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Canadian Sioux Sharing In U.S. Funds

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JUNE 1972      v03 n06 p13  
Canada's Sioux Indians received a "favourable hearing" when they met with a congressional sub-committee last week in Washington to advance their claims for a share in $12 million being distributed by the U.S. government to honour treaties signed in the first half of late 1800's.

Cy Standing, chairman of the Dakota Association of Canada, said that the Canadian delegation was "quite successful" and was able to clear up one of the last remaining doubts in the congressmen's minds when they received the support of the American Sioux for their claims at the hearing.

The $12,250,000 was awarded by the Indian Claims Commission in 1969 for land conceded by the Indians in treaties signed between 1808 and 1859. The U.S. Congress is now studying a bill that deals with the distribution of the money.

Mr. Standing said that logically, and in fairness, the Canadian Sioux are entitled to share in the settlement because at least part of the award belongs to descendants of the original signers and it is a conceded fact that the Canadians are such descendants, Mr. Standing said.

The Canadian Sioux comprise about 2,600 people and if included in the distribution would get about $533 each.

Both the U.S. Congress and Senate have bills dealing with distributions of the monies, Mr. Standing said. The Canadians made representation to a senate hearing about a year ago to have a clause excluding Canadians removed but failed, he said.

The congressional bill also contains a clause excluding the Canadians.

The Dakota Association has introduced two bills through a congressman, one for the congress and one for the senate which would enable the Canadians to share in the settlement.

A Washington based law firm was hired to represent the Canadian claims and several visits were made to the United States by the Dakota Association, Mr. Standing said.

The major objection of the congressmen was based on a report by the U.S. department of Indian affairs that stated that the U.S. Sioux objected to the Canadians sharing, he said.

At the hearings however, the chiefs representing two of the major U.S. groups testified that they would have no objection to the Canadians sharing.

They stipulated the Senate version of the distribution bill, however, which would not have diminished their groups' share.

Mr. Standing said the Canadian Sioux were pressing their claim because "we're interested in correcting the history."

"We know that the money isn't going to be much, it's the record we want straightened out."

The Sioux for the most part, came to Canada because they were starving, Mr. Standing said. The buffalo were gone in the U.S. and they moved north to hunt the elk and moose.

Having fought on the side of the British during the war of 1812, the Sioux expected consideration from the Canadian government, he said.

The Sioux also moved north to avoid involvement with the "Minnesota Uprising" in 1862, he said.

The four groups of Sioux called collectively the Mississippi Sioux, had ceded their land in Minnesota in treaties between 1808 and 1859.

In 1862, two of the Sioux groups, starving and denied credit by Indian agents, went on the rampage killing white settlers and laying waste to the countryside. It wasn't until 1868 that the uprising was quelled by the cavalry.

Moved North

It was during this period that the two other Sioux groups moved north to Canada, although as various sources indicate this had little to do with the uprising, Mr. Standing said.

A number of Sioux taking part in the uprising also fled to Canada. In 1863, because of the uprising, annuities ceded under the treaties were cancelled by Congress.

In 1909, Congress agreed to a roll for the purpose of distributing the back annuities. They excluded any Indian guilty of participation in the 1862 uprising, however, and apparently assumed that the Indians in Canada were all guilty, Mr. Standing said.

That assumption is historically wrong and the Canadians would like to see the record set straight, he said.