Row Heading 1 The Battle of Little Bighorn The Battle of Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand, occurred on June 25th of 1876. The Battle took place near the Little Bighorn River in the Montana territory. The conflict was between federal troops who were by led by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, the Lakota and Cheyenne people who were led by Sitting Bull. Several significant events led up to the Battle of Little Bighorn, including broken treaties and multiple smaller battles. The Battle of Little Bighorn was the last battle in the Indian Wars.1 George Armstrong Custer was the Lieutenant Colonel commanding the 7th Cavalry. Lt. Col. Custer was a West Point graduate from the class of 1861. He served with distinction in several battles in the civil war to include; Gettysburg, Cometary Ridge, Overland Campaign, and Cedar Creek. He was also at Appomattox for General Lee’s surrender. By the end of the Civil War in 1865, he had attained the rank of Major. He was then assigned to the Indian Wars in the West and given the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.2 1 “Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/libi/index.htm. 2 Editors, History.com. “George Armstrong Custer.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/george-armstrongcuster#section_7. Row Heading 2 The Lakota people were a Native American tribe located in the Northern Midwest, covering the states of Minnesota, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. The Lakota were one of the three Sioux tribes, known as the Teton Sioux. In 1851, the Lakota signed the Fort Laramie Treaty, which allowed the settlers to travel across the Lakota land unharmed on their way to Oregon. This did not last long as some of the settlers decided to settle in the Lakota territory and were not stopped by the federal government. This did not sit well with the Lakota and they attacked several settlements, which caused a reaction from the United States government. The United States Army was sent into the Lakota territory to put an end to these attacks. In September of 1855 General William S. Harney led 700 soldiers in an attack on a Lakota village in Nebraska. The Civil War caused even more settlers to enter the Lakota territory as refugees further aggravating the situation. After the Civil War miners moved into the Black Hills, which the Lakota considered sacred ground. The United States built forts along the Bozeman Trail to prevent attacks against the miners. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 was signed to keep white settlers out of the Black Hills permanently. This only lasted a short time until gold was discovered, and once again the miners violated the treaty and returned to the Black Hills. The leader of the Lakota people during the Battle of Little Bighorn was Sitting Bull. Even though Sitting Bull’s band were not involved in the attacks against the settlers, they were treated equally as guilty by the United States Government.3 The Cheyenne people were a Native American tribe located in North and South Dakota area, in and around the Black Hills. The Cheyenne were also a part of the Fort Laramie Treaty 3 “Teton.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/Teton. Row Heading 3 of 1851. The wounding of a Cheyenne warrior in 1856 caused the Cheyenne to begin attacking settlers. This led to the United States Cavalry to attack the Cheyenne, killing and wounding several braves. The Cheyenne then went on to attack several groups of settlers. The First Cavalry Regiment was sent in to put an end to the attacks by the Cheyenne. The United States Army then continued attacking the Cheyenne in several small battles. In 1859 once again, miners intruded into the Cheyenne territory in Colorado during the Colorado Gold Rush. The Treaty of Fort Wise was enacted, and the Cheyenne gave up their territory as agreed to in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. Many Cheyenne did not agree to the treaty and remained on their traditional grounds. In 1864 at the urging of John Evans, the Colorado governor, the Colorado volunteers began attacking the Cheyenne who had refused to leave their land. This caused a war between the Cheyenne and Colorado. During this time, the volunteers attacked a Cheyenne encampment killing over a hundred women and children. In the beginning of 1865, the Cheyenne attacked Camp Rankin with a large group of warriors. After many raids, the Cheyenne moved north back into the Black Hills. In November of 1868 Lt. Col. Custer attacked the Cheyenne on the reservation, killing many men, women, children.4 The Sun Dance ceremony was an annual religious event. Many tribes gathered together for the Sun Dance ceremony. The ceremony was a time for prayer and sacrifice. The ceremony consisted of many features including tradition dances and songs played on traditional drums, a 4 Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Cheyenne.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 Mar. 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/Cheyenne-people. Row Heading 4 sacred fire, and fasting. Sitting Bull had a vision during the ceremony of soldiers falling upside down into his village. He saw it as a sign of impending victory. The U. S. 7th Cavalry which is the main force that engaged in the Battle of Little Bighorn, was understaffed and ill trained. A large portion of the troops were new recruits with very little to no experience. A large number of the officers were on detached duty to other units, leaving a gap in the command structure of the Regiment. Col. Samuel D Sturgis, who was the regimental commander, was on detached service to the Mounted Recruiting Service at the Cavalry Depot in St. Louis, leaving the command to Lt. Col. Custer. The Battle of Rosebud occurred on June 17 in 1876, in the Montana territory. It was between the United States Army with their Native American allies against the Lakota and Cheyenne. General George Crook were coming from Fort Fetterman and was to be supposed to be joining two other groups of soldiers, one being the 7th Cavalry commanded by Lt. Col. Custer, and the other General Gibbon’s group. When General Crook’s group was approaching Little Bighorn, a scout spotted a large group of Sioux. General Crook wanted to attack the group and had Native American allies from the Crow and Shoshone tribes who warned him about Crazy Horse. General Crook had stopped to take a break and let the rest of the soldiers catch up. This is when the Sioux attacked which caught most of General Crook’s men of guard. General Crook retreated and later joined the other 2 groups in the Battle of Little Bighorn. The Crow and Shoshone would join the Lakota and Cheyenne.5 5 “Indians Hammer U.S. Soldiers at the Battle of the Rosebud.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 16 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/indians-hammer-u-ssoldiers-at-the-battle-of-the-rosebud. Row Heading 5 Major Reno and his men were the first group to attack in the Battle of Little Bighorn. Without knowing the precise location and size of the Native American group, Major Reno and his men headed in the direction of the group. When him and his men got close enough to the group, the Native Americans attacked and reno’ men retreated. Custer’s part of the battle is very vague since there was only one survivor from his command. Curley, his scout from the Crow tribe said that Custer had attacked the group and was pushed back to the area where his body was found. After Custer was defeated the Lakota and Cheyenne returned to attack reno and his men. This battle was the last of the Indian Wars.6 After the Battle of Little Bighorn led to many problems for Native Americans. The battle lead to the government and military to focus on the Sioux tribes. For example, the United States would stop giving rations to the Sioux if they did not agree to give up ownership of the Black Hills. Even though the Native Americans won, they still were not treated as though they were Americans.7 6 “Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/libi/index.htm. 7 “Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/libi/index.htm. Row Heading 6 Works Cited Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Cheyenne.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 Mar. 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/Cheyenne-people. Editors, History.com. “George Armstrong Custer.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/george-armstrongcuster#section_7. “Indians Hammer U.S. Soldiers at the Battle of the Rosebud.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 16 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/indians-hammer-u-ssoldiers-at-the-battle-of-the-rosebud. “Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/libi/index.htm. “Teton.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/Teton.