In October 1877, the federal government sent negotiators to compel Sioux leaders to relinquish the Black Hills through an amendment to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. The treaty had reserved the area for use and occupation by the Lakota and Dakota tribes. With the discovery of gold three years earlier, the government was seeking to open the area to miners and settlers.
The amendment to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 later became known as the Act of 1877, as treaty-making between the federal government and Indian tribes had been abolished in 1871. In exchange for the Black Hills, the Act included rations for the Lakota until they were self-sufficient. In order to change any of the provisions in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, three-quarters of the Lakota men would need to sign in agreement. Negotiators were unable to secure the requisite approval.
However, given the choice between maintaining sacred lands or facing starvation, the Lakota tribes agreed to the terms and moved east to reserved lands established in the Act of 1877. Shortly thereafter, Henry Whipple, a member of the commission sent to obtain approval from the Dakota and Lakota stated, “The least we can do to atone for our broken faith is to make full restitution to the Indians for the property which was taken without color of law, and ask forgiveness of God. Unless it is done I fear these Sioux will lose the last vestige of faith in the Government and the name of white man be a synonym for liar.”