The Battle of Little Bighorn: Causes of Warfare
The Story of the Battle:
Causes of Warfare |
The Expedition Against the Native Tribes |
Native American Movements and Their First Conflict With the Troops |
Custer's Troops Take to the Trail |
Custer Divides His Command, and Reno Engages the Native Americans |
Custer's Last Battle |
Reno Battle Renewed by the Native Americans |
The March of Generals Terry and Gibbon and Their Arrival at the Battleground |
The Return to Bismarck |
The Story of the Failed Attack Released |
The continued expansion of the white men west of the Mississippi River
forced the Native American tribes of the plains to restricted 'Concentration
Areas' called 'Reservations'. Whatever good grazing and hunting lands they have
managed to secure has been often taken away when avaricious white settlers and
fortune hunters demanded the land for other uses.
The treaty of 1868, signed at Fort Laramie, Wy., provided that a large area
be set aside as a permanent home for Sioux and Cheyenne people. This area,
known as the Great Sioux Reservation, included the Black Hills, which were
abundant with game, and was for the exclusive use of Native Americans. The
treaty also specified that the tribes retain certain hunting privileges within
defined limits outside the reservation.
In 1874 General Custer and the Seventh Cavalry were sent from Fort Lincoln,
in Dakota Territory, with a scientific expedition into the Black Hills,
principally to explore the area and to secure military information. While
exploring the country, rumors of gold in the hills were confirmed by
prospectors who accompanied the military force. This was unnecessary and
uncalled for provocation by the US Military.
The immediate effect of the circulation of news of the gold discovery by
Custer's Black Hills expedition was the invasion of the region by hordes of
white miners. Since the hills lay within the Great Sioux Reservation the
Federal Government was bound by treaty stipulation to prevent the migration of
its citizens to the area. It failed to do so turning a blind eye on the
unlawful actions of American citizens.
Because of actual and potential values of the Black Hills to the Native
American tribes, would-be intruders could expect anything but gentle treatment.
The magnetic attraction of gold, however, was too powerful for either fears of
physical dangers or personal hardships to counteract. Nor did respect for the
sanctity of treaty obligations serve as an effective deterrent. Hence, the
white intruders were ready to brave the hardships of a Dakota winter in an isolated
wilderness and break the law for greed that knows no end.
The US propaganda made white intruders believe the conflict was caused by
the hostility of certain Native American tribes. From the Native American point
of view, the conflict was due to the repeated encroachment upon their lands by
frontiersmen, often in violation of treaty stipulations.