Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Sioux Reservation in 1888

Sioux, or Dakota, Indians, a large and powerful tribe of Indians, who were found by the French, in 1640, near the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The Algonquiens called them Nadowessioux, whence they came to be called Sioux. They occupied the vast domain extending from the Arkansas River, in the south, to the western tributary of Lake Winnipeg, in the north, and westward to the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. They have been classed into four grand divisions - namely, the Winnebagoes, who inhabited the country between Lake Michigan as the Mississippi, among the Algonquians; the Assiniboines, or Sioux proper (the most northerly of the nation) ; the Minnetaree group, in Minnesota; and the Southern Sioux, who dwelt in the country between the Arkansas and Platte rivers, and whose hunting-grounds extended to the Rocky Mountains. In 1679 Jean Duluth, a French officer, set up the Gallic standard among them near Lake St. Peter, and next year he rescued from them Father Hennepin, who first explored the upper Mississippi. The French took formal possession of the country in 1685, when they were divided into seven eastern and nine western tribes. In wars with the French and other Indians, they were pushed down the Mississippi, and, driving off the inhabitants of the buffalo plains, took possession.
Others remained on the shores of the St. Peter. Some of them wandered into the plains of Missouri, and there joined the Southern Sioux.

War of 1812

In the War of 1812 the Sioux took sides with the British. In 1822 the population of the two divisions of the tribe was estimated at nearly 13,000. In 1837 they ceded to the United States all their lands east of the Mississippi, and in 1851 they ceded 35,000,000 acres west of the Mississippi for $3,000,000. The neglect of the government to carry out all the provisions of the treaties for these cessions caused much bitter feeling, and a series of hostilities by some of the Sioux ensued; but after being defeated by General Harney, in 1855, a treaty of peace was concluded.


Many bands fled into what was then Dakota Territory, and the strength of the nation was greatly reduced. The most guilty bands fled into the British dominions, while others, from time to time, attacked settlements and menaced forts. Loosely made treaties were violated on both sides. By one of these the Black Hills were made part of a reservation, but gold having been discovered there, the United States wished to purchase the tract, and induce the Indians to abandon that region and emigrate to the Indian Territory. They showed great reluctance to treat. Sitting Bull, Spotted Tail, and Red Cloud visited the national capital in 1875, but President Grant could not induce them to sign a treaty. Commissioners met an immense number of them at the Red Cloud agency, in September, but nothing was done. The sending of surveyors under a military escort to the Black Hills excited the jealousy of the Sioux, and they prepared for war.

The Battle of Little Big Horn

In the spring of 1876 a military force was sent against them, and in June a severe battle was fought, in which General Custer and all of his immediate command were slain. This battle will live in infamy, popularly referred to as "The Battle of Little Big Horn", or "Custer's Last Stand". By whatever name it is called, it will be remembered as one of the most significant victories of the Indian Nations.  While in the end their cause was lost, they demonstrated their superb bravery and military skill in defeating Custer and humiliating the US Army.

The Battle of Wounded Knee

On Dec. 15 a body of Indian police, acting under orders from General Miles, attempted to arrest Sitting Bull in his camp, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Yates, N. D. A skirmish ensued, and in it the noted chieftain, together with his son Crowfoot and six other Indians, was killed. The remnant of the band made its way to the Bad Lands. On Dec. 28 a battle occurred near Wounded Knee, S. D., between a cavalry regiment and the men of Big Foot's band. Thirty of the whites were killed, while the Indian dead numbered over 200, including many of their women and children. Over 3,000 Indians then fled from the agency and encamped near White Clay Creek, where, on the next day, another encounter occurred. The result of this engagement was the dispersal of the Indians with heavy loss, and the death of eight soldiers of the 9th Cavalry. Several other skirmishes occurred during the week which followed, with loss of life on both sides. On Jan. 14, 1891, two councils were held with General Miles, and the chiefs, seeing the hopelessness of their cause, agreed to surrender their arms and return to the agency.

The war was practically ended, and on Jan. 21 the greater part of the troops were withdrawn from the neighborhood of the reservation. On the 29th, a delegation of Sioux chiefs, under charge of Agent Lewis, arrived in Washington for the purpose of conferring with the Secretary of the Interior. The conference began on Feb. 7, and continued four days, at the close of which the Indians were received by President Harrison at the White House. They were assured that the cutting down of the congressional appropriation was an accident, and that the government desired faithfully to carry out every agreement made. On their return home the chiefs stopped for a short time at Carlisle, Pa., where the children of several of them were attending school. In 1899 the total number of Sioux was 27,215, divided into nineteen bands, and located principally in South Dakota.


Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull

Tatanka Iyotaka (Sitting Bull) was born about 1837, near the Grand River in South Dakota.  As a child he was known as Slon-He.  He became a chief, Chief Sitting Bull, and a medicine man of the Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux Native American tribe.  He led his people against the United States in many battles.

Red Cloud's War

Sitting Bull led numerous war parties against Fort Berthold, Fort Stevenson, and Fort Buford and their environs from 1865 through 1868. Although Red Cloud was a leader of the Oglala Sioux, his leadership and attacks against forts in the Powder River Country of Montana were supported by Sitting Bull's guerrilla attacks on emigrant parties and smaller forts throughout the upper Missouri River region.

The Railroad and the Gold RushThe Panic of 1873 forced the Northern Pacific Railway's backers (such as Jay Cooke) into bankruptcy. This financial condition halted construction of the railroad through Sioux territory. At the same time, other men became interested in the possibility of gold mining in the Black Hills. In 1874, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer led a military expedition from Fort Abraham Lincoln, near Bismarck, to explore the Black Hills for gold and to determine a suitable location for a military fort in the Hills. Custer's announcement of gold in the Black Hills triggered the Black Hills Gold Rush. Tensions increased between the Sioux and European Americans' seeking to move into the Black Hills.

The Battle at the Little Big Horn River

The most famous of which was the Battle at the Little Big Horn River against Lieutenant General George Armstrong Custer on June 25, 1876.

Following that battle, Sitting Bull and his followers escaped to Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan, where he remained until 1881, at which time he surrendered to US forces.

When he returned to the United States he worked as a performer in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.

Death and Burial
After working in the Wild West show, he returned to the Standing Rock Agency in South Dakota.  While there, his people were performing the ghost dance which it was felt by the United States soldiers incited Native Americans against the United States.  Because of fears that he would use his influence to support the Ghost Dance movement, Indian Service agent James McLaughlin at Fort Yates ordered his arrest. On December 15, 1890, during an ensuing struggle between Sitting Bull's followers and the agency police, Sitting Bull was shot in the side and head by Standing Rock policemen, Lieutenant Bull Head (Tatankapah) and Red Tomahawk Marcelus Chankpidutah, after the police were fired upon by Sitting Bull's supporters.

Read more about Sitting Bull here.

Chief Crazy Horse


Tȟašúŋke Witkó, Cha-O-Ha and Curly, who became Crazy Horse, was born about 1840 on the South Cheyenne River.

Battle of the Red Buttes

Through the late 1850s and early 1860s, Crazy Horse's reputation as a warrior grew, as did his fame among the Lakota. The Lakota conveyed accounts of him in their oral histories; they had no written language. His first kill was a Shoshone raider who had killed a Lakota woman washing buffalo meat along the Powder River. Crazy Horse fought in numerous battles between the Lakota and their traditional enemies, the Crow, Shoshone, Pawnee, Blackfeet, and Arikara, among Plains tribes.
Fetterman Massacre

On December 21, 1866, Crazy Horse and six other warriors, both Lakota and Cheyenne, decoyed Capt. William Fetterman's 53 infantrymen and 27 cavalry troopers under Lt. Grummond into an ambush.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn River

At 3:00 p.m. on June 25, 1876, Custer's 7th Cavalry attacked a large encampment of Cheyenne and Lakota bands along the Little Bighorn River, marking the beginning of his last battle. Crazy Horse's actions during the battle are unknown. Possibly Crazy Horse entered the battle by repelling the first attack led by Major Marcus Reno, but it is also possible that he was still in his lodge waiting for the larger battle with Custer.

Waterman, one of only five Arapaho warriors who fought, said that Crazy Horse "was the bravest man I ever saw. He rode closest to the soldiers, yelling to his warriors. All the soldiers were shooting at him, but he was never hit."[18] Sioux battle participant, Little Soldier, said, "The greatest fighter in the whole battle was Crazy Horse."

Crazy Horse was stabbed to death by the bayonet of a guard on September 5, 1877.

Read more about Crazy Horse here.