In 1877, the US federal government unilaterally seized the Black Hills — which contain Mount Rushmore — from the Sioux, a direct violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. The treaty language stated that these lands should be reserved for the "absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians.”
In 1980, the Supreme Court agreed that the Black Hills had been unconstitutionally taken. Rather than return the land, the court awarded the tribes a settlement of $120.5 million, equivalent to the value of the land at the time it was stolen.
But the Sioux have never accepted that payment — now, with interest and increased dollar value, worth more than $1 billion — declaring instead that “the Black Hills are not for sale.” . . .