Lakota Country Times: New book explores Sioux Nation land claim

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

Capossela’s Book:150 Years Of Land Grabs
By Tom Crash
Lakota Country Times Correspondent

SIOUX FALLS – Peter Capossela’s new book, “The Land Along the River: The Ongoing Saga of the Sioux Nation Land Claim 1851-2012,” has been released and is being distributed across South Dakota.

Capossela , an attorney who has worked for several Native nations including the Oglala Sioux Tribe for 10 years, documents a history of land grabs by the United States that starts with the Ft. Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868, continues with the 1877 Act cutting the Black Hills out of the treaty, the series of Homestead Acts that whittled he Sioux Nation down to small individual reservations, the Pick-Sloan Act building the Missouri River dams and taking away more land through the Mitigation Act that gave thousands of acres of Sioux treaty land to the State of South Dakota in the mid 1990’s.

“Great book! Indian wars continue today in different modes. It's legislation today -- the Oglala Sioux Tribe took it upon itself to fight the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, SD senior senator, Tom Daschle and SD Governor Bill Janklow,” said Michael Her Many Horses, tribal historian and current council representative from Wounded Knee. “Time has proven the Mitigation Act to be an extremely hollow victory, his book is an excellent historic look at the clashes between tribal, state and federal government over Sioux treaty land.”

Land Along the River documents how the federal government’s quest for Indian land did not end in the 1800’s, that the land grab continued with several Homestead Acts in the first two decades of 1900, into the mid 1900’s with the Pick-Sloan Act and continued into the mid 1990’s with the Mitigation Act. Through endless legislative initiatives, the government buried the treaty rights guaranteed by the 1868 Treaty.

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“Capossela’s new book pulls the reader along on a journey through 150 years of treaty violations,” said Mark St. Pierre, a writer and teacher. “He challenges us like a mystery writer to see whether in the enlightened times of the late 20th century, legal and moral right or political corruption, racism and greed will once again determine the outcome of a modern battle set between tribal nations and Anglo interests.”

Capossela did a book signing in Pierre on Saturday, June 25th, and he was at the Journey Museum in Rapid City Thursday, June 30th. Later in the summer he'll be at Oglala Lakota College and Chadron State College. The book was published by Mariah Press in Sioux Falls with assistance of the Onaway Trust, retails at $19.95 and currently is available at Prairie Edge in Rapid City and Sioux Nation in Pine Ridge.

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