Tag Archives: Santee Sioux

Clashes Between Indians and Whites

Returning War Party, courtesy Library of Congress

Dakota Territory, where the city of Canton was eventually established, embraced the Mandan, Arikara, Kidatsa, Assiniboin, Crow, Cheyenne, Cree, and Dakota (Santee Sioux) tribes. The Lakota Sioux were openly hostile to white newcomers, and even the early trappers avoided their sacred land in the Black Hills. Things changed when pioneer families came in and railroads began to snake through the countryside. Railroad workers arrived in hordes to cut through previously untouched land. People who had heard rumors about gold sometimes sneaked into the Black Hills.

The Lakota Nations were important to peace in the region, and in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, the U.S. government granted them a huge parcel of land west of the Missouri River. The government forbade settlers or miners to enter the Black Hills without permission, and the Sioux agreed to stop fighting with the newcomers.

Some people inevitably broke the treaty, and inevitably there were clashes. One Sioux retaliation tactic was to raid settlements and then retreat to the Black Hills where they were protected from pursuit by their treaty. The military wanted a fort in the area to better their chances of cutting off the Sioux before they could get to the Black Hills. That desire for a fort changed everything.

My next post will discuss what happened when the government pursued building a fort in the area.

Sioux Indians From Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D., courtesy Library of Congress

Sioux Delegation, 1891, courtesy Library of Congress




Insane Asylums and Economics

Lakota Camp, 1891, probaby near Pine Ridge Reservation, courtesy Library of Congress

Lakota Camp, 1891, probably near Pine Ridge Reservation, courtesy Library of Congress

Though insane patients were not always embraced by the communities around asylums, communities were often glad to have the institutions near them. Asylums meant jobs, and even small ones could have an economic impact. When the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians opened, residents desired the available positions.

Andrew Hedges, a full-blooded Santee Sioux Indian and the asylum’s first patient, arrived to the delight of the asylum staff on the last day of 1902. They met him at the train station, though this was probably the only time the entire staff turned out for a new patient. The greeters were Mrs. Seely (the financial clerk’s wife) was the matron, Mrs. Turner (the assistant superintendent’s wife) was the seamstress, W.F. More was the attendant, and Hannah Mickelson was the cook.

Canton’s newspaper noted that “Notwithstanding the most specific promises and a petition largely signed by prominent republicans of our city, and county, Mrs. Naylor was not given a position at the asylum.”

By 1927, 21 people were employed at the asylum besides the superintendent. Though Canton residents appreciated the asylum’s jobs, the work was often unpleasant. Attendants came and went with regularity. Dr. Hummer found the lack of trained, dedicated professionals a particularly frustrating aspect of running the asylum.