Wolf Point Herald

American Indian Heritage Week Celebrated At Wolf Point School District Schools

This week, Sept. 24-28, is being observed as American Indian Heritage Week at the Wolf Point School District with students and staff are celebrating the week with several fun events and in-class activities.
Students were encouraged to dress up. Monday was “Rock Your Mocs and Native Prints Gear.” Tuesday was “Best Beadwork and Braids.” Wednesday was “Wear Wolves Spirit Gear.” Thursday is “Rock Your Regalia/Ribbon Dress.”
Wednesday, Sept. 26, a “Walk A Mile In My Moccasins” was held starting at Wolf Point High School at 4:30 p.m. The walk will then proceed down Main Street to the Sherman Inn and back to the high school.
A pow-wow will be held at the Wadopana Celebration grounds Thursday, Sept. 27, from 1 to 3 p.m. Families are encouraged to attend to participate in contests, games and fun. All dancers are welcome and the first two drums will be paid. Lunch will also be provided.
Wolf Point School District students will be released at noon Thursday so they can attend the pow-wow with their families.
Fort Peck Tribes History
The Fort Peck Reservation is home to two separate American Indian nations, each composed of numerous bands and divisions, according to the Fort Peck Tribes’ website. The Sioux divisions of Sisseton, Wahpetons, the Yanktonais and the Teton Hunkpapa are all represented. The Assiniboine bands of Canoe Paddler and Red Bottom are represented.
The new Fort Peck Indian Agency was established in 1871 to serve the Assiniboine and Sioux Indians. The agency was located within the old stockade of Fort Peck, purchased from traders Durfee and Peck.
In 1878, the Fort Peck Agency was relocated to its present day location in Poplar because the original agency was located on a flood plain, suffering floods each spring.
Attempts by the U.S. government to take the Black Hills and bind the Sioux to agencies along the Missouri in the 1860s resulted in warfare, reopening the issues that had been central to the Great Sioux War (1866-68). As part of the Sioux agreed to come in to agencies, part chose to resist. Army efforts to bring in the other Sioux (characterized as “hostiles”) led to battles in the Rosebud country, and culminated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.
As the victors dispersed, Sitting Bull led followers north into the Red Water country, where contact with the Sioux of Fort Peck Agency kept the Hunkpapas and assorted Tetons supplied. When military pressure increased, Sitting Bull led most of his followers into Canada in 1877. The military presence increased in an effort to induce Sitting Bull to surrender.
Camp Poplar (located at Fort Peck Agency) was established in 1880. Finally, without supplies and barely tolerated by Indians in the area of present day southern Saskatchewan, Sitting Bull came in to surrender at Fort Buford on July 19, 1881. Some of his Hunkpapas intermarried with others at Fort Peck and resided in the Chelsea community.
The early 1880s brought many changes and much suffering. By 1881, all the buffalo were gone from the region. By 1883-84, over 300 Assiniboines died of starvation at the Wolf Point sub-agency when medical attention and food were in short supply. Rations were not sufficient for needs, and suffering reservation-wide was exacerbated by particularly severe winters. The early reservation traumas were complicated by frequent changes in agents, few improvements in services and a difficult existence for the agency’s tribes.
Educational history on the reservation includes a government boarding school program which was begun in 1877 and finally discontinued in the 1920s. Missionary schools were run periodically by the Mormons and Presbyterians in the first decades of the 20th century, but with minimal success.
The reservation is 110 miles long and 40 miles wide, encompassing 2,093,318 acres (approximately 3,200 square miles). Of this, approximately 378,000 acres are tribally owned and 548,000 acres are individually allotted Indian lands. The total of Indian owned lands is about 926,000 acres. There are an estimated 10,000 enrolled tribal members, of whom approximately 6,000 reside on or near the reservation. The Fort Peck Tribes adopted their first written constitution in 1927. The tribes voted to reject a new constitution under the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934. The original constitution was amended in 1952 and completely rewritten and adopted in 1960. (Publisher’s Note: The source for the tribal history portion of this article is the Fort Peck Tribes’ website, www.fortpecktribes.org.)

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