When the United States broke the Fort Laramie Treaty in 1877 by taking the Black Hills, litigation eventually found that the only relief for tribes was money. A 1980 judgment in the U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls, S.D. awarded the eight tribes $105 million. However, those tribes in the treaty have maintained for years that the land is sacred and not for sale. They have refused to accept the settlement.
The Oglalas, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Santee Sioux and Sioux Tribe of Fort Peck have been united in their stand against accepting the money. The tribes are located in South and North Dakota, Nebraska and Montana. Recently, however, the Sioux Tribe of Fort Peck in Montana announced it would like to see the money paid out to plaintiffs.
In 2007, a lawsuit to pay out the money began. The Fort Peck tribe joined the 8,000 plaintiffs, individual tribal members from various reservations, in the lawsuit that would like to see the money dispersed to individual tribal members. Douglas Kettering, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told the Argus Leader that the settlement amount, with interest, might be as much at $900 million. This is an extremely contentious issue for communities living at or below the poverty line. As some have pointed out, the courts do not have the authority to return the land.
Many in Indian Country, however, fear that dodging tribal governments by awarding money to individuals would seriously undercut the authority of these governm