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Supreme Court of the United States
March 24, 1980, Argued ; June 30, 1980, Decided
[*374] [***850] [**2720] MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case concerns the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Great Sioux Reservation, and a colorful, and in many respects tragic, chapter in the history of the Nation's West. Although the litigation comes down to a claim of interest since 1877 on an award of over $ 17 million, it is necessary, in order to understand the controversy, to review at some length the chronology of the case and its factual setting.
For over a century now the Sioux Nation has claimed that the United States unlawfully abrogated the Fort Laramie Treaty of April 29, 1868, 15 Stat. 635, in ] Art. II of which [****8] the United States pledged that the Great Sioux Reservation, including the Black Hills, would be "set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians herein named." Id., at 636. The Fort Laramie Treaty was concluded at the culmination of the Powder River War of 1866-1867, a series of military engagements in which the Sioux tribes, led by their great chief, Red Cloud, fought to protect the integrity of earlier-recognized treaty lands from the incursion of white settlers. 2
[****9] The Fort Laramie Treaty included several agreements central to the issues presented in this case. First, it established the Great Sioux Reservation, a tract of land bounded on the east by the Missouri River, on the south by the northern border of the State of Nebraska, on the north by the forty-sixth parallel of north latitude, and on the west by the one [*375] hundred and fourth meridian of west longitude, 3 in addition to certain reservations already existing east of the Missouri. The United States "solemnly [agreed]" that no unauthorized persons "shall ever be [***851] permitted to pass over, settle upon, or reside in [this] territory." Ibid.
Second, the [****10] United States permitted members of the Sioux tribes to select lands within the reservation for cultivation. Id., at 637. In order to assist the Sioux in becoming civilized farmers, the Government promised to provide them with the necessary services and materials, and with subsistence rations for four years. Id., at 639. 4
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448 U.S. 371 *; 100 S. Ct. 2716 **; 65 L. Ed. 2d 844 ***; 1980 U.S. LEXIS 147 ****
UNITED STATES v. SIOUX NATION OF INDIANS ET AL.
Prior History: [****1] CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF CLAIMS.
Disposition: 220 Ct. Cl. 442, 601 F.2d 1157, affirmed.
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