Fans of the television series Deadwood will be somewhat familiar with the Black Hills Gold Rush. It is this gold rush that forms the background of the television series. Indeed, it is one of the more transformative events in American history, despite being somewhat lesser-known.
There were rumors of gold in the Black Hills region in the early years of the 19th Century. Sioux Indians were rumored to have been mining gold in the region as early as 1860. However, there was one small thing preventing Americans from mining gold in the region: the Treaty of Fort Laramie, which recognized the land as belonging to the Sioux.
There is another point of law that is relevant to the Black Hills Gold Rush: The General Mining Act of 1872. This allows Americans to mine for minerals anywhere on federal land. The problem, for American prospectors, is that none of the land in the Black Hills was federal land — it belonged to the Sioux. Continue Reading →