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Diane Fox on the Fort Laramie Treaty and Dawes Act

North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding number five is about tribal policies, treaties, and sovereignty. It states native people practice self-determination, developing tribal policies and practicing political activism. Despite a history of US policies and treaties that have often been detrimental, native people are members of sovereign nations that predate the US government.

In this episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll listen to Diane Fox, enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, as she talks about the Fort Laramie Treaty and the Dawes Act.

Diane Fox:

The two that we talk about in tribal government, the first is our treaty that outlined our reservation. It's a 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty. And that's one that it's a big one, not only for our reservation but for the surrounding Plains Indians. I tell them it went all the way to part of Montana, Wyoming, all the way through Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and it came all the way around. And that area, they said, "Okay, that's the area that those Native Americans in that area, that's their treaty." So all the tribes are affected by that treaty in the area.

So we do talk about that one a lot. And I also have a film, a really good film that goes with it, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and it talks about the Dawes Act. It talks about how we became to be on reservations. It talks about the relocation. It talks about the renaming project, the assimilation when we came off. And we did a little background to it first. And we talked about the Fort Laramie Treaty. We talked about the Dawes Act, and this is what put us on the reservations. They went and outlined these things for us, because they did ask me, "Well, how did they figure out where we were going to be?" And then, so we talked about it and I said, "Now we're going to watch this film." And they sat there just really attentive to the... And a couple of them cried after that and they were like, "Now I understand Ms. Fox. Now I understand what our people went through." And then one of my male students, he said, "You know what? People did stick up for us." And I said, "Yes they did. Yes they did. They tried to do the best they could." That's why I go back to that tug of war relationship. They took from us, they gave, took, gave, took, gave it back.

If you'd like to learn more about the North Dakota Native American essential understandings, and to listen to more Indigenous elder interviews, visit teachingsofourelders.org.

Dakota Datebook: Teachings of Our Elders is produced with support from and in collaboration with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

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