IN LATE FEBRUARY 1858, Little Crow and many Dakota chiefs and headmen were brought to Washington by the new Dakota agent, Joseph R. Brown. They had hoped to have the Indian Department rectify the unfulfilled promises of past treaties. They were shocked when the Indian Commissioner, Charles E. Mix, wanted them to make another treaty by which they would cede half of their present reservation. Little Crow, in particular, was angered and disillusioned, because he had been to Washington in 1854 to help secure a presidential promise that the Sioux would own their reserve forever. With Antoine J. Campbell interpreting, Crow fired back:
"That is the way you all do. You use very good language, but we never receive half what is promised or which we ought to get. I came here about the reserve in 1854; I recollect you [pointing to the recorder] very distinctly; and you were then writing at the table as you are now, surrounded by papers. You then promised us that we should have this same land forever; and yet, notwithstanding this, you now want to take half of it away. We ought, when we meet to do business, talk like men and not like children. . . .
When we came here, I thought we would do business. . .but it appears you are getting papers all around me, so that, after a while, I will have nothing left. I am going to see that [treaty] paper which you gave the agent, and if, after examining it, I shall find anything good in it, I will come and see you again; and when I do, you will hear me talk like a man, and not like a child!"
A few days later Little Crow and the delegation returned to the Indian Office. The chief was extremely upset to learn that the Sioux did not have permanent ownership of their land after all. President Franklin Pierce had failed to issue an executive decree to that effect. Little Crow complained bitterly: "You gave us a paper. . .and we had it explained, and from that it would seem that the Sioux Indians own nothing! When I saw that paper it made me ashamed. We had, we supposed, made a complete treaty, and we were promised a great many things, horses, cattle, flour, plows, and farming utensils, but it now appears that wind blows it off."
But Little Crow's remonstrations were in vain. All that was left for him to do was to try and obtain the best deal possible. Unfortunately, the Dakotas took the government officials at their word, that the Sioux would receive $1.25 per acre for the new land cession--the Senate later reduced this to thirty cents, and traders' claims took almost the entire sum!
Source: Lower Sioux Indians in the Indian Office, May 28, June 4, 1858, in Documents Relating to the Negotiations of Ratified and Unratified Treaties. . .1801-1869, OIA, microfilm T494, roll 6, National Archives Record Group 75.
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