Military map of western North Dakota, produced during the Army’s response to the Ghost Dance ritual and just weeks before Wounded Knee

Haydn S. Cole 2nd Lieut. 3rd Infantry Actg Engineer Officer Dept. Dakota, Official Map of Western Portion of North Dakota, [St. Paul, Minn.], Nov. 1890.

Cyanotype on muslin, 21 5/8”h x 18”w at neat line plus margins. Old folds and creases, somewhat sun-faded, some spotting in the upper extremities, and some minor fraying at edges. About very good.

An extremely rare map of western North Dakota, including lands reserved to the Sioux, Arikara, Hidatsa and Mandan peoples, probably rushed into print for use by officers in the field just weeks before the Wounded Knee Massacre of December 29, 1890. Only the second example located.

The map was drafted in November 1890, almost precisely a year after the admission of North Dakota to the Union. It depicts the state west of the 100th meridian, along with slivers of adjacent states and is dominated by the Missouri River and its tributaries, with little topographical data other than buttes indicated by hachuring. Superimposed on this background are roads and trails indicated by dashed lines; settlements and towns; the lines of the St. Paul Minneapolis and Manitoba Railroad and, further south, the Northern Pacific; and the boundaries of the Fort Bertholdt and Standing Rock Reservations (more on which below), managed by Federal Government “Agencies” and watched over by a network of U.S. Army forts and outposts indicated by flags.

This map was above all about movement, for the use of U.S. Army officers as they sought to locate, track, and ultimately extinguish the remnants of Sioux resistance to white settlement. This likely explains why features shown on most other maps of the region are omitted here, most notably county boundaries and the ever-advancing grid of General Land Office surveys, made in preparation for the sale and settlement of public lands.

The map was printed on muslin for durability and portability, using the cyanotype process. Cyanotypes were much used by the American military in the mid-late 19th century, being valued for their simplicity, speed and cost effectiveness. To produce them, paper or linen was first rendered photo-sensitive by application of a solution such as ferric ammonium citrate. Printing was achieved simply by laying the original map—drafted on translucent tracing paper—on top of the treated matrix and exposing it to sunlight. The major drawback is that cyanotypes fade relatively quickly with exposure to light. The use of the process for the present map, produced as it was in reaction to government fears of an incipient uprising by Plains Indians, suggests great urgency to get the information out to officers in the field.

As with many military maps of the West, this map appears highly original and up to date, offering more up-to-date detail than other major maps of the region, such as the Topographical Engineers map of the “Dakota Territory” (1875), the GLO’s “Territory of Dakota” (1885), or even the official “Post Route Map of the Territory of Dakota” (1885). Mapmaker Haydn S. Cole presumably used some or all of these sources to compile the map, but updated it with the latest information from military reconnaissance parties, railroad surveys and other sources.

The map is extremely rare. I am aware of but one institutional holding and find no examples having appeared on the antiquarian market.

Under the terms of the first Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851), huge areas of present-day North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana were reserved to the Plains Indians. In the region shown on this map, the Arikara, Mandan and Hidatsa were assigned the area south and west of the Missouri in what is now North Dakota, while the Lakota Sioux accepted the far southwestern part of North Dakota (along with all of what is now South Dakota west of the Missouri). In return the U.S. Army was allowed to maintain a permanent presence in these areas, and white settlers were guaranteed safe passage on the Oregon Trail.

Subsequent years saw a toxic cycle of violence, both among Plains tribes competing for hunting grounds as buffalo became increasingly scarce; and between the Plains Indians and whites, as settlers ignored the terms of the Treaty of 1851 and flooded into the reserved lands. At the risk of simplifying a long, complex process, the next major landmark was the second Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, which saw the creation of the Great Sioux Reservation on some 60 million acres of what is now western South Dakota, southern North Dakota and Nebraska. Further north, in 1870 the Arikara, Mandan and Hidatsa were confined to the Fort Bertholdt Reservation, straddling the Missouri River and depicted on this map. After the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877, which was catalyzed by the Black Hills Gold Rush, the Sioux ceded more than two thirds of their Reservation to the Federal Government.

Under the terms of the 1887 General Allotment Act (aka the Dawes Act), communally-owned reservation lands were to be subdivided into small parcels. These were then to be “allotted” to individual tribe members who enrolled with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with the unallotted lands sold to the Federal Government (invariably at below-market rates).The Act’s goals were to encourage Native American assimilation to the Euro-American model of homesteading while making un-allotted reservation land available for white settlement. In reality the Act helped create conditions that impoverished many of those affected: Native American families were often unaccustomed to lives of farming or ranching, and the lands allotted to them were often substandard. The Meriam Report of 1928, one of the first independent investigations into Native American living standards, concluded that “In justice to the Indians it should be said that many of them are living on lands from which a trained and experienced white man could scarcely wrest a reasonable living.”

Finally, the Sioux Agreement of 1889—reached as North and South Dakota were applying for statehood—reduced the remains of the Great Sioux Reservation by half and separated it into non-contiguous parcels. This rump was divided into the Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, Crow Creek, Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations, of which only the Standing Rock is shown on the map offered here, west of the Missouri along the North-South Dakota border. Each was overseen onsite by a Federal Government “agency” and the whole watched over by a network U.S. Army forts and outposts.

Inflaming matters further—if that’s possible—in 1889-1890 many of the Plains peoples took up the “Ghost Dance” ritual, which had first emerged among the Northern Paiute in Utah. Certainly by Fall 1890 the ritual was introduced on the Sioux reservations, where it was given a millenarian and militarist cast: Participants believed it would catalyze natural cataclysms that would yield a new, purified world and the rolling back of white western expansion. The latter was reified by warriors’ adoption of “ghost shirts”, garments which if properly worn would repel bullets.

Against this background of dispossession and ritual response, American political and military leadership became convinced—incorrectly, it turns out–that another Sioux uprising was in the offing. In November 1890 Some 3000 soldiers were mobilized on the Sioux reservations and dispatched to round up Sioux leaders, Sitting Bull in particular, and bring the Ghost Dance practice to an end. The present map is dated November 1890, and seems almost certainly to have been produced as plans for mobilizing the Army and pacifying the Sioux were underway.

Sitting Bull died during an arrest attempt on December 15 and the Wounded Knee Massacre of December 29. Wounded Knee is generally seen as the end of the Indian Wars in the West.

The mapmaker
The map was drafted Second Lieutenant Hayden S. Cole (1861-1939) at the St. Paul, Minnesota, headquarters of the U.S. Army’s Department of Dakota. Commanded from 1886-1891 by Major General Thomas Ruger, the Department had responsibility for Minnesota, the Dakotas and Montana. Cole was born in upstate New York, graduated from West Point near the top of his class in 1885, and served roughly seven years in the Department of Dakota, retiring as a full lieutenant due to “disability incurred in the line of duty”. He went on to become a successful lawyer and businessman in St. Paul, then briefly returned to service during the First World War.

Cole’s name appears on at least four other Dakota Territory maps, “Map of Country Comprising the Sioux Indian Reservations in North and South Dakota” (1890), “Map of Country Comprising Forts Meade, Custer, Keogh, and McKinney (1890); a magisterial, three-sheet “Map of the Department of Dakota” (1891), and Transportation Route Map of the Department of Dakota” (1892). On each he is credited in a supervisory capacity, overseeing Topographical Assistant Herman F. Strebe. It is not known how deeply Cole was involved in compiling and drafting these maps, but at least three of the four feature Cole’s name prominently in large type, with Strebe’s in small type below.

In all, an extraordinarily rare and informative cartographic artifact, with great immediacy to the events of the tragic final year of the decades-long Indian Wars on the Great Plains. 

Not in OCLC or Phillips, Maps of America. The only other example I have been able to locate is held in the Frazier Boutelle (1840-1924) Papers at the University of Oregon Background from: