Ernestine Chasing Hawk: A history of resistance at Standing Rock

A memorial to Sitting Bull overlooks the Missouri River near Mobridge, South Dakota. Photo by Brett Whaley

Who are the Standing Rock Sioux?
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Today Editor

Who are the Hunkpapa Lakota Oyate, also known as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who stand in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline which threatens Mni Wiconi, the water of life?

First of all, this isn’t the first time the Hunkpapa Lakota Oyate has stood up against a powerful entity that sought to endanger the health and welfare of its people. And it isn’t the first time an alliance has been formed between them and other Indian nations in resistance.

The ancestors of the Hunkpapa Lakota Oyate along with other bands of the Lakota and Dakota Oyate were notorious for being the “last of the holdouts,” and referred to by the United States Government as “hostiles” because of their resistance to signing Treaties and their unwillingness to abrogate their right to live and hunt freely on their sacred homelands.

The Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, which straddles the central border of North and South Dakota, is the land of Wicasa Wakan Tatanka Iyotake (Holy Man Sitting Bull), one of the most prominent Indian leaders of his time.

By 1868 most of the bands of the Lakota Sioux had signed the Fort Laramie Treaty, including Red Cloud of the Oglala and Spotted Tail of the Sicangu, agreeing to no longer wage war against the U.S. government in exchange for annuities.

However Sitting Bull stood in opposition and would sign no treaty. According to Jesuit missionary, Pierre Jean De Smet, Sitting Bull said, “I wish all to know that I do not propose to sell any part of my country.”

In defiance, he, along with some of the fiercest resisters of wasicu encroachment, continued their guerrilla style attacks on forts inside their homeland throughout the late 1860’s and early 1870’s.

Then in 1874 an expedition led by General George Armstrong Custer discovered gold in the Black Hills. Lured by the prospect of instant riches, thousands of miners illegally trespassed into the Black Hills which had been set aside for exclusive use by the Lakota.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Who are the Standing Rock Sioux?

(Contact Ernestine Chasing Hawk at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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