In 1887, the General Allotment Act (aka the Dawes Act) was passed to assign land to individual tribal members of many Native Americans in the western US. The point of this was to create a system where families could farm their own land, independently, much the way the settlers did.

In many cases, the land settlers got was the best land for farming, making farming on reservation allotments challenging at best.

The land of the ranch is not our ancestors’ original allotment. The ranch currently includes section 15, part of section 10, part of section 11, and part of section 2.

Grandpa Pete was born in 1894. He had allotment land in the Martin, SD area (likely an original allotment to him).

He was not a citizen until he joined the Army in WWI. The vast majority of Native Americans did not get citizenship until 1924.

While Grandpa Pete was in the Army, they made him a citizen because of his service. While he was in France in the war, they took his land out of trust and sold it for back taxes, because citizens pay taxes. They never notified him or his wife that they did any of this. He found out when he got back to America. Grandpa Pete had to buy back his land.

He traded that land for land near Vetal, SD (where Uncle Archie, his brother, lived) after the war.

Grandpa Pete was a boss farmer after the war. The Office of Indian Affairs hired boss farmers to oversee these “independent” family farms, telling people what to plant, when to sell, how many animals they should have, and so on. This oversight was a manner of control, related to the fact that Native peoples were seen as basically wards of the state, unable to hold land (which is why it was in trust) or make their own farming decisions. He retired about 1950.

Section 11 was allotted to Thomas Stabber. He borrowed against it and lost it. He had to take it out of trust to borrow money.

Grandpa Pete bought section 11 sometime around 1956, when it came up for sale for back taxes. Grandpa Pete bought part (Section 11) and Uncle Archie bought part (Section 15).

There was only a log cabin on the property, which was built about 1892. The green house was built with no electricity on the property. Uncle Roy (his brother) helped build it.

Virginia, Grandpa Pete’s daughter, bought Section 15 from Uncle Archie in 1975 or 76. Grandpa Pete gave her his section in 1979 or 1980. Her then-husband, Merle Wright, fixed the road. Another relative had left staples on the road and in the yard so Virginia and her kids would go out to pick up staples for days because they would have flat tires. The fences were fixed with bailing twine so they had to replace all the fence.

Virginia traded other land for the parts of Section 10.

Grandpa Pete bought part of Section 2 from Susie after she became disabled (her son had died and she moved to Rapid City for help). This was after Virginia moved back to Rapid City.

Grandpa Pete ranched off and on because every time he moved back Aunt Merle would throw a fit saying his second wife, Clara, needed to be near a group.

Little Pete (a cousin) ran the ranch after Grandpa Pete until Virginia moved back there in 1981 when she married Bud Lawrence. She lived there until August 2017.

Virginia and Bud raised cattle. One time they tried sheep when one of Virginia’s children told them that sheep usually had twins so they would have almost twice as many animals. However, the eagles would come and pick up the lambs right out of the corral.

They had a few llamas for a few years, turkeys, geese, ducks, chickens, and horses. They used the horses to round up the cattle, sometimes driving them out in a trailer to the cattle because they were so far from the house.