In the year 1876, there were a series of wars referred to as The Great Sioux War and the Black Hills War. These battles entailed negotiations wherein the Lakota Sioux, as well as the Northern Cheyenne and the United States Government, argued over who was the owner of the Black Hills.
Once gold was found in the Black Hills, the United States government began their quest to take it away from the Native American’s and claim it as their own. This caused a huge battle between the Native Americans, the settlers and the United States Government.
The Native American’s, both Sioux and Cheyenne, flat out refused to cede the ownership of the Black Hills and the military centered around the epicenter of the argument. Many Indians believed that the Cheyenne were the intended target of the argument however, it was clear that the American and the United States government were certain that the Black Hills should be in their ownership.
There were many battles and skirmishes that include the Battle of Little Bighorn which is also referred to as Custer’s Last Stand. The Army and the Plain Indians were in a war as to who would own the land. Ulysses S. Grant was president and they finally came to an agreement and annexed some of the Sioux lands and established Indian reservations that were to be permanent.
Meanwhile, the Cheyenne migrated west toward the Black Hills and the Powder River area before the Lakota. They introduced them to horses in around 1730 and by the late part of the 18th century, they were expanding their personal territory west of the Missouri River. Here, they would push the Kiowa and form alliances with both the Cheyenne and the Arapaho in an effort to gain control of the Black Hills which are located in South Dakota. They also wanted the lodgepole pines that would be sacred to the Lakota culture.
By the 19th century, Northern Cheyenne were the first to wage a tribal war and argue that the military may have overstepped their bounds. The Cheyenne were a major force in the warfare on the Plains.
There were many miners and many settlers who encroached into the Dakota Territory. The government couldn’t’ keep them out and by the year 1872, the territorial officials were even considering harvesting the timber resources in the Black Hills and floating them downriver for sale.
The geological survey’s also recommended that there was a huge potential for mineral resources and they were approached regarding getting the Lakota to sign away the Black Hills. Since this was the only area of the reservation worth anything, the army found that the only way there would regain the Black Hills was to annihilate them.
Custer was dispatched in 1874 to begin this process and the rest is history. As violators trickled into the Black Hills in search of gold, they gained momentum and invaded the hills before the gold rush would end.
Originally, the U.S. Army attempted to keep the miners out of the area, however, the miners managed to evade the army and take over. There were a few evictions but not enough to make a major difference.
Lakota leaders refused to sign the treaty that was offered and move to present-day Oklahoma, and told them that if they thought the region was so great, they should send the white men to the region.
While the attempt was unsuccessful, the leaders didn’t join in with chief Crazy Horse to have a peaceful solution. The government attempt again failed. The army carried out many devastating attacks on the Cheyenne camps during this time.
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