II. Historical Interaction with the Whites from Trading Posts to U.S. Treaties

The Sisseton and Wahpeton are part of the Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires. The Seven Council Fires are composed of the Dakota-, Lakota-, and Nakota-speaking peoples. The Council Fires are formed from four that are Dakota --Sissetonwan, Wahpetonwan, Wahpekute, and Mdewakantonwan; two that are Nakota --Ihanktonwan (Yankton) and Ihanktowana (Little Yankton); and one that is Lakota --Tetonwan. The name Sissetonwan is derived from the people who live near the fish or fish scales. The name refers to the mounds of fish scales that were seen upon the edge of the villages due to the large numbers of fish eaten by the people. Wahpetonwan refers to the people who live among the trees and leaves, or forest-dwellers. Collectively, the Dakota peoples are known as the Isanyati, or dwellers at Knife Lake, which was further shortened to simply Santee in most historical records. The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate is the joining of two Dakota council fires into one government, eventually located on the Lake Traverse Reservation in present-day northeastern South Dakota and extending partially into present-day North Dakota.

Over a vast area of abundant land, the Dakota lived in villages, usually along lakes and rivers as water resources were heavily relied upon. As late as 1776, the Dakota lands were extensive and described to extend over millions of resource-rich acres.

Reckoning from the independence of the United States in 1776, the Dakotas appear to have owned and possessed the country from the Falls of the Chippewa River down that stream to its mouth, thence down the Mississippi to about the north line of Iowa, thence across the northern part of Iowa to the mouth of the Sioux River, thence up the Missouri River to the Niobrara and west from there along the Niobrara and the Platte to the Black Hills. Beginning again at the falls of the Chippewa the north line of the Dakotas' territory ran in a generally north of west direction, passing about thirty miles north of St. Anthony Falls and striking the Red River of the North at the mouth of the Sheyenne, thence up the Sheyenne to Devils Lake, thence in a line to the Missouri at the mouth of Heart River, thence up the Heart and across to the Little Missouri and up this stream through the Black Hills to the Platte. This embraced all of South Dakota, more than half of Minnesota, a large portion of North Dakota and portions of Wisconsin and Iowa, a goodly heritage, such as no other tribe of Indians upon the continent was ever able to claim and by prowess make the claim good.

Kinship trade networks stretched along the Great Plains with gatherings in the summers to renew relations with other Dakota/Lakota/Nakota peoples or those of other Tribes. Additionally, the Dakota were known to travel “anywhere from Hudson's Bay to the Gulf of Mexico and between the Alleghenies and the Rockies.” Into this network, the French were the first Whites to enter these Dakota lands.

A. Dakota Commerce with French and British Trading Posts

Throughout the relations with the Europeans who came to Dakota lands, rivalries among the newcomers required political maneuvering on the part of tribal leadership to manage commerce, alliances, and territorial boundaries. As early as the 1660s, French missionaries and traders had received assistance and entered into friendly relations with the Dakota in the region now known as the Great Lakes. French-Canadians set up trading posts to engage in the fur trade with varying success up until the 1760s when the British became dominant. As the French and British trading posts spread into the lands of the Dakota, liquor soon followed.

The trader had a tremendous influence on the Dakota way of life. The Indians gradually became very dependent on such articles as blankets, steel knives, iron pots and many other articles of necessity. The firearm was probably the most desired product that the Indians could obtain from the trader. With this fantastic weapon, they could obtain many more skins and exchange these for desired products. Another new product for the Dakota was liquor. The traders made it available throughout the entire trading era. An act was passed that forbade this practice, but plenty of alcohol was smuggled into Dakota country and traded for valuable furs.

The French and British continued their imperialistic aims in North America, seeking alliances with the Dakota in their ongoing war against each other. Eventually, the British overcame the French and asserted authority. Heavily in debt, the British taxed the east coast colonies and sought raw materials to bolster the British government. In addition to the British taxes, colonists resented the Royal Proclamation of 1763 upholding the land rights of Tribal Nations west of the Appalachian Mountains and requiring colonial land speculators to seek permission from the British Crown prior to purchasing tribal lands. Eventually, the resentment of the colonies led to a revolution against the British. In the aftermath, the United States of America was formed on North American soil with the U.S. Constitution adopted on June 21, 1788, when the ninth state, New Hampshire, ratified it.

B. U.S. Treaties with the Dakota Peoples in 1805, 1825, 1830, 1836, and 1837

Unbeknownst to the Dakota on April 30, 1803, the country of France sold its interest in a vast area of land in central North America to the United States in a transaction commonly called the Louisiana Purchase. The lands of the Dakota were included in the area purportedly sold to the United States. Following the Louisiana Purchase, the United States commissioned Lieutenant Zebulon Pike to report on the possible headwaters of the Mississippi River and to begin establishing forts in Dakota lands. The U.S. government followed the British practice of entering into treaties and agreements with Tribal Nations to legitimize land transactions providing for expansion from the eastern seaboard westward. The first treaty negotiated by Pike with the Dakota was in 1805 for a nine-mile square tract to build Fort Snelling. The payment provision for this first land transaction was left blank and filled in three years later, when the U.S. Senate ratified the agreement with the payment as: “two thousand dollars, or deliver the value thereof in such goods and merchandise as they shall choose.” The open-ended payment term in this first treaty demonstrated a disregard for the property rights of the Dakota and the uneven bargain asserted by the United States by inserting the price term years later at a price the buyer chose.

Pike was also given the assignment “to inform the British traders and the Santee Sioux that the government had supreme power over the entire territory.” The U.S. presence in Dakota lands was made permanent with the construction of Fort Snelling.

From the time of arrival of Colonel Leavenworth with a battalion of infantry in the late summer of 1819 to the establishment of the [Minnesota] territory thirty years later, Fort Snelling was the principal point of interest on the upper Mississippi above Prairie du Chien. The American Fur Company had its chief trading post under the guns of the fort. The Indian agent had his residence and council house a short walk from the main gateway of the inclosure.

The presence of Fort Snelling within Dakota lands would become the site of a concentration camp for the Dakota men, women, and children as the tragic events in 1862 occurred.

In continuing efforts to assert dominion over the Great Plains region, a council of many Tribes was called in 1825, where U.S. government officials sought to set out territorial boundaries between the Tribes. Tribal leaders from “the Sioux, Chippewa, Menominee, Winnebago, Sac and Fox, Iowa, Potawatomi, and Ottawa [T] ribes” responded to the invitation to attend the council at Prairie du Chien. U.S. Colonel William Clark, Territorial Governor of Missouri, and Territorial Governor Lewis Cass of Michigan held the council for the purpose of keeping open fur trade routes and allowing for White settlement in the area.

The speech of a Winnebago leader, Caramonee, has been preserved demonstrating that the property concepts of common ownership in the Tribes were explained to the U.S. representatives at the council, but to no avail.

The lands I claim are mine and the nations here know it is not only claimed by us but by our Brothers the Sacs and Foxes, Menominees, Iowas, Mahas, and Sioux. They have held it in common. It would be difficult to divide it. It belongs as much to one as the other. . . . My Fathers I did not know that any of my relations had any particular lands. It is true everyone owns his own lodge and the ground he may cultivate. I had thought the Rivers were the common property of all Red Skins and not used exclusively by any particular nation.

Rather, the Treaty of Prairie du Chien set up a new dividing line foreign to the tribal territorial understanding. The underlying purpose of dividing up tribal territories was to provide a means for future land transactions for each Tribe's portion of the area in separate agreements. Those attending the grand council were wined and dined by U.S. officials to gain approval for the boundary. Two of the Dakota leaders attending the council became gravely ill after enjoying the drinks provided by the U.S. officials, and one died on the trip back home. This led to rumors that the U.S. officials had sought to poison those gathered at the council. In the aftermath of the grand council, the dividing line was not adopted by the Tribes.

The Indian agent, Lawrence Taliaferro, assigned to the Sioux of the Mississippi from 1819 to his resignation in 1839, was a persistent advocate of assimilation and land cession to the Dakota. During this span of years, the Treaties of 1830, 1836, and 1837 were entered into between the Sisseton-Wahpeton peoples and the United States, all involving the selling of Dakota lands. The Treaty of 1830 included in article 3 the following land cession:

The Medawah-Kanton, Wah-pa-coota, Wahpeton and Sisseton Bands of the Sioux cede and relinquish to the United States forever, a Tract of Country twenty miles in width, from the Mississippi to the Demoine River, situate north, and adjoining the line mentioned in the preceding article [referencing the dividing line in the Treaty of Prairie du Chien] .

Article 4 of this treaty set the payment of two thousand dollars as an annuity for ten years to be divided among the four Dakota bands and included the posting of a blacksmith.

Next, the Treaty of 1836 was directly negotiated by Indian agent Taliaferro with the “Wahpaakootah, Susseton, and Upper Medawakanton tribes of Sioux Indians” for the purpose of modifying the boundaries set out in the Treaty of Prairie du Chien and extending the boundary of the state of Missouri into Dakota lands. Under the 1836 Treaty, the lands between the boundary of Missouri and the Missouri River were the subject of the latest land transaction. The payment for this purchase was set as “to cause said tribes to be furnished with presents to the amount of five hundred and fifty dollars in goods, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged.”

Another treaty was entered into a year later, in 1837, by the Mdewakanton containing the cession of “all their land, east of the Mississippi river, and all their islands in the said river.” The annuities and payments promised under this treaty were late in arriving. The constant pressure from the failure of receiving payments for employees, the annuities promised the Dakota Tribes, and the lack of response from the Indian Office eventually led to Taliaferro's resignation in 1839. With this land cession, “the east bank of the Mississippi was soon lined with whiskey sellers.”

This history of treaty making for a span of approximately thirty-five years with the United States was fraught with human rights violations. Negotiating the treaties with open-ended or less-than-value payment provisions, intentionally seeking to intoxicate tribal leadership prior to entering into a treaty for land cessions, failing to provide payments due under the treaties, and sanctioning the ability of the White traders to submit unverified claims to be deducted from the treaty payments were regular occurrences by U.S. officials. Even in receiving payments due under the treaties, “[t] he Indians were frequently required to go a long distance, at a great inconvenience to themselves, to receive the money due them, in order that they might be convenient to the post of some of the traders, where they could spend it.”

The documented accounts that survive from this era also refer to abuses of Native women by White men that went unpunished. The dehumanizing characterization of American Indians by White U.S. officials, traders, and settlers added to the justification for heaping human rights violations on the Dakota. The greatest human rights violations were a result of the secret policy of land dispossession and genocide that was the underlying U.S. government plan for American Indians. This secret policy would become overt with the events of 1862.

C. The Treaties of 1851 and the Washington D.C. Treaties of 1858: Conspiracy, Deception, and Refugee Status

For the next few years, the Dakota peoples engaged in the fur trade, fought in warriors' battles with the Chippewa, and carried on their traditional lifeways as much as possible with Whites continuing to enter their lands. Trading posts were in full swing, stretching from the northern Lake Traverse to Big Stone Lake to Lower Sioux Agency on the Minnesota River. Some Dakota, particularly those intermarried with Whites, chose to adopt Christianity at the behest of missionaries locating in the Dakota lands and urging assimilation to the White man's ways. Others continued the seasonal lifestyle, but found it more difficult as deer, elk, and other animals relied on became scarcer with White encroachment. The U.S. government's scheme to divide up the Indian lands pursuant to the 1825 Treaty of Prairie du Chien boundaries and then enter into treaties with individual Tribes to claim all of those lands remained on the backburner during this time.

By 1841, U.S. Secretary of War John Bell commissioned Wisconsin Territory Governor James Doty to enter into treaties with the Dakota as a way to direct emigrating Tribes from the east onto Dakota lands in a new Indian territory within the Treaty of Prairie du Chien boundaries. Doty chose several local traders to assist him in the negotiations and promised jobs to the traders in the new Indian territory. Once the treaties were negotiated, the new Indian territory concept was openly opposed by both Indian agent Taliaferro and Senator Benton of Missouri. The latter viewed the treaties as contrary to the purpose of opening Indian lands to White settlement. Although the Dakota leadership had entered into negotiations and formalized the treaties with Doty, once more the U.S. government appeared to deceive the Tribes over the real intentions towards them. The frequent call to meet with U.S. officials to enter into agreements, deliberate over boundaries, and then have nothing result increased the frustration of the tribal leadership over unfulfilled promises.

In 1849, the territory of Minnesota was established and the lands of the Dakota were put in further jeopardy. “Immediately, however upon the creation of the territory and the accession of Governor Ramsey as ex officio superintendent of Indian Affairs, the Indian department began to lay its plans to secure the opening of the great body of Indian lands.” Ramsey's first attempt to call a treaty council failed in the fall of 1849. In subsequent communications between Ramsey and Indian Commissioner Orlando Brown, terms of a proposed treaty were exchanged to move the Dakota from their lands. Within these communications, it was acknowledged that the traders sold items to the Dakota at enormous profit and kept the Dakota in debt. Although the U.S. Congress in 1843 had passed a law disallowing the payment of debts to traders in any treaty with an Indian Tribe, the local Indian agents and U.S. officials negotiating treaties found ways around the provision for the benefit of the trading companies. Further, rather than stop the abuses of the traders, the advice was to limit the payments to the Dakota for land cessions or to distribute payment in agricultural implements, tools, or educational expenses as approved by the U.S. Indian department.

Against this backdrop, yet another call went out to the Sisseton and Wahpeton to meet in the summer of 1851 at Traverse des Sioux in Minnesota to hold council with the U.S. treaty commissioners. The negotiations that followed were prime examples of the deliberate deception, bullying tactics, and outright swindling practices by U.S. treaty commissioners. One historian described this treaty negotiation, and the one following with the Mdewakanton at Mendota, as follows:

Many observers have noted the moral obliquity that seemingly afflicted white men in their dealings with Indians. Men justly respected for integrity and fairness in their relations with other white men saw nothing reprehensible about resorting to all manner of chicanery and equivocation when dealing with Indians. Starting from the axiom that the Indians were mere children and had a less enlightened view of what would serve their own best interests than the Great Father and his representatives did, government officials, especially treaty commissioners, felt themselves under no restraints in deceiving or bullying the Indians into acceptance of terms decided upon by higher authority. They knew--or thought they knew--what was best for the Indians, and the end justified the means. By a remarkable coincidence, what was deemed best for the Indians was invariably also to the advantage of the government, the traders, and, above all, the land-hungry settlers.

If one were seeking a treaty tailor-made to illustrate this phenomenon, he could not do better than to examine the treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota, negotiated with the Sioux in the summer of 1851. All the standard techniques were employed by the commissioners. The carrot and the stick--and at least once the mailed fist--were alternately displayed, as the occasion seemed to demand. If the Indians asked for time to consider the terms offered them, they were chided for behaving like women and children rather than men. If they asked shrewd, businesslike questions, the commissioners uttered cries of injured innocence: surely the Indians did not think the Great Father would deceive them! If they wanted certain provisions changed, they were told that it was too late; the treaty had already been written down. The Indians were flattered and brow-beaten by turns, wheedled and shamed, promised and threatened, praised for their wisdom and ridiculed for their folly. In such fashion was their “free consent” obtained.

The negotiations officially started on July 18, 1851, when a large gathering of the Sisseton and Wahpeton were present. In the texts documenting the negotiations, at least one witness to the council mentioned large quantities of champagne were present. “As the commissioners report, the Indians were ‘induced’ to agree to the terms which had been proposed to them and on Wednesday, July 23, the treaty was signed by thirty-five chiefs and thirteen witnesses.” Following the negotiations, the sacred Pipe was shared by those present to serve as a spiritual compact with the completion of the Treaty with the Sisseton and Wahpeton. As the signing was underway, one of the Sisseton men present made the request for the terms not to be changed in Washington. U.S. Indian Commissioner Luke Lea who had traveled from Washington, D.C. for the treaty negotiations, provided an assurance that “everything we promise will be faithfully performed.”

At the conclusion of the signing, James Goodhue, the editor of the Minnesota Pioneer newspaper, reportedly stated: “Thus ended the sale of twenty one millions of acres of the finest land in the world.” Another historian has described the treaty land cession as follows:

No other single Indian treaty conveyed so vast and noble an estate. It involved fully one-half, and the best half at that, of the great state of Minnesota. The price paid was about six cents per acre. In brief, the treaty provided that the tribes sold and relinquished to the United States all of their lands in Minnesota and Iowa, east of the Big Sioux River and a line from Lake Kampeska to Lake Traverse and the Sioux Woods Rivers. As a consideration for this sale and relinquishment they were to have first, a reservation running from the Yellow Medicine west to the treaty line, ten miles wide, on both sides of the Minnesota River. Second, $275,000 cash in hand. Third, $1,665,000, to remain in trust with the United States, and five per cent interest to be paid thereon for fifty years. The payment of the interest for this period to pay and satisfy the whole debt; that is, it was not intended that the original purchase price ever should be paid. The total interest payment, therefore, was to be $83,300 annually. Of this the government was to expend annually $12,000 for general agricultural improvement and civilization; $6,000 for education, $10,000 for goods and merchandise and the balance was to be paid in cash.

By the sharp dealing in the treaty purchase terms, the principal of $1,665,000 was never intended to be the purchase price, but would revert to the U.S. government. From the negotiated price of ten cents per acre, the actual price, due to this provision, would amount to only about six cents per acre due to the misrepresented payment term to the Sisseton and Wahpeton. In the aftermath of the negotiation, Governor Ramsey sent a report to the Interior Department stating “that the ‘actual cost to the Government of this magnificent purchase is only the sum paid in hand’ ($575,000).”

As for the homeland reserved by the Sisseton and Wahpeton in the 1851 Treaty, the assurances of Indian Commissioner Lea would prove to be further lies on behalf of the U.S. government. In fact, upon ratification and proclamation in February of 1853, article 3 of the Treaty with the Sisseton and Wahpeton, reserving a permanent reservation in Minnesota on the north and south sides of the Minnesota River, was stricken by the Senate and replaced with the article, set forth below, to provide that some future homeland be set aside beyond the ceded lands.

It is further stipulated, that the President be authorized, with the assent of the said band of Indians, parties to this treaty, and as soon after they shall have given their assent to the foregoing article, as may be convenient, to cause to be set apart by appropriate landmarks and boundaries, such tracts of country without the limits of the cession made by the first [2d] article of the treaty as may be satisfactory for their future occupancy and home: Provided, That the President may, by the consent of these Indians, vary the conditions aforesaid if deemed expedient.

Thus, not only did the terms of the 1851 Treaty change in 1853 in Washington, but the change resulted in the Sisseton-Wahpeton being placed in a refugee status as only temporarily located in their homelands, now claimed by the U.S. government. The same sleight of hand occurred in the 1851 Treaty, entered into with the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute tribal leaders, upon ratification and proclamation in 1853. The lack of humanity in such governmental action, and its consequences, constitute extraordinary human rights abuses.

As soon as the treaties were signed, Whites had swarmed into the Dakota lands supposedly guaranteed forever to the Dakota. It must have seemed to the Dakota peoples that none of the promises made by U.S. officials should be taken seriously. To add further injury to the Sisseton and Wahpeton, they were also informed that during the treaty signing tribal leaders had been deceived into signing a “traders' paper” for treaty payments to be distributed to pay off debts presented by the local trading posts.

Each Indian, as he stepped away from the treaty table, was pulled to a barrel nearby and made to sign a document prepared by the traders. By its terms the signatories to the treaty acknowledged their debts to the traders and half-breeds and pledged themselves, as the representatives of their respective bands, to pay those obligations. No schedule of the sums owed was attached to the document, but after the ceremony was over the traders got together and scaled down their claims (originally estimated at $431,735.78) to the round sum of $210,000; the half-breeds were to get $40,000.

When the 1853 amendments to the 1851 Treaties were communicated to Ramsey, he went to the Dakota leadership with two objectives: (1) to get the consent necessary for the supplemental articles to begin implementation of the 1851 land cessions and (2) to have tribal leaders sign off on receipts for the debts on the “traders' paper.” When one of the tribal leaders, Red Iron, refused to sign off on the receipt, Ramsey “appointed another chief in his stead and had the old man arrested and imprisoned.”

Following this and desperate to receive the annuities that Ramsey would not release without signing off on the receipts, a total of eleven others then signed the receipt.

They finally signed the receipt that allowed Ramsey to distribute $210,000 of the Sisseton and Wahpeton removal and subsistence money to the traders. By mid-December, the entire process was over. The eastern Sioux had watched most of the $495,000 designated for removal and subsistence go to traders and mixed-bloods. Later testimony showed that Ramsey and his secretary, Hugh Tyler, deducted a 10 to 15 percent fee for handling the money.

Eventually, two White men, Willis A. Gorman and Richard M. Young, were authorized to investigate the charges brought against Governor Ramsey for distributing the treaty payments on the basis of the “traders' papers.” The investigation concluded that Governor Ramsey had “conspired with the traders to defraud the Indians out of the moneys due them,” but the U.S. Senate then exonerated him in a resolution. One historian, Newton H. Winchell, has reportedly referred to the 1851 Treaties “as a ‘monstrous conspiracy.”’ Through the lens of human rights, the U.S. government and its officials were practicing deliberate genocide on the Dakota peoples by depriving them of all means of survival and purposefully exacerbating the starvation conditions being experienced in the 1850s.

As Willis A. Gorman assumed the role of territorial Governor of Minnesota and as Indian superintendent, he attempted to persuade the Dakota leaders to move from their villages to the strips of land along the Minnesota River. In 1853, a pledge of only five years had been given to the Dakota peoples for the reservation area. The short duration of the pledge from a government that had not fulfilled past promises was not well received by Dakota peoples. With a shortage of annuities following the 1851 Treaties, the Dakota continued to hunt in the ceded area where there was better hunting than in the reservation area. In addition, Whites flooded the areas ceded and even sought to set up homesteads within the reservation area. White aggression towards the Dakota peoples went unchecked by the U.S. military and eventually led to a group of Wahpekute, under the leadership of Inkpaduta, striking back against White settlers in the northeastern Iowa region.

The ‘Spirit Lake massacre,’ as whites later called it, came after considerable provocation by white settlers and Indians alike and was part of a long-standing, interethnic feud. Three years before, a white man named Henry Lott and his son slaughtered nearly a dozen Wahpekutes--mostly women and children--in an isolated hunting lodge in retaliation for earlier Indian depredations. The army made only a half-hearted effort to bring the Lotts to justice. In addition, some evidence suggests that whites had taken most of the arms possessed by the Wahpekutes just before the outbreak in 1857. Although they found others, the confiscation of arms made it difficult to hunt during the winter. At least one of the causes for the massacre was the shortage of food in the camp of the Indians responsible for the deed.

In Minnesota, Whites panicked, organized into militia groups, and attacked Dakota villages to the southwest of the Minnesota River reservation. By July 1, 1857, the new Indian commissioner, James W. Denver, sent word that the treaty annuities due would be “contingent upon the eastern Sioux tribes effecting the surrender or destruction of Inkpaduta and his band.”

Taoyateduta, referred to as “Little Crow” by White historians, assisted in organizing a party of Dakota men to follow Inkpaduta's band with the goal of having the annuities released for the good of those who had entered into the 1851 Treaties. After a few weeks, Taoyateduta's party located part of the band and killed several of the men. Others were captured and brought back to the reservation areas. Upon his return Taoyateduta was informed by Commissioner Denver that the annuities would still not be released. In late August, the acting commissioner, Charles Mix, authorized annuities to be released after Denver left Washington, D.C. As a result of this series of events, the Dakota peoples lost respect for U.S. officials who changed the terms of treaty payments whenever they wanted something more from the Dakota. In this situation, the U.S. military expected the Dakota to do what it could not--find and bring in Inkpaduta.

Soon after this, White public sentiment turned to dividing up the Dakota reservation lands into farming plots and having the northern half opened to further White settlement. Agreeing with the White public sentiment, U.S. officials devised a plan for a further land cession of the northern half of the temporary reservation. Immediately following an annuity distribution in the fall of 1857, the Indian superintendent, William J. Cullen, told the Dakota men that “their Great Father wished to see them and ‘readjust the treaty.’ Dakota chiefs assumed logically that their just complaints were finally going to be resolved.”

The trip to Washington, D.C. spanned a period of four months in the spring and summer of 1858 and resulted in a pair of land cession treaties. Upon arrival in D.C., Charles Mix, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, began meeting in council with Dakota leaders in March of 1858, including Taoyateduta, to persuade them to effectuate another land cession. He held several meetings in which Taoyateduta spoke on behalf of the Dakota peoples regarding the great injustices that had occurred, the failure to establish the reservation boundary as promised in 1852 and later in 1854 to him personally, and the constant deception by U.S. officials.

At a mid-April meeting, Taoyateduta also spoke about the abuses of White settlers and traders located near the Dakota. “He was particularly displeased with John Magner, who used his position in charge of the warehouse to exploit Dakota women.” Charles Mix then switched tactics and sought to confuse Taoyateduta by demonstrating the text of the 1851 Treaty as not including the boundary and the area then settled by Germans and named New Ulm. Mix intended to demonstrate that Taoyateduta had signed onto the 1851 Treaty and agreed to the more narrowly drawn boundary. This disheartened the Dakota leader. “Apparently at the end of the day's debate, an employee of the Office of Indian Affairs wrote on the front page of the journal, ‘Little Crow is bluffed.”’

In a series of meetings, Mix continued to badger Taoyateduta and warned that if the Dakota did not sign the new treaty, then all of their lands could be taken by the new state of Minnesota. When Taoyateduta brought up the injustices of the past at a meeting on June 4 and threatened not to sign, Mix ridiculed him and called him a child.

On June 18, Mix commenced what would be an all-night session to persuade the Dakota men to sign on to the land cession and finally received the Dakota signatures at 7 a.m. on June 19 to the so-called Mix treaties. The next day, the Dakota men departed to return home. The result was a further land cession for the northern portion of the reservation along the Minnesota River with an open-ended payment term for the U.S. Senate to fill in. Another outcome of the treaties was U.S. acknowledgement of Dakota ownership over the southern portion of the reservation and for this portion to be divided into eighty-acre allotments. The same terms were pushed upon the nine Sisseton and Wahpeton present on the Washington, D.C. trip. The recognized leadership of the Sisseton and Wahpeton were not invited on the trip and were out hunting buffalo during the spring and summer of 1858 to the west of the reservation areas.
Upon being informed of the 1858 Treaty provisions, the Sisseton, Wahpeton, Mdewakanton, and Wahpekute became disillusioned and bitter over the continuous deceptive acts of the U.S. government to take their lands and cheat them of any negotiated payments.

Although the Senate ratified the treaties on March 9, 1859, and they were proclaimed at the end of that month, nothing was done toward determining the validity of the Indians' title to their reservation until 1860, more than two years after the signing of the treaty. Then the Senate confirmed the Indians' title and allowed them the sum of thirty cents an acre for the area relinquished. This was a better price than the Senate amendments to the 1851 treaties had allowed them--ten cents an acre--but the 1860 resolution also gave settlers on those lands the right of pre-emption at a price of $1.25 an acre! Brown thought the lands worth five dollars an acre. There was still worse to follow. When Congress finally appropriated $266,880 for the lands, nearly all payment to the lower Sioux and a large part of that to the upper bands went to pay the “just debts” of the traders, and the Indians saw little of the money. Thus the disillusionment and bitterness they had come to feel toward the government was compounded by this treaty, supposedly designed for their benefit.

The Dakota peoples could accurately state that from the mid-1820s to the end of the 1850s the only consistent actions of U.S. officials were to deceive the Dakota peoples through treaties written in the English language. Through the treaties, the United States carried out its policy of forcing the Dakota peoples into ever smaller portions of their homelands on which they could do little more than starve to death as refugees. U.S. officials appointed to carry out U.S. policies throughout this time period took an active role in allowing the enrichment of traders to the detriment of the Dakota peoples.

The Sioux had become economic prisoners, constantly being told that they owed more and more money to the storekeepers. As the buffalo, deer, and game birds on which they had once lived so well became scarce, because of the encroaching white settlements, the Indians were ever more dependent on the goodwill of the traders and the promises of the federal government. All too often, the merchants cheated them shamelessly, and the government willfully ignored its solemn treaty commitments.

In addition, armed White settlers moving into reserved Dakota lands were not repelled by the United States as guaranteed in treaties putting the Dakota in a no-win situation to either clear out the White settlers or allow their homelands to be taken in violation of U.S. governmental promises.