Negotiations for the Treaty of Fort Laramie at Fort Laramie in Wyoming Territory in 1868. Photo: Department of Defense / National Archives and Records Administration

Native Sun News Today: Event marks milestone for Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868

Treaty of Fort Laramie: 1868

Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council seeks support
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Today Correspondent

ROSEBUD – Is it a celebration or commemoration?

The 150th anniversary of the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 is on April 29, 2018. The tribes of the Oceti Sakowin and surrounding areas are coming together to remember this important historical date in Lakota history.

The “Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie” event will take place over four days from April 28 – May 1, 2018 on the Fort Laramie site in Wyoming.

This four-day event will offer historical and contemporary education on the effects of the 1868 treaty on the tribal nations and their citizens.

As part of the large tribal assembly at next month’s event, the Sicangu Treaty Council hopes to provide some events and services for the descendants of the original signers of the treaty and other honored guests of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate.

According to the Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council member, Philimon Two Eagle, the event will begin with a sunrise ceremony near the sweat lodge area on Saturday, April 28, followed by a private tribal ceremonies and a traditional honor guard entrance with the placement of sacred staffs and tribal flags. Veterans and royalty from each tribe are welcome to be a part of the grand entry.

“I believe the keeper of the Sacred Pipe, Arvol Looking Horse, will be opening up the ceremonies on the 28th at 10 a.m.,” said Two Eagle. This traditional opening ceremony follows the protocol for meetings and events which deal with tribal issues and needs. Looking Horse is the keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Woman pipe.

Honoring The Spirit: April 28, 2018. Sunrise to Sunset. Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. Image courtesy Phil Two Eagle

Leading up to the Commemoration, several tribes will be having events to honor the treaty signing. This includes healing walks, horse rides, foot runners and other ceremonies. “We have a prayer and healing walk being sponsored by the descendants of Chief Little Thunder. They will be leaving on April 14 and they will be walking towards Fort Laramie and stopping in Pine Ridge,” said Two Eagle. “There will also be a road run along with that walk and a horseback ride.”

According to the member of the Sicangu Lakota Treat Council, there be horses taken from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe into Fort Laramie. This is symbolic of the era of 1868 when nearly two thousand tribal members came from all directions on horseback for information and to witness the signing.

There is an open invitation from the Rosebud-based treaty council for horseback riders. These riders will leave the Rosebud Indian Reservation and meet up with other riders from Sisseton, Santee, Cheyenne River, Standing Rock and Pine Ridge. “I believe they’ll all be meeting at Fort Robinson and riding into Fort Laramie from there,” Two Eagle shared.

Two Eagle says he would like to bring tipis to set up a Sicangu camp. Inside the tipis, presentations from several groups will have a space to provide education and updates on programs related to tribal causes, history and material related to the treaty.

The Sicangu camp will be part of the larger Oceti Sakowin camp circle. Two Eagle says he hopes to have all of the Oceti Sakowin tribes represented in this circle, with some changes to the original camp circles.

“Historically, there was a seating protocol that we followed. For this event, we’re going to possibly have a new seating protocol where all of the other tribes of the Dakota and Nakota will be incorporated into the circle,” he said. If things go as planned, there will be a gathering shade, much like those found at powwow arenas of today. This structure will be temporary.


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On opening day, “Arvol will open up with prayers and then the Superintendent (National Park Service Superintendent) will have opening remarks. They will have the tribal leaders, dignitaries, chiefs and whoever is designated from that tribe will speak on that first day,” he said of the agenda which is still in draft form.

During the first day, “There will be a performance of the Oceti Sakowin song. The head singers from each drum will come together to sing that song,” said Two Eagle. This song performance will be a great moment for the history of the Oceti Sakowin and surrounding tribal nations, according to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe culture bearer.

The theme of the first day is “Honoring the Spirit”. The events of this day will include remarks from state, tribal and federal representatives. “This will be an opportunity speak about who we are today and that we are still here,” said Two Eagle. The Spotted Tail/Maynadier family will also discuss their connection to the 1868 treaty as surviving descendants.

A significant part of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary, will be a presentation on the importance and significance of the traditional calendrical method of winter count. “We are really trying to involve people and tribes to get involved in their winter counts,” Two Eagle said.

“The winter count activity is being sponsored by the National Park Service. Because this is the 150th anniversary, they have received some donations of buffalo hides,” said Two Eagle. “They will give people an opportunity to make an entry to that winter count that will be kept at Fort Laramie. They will bring that winter count out from time to time and allow people to make entries.”

Oyate Today: In the Footsteps of our Chiefs

On April 29, the theme of the day is “Oceti Sakowin Day”. This will be a day for tribal-led activities.

According to two Eagle, “This will be made up of the Seven Council Fires. These events will include talks by tribal youth and representatives. Tribal programs will be able to go there (Fort Laramie) and do presentations. Several presentations will be going on simultaneously,” he said.

The Seven Council Fires are:
• Mdewakanton - Dwellers by the Sacred Lake
• Wahpekute - Shooters Among the Leaves
• Sisitonwan/Sisseton - People of the Marsh
• Wahpetonwan - Dwellers Among the Leaves
• Ihanktown/Lower Yanktonai - People of the End
• Ihanktowana/Upper Yanktoni - People of the Little End
• Tetonwan - People on the Plains

For those wanting to attend the commemoration, there will be wrist bands provided for guests. These wrist bands will signify tribal affiliation and help keep track of attendance numbers. Each camp will have their own style of wrist band.

On April 30 and May 1, the theme of these two days is “We Are Still Here: Struggle and Multigenerational Impact of 1868 to Present”. On this day, there will be a presentation on the little known treaty that was attempted in 1866.

If there was an over-arching theme of this event, it would be to commemorate the anniversary through conversation and presentation. There will be recognition of the past and a blessing for the present and future efforts of tribal leaders.

“Many of us will be going on with the work, demanding that the U.S. government honor our treaties. We will also be working on strengthening our relationship with allies throughout the world to help us deliver the message and educate the world about this 1868 treaty,” said Two Eagle.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is selling clothing items and raising funds to pay for the 150th anniversary commemoration of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

As part of the lessons of this commemorative event, presenters will be able to engage those challenges of dealing with tribal members and other non-Natives who may not have an interest in history, language, culture and address the question of how do tribes strengthen bonds moving forward into the future, collectively.

Tribes will have the ear of state and federal representatives during this event. This will be an opportunity to bring forth the many treaty violations of the past and contemporary period, including major acts in recent memory which have improved and worsened conditions for tribal nations, according to Two Eagle.

“There have been other Acts that have happened after the 1868 treaty. We have compiled a list of treaty violations that we will be taking with us to Fort Laramie. We will be handing the list to the dignitaries that are there to help educate them on the treaty violations that have happened in the past and are continuing to happen today,” he said. “This is a good opportunity for our people.”

On hand during the commemoration, will be the original document signed in 1868. Those in attendance will be able to see this historical piece and view the signatures of the chiefs; whom many feel had little choice but to sign. “It’s important that you can go there and see the original treaty,” said Two Eagle.

The National Park Service and organizers are allowing space for vendors. This will include food, arts and crafts, and other merchants who wish to support this event.

A large event like this for any tribe is not without challenges. The Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council would like to sponsor several events and services for their tribal representatives and dignitaries. They are hosting two major fundraisers to help meet their financial needs. 
“We have 150th anniversary. T-shirts available online,” Two Eagle said.

Here is a link to their T-shirt campaign: The Rosebud Sioux Tribe group also started a GoFundMe account to help with costs. Here is a link to the GoFundMe campaign: All funds will go into the support of this commemoration.

“We don’t have much funding, so we’re doing what we can to cover our people. We want to be able to cover our medicine man and our drum group’s expenses. We want to put up a large tent for the Sicangu camp for the kitchen and the cooks,” Two Eagle said of funding needs. “We want to be able to feed. We would like to use some of that funding to help some descendants go to Fort Laramie. We want to be able to help them with a gas card.”

As an organizer of the event, “Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie”, Two Eagle says, “We invite our relatives from throughout the world to come join us. We want to remember our chiefs as we are walking in their footsteps. The chiefs were there in 1868 to sign the treaty. The treaty itself did some bad things and good things.”

The commemoration for this treaty will no doubt bring up many emotions for those in attendance. Two Eagle hopes people will come with a good heart and “come make some new friends, reconnect with old friends and make relatives.” There will be a one-evening powwow for socializing.

In closing, Two Eagle says, “We want you there to help remember our chiefs as we continue the battle of our treaty rights. We are walking in our chiefs’ footsteps.”

Contact Native Sun News Today Correspondent Richie Richards at

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today

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