Two years ago the Supreme Court ruled that Congress illegally confiscated millions of acres in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming from the Sioux Indians in 1877 after gold was discovered there. The court awarded the Sioux $105 million in exchange for the land, but the United Sioux Tribes refused the money and demanded 7.3 million acres in the Black Hills, including a mountainous area the Indian nation considers sacred.
On Monday, the Sioux agreed to lower their demand to 3.2 million acres, or about 5,000 square miles, a figure that United Sioux Tribe Chairman Larry Cournoyer said he believed the government would accept.
The next day, however, the Interior Department said that figure was unrealistic because the government doesn't own that much land in the Black Hills anymore. It said it has just over 1.2 million acres there, and another 2.13 million acres in South Dakota west of the Missouri River. But it said that's all the federal land it has in the region.
The Sioux say they don't believe it. Spokesman Clarence Skye said the Sioux will draw their own maps and will settle for less land only if they are convinced that the government is telling the truth this time.