Initial contact between the Lakota and the United States, during the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804 was marked by an impasse involving the Lakota who refused to allow the explorers to continue upstream. To avoid an impending battle, the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 was crafted that acknowledged native sovereignty over the Great Plains in exchange for free passage along the Oregon Trail. The premise of the treaty states, “for as long as the river flows and the eagle flies".

Because the Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota, they opposed mining in the area, which had been tried since the early years of the 19th century. In 1868, the U.S. government signed the Fort Laramie Treaty, exempting the Black Hills from all white settlement forever. 'Forever' continued only four years, after gold was discovered there. An invasion of prospectors descended upon the area, supported by army commanders like Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer. Custer attempted to manage an example of noninterference to white policies which resulted in the Black Hills War of 1876. Hunting and destruction of the bison was urged by General Philip Sheridan as a means to "destroying the Indians' commissary."

The Lakota with their allies, the Arapaho and the Northern Cheyenne, defeated General George Crook's army at the Battle of the Rosebud and a week later defeated the U.S. 7th Cavalry in 1876 at the Battle of the Little Bighorn wiping out the entire Custer battalion. The Lakota victory over the Army would not last. The Lakota were defeated in a series of subsequent battles by the U.S. Army and eventually confined to reservations.

The Lakota were constrained to sign a treaty in 1877 ceding the Black Hills to the United States, but a low-intensity war continued, culminating, fourteen years later, in the killing of Sitting Bull in December , 1890 at Standing Rock and subsequent Massacre of Wounded Knee in December 1890 at Pine Ridge.

Today, the Lakota are found mostly in the five reservations of western South Dakota: Rosebud Indian Reservation Upper Sičangu or Brulé, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Oglala, Lower Brule Indian Reservation Lower Sičangu, Cheyenne River Indian Reservation including the Sihasapa, mnicoujou, Oohenumpa, and Itazipco, and Standing Rock Indian Reservation, also home to people from many bands. Lakota also live on the Fort Peck Reservation in northeastern Montana, the Fort Berthold Reservation of northwestern North Dakota, and several small reserves in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where their ancestors fled to Canada during the Black Hills War.

Today large numbers of Lakota live in Rapid City and other towns in the Black Hills, as well as metro Denver.


Lakota Archery Mission

The Lakota Nation

Community Empowerment
© 2011 Lakota Archery, LLC All Rights Reserved