Although Fort Yates is located in Sioux County, at one time there was a close connection to Emmons County. Many people worked at Fort Yates but lived in Emmons County. Off-duty soldiers from Fort Yates went east to Emmons County because the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation took up much of the land north, west, and south of Fort Yates. At various times travel between Fort Yates and Emmons was very common involving communities in Emmons County of Emmonsburg, Dale, Glanavon, and especially Winona the closest of the communities.
A military fort was first established in the area in 1863 known as the Standing Rock Cantonment. Its purpose was to oversee indian tribes in the area. In April 1868 under the Fort Laramie Treaty (ratified and proclaimed in February 1869), boundaries for the Great Sioux Reservation were established and the Standing Rock Agency was defined.
On 20 May 1870 a military post was officially established. This post accommodated companies A and F of the 17th Infantry. In 1873 the post was moved to the present site and buildings were established including those for the Standing Rock Agency. The army remained within the reservation area and in 1878 Standing Rock Cantonment was named Fort Yates for Captain George W. Yates, who was killed June 25, 1876 at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
A post office presumably managed by the military was present but on May 7, 1879 a Fort Yates post office was established with Henry Sidney Parkin, as Postmaster, replacing the old Standing Rock post office. In an act of 1889, the U. S. Congress divided the Great Sioux Reservation into six separate reservations, including the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The army post and fort were then decommissioned in 1903.
With the end of the military presence, the non-military settlement retained the Fort Yates name.
In 1917 The Sioux County Pioneer newspaper published a series of articles on the History of Fort Yates. At the bottom of the articles is a "continued next week" comment but after a thorough search of the newspaper that is posted online, the 'next week' articles could not be found even the the 'next week' newspaper is also online. Either there were none or the 'next week' was wrong. In any event, three articles were found and they are posted herein.
Chapter 2 - 12 July 1917. Links from within this document: H. A. Archambault
Chapter 3 - 2 August 1917
Area Photography by Frank Fiske - Includes Biography/Obituary Information
Some contemporary photos by Andrew Filer.