Fish and Game Stamps of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe

Crow Creek Sioux make Philatelic History

The Crow Creek wildlife program was formally established in 1988. (McGee) The following year a game, fish and parks code was published outlining hunting, fishing and licensing requirements. (Authority, 1988) In 1989, The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe also introduced their first fish and game stamps in a quarter century which included the first pictorial stamps issued by an Indian Reservation in the United States (see Figure 18).



Figure 18. In 1989 the Crow Creek Sioux became the first tribal government to issue pictorial fish and game stamps.



The idea to use pictorial stamps is reported to have originated with Department of Natural Resources biologist Steven Laing (McGee). While not a stamp collector, Laing desired to conform to standards previously developed by South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. The stamps were printed at the State Printing Office in Pierre, and all are identical in size and format to the South Dakota state waterfowl stamps (McGee). They were issued in vertical booklet panes containing five stamps, and are perforated 11.5 horizontally. All stamps are individually serial numbered in red and measure approximately 47 X 35 mm. A total of sixteen different stamps were issued in 1989 (McGee). In addition to the pictorial stamps, there was a series of four sportsman stamps that featured the tribal seal (see Figure 19).



Figure 19. Purchase of a sportsman stamp conveyed all hunting and fishing rights on the reservation.



Purchase of a single sportsman stamp allowed the holder to hunt all the types of game for which the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe issued individual pictorial stamps. In addition, the sportsman stamp conveyed inland fishing rights (Authority, 1988, 1990). Waterfowl hunting was allowed with the sportsman stamp in combination with a Federal waterfowl stamp. Fees charged for the sportsman stamp represented just over a 50% savings over the combined individual fees for reservation residents, just under 50% for South Dakota residents, and about 15% for non-residents (Authority 1990). Included in the sportsman series was the only stamp of any kind printed for use by tribal members. The fee charged to tribal members for all hunting and fishing privileges was $10.00 which included the right to trap furbearers on tribal and trust lands within the reservation. Only tribal members were allowed to trap furbearers at Crow Creek. Two hundred of each stamp were printed and issued to vendors in 1989, with the exception of the tribal member sportsman stamp that had a printing of 300. For a complete listing of serial numbers used on specific types of 1989 stamps, see Table I. 





Tribal hunting and fishing licenses were available the Tribal Wildlife office in Fort Thompson, or from vendors located throughout the reservation. Laing designed a passbook with spaces inside for each of different types of stamps used, along with one for the Federal Waterfowl stamp. It measures 275 X 100 mm when opened and laid flat (see Figure 20). This passbook was introduced and used along with the new stamps in 1989 (McGee).



1989 cc Passbook

Figure 20. Reservation biologist Steven Laing designed a passbook for use with the new stamps.



The same sixteen stamps were issued the following year. (McGee) The designs are identical, except that the year reads “1990.” The face value of file individual stamps remain unchanged from 1989; how ever, at some point in 1990 it was decided to charge South Dakota residents the same fees as non-residents (Moum, McGee). Rather than print new South Dakota resident stamps with a higher face value, non resident stamps were required thereafter on all licenses sold to South Dakota resident hunters (see Figure 21). 



Figure 21. 1990 Non Resident waterfowl stamp used on license purchased by a South Dakota resident hunter after the fee increase.



Two hundred fifty of each stamp were printed and issued to vendors in 1990, including the tribal member sportsman stamp. Several Crow Creek stamps are known from 1990 with the serial number missing. This seems to be a product of a faulty numbering machine at The State Publishing Company, as there are many other cases of South Dakota stamps printed over the years with the serial numbers missing. In each case there have been five examples or less recorded (see Figures 22, 23 and 24). Further, as no Crow Creek stamps from 1989 have been recorded with the serial number missing, it is now believed this glitch occurs in the serial number range between 200 and 250. For a complete listing of serial numbers used on 1990 stamps, see Table II.



Figure 22. 1970 South Dakota Non Resident Waterfowl stamp with missing serial number.



Figure 23. 1980 South Dakota West River Goose for Perkins County, with missing serial number.



Figure 24. 1990 Crow Creek Non Resident Waterfowl stamp with missing serial number.






Readers will notice that the 1990 waterfowl stamp shown in Figure 21 is affixed to a generic type of license with boxes to check off the type of hunting and blanks to fill in the fee charged. Passbooks were printed and distributed to vendors for use in 1990. Within days, however, the Tribal Council instructed DNR officials to remove the passbooks from use as they did not contain an implied consent section which placed the holder under the civil jurisdiction of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Court while hunting or transporting game on the reservation (McGee). DNR officials apparently did not want to bear the expense of redesigning and printing up new passbooks, so a supply of old licenses that had been previously used since the early 1980s were called into service (McGee). The back of these licenses did contain the implied consent section (see Figure 25), however, they did not contain a space for the new stamps. This proved to be inconvenient when more than one stamp was placed on a license.



1990 CC on license reverse

Figure 25. Reverse of license showing implied consent section.



Despite this fact, this was the system that was used during 1990. Throughout the year, DNR officials discussed how they might best provide a solution to this problem, it was suggested that fine implied consent section could be shortened and placed on the reverse of the stamps themselves for 1991 (McGee).

Unfortunately, no stamps were issued in 1991 due to a failure on the part of the DNR officials to agree on the specific wording to be printed on the reverse of the stamps (McGee). It is hoped that this will soon be resolved, and that stamps will again be issued by the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in the near future. As of this writing, the Crow Creek varmint stamps are unique to United states fish and game stamps. Since they feature a prairie dog, it is hard to void labeling them as “cute.” The Crow creek Sioux Tribe may soon have another treat in store for collectors, as a buffalo season is planned for upcoming years (McGee). Once the issuance of stamps is resumed, perhaps we can expect to see buffalo hunting stamps!


Editor’s note: Please keep in mind this article was originally published in 1992. As it turns out, a change in the Tribal Council would serve as yet another delay to new stamps being printed. This did not actually occur until 1994. See Crow Creek Resumes Stamp Program.



Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Leave a Comment