The collection contains only one letter for the year 1878 and no papers for the years 1879-1898. The bulk of the correspondence consists of letters written to Major William T. Hughes, Indian agent at Standing Rock, from the following individuals: John Quincy Smith, commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1875 to 1877; S.A. Galpin, clerk to John Quincy Smith, and E.A. Hayt, who succeeded John Quincy Smith as commissioner in 1877. Beginning in 1899, the collection contains letters from George H. Bingenheimer, Indian agent at Standing Rock to Joseph Archambault (1872 -- 1939?) of Porcupine Station, a district within the reservation.
Topics in the letters vary: cutting wood on the reservation by resident Indians and military personnel stationed at Fort Yates (February 28, 1877); building new homes for the Indians (April 18, 1877); withholding rations to Indians who refused to stay on the west side of the Missouri River (May 24, 1877); and testifying to a council with General Carlin regarding dissatisfaction with a civilian agent (bearing the marks of Billy Fat, High Bear, and Lone Dog, January 20, 1880).
Letters indicate that tension existed between the personnel at the military garrison at Fort Yates and the Indian agency. One letter dated February 9, 1877, referred to hogs running freely: "Hereafter any found inside the garrison will be shot under the direction of the Officer of the Day and the meat distributed to the command." A July 7, 1877, letter to Major Williams from the Office of Acting Assistant Commissary of Subsistence stated the following regarding non-payment for food stuff: "I have the honor to inform you that I have been directed by the command officer of the post to sell no more subsistence stores to you." H. S. Howe, Captain of the 17th Infantry command post at Standing Rock requested that Major Williams take over the mediation of disputes among the Indians. The Captain’s August 17, 1878, letter describes a dispute that involved the killing of a cow, owned by Bear Face’s band, by an Indian named Kill Eagle.
A Lakota Indian child named Joseph was sent to the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia, and studied there for three years (October 1881-May 1884). When he returned to the reservation, Joseph worked for his father on the family cattle ranch. The letters to him from George Bingenheimer indicate that Joseph, then in his late 20s, was engaged in some type of management of the area of Porcupine Station. In a letter dated January 19, 1900, he raised the issue of "whites" being on the reservation without a pass. In another dated July 29, 1901, Bingenheimer instructed Joseph to drop 10 Indians from the rolls (for rations only) because they could support themselves. Ironically, Joseph Archambault and family are listed in the letter as being cut off from rations. In a letter dated July 31, 1901, he informed Joseph that "…he has appointed Phillip Bullhead of Little Dog’s band of your district as a chief and you will transfer the following named Indians and their families (a list of 38 persons) to his band." Joseph Archambault later became a translator for Sitting Bull; and, in 1917, he was elected county treasurer, the first Indian elected to public office in the state of South Dakota.