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Battle of Little Bighorn

The Battle of the Little Bighorn was a short-held victory for the Native Americans against the U.S. Army. It was the army’s worse defeat of the Plains Indian Wars.

Charles Marion Russell The Custer Fight

The Treaty of Fort Laramie

The scene was set for the Battle of Little Bighorn just some years before in 1868. The American government wrote a treaty called the Treaty of Fort Laramie.

It was an attempt to stop Native Americans fighting back with the settlers who were taking their land. It marked out an area that the Native American Lakota and Cheyenne had to live on.

Sioux Territory

This was to control them more and force them to adopt Christianity.

Custer’s Expedition

There were rumours that there was gold in the land given to the Native Americans. The Americans broke their treaty and sent miners into the land to dig for Gold.

Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer In Field Uniform

The Lakota and Cheyenne had always hunted for bison on the lands of Nebraska and Montana. They decided that, because the Treaty did not apply to the settlers, it no longer applied to them either.

So, the Lakota and Cheyenne hunted once more for bison on these lands. The bison were extremely important to Native American life on the plains.

Bison And Indians Of De Bry

The American government gave a 30-day warning to Native Americans to get off this land and stop hunting bison.

A three-pronged attack

The U.S. Army launched an attack in three parts. First, soldiers marched east from Fort Ellis (Montana) under Colonel John Gibbon.

Sioux Charging At Battle Of Rosebud

The second prong went west from present-day North Dakota under Alfred Terry and General Custer. The third was led by General George Crook and went north.

The plan was for them all to meet at Little Bighorn.

This plan went astray when Crook was met by Native Americans near Rosebud Creek, and Crook’s Army was defeated.

Edgar Samuel Paxson Custers Last Stand

General Custer marched on ahead and decided to attack Little Bighorn. He had 600 men and thought, at most, he would be met with 800 Native American fighters.

He was wrong, there were 5,000-8,000 Native Americans, including 2,000 warriors.

Wounded Knee Scene Dead And Horses

Custer’s defeat angers Americans

This humiliating defeat made Americans really angry and the Sioux were forced back onto the reservation by 1877.

The Black Hills were also taken back by the United States which was a direct violation of the Treaty.

Soldier Memorial Little Bighorn

This victory was only a short-lived one because the Sioux and Cheyenne suffered greatly in years to come.

Some think that the Massacre of the Wounded Knee was just payback for Custer’s embarrassment.

Quiz – Test Your Knowledge!

What was the Treaty in 1868 called?

What were the settlers looking for on Native American land?

Casualty Marker Battle Of The Little Bighorn
What did the Cheyenne and the Lakota hunt for?

Who led the second group in the attack?

Marker Stone On The Battlefield

Native Americans

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