 October 10–Act of Congress
1981 January 12–Docket 10-80-L Filed U.S.C.C.
1981 August 13–U.S.C.C. Judgement