The Battle of Little Bighorn is also known as Custer’s Last Stand. The battle was fought between the Sioux Indians, led by Sitting Bull, and the US Cavalry, led by George Custer. The battle took place in the rolling hills above the Little Bighorn River in June of 1876. To understand the Battle of Little Bighorn you need to know some events leading up to it and understand the culture of the Plains Indians.
First, let’s quickly review the life of the Plains Indians. There were many tribes on the Plains. The one involved in the Battle of Little Bighorn was the Sioux. The Sioux had lived for thousands of years roaming the Great Plains area of what would one day become the United States. Their main source of food was the buffalo. The Sioux used every bit of the buffalo for food, clothing and even shelter. The Sioux were hunters and warriors, they were also nomadic, that means that they moved from place to place. Typically, they would follow the buffalo herds. The Sioux were also proud people. They didn’t want to be dependent on the US government or anyone else for that matter.
European settlers had conflicts with the Indians from 1607 when they first arrived at Jamestown. These conflicts would continue as the Europeans moved westward. Remember, in 1862 Congress opened up the Great Plains for homesteaders with the Homestead Act. It didn’t take long for the two cultures to run into each other. The whites were setting up farms in the middle of the plains and the Transcontinental Railroad cut straight across the plains. When whites killed buffalo, it was usually for sport. The Indians did not understand this idea. They were used to hunting what they needed and using every bit of what they hunted.
after the treaty was signed. In 1874 gold was discovered in the Black Hills and the US government wanted to claim the hills and the gold in them. The Black Hills were considered sacred by the Indians and they had been set aside for the exclusive use of the Indians in the Fort Laramie Treaty, the Indians did not want to give up the Black Hills and did not like the idea of white prospectors wandering around digging for gold. Believe it or not, the ownership of the Black Hills is still in dispute to this day.
n 1868, the Treaty of Fort Laramie was made in an effort to stop the conflicts between the whites and Indians. It worked for a little while, but there were two problems. First, not all the Plains Indians had signed the treaty. Sitting Bull, a Sioux Chief was one who had refused to sign the treaty. Sitting Bull and the others who refused to sign the treaty did not worry about what it said because they had not signed it, so therefore in their eyes it didn’t apply to them. The other problem came six years
The Battle of Little Bighorn was a complete disaster for the US Cavalry. The Sioux Indians numbered close to 3,000 warriors. The US Cavalry had only a few hundred under the command of Lt. Colonel George Custer. Custer was under orders to wait for reinforcements before attacking the Sioux, but when he came upon a small party of 40 warriors he decided that he should attack rather than give the party time to alert the main tribe. Unfortunately for Custer, and the 210 men under his command, he didn’t know that the main tribe held more than 3,000 Sioux warriors.
The Battle of Little Bighorn lasted about two hours and is often referred to as Custer’s Last Stand. It could also be called the Sioux’s Last Stand, because the defeat was so brutal it gave the US government an excuse to go after all the Indians and make sure they stayed on the reservations.
Comanche the horse was the only US Army survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn.
Battle of Little Big Horn was fought in Montana
Directions: After reading the Battle of Little Bighorn, answer the following questions.
What was another name for the Battle of Little Bighorn? ________________________________________________________________
Who was the battle between? _______________________________________
Who led each side? ________________________________________________
What year was the battle? __________________________________________
What did the Treaty of Fort Laramie have to do with the Battle of Little Bighorn?
Read front and back, then answer the questions. "I Will Fight No More Forever"- Chief Joseph
As the white men poured into Oregon Territory during the great Westward
Migration, missionaries brought Christianity to the Native Americans as well. Nez
Perce Chief Joseph the Elder was one of the first converts. He sought to live in
peace with the whites. He even helped Washington's territorial governor Isaac
Stevens set up a Nez Perce reservation. But in 1863 after the Gold Rush, the U.S. government took back nearly six million acres of this land. This placed the Nez Perce on a reservation in Idaho about one-tenth of its former size.
Joseph the Elder felt betrayed. He destroyed his American flag and denounced the United States. He refused to sign any new treaties. He refused to move his tribe to a new location. At his deathbed, Joseph the Elder told his son, "Always remember that your father never sold his country. This country holds your father's body. Never sell the bones of your father and your mother." Young Joseph promised his father he would follow his wishes.
The old chief died in 1871, and his son, Joseph the Younger, was elected to succeed him. Young Joseph inherited a difficult situation. He did not want his
people to go to war against the white man. He knew the Americans had a powerful military to back them up. He made several concessions to the Americans to avoid conflict.
In 1873, the young Chief Joseph made an agreement with the American government that would allow his people to stay in the Wallowa Valley. Four years later, the government reversed its position and demanded the tribe move
to Idaho with the other Nez Perce.
Army General Oliver Howard set up a council to convince Joseph and several of his tribal leaders to relocate. He offered them a plot of land that was already inhabited by white settlers. General Howard said he would clear them
out if the offer was accepted.
The Nez Perce felt this would go against their tribal tradition of taking what did not belong to them. Their position angered General Howard. He gave the tribe thirty days to collect their things and get off the reservation. He told
them if they violated this deadline, it would be considered an act of war.
Young Joseph and his leaders returned home with the grim ultimatum. Chief Joseph urged peace, but the others urged war. Some whites had already been killed by the time of this meeting so the tribe gathered up their things and began to journey north. Joseph and his people headed towards Canada.
Two thousand U.S. soldiers followed the tribe for three months. The Nez Perce proved to be skillful warriors. Finally, after a particularly rough battle in freezing weather with no food or blankets, the Nez Perce surrendered.
This battle is most remembered because of the words spoken by Chief Joseph in his surrender speech. He closed this speech with these famous words: "Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever." Some doubt whether these words were actually Chief Joseph's. He was nicknamed by the press "The Red Napoleon."
Chief Joseph's people were sent to live on a reservation in eastern Kansas. Many died from disease while there. In 1885, after pleading his case with the President of the United States, Rutherford Hayes, his people were allowed to return to the Pacific Northwest to live on the Colville Indian Reservation in eastern Washington state. It was still far from their homeland in the Wallowa Valley of Oregon.
He died on September 21, 1904 while sitting in front of his still in exile from his homeland. His band of Nez Perce Indians still reside on the Colville Indian Reservation.
1. In what year did the U.S. government take back land promised to the Nez Perce?
2. What happened after Chief Joseph the Elder died?
A. His house was burned.
B. His tribe was ambushed.
C. His son took over as chief.
D. His tribe was lost.
3. What did Joseph the Younger promise his father?
A. He would agree to move to a reservation.
B. He would get revenge.
C. He would not go to war.
D. He would follow his wishes.
4. Why didn't the Nez Perce take the offer from General Howard?
A. They were against taking what did not belong to them.
B. They felt he was dishonest.
C. They wanted more money.
D. They did not trust him.
5. Why did Joseph and his band finally surrender in 1877?