Published in the Native American Press / Ojibwe News
September 27, 2002

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Enrollment Problems and the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux Identity

Editor’s note: Ever since the Minnesota Sioux War of 1862, the Mdewakanton Sioux people of Minnesota have had identity problems. Since 1969, the Mdewakanton community has also had enrollment problems.

Press/ON recently received a copy of a letter sent to former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs Kevin Gover from Barbara Feezer Buttes, a Mdewakanton descendant, dated March 6, 2000. The letter addressed enrollment and identity problems of the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux of Prior Lake. According to Ms. Buttes, neither Gover nor anyone else from the Department of the Interior or the Bureau of Indian Affairs ever responded to her letter. Ms. Buttes told Press/ON that shortly after Gover received the letter, he resigned from the Department and went to work for the law firm of Leonard, Street and Deinert, the firm that represents the current tribal government of the Mdewakanton Shakopee Sioux Community.

The letter has also been sent to U.S. House Committee on Resources and the U.S. Justice Department.

Because of its meticulous research going back to the organic documents founding the Minnesota Dakota communities, in-depth documentation and analysis, and historical importance to the Minnesota Sioux/Dakota community and the issues it covers, Press/ON decided to reprint the letter in its entirety.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Enrollment Problems and the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux Identity

Mr. Kevin Gover, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs
United States Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary
1849 C Street NW, MS 4140-MIB
Washington, DC 20240
Subject: The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Enrollment Problems and the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux Identity
Dear Mr. Gover:

         I write to you as a professional anthropologist who has for decades observed and studied the ongoing, corrupt and illegal situation in Prior Lake, Minnesota. For your information, I enclosed a copy of the American Anthropological Association Code of Ethics, to which I am professionally bound as a researcher. As you know, the compelling political situation involving the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux in Prior Lake likely represents the most momentous set of issues facing modern American Indians. In my April 26, 1999, letter to you, I outlined some of the fundamental problems at Prior Lake and I stated my overall bias with regard to the issues.

         In the legal, federal documents, an already complex history of Mdewakanton Sioux political identity grew more complicated with the events that occurred after the 1862 Minnesota Sioux War. The federal government helped Minnesotans exile most Mdewakanton people from the State in 1863. The exiles eventually became part of a collective political entity known as the Santee Sioux of Nebraska. The Mdewakanton people who remained in Minnesota after the 1862 War were redefined during the 1880s by a series of Congressional Acts. The latter group of Mdewakanton people became the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux. In 1886, the federal government conducted a census of the Mdewakanton Sioux and then, a separate census of the Santee Sioux. The Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux and the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska are two distinctly separate political entities. They have two distinctly separate histories. Federal agents who use “Santee” as a synonym for “Mdewakanton” have added further confusion to the current situation at Prior Lake.

         Here, I closely examine two of the principle reasons why problems have escalated at Prior Lake. First, federal agents ignored their fiduciary responsibilities to protect Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux land and rights, when they sponsored unqualified individuals, who illegally established an illegitimate government-to-government relationship with the United States on Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux land. Secondly, by favoring vague and false assumptions in making decisions crucial to the integrity of their trust responsibilities, federal agents have ignored the legal, political history of the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux vis-à-vis the United States government.

         Mr. Gover, you now must make a critical determination with your final decision on Docket No. D95-182. The information here unquestionably shows that the Mdewakanton Sioux and the Santee Sioux are distinct and separate political entities and that the Department has perpetuated unnecessary confusion about Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux identity. Your final decision must be based upon an assessment of accurate records regarding the relationship between the United States and the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux. Federal agents must withdraw recognition from the illegitimate sovereign that now claims Mdewakanton land, rights, and identity at Prior Lake.

         Since the beginning, an obvious and thorough lack of legitimacy has plagued the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC). That illegitimacy has robbed legitimate Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux people of their rights, their land, and even their name. According to Bureau and Department records, the US Title lands that the SMSC initially used to develop their current operations were, at the time, restricted to the use of legally identifiable Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux. In a July 24, 1950, Memorandum for the Record, Minneapolis Area Land Officer, Rex H. Barnes wrote,

In view of the provisions of the Acts of Congress cited above [July 29, 1888; March 2, 1889; and August 19, 1890], [Prior Lake] lands may be assigned only to members of the Mdewakanton Band of Sioux Indians residing in Minnesota, and such assignee must have been a resident of Minnesota on May 20, 1886, or be a legal descentant [sic] of such resident Indian.[i]

The Congressionally mandated restrictions on the Prior Lake Mdewakanton lands (1886 lands) obviously placed the trust responsibility for that land with the Bureau and the Department.

         The Bureau and the Department violated that trust responsibility in 1964, when they issued a Prior Lake land assignment to the late Norman M. Crooks.[ii] To this day, no reliable, legal verification exists, which connects Norman M. Crooks to the Minnesota Mdewakanton before 1969. He could produce no credible record of his identity and, unlike Mdewakanton people in his age group; he had no legal birth record. Crooks was never proven eligible to live on 1886 lands. The only document Crooks presented was a dubious Winnebago Agency 1940 Census Certificate. That certificate makes no mention of “Norman Crooks” having Mdewakanton Sioux blood. In fact, that census certificate 1) identifies Crooks’s mother as Ellen F. Crooks and 2) shows no blood degree for her; 3) indicates father “not given”; and suspiciously 4) shows “Norman Crooks” as 4/4 degree Santee Sioux.[iii] The obvious inconsistency on this record remains in the foreground of a discussion on policy and procedure for establishing blood quantum for the purposes of determining tribal membership because no reliable documentation exists that conclusively identifies Norman (Melvin) Crooks as possessing any degree of Indian blood. Nevertheless, March 14, 1969, Minneapolis Field Solicitor Daniel S. Boos wrote a letter to the Area Director indicating that Crooks could use the provisions in the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act to organize the SMSC on 1886 lands.[iv]

         August 18, 1969, Superintendent Paul A. Krause submitted to the Minneapolis Area Director a proposed constitution with a census roll of people living on the 1886 lands. Of the people listed, only one childless elder had documents tracing her lineal descendancy from a Mdewakanton ancestor living in Minnesota on May 20, 1886. Both of her parents, as well as her paternal grandfather were documented as residing in Minnesota on May 20, 1886. Living on land originally assigned to her grandfather and reassigned to her father in 1904, she represented the only family that had continuously occupied an original 1886 land assignment. Neither the Bureau nor the Department requested proof of hers or anyone else’s Mdewakanton descendancy. Federal agents flagrantly ignored their congressionally mandated responsibilities to verify that the people met the necessary qualifications to live on 1886 lands. In doing so, the Bureau and the Department assisted a group of impostors in divesting legitimate Minnesota Mdewakanton people of their land and rights.

         Superintendent Krause recommended that the “constitution proposal be approved as it is presented and the Secretary call a special election of the Prior Lake residents for the purpose of adopting the constitution.”[v] He mailed constitutional election notices only to the people on the census roll, which they had generated for themselves. Neither Krause nor any other federal agent conducted an official census for the SMSC constitutional election held on November 4, 1969. The Assistant Secretary of the Interior approved it on November 28, 1969. Since that time, the federal government has carried on a bogus government-to-government relationship with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

         The SMSC has used the name and federally recognized status of the Minnesota Mdewakanton to establish their own government on 1886 lands. A passing glance at the available documentation of the 1969 SMSC constitutional organization clearly shows that official policy and procedure were repeatedly ignored during the process. Today, the documents unquestionably reveal that, of the individuals who voted to adopt the 1969 SMSC constitution, only two met the SMSC constitutional requirements for membership.[vi] At least two (2) of the people who voted to adopt that constitution were then enrolled members of another tribe.[vii] Another five (5) of the individuals who voted in that constitutional election are to this day unable to establish any relationship with the Minnesota Mdewakanton before 1969.[viii] Almost all of the 1969 voters are now deceased. Their legacy of fraud continues through their children and grandchildren, who also cannot meet the SMSC constitutional membership requirements. Unable to document their own legitimacy with verifiable proof of their blood quanta and lineal descendancies, they have circumvented their meaningless constitution by enrolling each other with “recognition tests” and illegal adoption ordinances.[ix] Since these people totally control the “government” and SMSC voting membership, they now decide who can participate in SMSC affairs.

         I know that the Bureau and the Department both possess definite knowledge of the parody of membership at Prior Lake because I have often brought it to the attention of the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary, the Area Director, and numerous other federal officials. In most instances, those officials have indicated they know about the SMSC membership problem. They have also indicated that they are constrained from doing anything to correct the situation because the Department has made a commitment to staying out of “intratribal affairs,” which includes a tribe making its own membership determinations. Such a response to criminal violations of federal law is nonsense—the Bureau and the Department, ultimately the Secretary, November 28, 1969, made the initial determination of this “tribe’s” membership, when he approved the SMSC constitution and census roll.

         Properly calculating the blood quantum with records of lineal descendancy for each individual who participates in tribal affairs is essential to the unique government-to-government relationship between federally recognized Indian tribes or communities and the federal government. In each situation, those blood quanta and records of lineal descendancy must reconcile with the tribe’s own constitution. In 1969, for the Minnesota Mdewakanton, blood degree and lineal descendancy additionally were paramount in determining eligibility for land assignments. The Department and the Bureau clearly hold responsibility for the membership and land problems that the bogus SMSC “tribal” government has created. Soon after its organization, some federal agencies properly began to question the SMSC’s legitimacy.

         A memorandum dated August 17, 1971, from William A. Gurshuny, Acting Associate Solicitor, Indian Affairs, Washington, DC, addressed to the Field Solicitor, Twin Cities, Minnesota, enumerates important reasons for positively identifying as legitimate Mdewakanton the individuals, who participate in SMSC tribal affairs. Apparently, the Solicitor’s Office had received “various memoranda…in June and July [1971] concerning the membership and land problems of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota.”[x] The Associate Solicitor writes,

…the only lands available for assignment at Shakopee [Prior Lake] now are lands purchased under the authority of the Act of June 29, 1888…the Act of March 2, 1889…and the Act of August 28, 1890…all of which appropriated funds for…“Indians in Minnesota heretofore belonging to the Mdewakanton band of Sioux Indians, who have resided in said State since the twentieth day of May, eighteen hundred and eighty-six…”[xi]

Gurshuny clearly states, “Thus, only descendants of Mdewakantons [sic] who resided in Minnesota on May 20, 1886, are eligible for land assignments at Shakopee.” Furthermore, he writes,

The question [of lineal descendancy] is additionally important because…[u]nder Article II, Section 1(C) of the Shakopee Constitution “all descendants of at least one-fourth * * * degree Mdewakanton Sioux Indian blood who can trace their * * * blood to the Mdewakanton Sioux Indians who resided in Minnesota on May 20, 1886” are eligible for membership provided they are not enrolled in another tribe. [xii]

The SMSC constitution required members to comply with the regulations governing 1886 lands. Associate Solicitor Gershuny minces no words in reiterating the importance of confirming the lineal descendancy for any one occupying Mdewakanton land:

[If] a particular lessee cannot verify his ancestry, he would have no claim to occupy the land. The purported conveyance of an interest to such a person [through a lease] cannot be the basis for thwarting the intent of Congress as contained in the Acts of 1888, 1889, and 1890…Any person in possession of land under an assignment or residential lease who cannot verify his ancestry has no right to continued possession of the property. [xiii]

Gershuny’s memorandum is stamped received by the Field Solicitor, Minneapolis, August 19, 1971. In response, Field Solicitor Elmer T. Nitzschke advised the Area Director Raymond P. Lightfoot to “proceed as rapidly as possible with the verification of eligibility of all persons [living on 1886 lands].”[xiv] For over a decade, despite repeated reminders and directives from Washington, DC, the Minneapolis Area Office never revoked land assignments and continued to sponsor the masquerade at Prior Lake. Although it may appear that the Washington officials tried to exercise their fiduciary responsibilities to protect Mdewakanton land and rights, their failure to force the Area Office into compliance with federal law enabled the SMSC to continue its masquerade. With full knowledge that the SMSC operated on 1886 lands without the mandatory proof of eligibility to do so, federal agents did nothing. They had a fiduciary responsibility to protect those trust assets for Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux.

         Federal agents have contributed confusing, conflicting accounts of the membership and land problems at Prior Lake in order to shift the focus off of their failure to carry out their fiduciary responsibilities. The federal government has a political history with the Mdewakanton Dakota Sioux, which dates back to the early 1800s. Yet, federal officials have ignored that history and have instead relied upon incredulous historical narratives amassed by the SMSC since 1969 or upon scholarly accounts that are little more than convenient, often contrived, thumbnail sketches of the long-standing political relationship between the Mdewakanton and the United States. In a letter dated February 13, 1986, the Director of the Office of Indian Services in Washington, DC, Hazel E. Elbert referred to information that she apparently found in the Handbook of American Indians to answer then SMSC Chair Susan Totenhagen’s questions concerning ongoing SMSC enrollment problems.[xv] Ms. Elbert wrote,

According to the “Handbook of American Indians,” the Santee Indians were the eastern division of the Dakota, comprising the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute, sometimes also the Sisseton and Wahpeton. [xvi]

In using the scholarly account of the Minnesota Sioux that she found in the Handbook of American Indians, Ms. Elbert demonstrated her willingness to ignore passages in the volume that seem obviously inconsistent with her moment’s agenda. For example, the Handbook of American Indians also mentions the use of the word Santee as a reference to the Wahpekutewan:

McGee (15th Rep. B. A. E., 160, 1897) includes only the Wahpekute, which has been the usual application of the term [Santee] since 1862, when the two tribes were gathered on the Santee res. in Knox co. [sic], Neb.[xvii]

After studying all the details of this passage, a reader could only speculate about an identity for “the two tribes…gathered” on the Santee reservation. The obvious fact remains clear: The Handbook offered Ms. Elbert a conflicting account for applying the term “Santee” to a political division of the Sioux nation, which she ignored.

         In an apparent effort to deflect attention from their irresponsible handling of Mdewakanton trust assets, Ms. Elbert and other federal officials have and continue to promote the erroneous and devastating idea that “Santee” is synonymous with “Mdewakanton.” The illegitimate SMSC has also embraced that incorrect notion, which is understandable because it serves their purposes. Ms. Elbert introduces several more interesting problems in her February 13, 1986, letter. Following her sentence that quotes the Handbook of American Indians, she writes,

We were advised by the Minneapolis Area staff that Rose Prescott was at one time enrolled with the Santee Tribe of Nebraska. In effect, she could be considered as a Mdewakanton-Wahpekute. [xviii]

In addition to being patently wrong about discrete tribal entities, Ms. Elbert acknowledges that the Area Office knew that Ms. Prescott belonged to the Santee Tribe of Nebraska. The record clearly shows that Rose (Ross) Prescott retained her membership in the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska in 1980, while she also served as the Enrollment Committee Chair and the Election Judge for the SMSC.[xix]

            The fact that Rose Ross Prescott does not, did not, and can not meet the definition of a Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux Indian is well documented by the federal records. In a letter dated May 12, 1982, the Minneapolis Area Acting Director addresses to the Minneapolis Sioux Field Representative information concerning Ms. Prescott’s history of ineligibility:

Our records indicate that Ms. Prescott has never been able to establish that she meets the tribes [sic] “written criteria for membership”. That is, she has never been able to find documentary proof that her ancestor’s [sic] were residing in Minnesota in 1886 as required by Article II, Section I (c) of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Constitution and Bylaws. She first made an attempt to establish this fact in connection with trying to establish eligibility for a land assignment at Shakopee before the so-called 1886 lands were taken into trust by the United States for the Community.[xx]

If, as the Area Director states in his 1982 letter, Ms. Prescott so clearly can not meet the SMSC membership requirements, how could she qualify in 1980 to serve as the SMSC Enrollment Committee Chair or as the SMSC Election Judge? Because she was ineligible to be an enrolled member of the SMSC and, anyway, was enrolled in another tribe, she had no right to participate in the SMSC governing affairs, even if the SMSC were a legitimate government.

         The Department and the Bureau can not view Ms. Prescott’s decisions on behalf of the SMSC as valid. During her “term as Election Judge,” the Secretary approved an amendment to the SMSC constitution. The fact that Ms. Prescott oversaw a portion of this process taints the entire outcome. The US Department of Justice should and must carefully consider the Bureau’s and the Interior Department’s roles in creating the bogus SMSC “tribal government” on Minnesota Mdewakanton land. Ms. Prescott can show no Mdewakanton blood lineage and neither can her siblings Edith Ross Crooks and Lanny Axel Ross, who were both listed on the 1969 SMSC census roll and voter list. The Ross family can not trace their descendancy from a Mdewakanton Sioux who lived in Minnesota on May 20, 1886, yet they have held 1886 land assignments and have fully participated in SMSC affairs since 1969—even holding elected office.[xxi]

         The illegitimacy of the SMSC is often highlighted in federal correspondence concerning the Ross family’s involvement in SMSC affairs. In her February 16, 1986 letter to Ms. Totenhagen about the Rose Prescott membership problem, Ms. Elbert wrote,

You [Ms. Totenhagen] did not indicate how she acquired membership in your community. If she is named on the 1969 census roll, there is no requirement in your constitution that she possess 1886-1889 Sioux blood. If she was adopted into membership by the general council and her adoption was approved by the Secretary, she is a lawful community member.[xxii]

Ms. Elbert correctly questioned Ms. Prescott’s entitlement to SMSC membership, but she incorrectly stated the rules that governed the situation. As a matter of federal law, anyone living on 1886 lands in 1969 must be able to prove lineal descendancy from a Mdewakanton ancestor living in Minnesota on May 20, 1886. As a matter of fact, individuals listed on the 1969 census roll were unqualified to live on 1886 lands and all but two of those individuals could not meet the membership requirements as established by the very constitution they had voted to adopt. The SMSC constitution requires members to prove ¼ Mdewakanton Sioux blood that can be traced to an ancestor living in Minnesota on May 20, 1886. Neither federal statutes restricting the use of 1886 lands nor the SMSC constitution mention the 1889 census of the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux, and even if the “general council” had voted to adopt Rose Prescott, that vote should and must be scrutinized in light of the bogus SMSC government.

         April 1, 1987, Ms. Elbert, who was by then Deputy to the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, Tribal Services, wrote to the Minneapolis Area Director regarding “Shakopee Mdewakanton enrollment.” She indicated that she was confused about the identity of the Mdewakanton Sioux. In her regrettable disdain for the legal, political history of the Mdewakanton, Ms. Elbert again illustrated her preference for the historical thumbnail sketches when she wrote,

The constitution refers to Mdewakanton Sioux and does not specifically define what the tribe had in mind when it used that terminology. Although one faction has a strict definition which would exclude all but Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux Indians, the historical definition is obviously different.[xxiii]

If Ms. Elbert had consulted the federal legal documents concerning the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux, she could have quickly discerned the meaning of “that terminology.” The political relationship between the United States and the Mdewakanton Sioux began when the two sovereign nations signed a legal treaty. Today, after a century of federal agents, such as Ms. Elbert commingling shoddy scholarly definitions with federal policy and procedures and congressional mandates, one can understandably seem confused about the political identity of the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux.

         Ms. Elbert continued in her confusion about the identity of the Minnesota Mdewakanton with another reference from the Handbook of American Indians:

According to the Handbook of American Indians, the Mdewakantons [sic] were one of the subtribes composing the Santee division of the Dakota, the other three being the Sisseton, Wahpeton and Wahpekute. [xxiv]

This paraphrase from the Handbook only slightly differs from the one Ms. Elbert offered Ms. Totenhagen the year before.

         In her confusion, the “scholarly” definition of the Mdewakanton Sioux likely seemed a convenient substitute for having to examine the legal documents that could have truthfully clarified terms for Ms. Elbert. She continued with another paraphrase of her Handbook,

During the “outbreak of 1862” some of the Mdewakanton groups took an active part and after their defeat by the United States, they and the Winnebago were removed to the Crow Creek Reservation and then the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute were transferred to the Santee Reservation in Nebraska.[xxv]

Ms. Elbert had access to a far more precise explanation of Mdewakanton warfare and the consequences of that warfare than she could expect to gain from the Handbook of American Indians. Federal legal documents clearly define the political history of the Dakota-speaking Sioux tribes both before and after the Minnesota Sioux war in 1862. The Dakota Sioux consisted of four distinct tribes: 1) the Mdewakantonwan, 2) the Wahpetonwan, 3) the Sisitonwan, and 4) the Wahpekutewan and these tribes individually signed several treaties with the United States between 1815 and 1858. Each treaty recognized the individual and distinct political sovereignty of the four (4) Dakota Sioux tribes who entered into government-to-government relationships with the United States. In no instance did the Santee represent the political interests of the Mdewakanton, nor did the Mdewakanton purport to represent Santee interests.

         Scholars have routinely ignored the obvious historical and political distinction between the Mdewakanton Sioux and the Santee Sioux. The 1862 Minnesota Sioux War marks a pivotal change in Sioux history. Its aftermath drastically altered political and social relationships among Sioux people. The failure of scholars to accurately interpret those changes has had particularly devastating effect on the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux. The documented history and identity of Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux after 1862 is fairly obscure in scholarly literature. Scholars have most often described the Dakota-speaking Sioux tribes collectively as either the Eastern Sioux or the Santee Sioux. Until now, scholars have placed little significance on particular tribal identities or their interrelationships. In the 1800s, the United States government considered them individual, sovereign nations and signed treaties with each tribe.

         The Handbook of American Indians (1975, c.1907), upon which Ms. Elbert frequently relies, characterizes the Mdewakanton as uninteresting:

The whites came into more intimate relation with this tribe [the Mdewakanton] than with any other of the Dakota group, but the history—which is not of general interest except in so far as it relates to the outbreak of 1862, in which some of them took an active part—is chiefly that of the different bands and not of the tribe as a whole.[xxvi]

By authoritatively suggesting that Mdewakanton history is inconsequential, this passage serves to justify the author’s frequent use of phrases such as, “appears to be, is possible that, is probable that, and is apparently” in his erstwhile flawed discussion on the history and identity of the Mdewakanton Sioux.[xxvii] Ms. Elbert chose to rely on this sort of “scholarship” to make critical decisions concerning Minnesota Mdewakanton rights and heritage. She had available every federal document to ensure that the Department could carry out its fiduciary responsibilities and she rejected them for a convenient thumbnail sketch as the basis for her understanding of the situation at Prior Lake.

         Federal agents have used other scholarly narratives to expand their knowledge of the Minnesota Mdewakanton. One is the promisingly titled History of the Santee Sioux (1967), by Minnesota historian Roy W. Meyer. He begins his narrative with a stock explanation of his title characters. This explanation provides an example of sloppy scholarship in the first paragraph, which tells of “French explorers Pierre Esprit Radisson and Médard Chouart, Sieur des Groseilliers” meeting “chiefs and braves of the Santee Sioux” in the early spring of 1660.[xxviii] The two French explorers at that meeting each had two names. Médard Chouart was more commonly known as Sieur des Groseilliers. Pierre d’Esprit was also known as Sieur de Radisson.[xxix] Meyer blends Radisson’s two names to get Pierre Esprit Radisson. He also blends elements of the chronicle provided by the French explorers. Groseilliers recorded having met “30 yong men of ye nation of the beefe” at or near a place in Minnesota called Knife Lake.[xxx] Meyer’s imaginative narration of the French explorers’ meeting asks the reader to believe that they recorded the existence of a Santee Sioux tribe in 1660. Isanti (Ē·są´tē) means “Knife Lodge” in the Sioux language.

         In the 1830s, Congress recognized in two (2) treaties a group called the Santee Sioux. In the July 15, 1830 and the October 15, 1836 treaties, the United States dealt with the Santee as an entity separate from the Dakota-speaking Mdewakanton, Sisseton, Wahpeton, and Wahpekute. The Santee Sioux Tribe mentioned in the 1830s treaties clearly distinguishes itself from the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska, which only came into existence thirty years after the treaties were signed. In its entirety, the July 15, 1830, treaty Proclamation reads:

Articles of a treaty made and concluded by William Clark Superintendent of Indian Affairs and Willoughby Morgan, Col. Of the United States 1st Regt. Infantry, Commissioners on behalf of the United States on the one part, and the undersigned Deputations of the Confederated Tribes of the Sacs and Foxes; the Medawah-kanton, Wahpacoota, Wahpeton and Sissetong Bands or Tribes of Sioux; the Omahas, Ioways, Ottoes and Missourias on the other part.[xxxi]

The Proclamation clearly identifies the parties negotiating the treaty, which was signed July 15, 1830, and the Santee Sioux Tribe was absent. However, this treaty also included specific provisions regarding the Yankton Sioux and the Santee Sioux.[xxxii] Article III of that 1830 treaty recognizes land cessions by “The Medawah-Kanton, Wah-pa-coota, Wahpeton and Sisseton Bands of the Sioux” and, elsewhere in the treaty, jointly gives the “Yancton [sic] and Santie [sic] Bands” consideration. Article VI of that 1830 treaty shows,

The Yanckton [sic] and Santie [sic] Bands of the Sioux not being fully represented, it is agreed, that if they shall sign this Treaty, they shall be considered as parties thereto, and bound by all its stipulations.

Meyer acknowledges that “the signers of the treaty included twenty-six Mdewakantons [sic], nine Wahpekutes [sic], and two Sissetons [sic]” and that “no Wahpetons [sic] signed.” [xxxiii] Weakening Meyer’s assertion, the treaty identifies Mazamani as having signed the 1830 treaty. His name appears under the Wahpekutewan on that treaty, but Mazamani is otherwise widely regarded as a Wahpetonwan chief. According to the treaty, the Santee Sioux were not even present to negotiate. Article X of the treaty states,

The Omahas, Ioways, and Ottoes, for themselves, and in behalf of the Yancton [sic] and Santie [sic] Bands of Sioux, having earnestly requested that they might be permitted to make some provision for their half-breeds…

The Yankton and Santee agreed to the July 15 treaty three months later, on October 13,1830. Since no historical records clarify the identity of this Santee tribe and no traditional narratives offer an explanation for an eighth political division of the Sioux nation, it remains unclear as to exactly who the sovereign documented on the 1830 treaty as the Santee represented. In comparing the names of the signers on that treaty with names on other federal records, it seems likely, even probable, that the Ihanktonai Sioux represented the Santee at that treaty council.

         Negotiated six (6) years later, a second treaty with the Yankton and the Santee makes no reference to the Mdewakanton or the other three tribes. Dated October 15, 1836, this land cession treaty mentions only the Yankton and Santee. The records indicate that the Mdewakanton and others entered into separate treaties to cede the same land on September 10 and November 30, 1836. While the sovereign identified as the Santee remains vague, for the purposes of negotiating the 1830 and 1836 treaties, the federal government clearly recognized this group called the Santee as a sovereign entity, distinctly separate from the Mdewakanton.

         In his August 4, 1841, letter to Secretary of War John Bell, treaty commissioner James Duane Doty writes regarding the “Articles of a Treaty made” between the United States and “the Seeseeahto, Wofpato and Wofpakoota Bands of the Dakota (Sioux) nation of Indians.”[xxxiv] Doty states,

The nation is divided into five bands which occupy distinct portions of the territory, as much so as though they were independent tribes. Their names are Mindawaukanto, Wofpakooto, Wofpato, Seeseeahto & Eyankto [Ihanktonwan or Yankton]. I do not find that the bands ever meet in general council as a nation, though they are regarded as one nation in all the wars which are prosecuted with them.[xxxv]

Doty includes the Nakota-speaking Inhanktonwan in his description of the Dakota Sioux and further confuses the issues with his use of the word “bands” to describe the political units of the Sioux nation, yet he describes these units as distinctly separate. His letter included no mention of a Santee group.

         Following the 1862 war, the Mdewakanton political position altered as a result of the federal government’s abrogation of all treaties previously signed with the Minnesota Sioux. Minnesotans demanded an Indian-free state and, with the help of the United States Army, they exiled the Dakota people who had survived the war’s aftermath. Most of the exiles were eventually sent to Nebraska, where they became known as the Santee Sioux. At this time, both scholars and bureaucrats begin to routinely misapply the word “Santee” in their references to the Minnesota Sioux people. By 1868, the Santee Sioux of Nebraska had signed a treaty with the United States. In doing so, they had established their political identity as the Santee Sioux Tribe. While an unknown number of Santee Sioux clearly held biological ties to the Minnesota Mdewakanton, equally important is that fact that an unknown number of Santee were biologically unconnected to the Mdewakanton. The Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska also clearly differed from the Santee Sioux who had signed treaties with the United States in the 1830s. Coalescing with other tribes and collectively surviving as a single political unit, no federal census clarifies the former tribal affiliation of the remnants from several formerly sovereign political entities, which reconstituted as the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska.

         At the same time, there remained a small group of Dakota-speaking people who had escaped exile, hiding in their Minnesota homelands. Mostly Mdewakanton, these people had outwitted the bounty hunters, who received $200 from the state of Minnesota for each Sioux scalp they presented. The Mdewakanton refugees survived by staying out of sight from the non-Indian Minnesotans, constructing makeshift shelters along the creek banks, and eating whatever they could find. The Mdewakanton signed no treaties with the United States after the 1862 war. As far as their relationship with the federal government was concerned, they were totally without political identity. In the early 1880s, the presence of the refugees became apparent to non-Indian Minnesotans and, in 1884, Congress formally recognized them as the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux. After a period of twenty-two years, the Mdewakanton who had remained in Minnesota clearly differed from the Santee Sioux of Nebraska. The Santee had received government rations, lived on reservation land, and signed additional treaties with the United States.

         A census dated June 30, 1886, gives the names, relationships, sex, and ages of the Santee Sioux. Clearly delineating the political distinction between the Santee and the Mdewakanton, that same year, another census dated May 20, 1886, designates the individuals listed as the full-blood Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux. A second Mdewakanton census was completed in 1889 and includes the Mdewakanton who had returned to Minnesota, as well as any half bloods who had been left off the 1886 census. Nevertheless, the Congressional Acts in 1888, 1889, and 1890 stipulate that appropriations were to benefit those Mdewakanton Sioux who resided in Minnesota on May 20, 1886.

         After 1886, only the Mdewakanton who had remained in Minnesota could politically claim Mdewakanton identity. These people are the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux. Yet, Indian agents who base their opinions on careless scholarly narratives instead of the federal legal documents have helped destroy this community of people, who suffered beyond human understanding to maintain their identity as Mdewakanton Sioux. Federal agents have convinced themselves that the Mdewakanton and the Santee are one and the same people. To bolster their opinions, they quote flawed scholarly narratives. In the existing literature, characterizations of Sioux political identity depend upon whether scholarly renderings or legal and political documents have informed the narrative. For example, the scholarly Handbook of American Indians provides inaccurate, conflicting information on the identity of the Santee. Varying the spelling from Issati to Isanyati to Santee, the Handbook uses Santee as a gloss to provide patently false information about the Mdewakanton and other Dakota tribes:

The tribes forming this group joined under the collective name [Santee] in the following treaties with the United States: Prairie du Chien, Wis., July 15, 1830; St Louis, Mo., October 13, 1830; Bellevue, Neb., Oct. 15, 1836; Washington, D. C., Feb. 19, 1867; Fort Laramie, Wyo., Apr. 29, 1868.[xxxvi]

As previously noted, the July 15, 1830 treaty clearly delineates the distinctions between and among the Mdewakanton, Sisitonwan, Wahpetonwan, Wahpekutewan, and the Santee tribes of Sioux. In fact, as previously stated here, that treaty more closely links the Santee with the Yankton, rather than with the four tribes of Dakota-speaking people.

         The SMSC lineage and blood quantum determinations must be based upon the accurate history of dealings between the United States government and the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux. The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) created an additional reason for documenting the political legitimacy of the SMSC membership. The IGRA requires gaming tribes, such as the SMSC, to have an approved proceeds distribution list that coincides with the tribal membership roll. More than eleven years later, the majority of SMSC “members” still have no reliable documentation to prove their lineage as required by the SMSC constitution. Even though the IGRA also requires a valid membership roll with a corresponding proceeds distribution list to be approved by the Secretary of the Interior, federal agents refuse to fulfill their responsibilities to enforce the law.

Purportedly toward moving into compliance with the IGRA, in 1990, the SMSC hired genealogist John Schade to trace family histories and calculate Mdewakanton blood quantum for individuals to be included on a “tribal” roll and proceeds distribution list. In 1991, Mitchell Bush, BIA Enrollment Section, verified Schade’s findings. The federal courts have since used the Bush and Schade determinations in efforts to determine SMSC voter eligibility. While these documents provide useful tools and a better idea about blood quanta than the SMSC has had either before or since 1991, the data also contain numerous flawed assumptions and absolute inaccuracies. Even with the assumptions and other inaccurate details that would otherwise prove qualifications for some of the SMSC “members,” the Bush-Schade findings show that more than 75% of the purported SMSC membership could not meet the constitutional requirements for claiming that status in 1991. This fact has enormous consequences because genealogical rules are far less stringent than federal rules for determining blood quantum and family lineage.

Genealogical rules work well for creating a family coat-of-arms for clients to hang on a wall in the family room. Using those rules to decide issues crucial to tribal integrity, legitimate sovereignty and Congressionally monitored land assignments or proceeds distributions is disastrous. Such is the reason for the Department and the Bureau to have a well-defined set of rules for determining blood quantum. The Bureau has irresponsibly used genealogical documents collected and generated by a private contractor, who himself was hired by the illegal, fraudulent, and corrupt SMSC “tribal” government. In detail, federal rules outline the policy and procedures for making blood quantum determinations. By neglecting those rules governing their responsibilities for protecting Minnesota Mdewakanton rights, federal agents have sponsored a coup at Prior Lake.

To show how the Bush and Schade determinations distort the historical and political realities of the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux, the following analysis examines the Leonard Lewis Prescott genealogical findings. Crooks and Ross family members primarily comprise the SMSC. Former SMSC Chair Leonard Lewis Prescott and current SMSC Chair Stanley Richard Crooks are closely related because their mothers, Rose and Edith Ross are sisters. Therefore, they share the Ross lineage. In part, the findings discussed below were submitted, along with determinations from an opposing genealogist, in connection with the blood quantum determinations for ten (10) Crooks family members, who claim membership in the SMSC (Docket No. D95-182). The Office of Hearings and Appeals forwarded these determinations to the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs for a final decision. At this time, that decision is pending.

A purportedly duly enrolled voting member of the SMSC, Leonard is a son of Rose Blossom Ross Prescott and Herbert Prescott. Schade found Prescott’s paternal grandfather David Prescott to possess ¾ Mdewakanton Sioux blood. Since the records are consistent and even though David Prescott does not trace from the May 20, 1886 census, he can be traced to the 1889 Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux census. Therefore, we can legally assume that he possessed ¾ Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux blood. David Prescott married Margaret Cecelia Campbell.

·        Schade provides no solid reason for why he found Margaret Campbell to possess 7/16 Mdewakanton Sioux blood.

·        Margaret Campbell descends from Hypolite Campbell on her father’s side and from Gabriel Renville on her mother’s.

         As detailed in the following analysis, Margaret Cecelia Campbell possessed no Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux blood. Margaret Cecelia Campbell’s paternal grandfather Hypolite Campbell possessed no Mdewakanton Sioux blood. His name appears on no Mdewakanton census rolls, nor on any other census of Dakota-speaking people.

·        Despite the complete lack of documentation, Schade found Hypolite to possess ¼ degree Mdewakanton Sioux blood.

·        Bush found Hypolite to possess ½ Mdewakanton Sioux blood. In the absence of documentation, Bush reasons that Hypolite Campbell is the brother of Antoine Joseph Campbell and Bush reckons that Antoine’s name appears on the 1886 Santee Census. Since he considers Antoine Joseph Campbell’s “other Indian blood” to be Mdewakanton, Bush therefore attributes ½ degree Mdewakanton Sioux blood to his brother Hypolite. Bush neglects to mention the origin of Antoine’s “other Indian blood” or where he found Mdewakanton blood in this lineage. In fact, no tribal affiliation appears, but Antoine himself is mentioned in the historical records simply as a “1/2 breed interpreter.” Based upon the records Schade and Bush themselves used, Hypolite Campbell possessed no Mdewakanton blood. The mystery lies in why Schade and Bush would determine him to possess ¼ and ½ Mdewakanton Sioux blood.

         Based upon the information contained in the records the genealogists used, Hypolite Campbell was ¼ Wahpeton and ¼ Menominee. He was the son of Antoine Scott Campbell and Margaret Menager. Neither Antoine Scott Campbell nor Margaret Menager possessed Mdewakanton Sioux blood.

·        Again, despite the complete lack of documentation, Schade found Antoine Scott Campbell to possess ½ degree Mdewakanton Sioux blood and Bush determined Antoine Scott Campbell to possess ½ Wahpeton.

·        Contradicting himself with regard to Margaret Menager, Schade found her to possess ½ degree Menominee blood in the Leonard Lewis Prescott lineage. Elsewhere (in his genealogy of Melvin D. Campbell) Schade states, “Marguerite is ½ Menominee Indian but she was enrolled at Santee, Nebraska and we will use her blood as Mdewakanton.”

         Hypolite Campbell married Yugatewin, who also possessed no Mdewakanton Sioux blood. Yugatewin was 4/4 Sisseton Sioux.

·        Although she appears on no 1886 census, both Schade and Bush make the assumption that Yugatewin possessed 4/4 degree Mdewakanton Sioux blood. Bush admits that he has no record of her specific type of Sioux blood.

·        In the Cecelia Campbell Stay narrative (Through Dakota Eyes, 1988), Yugatewin is identified as a cousin of the Sisseton leader Standing Buffalo and the wife of Stay’s Uncle Hypolite Campbell.[xxxvii]

         Hypolite and Yugatewin had a son, Benjamin John Campbell, who was Margaret Cecelia Campbell’s father. Benjamin John Campbell possessed no Mdewakanton Sioux blood.

·        Although Benjamin John Campbell appears on all the Sisseton-Wahpeton census rolls from 1886 through 1904, Schade recognizes him as possessing 5/8 degree Mdewakanton Sioux blood. Bush found him to possess ¾ degree Mdewakanton blood. Only by making unsubstantiated assumptions could Schade or Bush determine that Benjamin John Campbell possessed any Mdewakanton blood.

         If assumptions must prevail, the more likely assumptions would be that Hypolite Campbell was ¼ Wahpeton and ¼ Menominee; that Yugatewin was 4/4 Sisseton-Wahpeton; and that Benjamin John Campbell was 5/8 Sisseton-Wahpeton and 1/8 Menominee. The glaring aspect of the Schade-Bush determinations is the fact that Margaret Campbell can document no Minnesota Mdewakanton blood in her paternal lineage.

The preceding discussion examined Leonard Lewis Prescott’s paternal grandmother Margaret Cecelia Campbell’s descendancy from her paternal grandfather Hypolite Campbell. The following discussion examines her descendancy from her maternal grandfather Gabriel Renville. Gabriel Renville was the son of Victor Renville, who was the brother of Joseph Renville, Sr. Gabriel Renville possessed 1/8 degree Mdewakanton Sioux blood.

·        In 1838, French explorer Joseph N. Nicollet recorded Victor Renville as the younger brother of Joseph Renville, Sr., who was the son of French Canadian Joseph Renville. According to Nicollet, Joseph Renville married a “metis of the Mdewakantonwans” in Canada.[xxxviii] By this we know that Joseph Renville, Sr. and his younger brother Victor Renville were ¼ Mdewakanton. [xxxix] Victor Renville married Winona Crawford, who was ½ Sisseton. Their son Gabriel Renville was 1/8 Mdewakanton Sioux.

·        Nevertheless, according to Bush and Schade, Gabrielle Renville was “½ Mdewakanton Sioux.” Their obviously flawed determination ignores the fact that this same Gabriel Renville appears as a signer on the 1867, 1872, and 1873 Sisseton-Wahpeton treaties with the United States. According to those treaties, Gabriel Renville was head chief of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux. Gabriel Renville was 1/8 Mdewakanton Sioux, but he obviously identified politically, culturally, and socially with the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux. He also can not be identified as possessing any Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux blood because his name does not appear on the May 20, 1886 census.

         Additionally supporting the fact that he possessed no Mdewakanton Sioux blood, Gabriel Renville was the half-brother of Susan Frenier Brown, daughter of Narcisse Frenier and Winona Crawford. Susan Frenier Brown is widely documented as having saved her own life and the lives of some non-Indians by using the Dakota language to identify herself as a Sisseton woman when hostile Sioux started to attack them during the 1862 war.[xl]

         Gabriel Renville’s third wife Sophia Witecawin was a full blood Sisseton-Wahpeton. Their daughter, Lydia Renville was the mother of Margaret Cecelia Campbell. Lydia Renville possessed no Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux blood.

·        Despite the fact that Lydia Renville’s name appears on the Sisseton-Wahpeton rolls from 1886 through 1907, both Bush and Schade found her to possess ¼ degree Mdewakanton and ½ Sisseton-Wahpeton. While the genealogical evidence shows that Lydia Renville was 1/16 Mdewakanton and 5/8 Sisseton-Wahpeton, she is identified on the 1886 Sisseton-Wahpeton census and not on the 1886 Minnesota Mdewakanton roll. Her name appears on no Mdewakanton census.

         Lydia Renville obviously considered herself Sisseton-Wahpeton. She married Benjamin John Campbell. Neither Lydia nor Benjamin John Campbell can be documented as possessing any degree of Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux blood. Together, they had Leonard Lewis Prescott’s paternal grandmother Margaret Cecelia Campbell.

·        Although the genealogical evidence shows Margaret Cecelia Campbell possessing 1/32 degree Mdewakanton Sioux blood, she is listed on the 1886 Sisseton-Wahpeton census and cannot be considered as possessing any Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux blood.

·        Margaret is 5/8 Sisseton-Wahpeton, 1/16 Menominee, and despite the fact that her name appears on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Rolls from 1886 through 1907, she is 1/32 Mdewakanton. Schade found her as possessing 7/16 Mdewakanton, ¼ Sisseton, and 1/16 Menominee. Bush shows her as ½ Mdewakanton and ¼ Sisseton-Wahpeton.

         David Prescott (3/4 Mdewakanton) and Margaret Campbell (1/32 Mdewakanton) are the parents of Herbert Prescott, the father of Leonard Lewis Prescott. Schade found Herbert Prescott to possess 19/32 Mdewakanton, 1/8 Sisseton-Wahpeton, and 1/32 Menominee. Bush found him to possess 5/8 Mdewakanton, 1/8 Sisseton-Wahpeton, and 1/32 Menominee. However, based on a critical assessment of the documents used by Schade and Bush, Herbert Prescott possesses 25/64 Mdewakanton, 5/16 Sisseton-Wahpeton, and 1/32 Menominee. Herbert Prescott married Rose Blossom Ross.

         Leonard Lewis Prescott possesses 25/128 Mdewakanton (including the 1/32 degree that genealogical evidence shows from his grandmother Margaret), 5/32 Sisseton-Wahpeton, and 1/64 Menominee from his paternal lineage. The following analysis examines his maternal lineage. Rose Blossom Ross possesses no Mdewakanton Sioux blood.

·        Without confusion and in detail, all of Rose Blossom Ross’s ancestors appear in the records as either Santee or Yankton, yet both Bush and Schade arbitrarily and erroneously count her Santee blood as Mdewakanton.

         As previously outlined here, after the 1862 Sioux war, Minnesotans exiled the Sioux and others to Crow Creek, South Dakota. Those removed included Mdewakanton, Wahpekutewan, and Winnebago, but no one knows for sure how many people from other tribes were also removed from Minnesota at that time. Three years later, the Mdewakanton and Wahpekutewan were transferred from Crow Creek to Niobrara, Nebraska. They formed the nucleus of today’s Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska. That tribe has since dealt with the United States government as a sovereign entity. They represent the Santee Sioux, not the Mdewakanton or Wahpekutewan. That Santee Sioux Tribe established a government-to-government relationship with the federal government when they signed a treaty in 1868. Despite the historical relationships they once had with the Minnesota Mdewakanton, their legal, political position is and has always been separate from the Minnesota Mdewakanton. When the government conducted one census for the Santee Sioux and a distinctly separate one for the Mdewakanton Sioux in the same year, they reiterated their already confirmed position that the Santee and the Mdewakanton are two entirely different and distinct entities.

·        Using the assumption that her Santee Sioux blood is the same as Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux blood, Bush and Schade found Rose Ross to possess 7/16 Mdewakanton and 1/8 Yankton. She possesses 7/16 degree Santee Sioux and 1/8 Yankton. No documents have ever shown her ancestors as Mdewakanton Sioux. Rose Blossom Ross possesses no Mdewakanton Sioux blood.

         Based on this analysis, Leonard Lewis Prescott possesses 25/128 Mdewakanton, 5/32 Sisseton-Wahpeton, 7/32 Santee, 1/16 Yankton, and 1/64 Menominee. If we subtract the non-Minnesota Mdewakanton 1/32 degree he received from his grandmother Margaret, Leonard would be 3/16 degree Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux, 1/16 short of ¼. Even with the 1/32 degree from Margaret, Leonard Lewis Prescott is 7/128 short of the ¼ degree Mdewakanton Sioux blood constitutionally required  for SMSC membership. He cannot meet the constitutional requirements to qualify as a voting member of the SMSC.

         The Prescott administration hired Schade to document lineal descent for SMSC members. Schade’s findings are based on the assumption that, like in the Yugatewin case, all unverifiable Indian blood can automatically convert to Mdewakanton blood. Such assumptions and other inaccuracies illegitimately qualified Leonard as an SMSC voting member. The Stanley Richard Crooks administration hired genealogist Paula Warren to refute Schade’s findings. Warren obviously attempted to limit the eligibility of the Prescotts and still find the Crookses eligible SMSC members. Schade and Warren, as well as Bush arbitrarily used Santee blood as Mdewakanton blood. As outlined above, Santee and Mdewakanton are distinctly separate political entities and must be treated as such in making determinations of lineal descendancy crucial to the legitimate government-to-government relationship between the SMSC and the United States government.

         Since Leonard and Stanley share the same maternal lineage, neither can claim Mdewakanton Sioux blood from his mother. If Norman Melvin Crooks is Stanley’s father, Stanley can claim no Mdewakanton blood from his father. Therefore, Stanley has no Mdewakanton blood. While Leonard has some Minnesota Mdewakanton blood from his father and can trace his lineal descendancy from May 20, 1886, he still cannot constitutionally qualify as a voting member of the SMSC.  

         Leonard Prescott has three (3) sisters and two (2) brothers, who claim duly “enrolled” SMSC membership. The Prescott siblings each have children, who are even less qualified than the parents; yet, they too claim “enrolled” status and vote in SMSC affairs. The Prescotts cannot meet the SMSC constitutional requirements for membership and neither can their cousins, who are related through their Ross lineage. Edith Ross’s children get no Mdewakanton blood from her and Norman Melvin Crooks also can prove no Mdewakanton blood. Nevertheless, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren claim to be duly “enrolled” SMSC members. Like his sisters Rose and Edith, Lanny Axel Ross definitely has no Mdewakanton blood and his former wife was Minnesota Chippewa, yet his children and grandchildren all claim SMSC voting membership.

         Blood quantum and lineal descendancy determinations should and must reconcile with the political history of the government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux. In the SMSC situation, Federal agents have based determinations on erroneous and otherwise flawed interpretations of Mdewakanton history produced by scholars and the equally flawed and erroneous blood quantum determinations provided by paid genealogists.

         Determinations for tribal membership and rights must be based upon reliable, verifiable documents that irrefutably determine blood quantum for individuals who participate in the government-to-government relationship between an Indian nation and the United States. The Department and the Bureau cannot rely upon unsubstantiated assumptions and falsehoods simply because those assumptions and falsehoods ostensibly fall within the rules applied by the American Genealogical Society. The Bureau is legally bound to specific, meticulously defined rules and regulations regarding blood quantum determinations. Since 1969, negligence on the part of the Department and the Bureau has both generated and compounded the SMSC enrollment problems. As things now stand, those federal agents have enabled impostors to thoroughly rob Mdewakanton people of their land, their rights, and their very name.


Very truly,

Barbara Feezor Buttes, Ph.D.

<>Anthropologist Consultant

Enclosures:    Chart comparing the Leonard Lewis Prescott genealogical findings
                     Chart of the Sioux Nation with details of language and political distinctions
                    AAA Code of Ethics
Attachment:  Footnotes from the body of the letter


[i] Rex H. Barnes, Area Land Officer, 214 Federal Office Building, Minneapolis 1, Minnesota. (1950, July 24). MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD: Lands-Prior Lake.

[ii] Acting Director, United States Department of the Interior. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Minneapolis Area Office. (1990, September 14). Response to Letter Concerning the Cancellation of the Norman Crooks Land Assignment.

[iii] United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Winnebago Agency, Winnebago, Nebraska. (1969, May 6) Census Certificate for Norman Crooks listed on the Official Santee Sioux Tribal Census Roll dated January 1, 1940.

[iv] ORGANIZATION FILE: Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Minnesota-Sioux Area Field Office, 15 South Fifth Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55402. Letter dated March 13, 1969, from Daniel S. Boos to Area Director regarding Opinion that Indians resideing [sic] on so-called “Mdewakanton lands” near Prior Lake…eligible to organize.

[v] Paul A. Krause. (1969, August 18). Superintendent Tribal Operations:ESRasmussen:rcg:8-18-69 to Mr. Owen D. Morken, Area Director, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

[vi] Mamie Bluestone Gofus met the SMSC constitutional requirements and had the documents verifying her qualifications. Lois Pendleton Brewer later secured documents showing that she qualified, however, those documents raise other issues that must be resolved. For example, her documents indicate that her maternal grandfather had died two (2) years before her birth. Ms. Brewer’s mother has a younger sister whose documents indicate that they have the same father. None of the other individuals listed on the 1969 SMSC census could constitutionally qualify for membership.

[vii] Norman M. Crooks and Amos Crooks, who were the original SMSC chair and vice chair were enrolled in another tribe until at least 1975. See Lucy M. Bearing. Acting Enrollment Clerk, Enrollment Office, Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska, Rural Route #2, Niobrara, Nebraska, 68760. (1975, March 7). To Mr. Norman Crooks Enclosed please find the four (4) relinquishment forms that you requested during our conversation via telephone on March 6, 1975, for: Amos Crooks, Clarence Crooks, Harold Crooks, and your self (Norman Crooks) all to be sent in care of you.

[viii] Edith Ross Crooks, her brother Lanny Axel Ross, and her eldest son Norman Woodrow Crooks are documented as ineligible to call themselves Minnesota Mdewakanton. John Cermack and his son Edward Cermack also can not verify a Minnesota Mdewakanton identity.

[ix] Special General Council Meeting, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, 2330 Sioux Trail NW, Prior Lake, Minnesota. (1994, August 30) Patricia Prescott: No, Cherie. The problem is you are posting a list of people who do not qualify by the constitution. Cherie Crooks-Bathel: Patti, I don’t want to get into that right now. That is not the point. The constitution was thrown out a long time ago. Let’s forget about that because your Enrollment Committee never followed it before ours was in. [At this SMSC Council meeting, thirty-one people were voted into SMSC membership. Twenty-six of those voted into membership “qualified” as a result of the “recognition test.”]

[x] William A. Gurshuny. Acting Associate Solicitor, Indian Affairs, Washington, DC. (1971, August 17). Letter to Field Solicitor, Twin Cities, Minnesota regarding Mdewakanton Sioux Lands in Minnesota.

[xi] Gurshuny, ibid.

[xii] Gurshuny, ibid.

[xiii] Gurshuny, ibid.

[xiv] Elmer T. Nitzschke. Field Solicitor, Minneapolis Area Office (1971, August 19) Letter to Area Director Raymond P. Lightfoot, regarding Mdewakanton Sioux Lands in Minnesota

[xv] Elbert, Hazel E. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Tribal Government Services, Washington, DC. (1986, February 10). Letter to Chairperson Susan Totenhagen in response to her letter dated October 9, 1985, which questions the eligibility of certain persons for enrollment as members of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (Bureau of Indian Affairs records).

[xvi] Elbert. (1986 February 10), ibid.

[xvii] Handbook of American Indians. Washington, DC: Bureau of American Ethnology. 1975 (c.1907), p.460.

[xviii] Elbert. (1986, February 10), ibid.

[xix] Department of the Interior Office of Hearings and Appeals. (1996, March 30). Docket No. D 95-182, In the Matter of Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux (Dakota) Community of Minnesota, Affidavit of Rose Blossom Ross Prescott (describes the details of affiant’s active involvement in the SMSC affairs). Also, letter from Washington dated 1982 stating that Rose Prescott is enrolled in another tribe and is seeking to exercise her rights as an adopted member of the SMSC.

[xx] United States Government, Office of the Area Director (1982, May 12). Memorandum to Minnesota Sioux Field Representative regarding Eligibility of Rose Prescott to Vote in Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Secretarial Election. [This letter confuses federal Indian rules and regulations concerning eligibility with the SMSC constitutional requirements for voting membership.]

[xxi] Ms. Prescott’s sister, Edith Ross Crooks, who was the wife of Norman Melvin Crooks, held the original office of SMSC Secretary-Treasurer. In November 1993, I went to Fort Snelling and met with Minneapolis Field Solicitor Marianna Shulstad to question her about the Ross family and the problems with their SMSC membership. She frankly acknowledged that the Ross family can not qualify as Minnesota Mdewakanton Sioux Indians. When I specifically asked why she openly assisted Edith in obtaining a false Mdewakanton identity and yet, had remained so obviously against Rose, she simply said, “I liked Edith.” Her voice contained a perceptible note of nostalgia. Ms. Shulstad remains a steadfast friend of the original members of the SMSC who are still alive. While she is no longer the Field Solicitor in Minneapolis, Ms. Shulstad has a position with the law firm now handling the SMSC legal problems with membership. In other words, Ms. Shulstad now works for the SMSC.

[xxii] Elbert. (1986, February 13), ibid.

[xxiii] Hazel E. Elbert. Deputy to the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs (Tribal Services), United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington, DC, 20245. (1987, April 1). Letter to Area Director regarding Shakopee Mdewakanton Enrollment.

[xxiv] Elbert. (1987, April 1), ibid.


[xxvi] Handbook of American Indians. ibid, p.827.

[xxvii] See particularly page 826 in the Handbook of American Indians, ibid.

[xxviii] Roy W. Meyer. History of the Santee Sioux. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967, p.1.

[xxix] See William Watts Folwell. A History of Minnesota, Volume I. Saint Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1979 (c.1956), pp. 1-52.

[xxx] Folwell, ibid, p.10.

[xxxi] Treaty With the Sauk and Foxes, etc., 1830. July 15, 1830. 7 Stat., 328. Proclamation, Feb. 24, 1831.

[xxxii] The legal and historical documents variously spell the tribal names. Sometimes the same tribal name is spelled several different ways in the same document, however, any reader can readily discern the signification.

[xxxiii] Meyer, ibid, p. 51.

[xxxiv] Meyer, ibid, p. 377.

[xxxv] Meyer, ibid, pp. 383-384.

[xxxvi] Handbook of American Indians. Ibid, p. 460.

[xxxvii] Spelled “Yuratwin” in Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862. Gary Clayton Anderson/Alan R. Woolworth, eds. Saint Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1988, p. 51

[xxxviii] Joseph Nicollet. On the Plains and Prairies: The Expeditions of 1838-39 With Journals, Letters, and Notes on the Dakota Indians. Translated from the French and edited by Edmund C. Bray and Martha Coleman Bray. Saint Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1976, pp. 106-108

[xxxix] Joseph Nicollet, ibid.

[xl] “…she stood up in the wagon, and waving her shawl she cried in a loud voice that she was a Sisseton—a relative of Waanatan, Scarlet Plume, Sweetcorn, Ah-kee-pah [Akipa] and the friend of Standing Buffalo, that she had come down this way for protection and hoped to get it” (Anderson and Woolworth. ibid, pp. 74, 96)