What is Standing Rock?

By: Madeleine Sabin

Posted on November 4, 2016 at 11:18am PDT

     Everyone has seen all the “check-ins” on Facebook, “so and so at Standing Rock, ND,” and may know the basics about what’s happening. But what is Standing Rock? Standing Rock is a Reservation originally part of the Great Sioux Reservation. Currently, Standing Rock is a very small portion of Southern North Dakota and Northern South Dakota. The Reservation originally used to be all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River. As withmany Indian Reservations, Congress drastically reduced over time the amount of land the indigenous peoplecould live on.

     The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe operates under a constitution approved on April 24, 1959.

     The tribe reports, “ …  Congress unilaterally passed the Act of February 28, 1877 (19 stat. 254), removing the Sacred Black Hills from the Great Sioux Reservation.  The United States never obtained the consent of three-fourths of the Sioux, as required in Article 12 of the 1868 Treaty. The U.S. Supreme Court concluded that "A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history." United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, 448 U.S. 371, 388 (1980).” (Standing Rock).

      The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe operates as its own sovereign nation. The reservation was again greatly reduced through yet another act in 1889, known as the Dawes Act, which opened up the doors to non-Indian residents.

     The Sioux people of Standing Rock are part of the Dakota and Lakota nations. The Dakota people include the languages of Ihanktonwana and Kunkpatina. Their primary food source is buffalo and they have a “woodland” lifestyle. “The Lakota, as the largest division of the Sioux, subdivided into the Ti Sakowin or Seven Tents and Lakota people of the Standing Rock Reservation included two of these subdivisions, the Hunkpapa which means "Campers at the Horn" in English and Sihasapa or "Blackfeet," (Standing Rock).