Category Archives: United States

What Is The Sun Dance Gathering Of The Native Americans?

The Sun Dance is a religious ceremony practiced by Indian tribes that lived in the so-called Great Plains of the United States and Canada, that is, from the grassland that spans the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, and from Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada through Texas in the United States.

For the Great Plains Indians, the Sun Dance ceremony is the most important religious event of the year and serves as an occasion for different groups to gather to celebrate their central beliefs about the Universe and the supernatural. Plans are made one year in advance, and the event is held either in late spring or early summer when herds of buffalo gather in the Great Plains after winter. In other words, it is held during the time when large groups of people have access to plentiful sources of food.

During the ceremony, a select group of men dancers for several days around a central pole for days, only stopping for short breaks. It is a test of physical endurance that the dancers are willing to make for the sake of their tribe. Aside from fasting for a few days during the dance, the dancers are fastened to the central pole through a piercing on their chests.

It is said that one of the reasons why the US and Canadian governments banned the Sun Dance was because of the piercing, which settlers from Europe found offensive. While this is partly true, the ban was meant to wipe out the cultural and religious identity of the vanquished Indian tribes. In Canada, the Sun Dance was outlawed in 1895 and the prohibition was only lifted it in 1950. In the United States, the ban was in place until the 1970s.

Because of the ban, this tradition almost became extinct. As a matter of fact, the Indians had to relearn it in the 1930s.

Since it became legal again, there have been many efforts by different Plains Indian tribes to preserve the Sun Dance. And there have also been moves to ban non-Indians from watching the ceremony. Spectators can join the community camped around the area of the dance but they cannot approach the altar.

Although it has its origins among the Great Plains Indians, other Indian tribes have also adopted the dance as a form of community prayer for life, thanksgiving, world renewal. The individual dancers have their own intentions for dancing though, like praying for a friend or a family member or praying for guidance.

Central to the Sun Dance is the belief that the planet will lose its connection to the Universe if the dance is not performed every year, thereby affecting Earth’s ability to regenerate itself.

The Sun Dance is only one of thirteen dances that are traditionally performed by the Indian tribes. Preparation for it is very detailed. It involves making a lodge from a cottonwood tree. The tree chosen must be large and have a forked branch in the middle. Twelve poles are then placed upright around a central pole in a circular manner. The poles are set 13 paces away from the central pole. From an aerial view, it would like a wagon wheel with a central hub.

The dance lasts for three to four days. During this time, tribe members dance to the beat of a drum. They fast for the duration of the dance. The result is brutal as many dancers collapse but this collapse is followed by a vision. It is said that the collapsed dancers share a similar vision, thus giving group guidance for the good of the tribe.

The Two Most Lopsided Battles In American History

American history is an extensive one, and its battles are often highlighted by experts.

However, there are a few battles which continue to be spoken as some of the most lopsided ones in recent history.

Here is a look at the two most lopsided battles in American history and why those results occurred as they did.

1) The Battle of 73 Easting

This one took place in 1991 during the month of February, and it was one-sided.

It took place between the American-British alliance and an Iraqi Republican Guard.

It was one of the last tank battles that took place in the 20th century and was short-lived, to say the least.

The American-British alliance had a good unit of 10,000 men that were going in tanks.

In the end, it didn’t take much effort at all because a mere group of 400 American/British soldiers was able to handle a force of 3000-4000 soldiers from the other side. The mission was accomplished, and they were able to get the job done in a few hours. It was one of the more lopsided battles in the history of American battles.

2) Battle of Yorktown

This took place in the late 1700s where the British were looking to take over a set part of America. Lord Charles Cornwallis was behind this battle as he was looking to cut off the supply in Virginia.

Washington and his allies were able to dominate over Lord Charles Cornwallis and his men.

This ensured the siege didn’t work.

The British had to surrender, and a deal was made to negotiate peace. However, for the British, this was just a small bit of damage compared to a number of outposts they lost as a result of their actions.

Here are the most lopsided battles in American history.

Who Was Sitting Bull?

Do you ever wonder who Sitting Bull really was? Has anyone ever asked you? You might have heard the name in history class or from a television show, film, or youtube video. If you’re wondering, then keep reading to learn just who Sitting Bull was.

Sitting Bull’s specific date of birth is unknown, but assumed to have been in the year 1831. Though we don’t know exactly when he was born, we know he died on December 15th, 1890.

He was a holy man of the Hunkpapa Lakota Native Americans. Much of his adult life centered around resisting the policies of the United States government and sometimes even the government itself. Indian agency police who feared he might join forces with the Ghost Dance movement sought to arrest him on the Standing Rock Indian reservation. When they tried to arrest him, he attempted to escape and was killed in the process.

Prior to the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as “Custer’s Last Stand,” legend has it that Sitting Bull experienced a vision. In it, he witnessed a lot of soldiers, which he described to be ‘as thick as grasshoppers,’ falling into a Lakota camp upside down. His people took this vision as foreshadowing, predicting a significant victory where many of those soldiers would perish.

Not even a month after this vision, a combination of Northern Cheyenne and confederated Lakota tribes gained victory over the 7th Cavalry that was under the command of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer. On June 25, 1876, they destroyed the battalion and seemingly fulfilled the prophetic vision of Sitting Bull. His leadership inspired those around him to a huge victory.

Some months following the battle and subsequent victory, Sitting Bull and his followers crossed the international border into Canada, departing for the Wood Mountain of the North-West Territories (modern-day Saskatchewan). He remained there until 1881. The depletion of buffalo populations that far north, combined with conflict and tensions with Native Americans already in the area, convinced him and most of his band to return to the United States where they surrendered to the United States authorities.

Sitting Bull actually worked for a while as a performer in the famous Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, but wound up returning with many of his band to the Standing Rock Agency located in modern South Dakota. At the time, the American government was fearful that the growing Ghost Dance movement might mean a new round of conflict with Native Americans, and there was strong suspicion that Sitting Bull might use his influence from two previous conflicts to support the growing Ghost Dance movement. James McLaughlin was an Indian Service agent stationed at Fort Yates that ordered the arrest of Sitting Bull. A struggle ensued between agency police and the followers of Sitting Bull, who suffered gunshots to the head and side of his body, both of which were fired by Standing Rock policemen Red Tomahawk and Lieutenant Bull Head. This happened after they were fired upon themselves by supporters of Sitting Bull.

The body of Sitting Bull was buried at Fort Yates until 1953, at which point his Lakota descendants exhumed what was thought to be his individual remains. They reburied them near his birthplace outside of Mobridge, South Dakota.

While Sitting Bull never became an influence or factor in the Ghost Dance movement, he was heavily involved in two periods of actual violence between Plains Indians and the United States. Before participating in the Great Sioux War of 1876, which included the vision and victory over Custer and his forces, Sitting Bull was very actively involved in the larger Red Cloud’s War of a decade earlier. Even after Red Cloud himself signed a treaty of peace, Sitting Bull continued to lead Lakota raids against forts and settlements for years.

Did the United States Support The Great Sioux War?

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.

For more information on this subject, check out the video below:

The Battle of Little Bighorn Movies and Historical Comparisons

On June 25, 1876, a joint force of Northern Cheyenne and Lakota headed the 7th Cavalry of the United States into combat nearby the Little Bighorn Waterway, then Montana Territory’s eastern edge. The conflict was regarded by a number of names, like, Custer’s Last Stand, the Little Big Horn Battle, and the Greasy Grass Battle. Conceivably the most prominent measure of the Indian Wars, it turned out to be an impressive glory for Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, Great Plains’ Sioux tribe leaders, and their men.

Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull ardently opposed the 19th-century attempts of the United States government to restrain their men and women to reservations. They conquered a line of more than seven hundred troops headed by George Armstrong Custer. Five of the seven cavalries were wiped out and Custer was also slain in the encounter with his brother-in-law and two of his brothers. Recognized as the conflict that absolutely no white men survived, Little BigHorn War has influenced more than one thousand artworks, which includes about fifty films. Below are three of the best adaptations of the historical event.

  1. The American Experience: Last Stand at Little Big Horn (1992)

This documentary for the critically acclaimed “American Experience” series, Native American author James Welch and moviemaker Paul Stekler make use of oral accounts, journals, Indian ledger sketches, and archival footages to browse through the dubious battle of Little Bighorn. It is a US historical milestone that still fosters heated controversy to this day. The movie was narrated by award-winning Native American prose writer Scott Momaday.

The film greatly explores the controversial warfare from two viewpoints: the white settlers who had been heading west around the continent, and the Cheyenne, Lakota Sioux, and Crow who had resided in the Great Plains for decades. The combined artistry of Welch and Stekler produced one of the most balanced narratives about the event and earned them the coveted Emmy award.

  1. Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (1970)

A 2007 adaptation of HBO by Dee Alexander Brown, the film portrays the difficulties of the Indian Wars from three perspectives: Charles Eastman, a Boston University graduate Sioux physician; Sitting Bull, who headed the merged troops at Little Bighorn and adamantly refused to submit to the policies of the US government that removed the identity, dignity, and sacred land of his people; and Senator Henry Dawes, among the men in charge of the Indian affairs policy of the government. The plot started with 1876 American Indian victory at Greasy Grass and proceeds to the shameful death of Sioux warriors at South Dakota’s Wounded Knee on December 1890.

The movie is able to do an outstanding work at giving an academic and engaging overview for future exploration.

  1. Little Big Man (1970)

The film adaptation was directed by Arthur Penn based on Thomas Berger’s historical fiction by the same title. Granted it is modified history, it conveys the imaginary and satirical account of Jack Crabb; a white boy orphan and adopted by a Cheyenne soldier, who later became the sole white survivor of the Little Bighorn Battle. The movie depicted a sympathetic treatment to the Native American that was unusual for American pictures in earlier years. Dustin Hoffman played Crabb’s character relieving his long and brilliant life story to an inquisitive historian portrayed by William Hickey.

Historically, the Little Bighorn Battle tagged to be the most critical Native American win and the most detrimental US Army destruction in the long Indian War record. The grisly fate of Custer and his troops annoyed quite a few white Americans and affirmed their impressions of the Indians as primitive and wild. At the same time, the government enhanced their efforts to defeat the tribes and within five years, nearly all of the Cheyenne and Sioux are restrained to the reservations.

Indians And The War Of 1812

The War of 1812 was fought between the UK and US.

The issues simmered for a while, but the Napoleonic Wars grew in exposure and started to create major concerns in the US. The trade routes were being cut off, and this was deemed as “illegal” by the United States and a direct affront against their setup.

One of the primary groups in this war were the Natives.

They had a significant role in how the battles took place and the casualties that come from specific attacks.

British Allies

It was the Indians who were looking to target troops using land-based techniques they had honed over generations. They had to adjust based on their lower numbers to guarantee superior results without risking their men out in the open. This meant they had to use irregular battle tactics against opposition troops.

Local tribes were enlisted to fight the battles as they had a good idea of the local areas and how to manage them.

During their battles, two of the more prominent techniques involved ambushes and raids against larger groups.

The Indian chiefs were not intrigued by the idea of fighting battles where they were pushed to the front and left to fare heavy losses. This is why they maintained a strict stance against the type of battle they pursued and how it would be conducted.

This included the types of weapons they were using and the time they were attacking.


What weapons were they using for the attacks?

The Indians were using a collection of weapons that were familiar to them. It was easier for their troops to manage all types of situations by doing this in the War of 1812.

1) Swords
2) Knives
3) Arrows
4) Tomahawks
5) Clubs
6) Rifles
7) Muskets

The reason they were provided with these weapons had more to do with the numbers game. It was important for the British to get more people under their ranks to ensure the numbers game was in their favor. Losing out in numbers would make it harder to get to where they wanted to be.

This did lead to a lot of confrontations as time went on because Indian Chiefs were not as willing to listen to their British counterparts. They were willing to help but on their own terms, and this included how often they would participate in the battles.

Native Americans And The American Revolutionary War

Native Americans had a big role to play during the American Revolution. They found themselves caught in the middle of the war and tried to keep a neutral stance, but it was impossible to do. Both sides wanted to rely on the Native Americans for military help. Ultimately, the majority of Native Americans made the choice to fight on the side of the British as they posed the least amount of danger to their way of life.

The Cherokees and Creeks were crucial to the British. These tribes supported the British and fought and died on their behalf. The Native Americans knew that if America became independent from the British, that they were going to be targeted for removal, and they were right. They fought hard and led multiple raids on the colonies.

The stakes were high and they knew that if the colonies became independent that it was only a matter of time before they began to encroach on their lands. Of course, their worst fears came true as they were forced to give up their ancestral lands through the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

The Mohawks also fought on the side of the British. They conducted raids on the colonies in New York and Pennsylvania. This resulted in General Washington ordering the destruction of every Indian town, including the crops so that the Native Americans and British had less to eat. Once Britain had lost the war, the natives endured poor treatment and many lost their lives along with their lands.

The American Revolution was a disaster for the Native Americans and the effects are felt even to this day. They never really recovered from having their traditional lands taken away and they were one of the many casualties of the war. Other tribes did continue to resist for many years after the war which likely helped things to become a little less worse than they could have been if the tribes who lived out of the war zone did not come to the aid of the other tribes.

The Native Americans fought bravely for their lands but it was unfortunately not quite enough to save them. While America broke free of the British during the Revolutionary War, the war did irreparable harm to the many Native American tribes who were there first. They sacrificed their lives for a freedom that never came.