Over the weekend of June 24th, more than 70 members of the Great Sioux Nation and other tribally-affiliated people met at Fort Laramie National Historic Site to conduct the Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council. The park is the site where treaties were signed between the Sioux and the federal government in 1851 and 1868.
The purpose of the weekend Treaty Council was to plan for the Great Sioux Nation’s audience with and presentation to President Obama, planned for this coming October.
Elders and members of the eight bands of the Great Sioux Nation and the Northern Arapaho Tribe assembled throughout the weekend at the park to plan for that meeting. Tribal members also participated in a treaty site blessing, a sweat lodge ceremony and conducted a victory dance on June 25th to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
The National Park Service supported the park’s staff with an incident management team (BJ Ratlief, IC) and a six-person special event tactical team (Steve Winslow, supervisor).
“I thank the National Park Service from the bottom of my heart for their honest effort to make this treaty conference possible and successful, especially Superintendent Mitzi Frank and her staff,” said Edd Charging Elk, executive director of the Rosebud Sioux Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council. “Wopilla tanka, which means a big thank you.”
The Great Sioux Nation plans to ask President Obama return 1.3 million acres of federally-owned and unoccupied lands in the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Sioux. In addition, the Sicangu Treaty Council discussed their response to ongoing legal actions pertaining to payments for lands promised the Sioux under the terms of the 1851 and 1868 treaties signed at Fort Laramie, and for lands that that were seized by the federal government after 1877.
“We were honored to host this event and I especially appreciate the hard work the park staff have put in this weekend to make this event a success,” said Frank. “It is my hope the Great Sioux Nation comes back to Fort Laramie for further treaty discussions and to help us in how we interpret all of the events associated with Ft. Laramie National Historic Site.”
The park remained opened to the public during the treaty council conference. There was one self transported medical situation reported during the weekend.