May 20th in South Dakota "Indian" History

17 May 2021

Here are stories about “Indians” that were printed on the front pages of South Dakota newspapers on the 20th of May, every twentieth year from 1881 to 2001.

Friday, May 20, 1881. Weekly Pioneer-Times (Deadwood). “The state of feeling on the frontier, relative to Indian matters, says the Pioneer-Press, is not as quiescent as was hoped. It is feared by some that there will be trouble at Fort Buford—not, of course, through actual hostilities there, for Indians don’t attack posts, but in keeping the surrendered hostiles from joining Sitting Bull. The Indian in winter, when plains are snow-clad and food sadly scarce, is a very different creature from the warrior of the gentle springtime, when grass is sprouting and peregrination possible and pleasant. Additional troops have been ordered to Buford, however, two companies of cavalry being among the number, and the fears expressed may have but faintest foundation in fact. Manufactured Indian scares are not, unfortunately, unknown on the plains, and officers of the army, with whom the writer has conversed, while recognizing the uncertainty attaching to all Indian matters, do not seem to attach much importance to the rumors mentioned.”

Monday, May 20, 1901. Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls). “Chamberlain, May 20.—Chamberlain is once more free from smallpox. Only three cases were reported, all of which were promptly quarantined, and it is believed the disease is stamped out in this immediate neighborhood. It has secured a foothold among the Indians, among whom the per cent of fatalities appears to be nearly one-half. It is a peculiar fact that the disease is especially hard on Indians.”

Friday, May 20, 1921. Rapid City Journal (Rapid City). “White River, May 18—The Sioux Indian is always ready to meet at a council to talk over matters of interest, and a council has been called at a point near Wood on the Rosebud reservation for June 2, 3 and 4, to discuss the rights of the Sioux in regard to their claim of payment for the Black Hills. They expect representatives of the New York law firm they have employed to push with them. As one of the bases for their valuation they place on that section they claim that since the Black Hills were opened to settlement the gold taken out of that country amounts in $225,000,000.”

Tuesday, May 20, 1941. No South Dakota newspaper carried a front page story about American Indians.

Saturday, May 20, 1961. Again, there were no front page stories in South Dakota newspapers about American Indians.

Wednesday, May 20, 1981. Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls). “Rapid City,  S.D. (AP) –The Bureau of Indian Affairs police are driving first class these days. They have a sleek, copper-brown 1974 Jaguar worth an estimated $8,000.

“The English car, sporting U.S. government license plates, was noticed in Rapid City Monday when it stopped at an import dealer for a repair estimate.

“Pennington County Sheriff Mel Larson thought it was so unusual to see the flashy sports car in rural South Dakota; he stopped it and questioned the mechanic taking it for a test drive.

“The car, it turns out, was used in the Aberdeen area and on Indian reservations for undercover drug investigations, says Loren Farmer, assistant director of administration for the BIA in Aberdeen.

“Farmer said the car was seized in a drug raid in the Nashville area, and the BIA thought it would be an effective vehicle for undercover work.

“He said the government plates would be changed in Rapid City before the car was sent to Aberdeen.

“He admitted he first thought a Jaguar in the Aberdeen area or on the reservation would be conspicuous but he said he was convinced it would be effective.

“Walt Plumage, head of the BIA law enforcement, said there were plenty of wealthy, white people who deal in drugs in the area and the “Jag” would fit in.

“However, Don Licht, director of state Division of Criminal Investigation, laughed when he heard the BIA was going to use the car for undercover work.

“‘Of course, a Jaguar in South Dakota anywhere kind of stands out,’ Licht said.

“Farmer said the federal Drug Enforcement Administration gave the car to the BIA for its undercover work.

“Farmer said the car was hauled 600 miles out of the way to Rapid City because it was part of a caravan of cars from Nashville.

“Farmer was not happy that a Rapid City newspaper planned to write a story about the car.

“‘Rest assured, if those people (investigators) are in jeopardy, I’ll come after you,’ he said. ‘If someone gets killed, the blood will be on your hands.’”

Sunday, May 20, 2001. Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls). A front page feature story that continued onto Page 12 covered the death of a 37-year-old man in Rosebud Reservation who allegedly was beaten to death by his nephew and another man.

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