Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Pair of Home-made Socks"

Red Cloud circa1890, 22 years after Lakota and Cheyenne warriors drove the U.S. Army out of the Powder River Basin in the Red Cloud War.

The New York Tribune reports on this day, May 9, 1866 that the "Commissioner of Indian Affairs is making affairs to hold a council with Indians of the Plains at Fort Laramie...E.B. Taylor, Superintendent at Omaha, states that 20,000 Indians will attend and desires to know of subsistence can be furnished them."

The discovery of gold in 1863 around Bannack, Montana encouraged white settlers to find an economical route to the gold fields. Securing safe passage, however, was difficult. In autumn 1865, several treaties were negotiated with Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho leaders, however, none had the endorsement of the Indian Chief Red Cloud, and proved unenforceable.

No white man could be found to undertake a dangerous mission to find Red Cloud and bring him to Fort Laramie for negotiations. Several of the "Laramie Loafers" undertook the task, and in March of 1866 Red Cloud and his Oglala rode into Fort Laramie, and committed to remain peaceful until such time as the U.S.'s chief negotiator, E. B. Taylor, arrived with presents for the assembled Indians.

Negotiations began in June, and quickly fell apart. The US arrived at Fort Laramie with two battalions and orders to establish forts in the Powder River country along the old Oregon Trail, now the Platte Road. Red Cloud refused to acknowledge the US Colonel Henry B. Carrington and accused the U.S. of bad faith in the negotiations. Red Cloud's War had begun.

The Treaty of Fort Laramie was eventually signed in 1868.  It created the Great Sioux Reservation, including the Black Hills and all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River.

Below is an excerpt from the Treaty

In lieu of all sums of money or other annuities provided to be paid to the Indians herein named under any treaty or treaties heretofore made, the United States agrees to deliver at the agency house on the reservation herein named, on or before the first day of August of each year, for thirty years, the following articles, to wit:

For each female over 12 years of age, a flannel shirt, or the goods necessary to make it, a pair of woollen hose, 12 yards of calico, and 12 yards of cotton domestics.

For each male person over 14 years of age, a suit of good substantial woollen clothing, consisting of coat, pantaloons, flannel shirt, hat, and a pair of home-made socks.

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Flannery O'Connor

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.