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Yankton Sioux Tribe vs. United States

Please e-mail speccoll@usd.edu with comments & questions.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists primarily of research materials gathered and presented as evidence in the trial of the Yankton Sioux Tribe v. United States and contains both legal documents and research documents.  The legal documents provide briefs and decisions in the case from the 1965 ruling through the 1977 appeal and ruling.  The research documents were gathered to provide evidence about the apportionment, and seek to provide a written record of Yankton Sioux and Teton Sioux hunting grounds prior to the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty.  Researchers searched records in the National Archives and the Library of Congress, as well as at smaller Universities and collections throughout the Midwest.  In the National Archives, significant portions of Record Groups 75, 48, 93, 94, 59 and 77 were reviewed.  Documents were photocopied, including correspondence regarding Indian agencies in the area, correspondence from the Adjutant General’s Office, State Territorial Papers, and post records. Representative materials also include reports from Indian Agents, travelogues from fur trappers and traders, accounts from missionaries, legal and court documents, government reports, and interpretive articles and chapters from books.  Because the legal nature of the material is no longer its primary purpose, and because the information provided on the cases themselves is not exhaustive, the collection has been arranged in series conducive to scholarly research, and not according to Docket numbers or case numbers.  The collection is made up of Bound Legal Documents, Correspondence, Manuscripts, Printed Materials, Typescripts and Microfilm.

The Bound Legal Documents series contains legal briefs and exhibits from the court cases between the Yankton Sioux, the Teton Sioux and the United States Government.  A typescript of The Relative Use and Occupancy of the 1851 Sioux-Fort Laramie Lands by the Yankton and Teton Sioux Tribes by Nicklason and Champe is included in this series, as are bound editions of a report by Helen Tanner entitled Ethnohistorical Report on the Proportionate Use of the “Sioux Fort Laramie Land” by the Teton and Yankton Sioux.  These bound volumes are organized by Docket number.  All materials are available in Box 1.

The Correspondence series is a small collection of letters regarding the trial and research conducted by Nicklason Associates.  It contains some writing on the Badlands issue, contracts, and correspondence of legal nature, and pertaining to research activities.

The Manuscripts series contains photocopies of key documents detailing the history of the Yankton and Teton Sioux Indians through the eyewitness accounts of explorers, trappers and agents in the area.  The series is divided into several sub-series, which are organized by form, rather than by docket number. Sub-series include correspondence, interviews, journals, ledgers and inventories, letterbook entries, reports, and testimonies, treaties and certificates.  The correspondence sub-series is organized chronologically.  Letters date from 1828 – 1858 and include writings from military and civilian individuals who played a role in and around Fort Laramie, such as Pierre Chouteau, John P. Cabanné, P. D. Papin, Joshua Pilcher, Robert Lucas, John Chambers, James Clark, Major W. Hoffman, Brigader General W. S. Harney, Major John Dougherty and Indian Agent Andrew Drips.  For ease of reading, some letters are accompanied by a typescript, and some letters originally written in French are translated.  Interviews includes a copy of a 1906 interview with Chief Red Cloud.  The journals sub series includes copies of journals from Fort Tecumseh.  The ledgers and inventories are arranged by date, and include the titles of the various report titles.  Letterbook entries include entries from Dougherty, Fort Tecumseh, Fort Pierre, and Andrew Drips. The reports sub-series includes reports written by various military figures and Indian Agents.  These are arranged alphabetically by author and include writings of W. S. Harney, Joshua Pilcher, Prichette and Stephen Return Riggs.

Information found in two smaller series is minimal.  The Maps series contains a few hand-drawn copies of Yankton Sioux territories.  The Notes series contains primarily notes made during research from researcher Mark Leutbecker.

The Printed Materials Series contains three primary sub-series: articles, books and government documents.  By far the largest of the series, it contains sections of materials published about or during the time period under examination.  The articles contain full articles or segments of articles, arranged alphabetically by publication.  The books sub-series contains sections of books, not books in their entirety.  Excerpts from books are arranged alphabetically by author.  The government documents include documents, letters, messages, reports and statutes and treaties published by the United States Government concerning the Sioux, expeditions on the Missouri and publications of various Congresses. 

The Typescripts series includes correspondence, histories, legal documents, and summary memosCorrespondence is made up of typed copies of correspondence from figures important to the territory.  Correspondence is arranged by date, and includes writings of Honoré Picotte, T. H. Harvey, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and P. J. De Smet, S. J.  The series also includes written histories by Susan Bordeau Bettleyoun, John L. Champe, William Lampton, and Jack C. Vaughan writing on Colonel Alfred Jefferson Vaughan.  The legal documents are contemporary, pertaining primarily to the 1974 – 1977 Yankton Sioux Tribe v. U.S. trials.  The summary memos include commentary by researchers and experts (Nicklason, Champe and Leutbecker in particular) on various reports, especially on Helen Tanner’s “Ethnohistorical Report.” 

The Microfilm series includes two reels of microfilm – an unidentified MA Thesis and a Yankton Document from the National Archives.

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