Rocky Boy Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana

Thunder Butte Chippewa Reservation

This is a difficult subject to be dealt with but it must be dealt with. The origins of this South Dakota Chippewa Reservation are surrounded by a mist. Not because it doesen't exist but because of its obvious place in history. In 1906, a group of supposed Utes fled their Utah Reservation (the Uintah-Ouray Reservation) to relocate to one of the South Dakota Reservations. That is not the only information concerning the 1906 Ute Exodus. Another tells of how the Utes were going to some northern (the Northern Cheyenne Reservation of Montana) to join with other tribes who were to also meet there with them, to hold negotiations about losing their Reservations.

Early on the United States knew about not only the Ute Exodus but other Chippewa diasporas off of the Montana Chippewa Reservations, and the Chippewa's of South Dakota and Wyoming. The United States sent 100s of their soldiers from Fort Keogh, Montana, Fort Meade, South Dakota, Fort Robinson, Nebraska, and a fort in Wyoming to deal with the fleeing Indians. They captured them north of Gillette, Wyoming on October 22, 1906 between the Powder River and Tongue River, just south of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Negotiations were held for nearly two weeks. An unknown number of Chippewa's did manage to escape capture and continued their exodus up towards the Fort Peck Reservation. The United States sent Indian Agent Frank Churchill to hold negotiations with them including ogima Rocky Boy.

During the negotiations between November 2-4, 1906, the Anishinabek and the United States reached an agreement in which the Anishinabek who fled towards the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, would return to their South Dakota Reservation. That be the Cheyenne River-Standing Rock Reservation. A new 144 sq. mi. Chippewa Reservation within the Cheyenne River Reservation would be set aside. And the Chippewa's were to farm or ranch their land which we can accept. And, according to white historians, the Chippewa's were to allow their children to go to white operated schools which we know from the near war which nearly occurred in October of 1907, is a lie, or it was not a part of the treaty agreement.

After the Chippewa's settled down on their new South Dakota Reservation near Thunder Butte, a dispute erupted between Anishinabe ogimak (leaders) and the Indian Agent. It was over the Chippewa children attending white operated schools. Chippewa leaders told the whites they did not want their children attending white operated schools. They told the whites their children would die (lose their nationality) if they attended white operated schools. The Indian Agent in charge of the new Anishinabe Reservation, had no choice (he had instructions to force the Chippewa young ones to attend white operated schools) but to demand of the Anishinabe ogimak that they send their young ones to the white operated school. They refused and the Indian Agent called for soldiers to be sent to the Thunder Butte Chippewa Reservation.

A force of 50 armed white men from Forest City, South Dakota were the first to arrive but they were told to retreat from the Thunder Butte region because a large force of Anishinabe soldiers had set up defensive positions near the Moreau River. After the 50 armed white men left, nearly 1,000 white and black soldiers reached the new Chippewa Reservation. Their presence forced the Chippewa's to agree to let their young ones attend the white operated school. Historians claim afterwards some Utes (they were really Chippewa's) requested to go back to their Utah Reservation. The Chippewa's did not leave their new South Dakota Reservation. They stayed. Their fear that their young ones would die (lose their nationality) eventually occurred.

As for the Chippewa's who reached the Fort Peck Reservation region, they reached an agreement with Indian Agent Frank Churchill in 1908, to return to their homes in South Dakota. That be the Rosebud Reservation. The United States probably eradicated the Rosebud Reservation of South Dakota in either 1905 or 1907. They left nearly all of the Pine Ridge Reservation alone. They thought they could relocate those Chippewa's and Dakotas of the former Rosebud Reservation, who wanted to live in Indian communities, to the Pine Ridge Reservation. They alloted much land to the Chippewa's and Dakotas, then sold the remaining Rosebud Reservation land to the whites. The Chippewa allotments are located in Gregory County, Lyman County, and Tripp County, South Dakota.

The new agreement reached between the Anishinabek and the United States, included the Chippewa's returning to South Dakota and a new Reservation be set aside for them in Mellette County and Todd County. That is the present Rosebud Reservation. Chippewa ogimak knew they could not stop their young ones from attending white operated schools. They knew what occurred at the Thunder Butte Chippewa Reservation. Their fear that their young ones would die (lose their nationality) eventually occurred there.

This Thunder Butte Chippewa Reservation within another Reservation, is not the only one. In 1904, a new Chippewa Reservation was set aside within the Flathead Reservation. I'm not certain but it may be the Turtle Lake Chippewa Reservation. Anishinabe ogimak ratified the agreement but the United States refused to ratify the agreement. In 1909, a new Chippewa Reservation was set aside within the Blackfeet Reservation near Babb. The Babb Chippewa Reservation. It was ratified by both the Anishinabek and the United States.

At the present time, the Thunder Butte Chippewa Reservation is probably the poorest location on the Cheyenne Reservation of South Dakota. There are at least two settlements. Iron Lightning and Thunder Butte. There is probably close to 100 housing units on the Reservation. The population is probably between 500 and 1,000. As the Chippewa parents feared so long ago, their children died (lost their nationality) after being forced to attend white operated schools. Below are two links to the settlements of Iron Lightning and Thunder Butte.

Iron Lightning Population is 250 or higher.
Thunder Butte Population is 250 or higher.

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