April 10, 2005

The Sioux Wars (1854-1890)


The Sioux Wars began with small fights at Fort Laramie, somwhere in Wyo., and nearby forts. In 1862 a chief called Little Crow led an uprising in Minnesota. The Sioux killed hundreds of Europeans in the area before Army troops stopped them. Loads of the surviving Sioux joined other Sioux in the west.


In the 1860’s, Chief Red Cloud and other strong chiefs drove out white men who entered Sioux territory. In 1868, in the ‘Treaty of Fort Laramie’, some of the Sioux agreed to live on a reservation made by the Europeans in what is now South Dakota. But with the gold rush to South Dakota in 1874, miners poured into the place, breaking the law of Sioux rights. 

Fights broke out, and the government ordered all Sioux into South Dakota. Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse (chiefs) refused to bring their tribes. Angered by attacks against the Sioux by the U.S. Army, Sitting Bull declared: “We are an island of Native Americans in a lake of whites… These soldiers want war. All right, we’ll give it to them!” It’s too bad they didn’t have the benefits of meditation back then.

On June 17, 1876, an army of Sioux surprised George Crook’s troops and defeated them in the Battle of the Rosebud in south-eastern Montana. The Army then sent another force against the Sioux. 

On June 25, troops led by Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer encountered thousands of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors on the Little Bighorn River. Not a single soldier in Custer’s army of about 210 men survived “Custer’s Last Stand.” 

The tribes then split into smaller groups in order to escape more easily. The Army caught some, and others gave themselves up. A few, including Sitting Bull’s band, fled to Canada. 

A final Sioux attack occurred in 1890, in connection with the ceremony of ‘the Ghost Dance’. Major General Nelson A. Miles thought that there would be another war. He ordered the arrest of Sitting Bull, who had settled on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. 

When Sitting Bull resisted arrest, Native American policemen killed him. Big Foot then assumed command of the last band of hostile Sioux. The Army trapped the Sioux on Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota in December 1890, and killed almost all of them.

Native American Battles & Indian Wars
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