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In the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory, significant deposits of gold were first discovered and extracted during the 1870s. The sudden mass settlement by prospectors necessitated federal, territorial, and local political responses regarding land claims and the Sioux, whose ownership of the gold fields had been assured by treaty. U.S. civil and military authorities and Native American leaders devised, enacted, and attempted to enforce legal agreements related to gold mining in the Black Hills.

Prior to the gold rush of the 1870s, explorers, fur traders, and Sioux had become aware that gold existed in the Black Hills. Sioux leaders worried that their lands, which they considered sacred, might be attractive to prospectors, especially miners familiar with previous gold rushes. The Sioux promoted secrecy, urging in ...

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