Ruffled feathers: The Dakota Sioux; Life on and off the reservation
This program was produced by educational Radio Foundation and was compiled at the University of South Dakota. This is a transition. This is the 12th in a series of programs dealing with the Dakota or Sioux Indians in South Dakota. Early in the series we trace the movement of the Dakota Indians from Minnesota onto the plains and across the Missouri River. We also established the reservation system as a way of life that would be followed by the Indians from the late 18 hundreds on in 1851 as a part of the Treaty of Traverse City to sue the Dakota Indian ceded the first of their lands and what is now South Dakota. That land was in a strip of land running along the extreme eastern
border of South Dakota. The first actual reservation for the Dakota Indians was established in 1858 the Yankton reservation in 1863 the Crow Creek reservation in central South Dakota was established in 1865 the Lower Brule reservation just across the Missouri River from the Crow Creek reservation with established by administrative action in 1867. The system in Wahpeton reservation was established in the extreme northeast corner of South Dakota at this time almost all the land west of the Missouri River belonged to the India in 1868. The last treaty was made with the Dakota nation in it the lands west of the Missouri River and south of the cannonball river were reserved as a permanent reservation and the Dakotas released all of their lands east of the Missouri with the exception of the Crow Creek Yankton insisted on reservations. During 1876 a commission was sent into Dakota Territory to make an agreement for a certain amount of land between the forks of the Cheyenne River and the 130 Meridian which
included the Black Hills of South Dakota. This was brought about largely as a result of the discovery of gold in the Black Hills. Today there are only five closed reservations in South Dakota a closed reservation is one which was closed to homesteading those five close reservations or Cheyenne River Lower Brule Grove creek rose bud and Pine Ridge but in the end the policy success. In the sense of. The Indians do get cooped up. And limited air and do remain resident in that area because of the disappearance of the buffalo partly because of the military measures and get them in settlement on the reservation. You still haven't settled whether the Indian is going to live after a different fashion. This is an argument that's down I was on. If we're going to change from being an Indian. How high is he going to
go in becoming a white man or being assimilated. Yes should we retain a subculture in American society. Or perhaps some of their ways are ancient ways but become assimilated into the non Indian society. The reservation system has created problems with regards to assimilation. If Assimilation is a worthwhile goal by confining the Indians to a reservation area for so many years they're now hesitant to leave it. It's obvious that the Indians cannot be assimilated into the non Indian society if they are separated from it. They are to remain on the reservations there must be work for them to do in order to make a living and also to obtain a concept of the non-Indian societies values. In 1947 the government considered terminating the reservation system allowing the Indians to take over title to the land. And in this matter perhaps become members of society. In 1947 the government sent forth some conditions for terminations and just mention one or two of these. They stated that the
simulation must be based upon the desires of the various tribes to accept white customs and then the acceptance on the part of the Indians let's say of this way of life in the Indians within a white community. But perhaps without being an economic determinist the main condition would be economic conditions of the tribe that would make it possible for them to become a part of a white community. The economic potential let's say of the tribe in France is the most difficult. Yes and more difficult and difficult enough when the reservations were first established. There were white men that were taking up farms one hundred sixty acres and with considerable difficulty with Nevertheless a number of them made a success. Of being farmers. And it's in this setting that the thought was that the thing that Indians could do would be also to be farmers.
In our own time. We have very few people that think of setting out on 160 acres or at least in the they can't inherit. The farm or are perhaps a whole set of machinery to go along with it. And the farming is not a place where the unions are going to break into the white man's world. We don't have many disfigures of. Others whether it's the Negroes or the slaves or whether it's the Irish immigrants working on the Union Pacific working valves on steam boats. And have inevitably. Unnecessarily broken to the bottom of the tsunami scale someplace and the Indians today are in the extreme to death. Finding very few positions at the bottom or those that are already at the bottom. Perhaps in ranking houses and being squeezed out of nation and much more difficult to
make the transition today than the last hundred years. In a nutshell Dr Breggin and Dr. Sterling have presented some of the ideas that have fallen by the wayside over the past two decades with regards to the reservation system and its problems germination was one plan in 1947 and it's being brought up again today but will talk about this more later on in the program. You may wonder who was deemed an Indian and if an Indian must live on the reservation. Providing you have a certain degree of Indian blood and urine rolled a member of the tribe. Then you can they're free to google for you to come. It doesn't matter. Just like any other place. And the thing is you are subject to like I said different. Different laws are in your own reservation and state also don't apply on a reservation you have your own code. There's usually one quarter Indian blood is enough to be recognized as a member of the Dakota race. Indians however do not have to live on the reservation. They are free to leave or enter the reservation areas if they desire. However the majority of the Dakota people
do live on the reservation. Many people do not have any idea of the size of an Indian reservation. The Cheyenne River Reservation encompasses around 2300 square miles while the Pine Ridge Reservation approaches nearly 3000 square miles. The Lower Brule reservation on the other hand is only about two hundred square miles on the Pine Ridge Reservation there are about 10000 people and 3000 square miles of land about three persons per square mile. In 1890 the government classified a frontier area as having between two and six persons per square mile. So the reservation areas are really frontier areas even today. What are the conditions like with this low man to land racial. There is all of one you know the you know the high price of everything and don't want to natter and get no one they have no horse no teens they have to have cornered like anybody else and they've got to have one. You don't have work like the fall of the working up factor that got better honed Nikon
and their kids cool and they make good for their want and deprivation are the rule rather than the exception on the reservation. The vast stretches of land are not ideal for farming or ranching on a small scale in the Dakota Indian does not have the financial backing to start a large scale operation going into the reservation community or into the back country just like stepping into a slow motion picture. Time is of little concern to the Dakota something he has inherited from his ancestors had no such thing as class time he was a creature of Mother Earth. Through that class it with no known one of his. Another clock found after midnight early in the morning. Those are the new names that he used to have that kind. So therefore we have no such award this time. You know rain in Langley like you asked me when can I through tomorrow. I
cannot feed a clock noon way I can go home I come tomorrow when the day he would have no time. So those words are hard to translate because the women were Cabernets So women and the threat the white man rolled over and he had to invent words for many of the inhabitants on the reservation because of this time problem. Have trouble maintaining a job there requires that they be in at 12 an off from rather in a day than off from 12 to 1 back again until 5. Numerous Indian homes today do not have any sort of timepiece in them. Often Indians leave the reservation for the summer and do some sort of manual labor while when winter comes when the jobs are scarce the return to the reservation Cleveland this gives an example of one to go to Mt.. The earlier charge he's spent most of his summers for the last five years and I know it operates vision seeking employment in places such as Rapid City.
He follows the jobs more or less at his construction job open Erap you go up there and try to get on or you know and work just as long as he possibly could and then come back here and spend the winter because there isn't any jobs he isn't training any special skill to hold on a year round job. The lack of permanent employment brings many Dakota people back to the reservations where those who own land there are advantages to living on the reservation. I would say there is an advantage to living here but the stems primarily from from the land status. So you know land is of course held on to trust and not subject to taxes or the sort of things are for one thing. Taxes would be one and then they're not subject to all of the taxes of the people or because the land is held in trust by the federal government. It is tax free and the state government cannot tax the land. This is perhaps good because if the lands were taxed many of the people would not be able to even pay their taxes. So lower the income levels on the reservation. In addition to the land tax break the Indian gets there are other services provided on the reservation that he could not get elsewhere.
Yeah a lot of people have public health facilities. You go to Chicago and you get there and he will visit a doctor can cost you 10 or 15 dollars and like Safeway again that goes back to training. If you aren't trained or if you aren't skilled in something and you go to Chicago if you can find a job you doing good. If you aren't given anything you don't make the money that you get to afford it maybe a good doctor or any kind OC at all and this makes a difference. Huge reservation has a health facility which is staffed by personnel of the US Public Health Service. There is fine medical care available where the Indian on the reservation and the Indian generally is in need of more health services than the average American to the Indian who has left the reservation. There are no such services to which we can turn in a time of need although there are public housing facilities in slum renewal projects and whatnot in almost every major city in the United States. The Indian who leaves the reservation does not have as good an opportunity to receive
adequate housing as he does on the reservation. In an earlier program we examined housing on the reservation and found that many people have entirely inadequate housing. Recent progress has been made on the reservations. Let's take rose bud for an example. We have 900 who are lower end units 14 at St. Francis and thirty eight at. Rose and twenty six at Mission and 14 at White River. Low rent housing is a project set up by the federal urban development program out of Washington D.C. which is federally financed and it is a public program nondiscriminatory and is set up for people who have a low income. The program by which we
admit people to the units is on a set income scale running from 900 hours up to 40 900 a year into the low rent housing provides an opportunity for the Indian family to improve their living facilities. But in order to do so they must be able to move where the facilities are and to pay rent for them. There is another program being developed a road road but that is less expensive for the Indian family. The second program that is being sponsored by the. Local housing authority here and under the direction of the commissioners Mordred commissioners here is known as a mutual help program in this program we are going to have a unit of harmonious out called a unit of care and same provinces where you can at Rosebud and the unit
mission and unit came in and were quick making that a tornado could be mutual help. Now on this program or would call mutual help the. Thousands again will all be built in a cluster. Tired perhaps not as tight cluster as we have on the ranch but we say mutual help. All of this selected app attends work in each individual place and I have stated and they help one another build these houses in so doing they are or have a standard wage which is called up to them and they earn but it is not paid to them in cash it is paid him back to them as equity in their house and they get an equity of two hundred fifty dollars for their lot plus pot
equity they earn by their sweat labor which amounts to around 17 to 18 hundred hours. The remaining fun that they would have to pay would be sent out possibly seven or eight hours to 12 hours a month which would run from 15 to 18 years that they would have to pay our housing facility opportunities that exist on the reservation or perhaps one more factor that keep the Dakota people on the reservation. In addition to helping improve the housing alone the housing will have a greater and more important impact on the younger generation. Before I came to. For the housing authority I was a school teacher and I taught school among the Indian people involved on the rows of the Pine Ridge Indian reservations and in many cases especially here in Howard County here on the Rosebud Reservation. I do know from working in the schools
and what with their school systems that we have one of the best school systems and also one of the best or can we beat some of the best equipped schools there will be in otherwise in the United States and we would teach these in this case the union children in very modern schools with very modern methods and in accused of our daily pupils many times who knows children that their school respect a step back from twenty five to fifty years in their life when they went to their home they went to a home that passed. They had a dirt floor in some cases no plow no time piece whatsoever no kind of light maybe except a kerosene lantern or possibly a kerosene light. So I have always felt that housing would be
a great improvement for the people especially our younger generations. There are many old timers on the reservation who do not want to leave the reservation because they've lived there all their lives and they would like their children and grandchildren to have the same lands to come home to in their old car and they can. Wear like a battle. Year of the horse the country will come back to a happy home where the feeling that we have and probably that isn't right. When we feel like we've born and raised in Thailand we want to have the faith that we have we want to live the direct children so that they can use to live and have a future home the last thing around with us and that is this five wanting a home and home owning the land could land in the security of their area without land no nation can think of that.
Should we begrudge the Indians for wanting to keep some land aside for the Dakota people utilize forever. The Dawes Act of 1887 cost the Indian people some 91 million acres and before long 90000 Indians were landless government legislation has seemingly ignored the fact that the Indians will continue to have children and have not provided land for these people. Doing the bold voice is perhaps the most convincing argument against a natural migration of people away from the reservation. This is home. This is home to them so why should to leave their home. So our feeling now is one of. Trying to provide jobs trying to entice industry to come into the area and establish it here instead of sending out a void for jobs in this sort of thing why not try to get it here. This has been one of the things I think has been tried before but now under the new programs that are in existence now. We now have the tools to begin to do something about this and the housing we've just about got to
our immediate need in housing satisfied or in hours to work on jobs. Many Indian people realize that there are not enough jobs not enough work to go around on the reservation. And as such would like to leave the reservation and go to the cities to seek profitable employment. I believe a lot of them are a little bit afraid afraid to get authorization. We've had some that are left and some training program and return. But here again you can die. You can take a person that's been living in the kind of life you live around here and the wide open spaces and there's not too much and put in enough in a city a city like Chicago and say OK you know you're on your own. You make it or you don't. I've been to Chicago and I've worked for a while and to places there. And I found it really difficult to try to adjust to city life. I found that the people weren't like
they are like they are here on a reservation. But you know you can say hello to a person expect me answered. And Chicago you get on a subway and you say hello to a person right away he looks at you like you crazy. But I think that well a lot of it is people aren't sure yet if they can make it outside and. And back here it is this is home to them. It's always been home and it probably always will be at least the impression be luck that no Indians leave the reservation to be pointed out that there are many Indians who have left the reservation and never returned their living profitable lives outside the sphere of the reservation. These people are maybe gifted and in some way I can think of right now or about five or six different people that are off the reservation and have been off for the last 10 or 15 years and are probably stale. But here again these people are trained in something. The people I'm thinking of right now are trained in a skill and maybe have an higher education than the ones a lot of people here know
I mean they are here again it makes a difference and in the person themselves you take up person on here that is maybe self-conscious and a bit backward and I stuff can be difficult to get along. But if you take a person that is maybe forward in all this they can go out and. Talk to somebody and talk to people and make themselves you know understood as one of the greatest things I think that these people have besides a training education for an Indian who leaves the reservation to establish a home in a new non reservation community. There are major social and economic changes that must be made. The old family ties must be broken. Occasional discrimination is encountered poor job or skills training often make suitable employment hard to find high cost of living and whatnot are new to the Indian family. Many Indian people realize that they lack the social skills of the non Indian society and as such are afraid to move into a situation where they would be ashamed. There may be a time though when the Indian will be able to leave the
reservation maybe even stay away year round and not be afraid of the competition of life. I really believe this that. Once again a chance I guess to learn and to get out and be able to compete fairly and on an equal basis. Now this is important an equal basis on equal footing with another person. There you have it I mean it's up there you know you're capable of doing things that make it a morale builder in itself and you know you're able to compete and probably if you fail it's to your own fault. And all this and it will get the big people I believe in initiative to get out there and try that much harder. But I think training in education is by the two most important things we need right now. As mentioned earlier the question of germination comes up from time to time and it's come up again very recently in regard to the a similar thought process. There is one suggestion the older chestnut that you can make an omelette and a few breaks and that is to just terminate phase out present for a period of
time. All federal support and following the principles set forth and back in 1934 allow them to dispose of their mineral rights forest reserves in lands and this way they would be assimilated. Of course there is considerable pressure to resist this action on the part of the Indian people since they have continually had their lands taken away from them since they first came into contact with the white man and because they realize there is no economic base on the reservation and they do not have the training to move off the reservation and to take up employment there on the other hand occasional sporadic eruptions of thought in the direction of determination on both the state and federal level. Part of this perhaps goes Bank back to the reservation system the government holds in stewardship of about 50 million acres of land for the Indians and the revenues from these lands that are divided among the Indian tribes but the lands are tax exempt. Therefore based
upon treaty agreements the federal government has felt obligated although there is no provision for this. But they felt obligated to subsidize and support Indian education. They've subsidized private and parochial schools so some people believe that the key logged in user phrase here in this logjam as far as assimilation is concerned would be to free these lands from stewardship from government control and allow. Based upon the Reorganization Act of 1934 allowed the tribal councils to dispose of these lands as they see fit. The arguments against that is one tribe in Washington I might say. I know that I'm sorry I have done this the Klamath time with tremendous force reserves have done is but the arguments on the part of the states are somewhat as follows they will sell these lands. I spend the money very rapidly and then will be dependent upon the state.
Like everything that seems to concern Indian policy the controversy over the reservation system continues on. Perhaps someday to a workable solution. This program has given you a small glimpse of life on the reservation and a look at what forces motivate the Indian to leave the reservation. The reservation system may not be the best method by which to deal with the Indian people but the government of the United States started it over 100 years ago and has not seen fit to change its approach. Perhaps now it's too late to gracefully and simply change the purpose of our policies toward the Indian is to bring about assimilation. And to do away with the values of the traditional Dakota culture then we might consider this. So long as Indian community is can be maintained as community then there will be a group of Indians that will still be able to hold to the old Indian values and will not go all the way in assimilation to the White American values and way
of life. Now of course when we look at the situation we lose sight of the thousands of American Indians who have been absorbed into the American way of life and much more visible of course are those Indians who remain as an community entity on a reservation area. There is a continuous draining off from the reservations of people who assimilate. But then there is always the continuing community that retains a good deal of Indian ism. The final program in this series will deal with the Indian Community Action Program financed under the Office of Economic Opportunity. Many Indian leaders feel that this program is the most significant government program to be found on the reservation in this century and perhaps in the last also. I would like to thank
- Life on and off the reservation
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- Chicago: “Ruffled feathers: The Dakota Sioux; Life on and off the reservation,” 1967-05-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 14, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-8911sp07.
- MLA: “Ruffled feathers: The Dakota Sioux; Life on and off the reservation.” 1967-05-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 14, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-8911sp07>.
- APA: Ruffled feathers: The Dakota Sioux; Life on and off the reservation. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-8911sp07