|Part of the American Indian Wars|
"Custer's Last Stand" during the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Like most battles between the Lakotas and the U.S. Army, it took place on ground not recognized as Lakota territory. (The battle stood in the Crow Indian Reservation).
|Commanders and leaders|
Plenty Coups (Crow) (?)
Alligator-Stands-Up (Crow war-chief)
Washakie (Shoshone chief)
| Little Crow |
Crazy Horse †
Black Kettle †
The Sioux Wars were a series of conflicts between the United States and various subgroups of the Sioux people which occurred in the later half of the 19th century. The earliest conflict came in 1854 when a fight broke out at Fort Laramie in Wyoming, when Sioux warriors killed several American soldiers in the Grattan Massacre, and the final came in 1890 during the Ghost Dance War.
The First Sioux War was fought between 1854 and 1856 following the Grattan Massacre.The punitive Battle of Ash Hollow was fought in September 1855.
The Santee Sioux or Dakotas of Western Minnesota rebelled on August 17, 1862 after the Federal Government failed to deliver the annuity payments that had been promised to them in the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux of 1851. The Indians pillaged the nearby village of New Ulm and attacked on Fort Ridgely. They killed over 800 German farmers, including men, women and children. After the Battle of Birch Coulee on September 2, the Indians were eventually defeated on September 23 in the Battle of Wood Lake.
Most of the warriors who took part in the fighting escaped to the west and north into Dakota Territory to continue the conflict, while the remaining Santees surrendered on September 26 at Camp Release to the US Army. In the following murder trials 303 Indians were sentenced to death. After closer investigation from Washington, eventually 38 were hanged on December 26 in the Town of Mankato in America's largest mass-execution.
In the aftermath, battles continued between Minnesota regiments and combined Lakota and Dakota forces through 1864 as Col. Henry Sibley's troops pursued the Sioux. Sibley's army defeated the Lakota and Dakota in four major battles in 1863: the Battle of Big Mound on July 24, 1863, the Battle of Dead Buffalo Lake on July 26, 1863; the Battle of Stony Lake on July 28, 1863; and the Battle of Whitestone Hill on September 3, 1863. The Sioux retreated further, but faced a United States army again in 1864. General Alfred Sully led a force from near Fort Pierre, South Dakota, and decisively defeated the Sioux at the Battle of Killdeer Mountain on July 28, 1864 and at the Battle of the Badlands on August 9, 1864.
The survivors were forced to move to a small reservation on the Missouri river in central South Dakota. There, on the Crow Creek Reservation their descendants still live today.
The Colorado War began in 1863 and was primarily fought by American militia while the United States Army played a minor role. Several Native American tribes attacked American settlements in the Eastern Plains, including the Lakota Sioux who raided in northeast Colorado. On November 29, 1864 Colorado Volunteers under the command of Colonel John Chivington attacked a peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho village camped on Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado. Under orders to take no prisoners the militia killed an estimated 150 men, women, and children, mutilating the dead and taking scalps and other grisly trophies of battle.The Indians at Sand Creek had been assured by the U.S. Government that they would be safe in the territory they were occupying, but anti-Indian sentiments by white settlers were running high. Later congressional investigations resulted in short-lived U.S. public outcry against the slaughter of the Native Americans.
Following the massacre the survivors joined the camps of the Northern Cheyenne on the Smokey Hill and Republican rivers. There the war pipe was smoked and passed from camp to camp among the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho camped in the area and an attack on the stage station and fort, Camp Rankin at that time, at Julesburg on the South Platte River was planned and carried out in January, 1865.This successful attack, the Battle of Julesburg, led by the Sioux, who were most familiar with the territory, was carried out by about a thousand warriors and was followed up by numerous raids along the South Platte both east and west of Julesburg and a second raid on Julesburg in early February. Following the first raid on January 7, 500 troops under the command of General Robert B. Mitchell consisting of the Seventh Iowa Cavalry, the First Nebraska Veteran Volunteer Cavalry, and Companies "B" and "C," First Nebraska Militia (mounted) had been removed from the Platte and were engaged in a fruitless search for hostile Indians on the plains south of the Platte. They found the camp on the Republican River occupied by the tribes only after they had left. A great deal of loot was captured and many whites killed. The bulk of the natives then moved north into Nebraska on their way to the Black Hills and the Powder River but paused to burn the telegraph station on Lodgepole Creek then attacked the station at Mud Springs on the Jules cutoff. There were 9 soldiers stationed there, the telegraph operator and a few other civilians. The Indians began the attack by running the stock off from the station's corral along with a herd of cattle. Alerted by telegraph, the Army dispatched men from Fort Mitchell and Fort Laramie on February 4, about 150 men in all. Arriving on February 5 the first party of reinforcements of 36 men found themselves facing superior forces, estimated to number 500 warriors and with two men wounded were forced to retreat into the station. The second party of 120 troops under the command of Colonel William Collins, commandant of Fort Laramie, arrived on the 6th and found themselves facing 500 to 1,000 warriors. Armed with Spencer repeating rifles the soldiers were able to hold their own and a standoff resulted. After about 4 hours of fighting the war party left and moved their village to the head of Brown's Creek on the north side of the North Platte. Collins' forces were soon reinforced by 50 more men from Fort Laramie who had towed a mountain howitzer with them. With a force of about 185 men Collins followed the trail of the Indians to their abandoned camp at Rock Creek Spring, then followed their plain trail to the south bank of the North Platte at Rush Creek where they encountered a force of approximately 2,000 warriors on the north side of the river. An inconclusive fight followed and the decision was made to abandon pursuit of the war party. In his report Colonel Collins correctly predicted that the party was en route to the Power River Country and would continue to raid along the North Platte. His estimate of Indian casualties during the two engagements was 100 to 150, many more than reported by George Bent a participant in the war party.
In the spring of 1865, raids continued along the Oregon trail in Nebraska. January 27, 1865 while a brisk northwest wind was blowing the army fired the prairie from Fort McPherson to Denver.The Sioux, the Northern Cheyenne, the Northern Arapaho together with the warriors who had come north after the Sand Creek massacre raided the Oregon Trail along the North Platte River, and in July, 1865 attacked the troops stationed at the bridge across the North Platte at the present site of Casper, Wyoming, the Battle of the Platte Bridge Station.
In 1865 Major General Grenville M. Dodge ordered a punitive expedition against the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes that lived in the Black Hills region. General Patrick E. Connor was placed in command with hundreds of regular and volunteer soldiers at his disposal. Connor divided his force into three columns, the first was under Colonel Nelson Cole and was assigned to operate along the Loup River of Nebraska. The second column, under Lt Col Samuel Walker, would travel north from Fort Laramie to occupy an area west of the Black Hills while the third, led by General Connor and Colonel James H. Kidd, would march up the Powder River. Only minor skirmishing occurred until August 29, 1865 when Connor's column of about 400 men encountered about 500 Arapahos of Chief Black Bear in the Battle of the Tongue River. That morning Connor's men charged and captured a village and routed the defenders who counterattacked unsuccessfully. A few days later a small party of soldiers and civilian surveyors was attacked by the Arapaho in what became known as the Sawyers Fight, three Americans were killed and it marked the last skirmish of the Powder River War.
Due to increasing demand of safe travel along the Bozeman Trail to the Montana gold fields, the US government tried to negotiate new treaties with the Lakota Indians who were legally entitled to the Powder River country, through which the trail led, by the Treaty of Fort Laramie. Because the military sent simultaneously two battalions of the 18th Infantry under the command of Colonel Henry B. Carrington to establish new forts to watch over the Bozeman Road, the Indians refused to sign any treaty and left Fort Laramie determined to defend their land.
Carrington reinforced Fort Reno and established two additional forts further north (Fort Phil Kearny and Fort C. F. Smith) in the summer of 1866. His strategy, based on his orders from higher headquarters, was to secure the road, rather than fight the Indians. At the same time Red Cloud and the other chiefs soon became aware that they were unable to defeat a fully defended fort, so they kept to raiding every wagon train and traveling party they could find along the road.
Young eager warriors from the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes formed war parties who would attack woodcutting parties near the forts as well as freight trains to cut their supplies. Crazy Horse from the Oglala, Gall from the Hunkpapas and Hump from the Miniconjous were the best known ones among them.On December 21, 1866, Indians fired on woodcutters working near Fort Phil Kearny. The relief party was commanded by Captain William J. Fetterman. Fetterman's party was drawn into an ambush by an estimated 1,000–3,000 Indians and wiped out. Due to the high casualties on the American side, the Indians called the fight the "Battle of the Hundred Slain" ever since; among the Whites, it was called the "Fetterman Massacre".
The US government came to the conclusion after the Fetterman Fight that the forts along the Bozeman Trail were expensive to maintain (both in terms of supplies and manpower) and did not bring the intended security for travelers along the Road. However Red Cloud refused to attend any meeting with treaty commissions during 1867. Only after the army evacuated the forts in the Powder River country and the Indians burned down all three of them, did he travel to Fort Laramie in the summer of 1868,where the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) was signed. It established the Great Sioux Reservation which included all South Dakota territory west of the Missouri river. It also declared additional territory reaching as far as the Yellowstone and North Platte rivers as unceded territory for sole use by the Indians.
On May 7, 1868, the Crow tribe ceded land to the United States, including areas along the Yellowstone, Montana.The army came under attack by Lakotas in 1872, while it protected surveying expeditions for the Northern Pacific Railway down the river. The next year, the Lakotas carried out attacks on the U.S. army in the five years old U.S. territory at Honsinger Bluff and Pease Bottom. Further east, soldiers and Arikara scouts from Fort McKeen at the Missouri had to fight attacking Lakotas on August 26, 1872. Nearly 300 Lakotas attacked the fort on October 14. Around 100 Lakotas attacked close by Fort Abraham Lincoln on May 7, 1873. Both forts were located in former Lakota territory, which the tribe had ceded to the United States at the same time as the establishment of the Great Sioux Reservation in 1868.
Especially after the Lakota massacre on the Pawnee Indians in the south-western Nebraska on August 5, 1873, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs advocated a firmer line against all Lakotas harassing people, both Indians and whites, outside the recognized 1868 Lakota domain."In his 1873 annual report he recommended ... that those [Sioux] Indians roaming west of the Dakota line be forced by the military to come in to the Great Sioux Reservation". "The Great Sioux War" could have started in 1873, but nothing came about.
The Great Sioux War refers to series of conflicts from 1876 to 1877 involving the Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne tribes. Following the influx of gold miners to the Black Hills of South Dakota, war broke out when the native followers of Chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse left their reservations, apparently to go on the war path and defend the sacred Black Hills. In the first major fight of the war, on March 17, 1876, about 300 men under Colonel Joseph J. Reynolds attacked approximately 225 Northern Cheyenne warriors in the Battle of Powder River which ended with a United States victory. During the fighting, the Cheyenne were forced to retreat with their families further up the Powder River, leaving behind large quantities of weapons and ammunition. Next came the major Battle of Rosebud on June 17 when 1,500 Cheyenne warriors, led by Crazy Horse himself, defeated a force of 1,300 Americans under General George Crook. Crook retreated which helped lead to the infamous Battle of Little Big Horn beginning on June 25. Lieutenant Colonel George Custer, commanding a force of over 600 troops, was badly defeated with the loss of over 300 men killed or wounded, including himself. The next major engagement occurred at Slim Buttes on September 9 and 10. While moving toward Deadwood to secure supplies for Crook's command, elements of the 1st Cavalry commander by Capt Anson Mills located and attacked a Sioux village. The Dull Knife Fight, on November 25, and the Battle of Wolf Mountain on January 8, 1877 were the last major fights in the conflict. During the latter, Nelson A. Miles defended a ridge from a series of failed attacks led by Crazy Horse, who shortly thereafter surrendered at Camp Robinson, thus ending the war.
From November 1890 to January 1891, unresolved grievances led to the last major conflict with the Sioux. A lopsided engagement that involved almost half the infantry and cavalry of the Regular Army caused the surviving warriors to lay down their arms and retreat to their reservations.
That autumn, the Sioux were moved to a large reservation in the Dakota Territory, but the government pressured them to sign a treaty giving up much of their land. Sitting Bull had returned from Canada and held the Sioux resistance together for a few years. But in the summer of 1889, the reservation agent, James McLaughlin, was able to secure the Sioux's signatures by keeping the final treaty council a secret from Sitting Bull. The treaty broke up their 35,000 acres (142 km²) into six small reservations.
In October 1890, Kicking Bear and Short Bull brought the Sioux one last hope of resistance. They taught them the Ghost Dance, something they had learned from Wovoka, a Paiute medicine man. He told them that in the spring, the earth would be covered with a new layer of soil that would bury the white men while the Native Americans who did the Ghost Dance would be suspended in the air. The grass and the buffalo would return, along with the ghosts of their dead ancestors. The Ghost Dance movement spread across western reservations. The U.S. government considered it a threat and sent out its military.
On the Sioux reservations, McLaughlin had Kicking Bear arrested, while Sitting Bull's arrest on December 15, 1890, resulted in a struggle between reservation police and Ghost Dancers in which Sitting Bull was killed. Two weeks later, the military intercepted Big Foot's band of Ghost Dancers. They were Minneconjou Sioux, mostly women who had lost husbands and other male relatives in the wars with the U.S. military. When Colonel Forsyth tried to disarm the last Minneconjou of his rifle, a shot broke out, and the surrounding soldiers opened fire. Hotchkiss guns shredded the camp on Wounded Knee Creek, killing, according to one estimate, 300 of 350 men, women, and children.
The battalion of 9th Cavalry was scouting near the White River (Missouri River tributary) about 50 miles north of Indian agency at Pine Ridge when the Wounded Knee Massacre occurred, and rode south all night to reach the reservation. In the early morning of December 30, 1890, F, I, and K Troops reached the Pine Ridge agency, however, their supply wagon guarded by D Troop located behind them was attacked by 50 Sioux warriors near Cheyenne Creek (about 2 miles from the Indian agency). One soldier was immediately killed. The wagon train protected itself by circling the wagons. Corporal William Wilson volunteered to take a message to the agency at Pine Ridge to get help after the Indian scouts refused to go. Wilson took off through the wagon circle with Sioux in pursuit and his troops covering him. Wilson reached the agency and spread the alarm. The 9th Cavalry within the agency came to rescue the stranded troopers and the Sioux dispersed. For his actions, Corporal Wilson received the Medal of Honor.
The Drexel Mission Fight followed later in the day.
The 9th Cavalry were stationed on the Pine Ridge reservation through the rest of the winter of 1890–1891 until March 1891, lodging in their tents. By then, the 9th Cavalry was the only regiment on the reservation after being the first to arrive in November of 1890.
The Crow, whose autonym is Apsáalooke, also spelled Absaroka, are Native Americans living primarily in southern Montana. Today, the Crow people have a federally recognized tribe, the Crow Tribe of Montana, with an Indian reservation located in the south-central part of the state.
The Arapaho are a tribe of Native Americans historically living on the plains of Colorado and Wyoming. They were close allies of the Cheyenne tribe and loosely aligned with the Lakota and Dakota.
The Lakota are a Native American tribe. Also known as the Teton Sioux, they are one of the three tribes of the Great Sioux Nation. Their current lands are in North and South Dakota. They speak Lakȟótiyapi—the Lakota language, the westernmost of three closely related languages that belong to the Siouan language family.
The Sioux are groups of Native American tribes and First Nations peoples in North America. The term is an exonym created from a French transcription of the Anishinaabe term "Nadouessioux", and can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or to any of the nation's many language dialects. The modern Sioux consist of two major divisions based on language divisions: the Dakota and Lakota.
The Cheyenne are one of the indigenous people of the Great Plains and their language is of the Algonquian language family. The Cheyenne comprise two Native American tribes, the Só'taeo'o or Só'taétaneo'o and the Tsétsêhéstâhese. These tribes merged in the early 19th century. Today, the Cheyenne people are split into two federally recognized Nations: the Southern Cheyenne, who are enrolled in the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma, and the Northern Cheyenne, who are enrolled in the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana.
Red Cloud was one of the most important leaders of the Oglala Lakota from 1868 to 1909. He was one of the most capable Native American opponents that the United States Army faced in its mission to occupy the western territories, defeating the United States during Red Cloud's War, which was a fight over control of the Powder River Country in northeastern Wyoming and southern Montana. The largest action of the war was the Fetterman Fight, with 81 U.S soldiers killed, and was the worst military defeat suffered by the United States Army on the Great Plains until the Battle of the Little Bighorn ten years later.
The Dog Soldiers or Dog Men are historically one of six Cheyenne military societies. Beginning in the late 1830s, this society evolved into a separate, militaristic band that played a dominant role in Cheyenne resistance to the westward expansion of the United States in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming, where the Cheyenne had settled in the early nineteenth century.
Red Cloud's War was an armed conflict between the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Northern Arapaho on one side and the United States in Wyoming and Montana territories from 1866 to 1868. The war was fought over control of the western Powder River Country in present north-central Wyoming. This grassland, rich in buffalo, was traditionally Crow Indian land, but the Lakota had recently taken control. The Crow tribe held the treaty right to the disputed area, according to the major agreement reached at Fort Laramie in 1851. All involved in "Red Cloud's War" were parties in that treaty.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West is a 1970 book by American writer Dee Brown that covers the history of Native Americans in the American West in the late nineteenth century. The book expresses details of the history of American expansionism from a point of view that is critical of its effects on the Native Americans. Brown describes Native Americans' displacement through forced relocations and years of warfare waged by the United States federal government. The government's dealings are portrayed as a continuing effort to destroy the culture, religion, and way of life of Native American peoples. Helen Hunt Jackson's A Century of Dishonor is often considered a nineteenth-century precursor to Dee Brown's writing.
The Treaty of Fort Laramie was an agreement between the United States and the Oglala, Miniconjou, and Brulé bands of Lakota people, Yanktonai Dakota and Arapaho Nation, following the failure of the first Fort Laramie treaty, signed in 1851.
The Battle of the Rosebud took place on June 17, 1876, in the Montana Territory between the United States Army and its Crow and Shoshoni allies against a force consisting mostly of Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne Indians during the Great Sioux War of 1876. The Cheyenne called it the Battle Where the Girl Saved Her Brother because of an incident during the fight involving Buffalo Calf Road Woman. General George Crook's offensive was stymied by the Indians, led by Crazy Horse, and he awaited reinforcements before resuming the campaign in August.
The Powder River Expedition of 1865 also known as the Powder River War or Powder River Invasion, was a large and far-flung military operation of the United States Army against the Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians in Montana Territory and Dakota Territory. Although soldiers destroyed one Arapaho village and established Fort Connor to protect travelers on the Bozeman Trail, the expedition is considered a failure because it failed to defeat the Indians and secure peace in the region.
The Bozeman Trail was an overland route connecting the gold rush territory of Montana to the Oregon Trail. Its most important period was from 1863–68. Despite its name, "the major part of the route in Wyoming used by all Bozeman Trail travelers in 1864 was pioneered by Allen Hurlbut". Many miles of the Bozeman Trail in present Montana followed the tracks of Bridger Trail, opened by Jim Bridger in 1864. The flow of pioneers and settlers through territory of American Indians provoked their resentment and caused attacks. The challengers to the route were newly arrived Lakotas and their Indian allies, the Arapahoe and the Cheyenne. The United States put emphasis on a right to "establish roads, military and other posts" as described in Article 2 in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. All parties in the conflict had signed that treaty. The Crow Indians held the treaty right to the contested area and had called it their homeland for decades. They sided with the whites. The U.S. Army undertook several military campaigns against the hostile Indians to try to control the trail. Because of its association with frontier history and conflict with American Indians, various segments of the trail are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
The Colorado War was an Indian War fought in 1864 and 1865 between the Southern Cheyenne, Arapaho, and allied Brulé and Oglala Sioux peoples versus the U.S. army, Colorado militia, and white settlers in Colorado Territory and adjacent regions. The Kiowa and the Comanche played a minor role in actions that occurred in the southern part of the Territory along the Arkansas River. The Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Sioux played the major role in actions that occurred north of the Arkansas River and along the South Platte River, the Great Platte River Road, and the eastern portion of the Overland Trail. The United States government and Colorado Territory authorities participated through the 1st Colorado Cavalry Regiment, often called the Colorado volunteers. The war was centered on the Colorado Eastern Plains, extending eastward into Kansas and Nebraska.
The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 was signed on September 17, 1851, between United States treaty commissioners and representatives of the Cheyenne, Sioux, Arapaho, Crow, Assiniboine, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nations. The treaty was an agreement between nine more or less independent parties. The treaty set forth traditional territorial claims of the tribes as among themselves. The United States acknowledged that all the land covered by the treaty was Indian territory and did not claim any part of it. The boundaries agreed to in the Fort Laramie treaty of 1851 would be used to settle a number of claims cases in the 20th century. The Native Americans guaranteed safe passage for settlers on the Oregon Trail and allowed roads and forts to be built in their territories in return for promises of an annuity in the amount of fifty thousand dollars for fifty years. The treaty should also "make an effective and lasting peace" among the eight tribes, each of them often at odds with a number of the others.
The Hunkpapa are a Native American group, one of the seven council fires of the Lakota tribe. The name Húŋkpapȟa is a Lakota word meaning "Head of the Circle". By tradition, the Húŋkpapȟa set up their lodges at the entryway to the circle of the Great Council when the Sioux met in convocation. They speak Lakȟóta, one of the three dialects of the Sioux language.
The Fetterman Fight, also known as the Fetterman Massacre or the Battle of the Hundred-in-the-Hands, was a battle during Red Cloud's War on December 21, 1866, between a confederation of the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes and a detachment of the United States Army, based at Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming. The U.S. military mission was intended to protect travelers on the Bozeman Trail.
The Great Sioux War of 1876, also known as the Black Hills War, was a series of battles and negotiations which occurred in 1876 and 1877 between the Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and the United States. The cause of the war was the desire of the U.S. government to obtain ownership of the Black Hills. Gold had been discovered in the Black Hills, settlers began to encroach onto Native American lands, and the Sioux and Cheyenne refused to cede ownership to the U.S. Traditionally, the United States military and historians place the Lakota at the center of the story, especially given their numbers, but some Indians believe the Cheyenne were the primary target of the U.S. campaign.
The Battle of Julesburg took place on January 7, 1865 near Julesburg, Colorado between 1,000 Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Lakota Indians and about 60 soldiers of the U.S. army and 40 to 50 civilians. The Indians defeated the soldiers and over the next few weeks plundered ranches and stagecoach stations up and down the valley of the South Platte River
The Battle of Platte Bridge, also called the Battle of Platte Bridge Station, on July 26, 1865 was the culmination of a summer offensive by the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne Indians against the United States army. In May and June the Indians raided army outposts and stagecoach stations over a wide swath of Wyoming and Montana. In July, they assembled a large army, estimated by Cheyenne warrior George Bent to number 3,000 warriors, and descended upon Platte Bridge. The bridge, across the North Platte River near present-day Casper, Wyoming, was guarded by 120 soldiers. In an engagement near the bridge, and another against a wagon train guarded by 28 soldiers a few miles away, the Indians killed 29 soldiers while suffering at least eight dead.