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Battle of the Little Bighorn

 

Sometime in early June of 1876 members of the Lakota and Cheyenne tribe met at a Sun Dance at Rosebud Creek in Montana where Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotanka), a holy man and chief of the Lakota tribe (Teton Sioux), collapsed into a trance and had a vision. There he met White Buffalo Calf Woman, a guardian spirit of the Lakota, who told him that there would be a great battle fought against the white man and that he and his tribe would be victorious. Approximately three weeks later, on June 25th, and a week after the Battle of the Rosebud, the Lakota-Northern CheyenneArapaho alliance decisively defeated Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Calvary at Little Bighorn, in what was probably the worst defeat by the U.S. Army by the Plains Indians.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, or as the Lakota refer to it, the Battle of Greasy Grass, clearly stands in history as one of the great metaphors for lost causes, considering the numbers of Indian warriors the 7th Calvary ran into that day. The 7th, which encompassed 12 companies with a total of just over 600 men, engaged an estimated 3,000 warriors. To this day, the engagement continues to beg the question of why Custer, with overwhelming odds against him, was set on attacking the huge Plains Indians alliance. What were his motives? Was it shear arrogance and over-confidence? Was it a strategic error? What would cause Custer to go into battle that would eventually not only take his own life, but that of two of his brothers, a brother-in-law, and a nephew?

You can explore these questions and more by searching eLibrary’s resources below, beginning with the history of conflict between the U.S. government and Plains Indians, the background that set the battle in motion, the numerous broken treaties, and the resistance of the Plains Indians being moved onto increasingly smaller reservations.

Related Research Topics:

Battle of Little Bighorn
Crazy Horse
George Armstrong Custer
Manifest Destiny
Sioux Indians
Sioux Wars
Sitting Bull

Publications:

American History (Magazine)
Encyclopedia of North American Indians (Reference Book)
Military History (Magazine)
U.S. History (Anthology)
Wild West (Magazine)
Wounded Knee (Book)

Browse Topics in eLibrary:

19th Century Native American History
Battle of the Little Bighorn
Gilded Age
Native American History
Native American Leaders
Native Americans
U.S. Military Leaders
Westward Expansion

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