Edward Archibald Milligan was born June 14, 1903, at Michigan, North Dakota, the son of Robert and Emma (von Evers Gennamt Behme) Milligan. He graduated from Michigan High School in 1921 and from Mayville State Teachers College in 1927. He was then a teacher and principal at Colfax High School from 1927 to 1934. Milligan conducted archaeological and ethnological research among American Indians, mostly in North Dakota, from 1934 to 1942. During part of that time he was a supervisor for the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
Milligan served in the 415th Infantry Regiment, part of the 104th (Timberwolf) Division, from November 1942 to September 1945. He was awarded the Bronze Star and separated at the rank of sergeant. Afterwards, Milligan attended the University of North Dakota, receiving a B.S. in education in 1947 and a M.S. in education in 1948. He served as president of the National Timberwolf Association for 1952. From 1948 to 1972, he was an instructor at North Dakota State University-Bottineau Branch, teaching classes in U.S. history, sociology, government, and Native American history.
Milligan's teaching, writing, and research interests centered around Native Americans in general, and the tribes of North Dakota in particular. He was given the honorary name Mato Hanska (Long Grizzly Bear) by the Sisseton Sioux, and He Topa (Four Horns) by another Sioux nation. Milligan authored several books and lectured frequently about Native American beliefs, traditions, and practices. He also served on several boards and commissions, including the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission and the North Dakota State Historical Board. Milligan was active in the American Legion, and he spearheaded a project to erect a monument at the grave of Sondre Norheim near Denbigh, North Dakota. Edward Milligan died in 1977.
Publications by Milligan:
The Standing Rock Sioux 1874-1890 (1948; UND thesis)
Known Migrations of Historic Indian Tribes... (1949 and 1969)
Petroglyphs, Pictographs, and Prehistoric Art in the Upper Midwest and Red River of the North Valleys (1968)
Sun Dance of the Sioux (1969)
The Indian in the Northern Plains (1972)
High Noon on the Greasy Grass: The Story of the Little Bighorn by Indians Who were There (1972)
Wounded Knee 1973 and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 (1973)
A Brief Bibliography of Books on the Indian... (1973)
Dakota Twilight: The Standing Rock Sioux, 1874-1890 (1976)
The Edward A. Milligan Papers, 1925-1977, have been arranged alphabetically by subject in each box. Much of the contents in Box 1 is correspondence, either general in nature or on specific topics. Note that some of the general correspondence will relate to topics found in other folders. The majority of the correspondence is incoming and is arranged chronologically within each folder. Milligan corresponded with people in different circles, stemming from his occupation as an educator, his personal interests, and from his participation in various organizations.
Other components include notes, drafts, and writings of Milligan. There are also materials he collected pertaining to Native Americans. In addition, there are five original ledgers of outgoing correspondence, 1874-1880, of the Indian Agent at Standing Rock Agency.
About 300 photographs are also part of the collection. Many of these pertain to Native Americans, especially depicting the 1936 Sun Dance at Little Eagle, South Dakota. Lastly, two oversize folders contain an assortment of maps, as well as drawings, posters, and military items.