|Tongue River Indian massacre|
|Cheyenne and Oglala Lakota||Crow Nation|
|Commanders and leaders|
|The whole Cheyenne tribe, a camp of Lakotas||100 tipis in camp|
|Casualties and losses|
|Most likely very few, if any||All the men killed. An unknown number of woman and/or children already taken captive killed|
The Tongue River massacre was an attack by Cheyenne and Lakota on a camp of Crow people in 1820. According to some accounts, it was one of the most significant losses of the Crow tribe. p. 190:
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.
The Lakota are a Native American tribe. Also known as the Teton Sioux, they are one of the three Sioux tribes of Plains. 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 Crow, called the Apsáalooke in their own Siouan language, or variants including the Absaroka, are Native Americans, who in historical times lived in the Yellowstone River valley, which extends from present-day Wyoming, through Montana and into North Dakota, where it joins the Missouri River. In the 21st century, the Crow people are a Federally recognized tribe known as the Crow Tribe of Montana, and have a reservation located in the south central part of the state.
The intertribal conflict between the Cheyenne and the Crow predated the arrival of whites in the Yellowstone and Powder River areas. p. 127 The Lakotas were also enemies of the Crow. The Lakota winter count of Lone Dog gives the year 1800-1801 as the winter when "Thirty Dakotas [Lakotas] were killed by Crow Indians". :p. 273 According to American Horse's winter count, the Lakota retaliated the next year. Several Lakotas, aided by the Cheyenne, killed all the men in a Crow camp with 30 tipis and took the women and children captive. :p. 553:
Powder River is a tributary of the Yellowstone River, approximately 375 miles (604 km) long in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana in the United States. It drains an area historically known as the Powder River Country on the high plains east of the Bighorn Mountains.
Winter counts are pictorial calendars or histories in which tribal records and events were recorded by Native Americans in North America. The Blackfeet, Mandan, Kiowa, Lakota, and other Plains tribes used winter counts extensively. There are approximately one hundred winter counts in existence, but many of these are duplicates.
American Horse was an Oglala Lakota chief, statesman, educator and historian. American Horse is notable in American history as a U.S. Army Indian Scout and a progressive Oglala Lakota leader who promoted friendly associations with whites and education for his people. American Horse opposed Crazy Horse during the Great Sioux War of 1876–1877 and the Ghost Dance Movement of 1890, and was a Lakota delegate to Washington. American Horse was one of the first Wild Westers with Buffalo Bill's Wild West and a supporter of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. "His record as a councillor of his people and his policy in the new situation that confronted them was manly and consistent and he was known for his eloquence."
The leadup to the 1820 massacre was a Cheyenne raid in 1819. A Crow camp neutralized 30 Cheyenne Bowstring warriors during a defense of the horse herds. p. 23:
To avenge the loss of so many young men, the whole Cheyenne tribe carried its sacred arrows, Mahuts, against the Crow the next spring. A Lakota camp joined the war expedition. p. 553 They camped at Powder River, either in present-day Montana or Wyoming. Crows from a camp at the Tongue River chanced upon them just before dark. The Cheyenne and the Lakota realized they were discovered, and the warriors quickly prepared to make an attack on their foes. Meanwhile, the Crow camp organized a big war party to strike first and drive the enemies out of the Crow country. The two Indian armies crossed each other unnoticed during the night. The Crows lost the track and never found the camps on the Powder River. :pp. 24-25:
Montana is a state in the Northwestern United States. Montana has several nicknames, although none are official, including "Big Sky Country" and "The Treasure State", and slogans that include "Land of the Shining Mountains" and more recently "The Last Best Place".
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the western United States. The state is the 10th largest by area, the least populous, and the second most sparsely populated state in the country. Wyoming is bordered on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the southwest by Utah, and on the west by Idaho and Montana. The state population was estimated at 577,737 in 2018, which is less than 31 of the most populous U.S. cities including Denver in neighboring Colorado. Cheyenne is the state capital and the most populous city, with an estimated population of 63,624 in 2017.
The Tongue River is a tributary of the Yellowstone River, approximately 265 mi (426 km) long, in the U.S. states of Wyoming and Montana. The Tongue rises in Wyoming in the Big Horn Mountains, flows through northern Wyoming and southeastern Montana and empties into the Yellowstone River at Miles City, Montana. Most of the course of the river is through the beautiful and varied landscapes of eastern Montana, including the Tongue River Canyon, the Tongue River breaks, the pine hills of southern Montana, and the buttes and grasslands that were formerly the home of vast migratory herds of American bison. The Tongue River watershed encompasses parts of the Cheyenne and Crow Reservations. The Headwaters lie on the Big Horn National Forest, and the watershed encompasses the Ashland Ranger District of the Custer National Forest.
The Cheyenne and Lakota attacked the unprotected Crow camp at noon. With a camp with only women, children and old men, they were in control right from the start. p. 130 They killed all the old men, captured the horse herds, took the women and children captive and reduced the camp to rubble. :p. 26 On the way back to Powder River, a disagreement started between the Cheyenne and the Lakota over the division of the more than 100 captives. During the heated discussion, an unknown number of Crow women and children were killed by the warriors. :p. 26:
The battle is mentioned in the Oglala Lakota American Horse's winter count. It tells of a Crow camp with 100 tipis. The Lakotas "killed many and took many prisoners". p. 553, fig. 776:
This was likely the most severe blow to the Crow tribe on the battlefield in historic time. p. 190 :p. 168:
Due to the meager sources, it is difficult to name all war leaders and warriors involved in the fighting, provide exact figures of the strength of the camps, or the number of casualties. The attack may sometimes be confused with other big Cheyenne or Lakota victories over the Crow. pp. 130-133 :p. 55 In 1876, James H. Bradley, chief of Crow scouts gave an account of the battle as understood by him. :p. 179:
With the 1820 massacre, the Cheyenne and Lakota prevented themselves from ever becoming allies of the Crow, as they tried later during Red Cloud's War against the whites in the 1860s. p. 91:
The following years the devastating defeat resulted in attacks of revenge by the Crows, which the Cheyennes counter-revenged. p. 27 Cheyenne warrior George Bent visited the scene of the massacre in 1865 with his tribe. It still showed evidence of the destruction in form of broken tipi poles. Here and there, they found old hand weapons of stone in the grass. :p. 26:
With time, the Crow blamed the Lakota alone for the attack at Tongue River in 1820. More than 100 years later Crow chief Plenty Coups told about the never forgotten massacre. In his opinion, the Crows had nearly been wiped out "that terrible day" in 1820. p. 190 Crow woman Pretty Shield expressed the same view while telling about her life and the Crows to Frank B. Linderman. :p. 168:
The Cheyenne Indians lost the Sacred Arrows around 1830, when they tried to repeat the victory over the Crow in an attack on a hunting camp of Pawnee Indians.
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.
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.
Crazy Horse was a Lakota war leader of the Oglala band in the 19th century. He took up arms against the United States federal government to fight against encroachment by white American settlers on Native American territory and to preserve the traditional way of life of the Lakota people. His participation in several famous battles of the Black Hills War on the northern Great Plains, among them the Fetterman Fight in 1866 in which he acted as a decoy and the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 in which he led a war party to victory, earned him great respect from both his enemies and his own people.
Plenty Coups was the principal chief of the Mountain Crows of the Crow Nation and a visionary leader.
The Battle of the Rosebud occurred 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 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 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.
He Dog. A member of the Oglala Lakota, He Dog was closely associated with Crazy Horse during the Great Sioux War of 1876-77.
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.
Wooden Leg (1858–1940) was a Northern Cheyenne warrior who fought against Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
The Battle of Powder River, also known as the Reynolds Battle, occurred on Friday, March 17, 1876, in Montana Territory, United States. The attack on a Cheyenne Indian encampment by Colonel Joseph J. Reynolds initiated the Great Sioux War of 1876. Although destroying a large amount of Indian property, the attack was poorly carried out and probably solidified Lakota Sioux and northern Cheyenne resistance to the U.S. attempt to force them to sell the Black Hills and live on a reservation.
The Hayfield Fight on August 1, 1867 was an engagement of Red Cloud's War near Fort C. F. Smith, Montana, between 21 soldiers of the U.S. Army, a hay-cutting crew of nine civilians, and several hundred Native Americans, mostly Cheyenne and Arapaho, with some Lakota Sioux. Armed with newly issued breechloading Springfield Model 1866 rifles, the heavily outnumbered soldiers held off the native warriors and inflicted casualties.
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.
Two Strike was a Brulé Lakota chief born in the White River Valley in present-day Nebraska. He earned his Lakota name "Nomkahpa", meaning "Knocks Two Off" in a battle with Utes, when he knocked two off their horses with a single blow of his war club. Two Strike fought in various battles against the U.S. Army during the early conflict of the Plains Indian wars and of the Great Sioux wars with Chief Crow Dog and Chief Crazy Horse as well as various war exploits and atrocities against the Pawnee.
The Pawnee capture of the Cheyenne Sacred Arrows occurred around 1830 in central Nebraska, when the Cheyenne attacked a group from the Skidi Pawnee tribe, who were hunting bison. The Cheyenne had with them their sacred bundle of four arrows, called the Mahuts. During the battle, this sacred, ceremonial object was taken by the Pawnee. The Cheyenne initially made replica arrows but also tried to get the originals back. They recovered one from the Pawnee directly, either given to them or taken by them, and a second was captured by the Lakota and returned to the Cheyenne in exchange for horses. The two corresponding replicas were ceremonially returned to the Black Hills, where the arrows were traditionally believed to have originated. Eventually the bundles were re-established and the societies and their ceremonies continue into the present day.
Arikara scouts were enlisted men from the Arikara Nation serving in the U.S. Army at different frontier posts in present-day North Dakota from 1868 to 1881. The enlistment period was six months with re-enlistment possible. Each scout received a uniform, firearm and drew rations. Scout duties ranged from carrying mail between commands to tracking down traditional enemies perceived as hostile by the Army in far ranging military campaigns. Detailed to secure the horses in located enemy camps, the scouts were often the first to engage in battle. The Arikara took part when the Army protected survey crews in the Yellowstone area in the early 1870s. They participated in the Great Sioux War of 1876 and developed into Colonel George Armstrong Custer's "… most loyal and permanent scouts …".