The Battle of the Little Bighorn was fought on June 25th and 26th, 1876 between the US military and a group of Native American tribes. It took place on the Little Bighorn River in what is now south-central Montana.
The battle was referred to as the Battle of Greasy Grass by the natives and is often referred to as Custer’s Last Stand.
- The United States government had signed an agreement in 1868 giving the Lakota Sioux and Arapaho Indians the western half of present-day South Dakota. Some of the leaders signed the treaty, but Chief Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull refused.
- Tension grew between the Native American tribes and the United States government. Being assigned to reservations was contrary to the native’s nomadic way of life. This attempt by the government to control them caused a lot of fighting.
- After the United States had given the land of the Black Hills to the native tribes, Lieutenant George Armstrong Custer was asked to explore the area, mapping it out and identifying natural resources. When gold was found, the government wanted to buy back what was known as the Great Sioux Reservation. The Sioux did not want to sell.
- Members of the, usually independent, tribes of the Plains Indians had recently united for their Sun Dance Ceremony, which is a religious ceremony to celebrate their common beliefs about the universe, prayer, and sacrifice. Therefore, thousands of them were near the Little Bighorn River.
- Members of the U.S. Cavalry, under General Custer, were sent to attack the natives in order to keep them from scattering. They split up and Major Marcus Reno approached the native village first with his army. When he saw that there were many more warriors than he expected, he and his army retreated. Some were killed.
- General Custer hoped to make a surprise attack on the village, but some of the members saw the U.S. soldiers. Custer chose to attack immediately. He thought there were only a few hundred warriors, but there were thousands. He and his over 200 men were all killed in a short amount of time.
- This battle was a victory for the Plains Indians, but they ultimately lost the conflict with the U.S. government, lost the Black Hills land, and were forced onto reservations.
Plains Indians: The various tribes of Native Americans who historically lived in the central plains of the United States and Canada.
Reservation: A reservation is a portion of land set aside by the United States government for Native Americans. The land is managed under the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Questions and Answers
Question: Did Chief Sitting Bull have a vision?
Answer: Yes. Chief Sitting Bull had a vision wherein he saw U.S. soldiers falling from the sky and saw his people having a great victory.
Learn more about the Battle of the Little Bighorn.