Land and Treaties

Native Americans lost most of their land through wars and through forced and broken treaties. Indian territories and reservations were established only to be overrun by white settlers. In Minnesota, the government’s failure to live up to the promised of the 1851 Treaty of Traverse des Sioux ultimately triggered the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862.


  • Indian Land Tenure Foundation: This website has a section dedicated to Land Issues that talks about important issues such as land loss, Indian sovereignty, and “checkerboarding.”
  • Why Treaties Matter: This website presents information on relationships that shaped some of the most transformative events in the history of the continent – the U.S. treaties with Dakota and Ojibwe people. (A joint project of the Minnesota Humanities Center, The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.)
  • Bdote Memory Map: This website discusses some of the most important sites in Dakota history from Dakota people’s perspective.
  • The Healing Place Collaborative: This is an organization grounding its approach to repairing community, River and relationship in the Dakota concept of “bdote.” This word means a confluence of waters (in this case, the Mississippi and Minnesota) but also confluence in general. We intend to encourage a confluence of interests among people who recognize that the River is important to creating a healthy community, and that a community-wide effort is needed to heal our River.



  • American Indians Confront Savage Anxieities (2014): In a land exchange, the U.S. Congress gave lands sacred to Native Americans in Arizona to a foreign company to mine for copper. Journalist Bill Moyers interviews law professor Robert Williams about how deals such as this one with Rio Tinto are a part of American Indian’s tragic history of dispossession. Williams is the author of Savage Anxieties: The Invention of Western Civilization.
  • Honor the Treaties: A 14-minute documentary about the work of  photojournalist Aaron Huey on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and his journey from journalism to activism.