The Land Along the River: The Ongoing Saga of the Sioux Nation Land Claim 1851-2012 - Book

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The publication of Peter Capossela’s account of the Governor William Janklow’s and Senator Thomas Daschle’s successful theft of Sioux Nation Treaty Lands along the Missouri River must be told.  Its importance lies with the fact that extreme treachery was employed to divide the Sioux Nation and its treaty water position.  The book will chronicle those efforts from its beginning to the successful transfer of our lands to the State of South Dakota. The book will also remind tribal citizens to use every measure possible to protect our water.


The Great Sioux Nation Reservation was once the western half of South Dakota. A series of congressional acts termed “ripe, rank and dishonorable” by the U. S. Supreme Court reduced the Reservation severely. There are now six smaller reservations, each with their own Tribal governments. Five of the present-day Sioux Reservations are located along the Missouri River. The Tribes all have long historical ties to the river along with water and fishing rights.

After some serious flooding in the lower states along the Missouri River in the 1940s. Congress authorized the Corps of Engineers to build six large earthen dams on the Missouri, in the Dakotas and Montana which was called the Pick-Sloan Program. In damming the Missouri, the Corps targeted the Indian Reservations. A dozen Tribal communities were forced to relocate by the Army. The Corps sited the dams so that non-Tribal communities would be unaffected or minimized the damage to non-Indian lands. In total, nearly 2 million acres of wooded river bottomlands were lost.

“THE LAND ALONG the RIVER” is an essential read for anyone wanting to understand the Sioux Nation’s treaty and water rights and why the Great Sioux Nation continues the fight today for those rights with federal and state governments. The old game of divide and conquer is still in use in 2019. Professor Vine Deloria stated “The tragedy of the past is that it set precedents for land theft today”.

Mr. Capossela is a private practice attorney who specializes in Tribal representation in disputes involving water and natural resources for 20 years.

Review by Anita Comeau



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Additional Info

Additional Info

Peter Capossela
Book Details:
Paperback, 277 pages
Publication Details:
Mariah Press, 2015