Sand Creek Massacre, November 29, 1864
The southern Cheyenne tribe settled in central plains occupying parts of the Colorado Territory. After numerous attacks east of Denver on the Cheyenne tribe's wagons and settlements, the governor of Colorado decided to take advantage of a peace campaign led by Black Kettle. Black Kettle was the Cheyenne chief, and followed the orders of Colorado's governor in return for promised protection. The Cheyenne moved their camps to Sand Creek as they were told. General John Chivington saw this as an opportunity to secure a big military win against the Cheyenne, and on November 29th, 1864 he raided the camps at Sand Creek. Black Kettle tried to surrender, but Chivington and his 700 men killed between 150 and 500 people including many women and children.
The Battle of Little Bighorn, June 1876
The Batte of Little Bighorn, also known as "Custer's Last Stand", was not what the Americans had expected. The Sioux tribe of the northern plains heavily resisted white expansion, and were enraged when the government decided to build the Bozeman Trail in 1865. The Sioux chief Red Cloud started a two year war to stop the production of the road. The result was the creation of the Fort Laramie Treatyof 1868, in which the U.S. would not construct the Bozeman Trail and a large Sioux reservation would be made. Part of this reservation covered the Black Hills and in 1874 there was rumored to be gold there. The government offered to buy the Black Hills. In June of 1876 Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custerwas sent to round up the indians, so he moved his troops to the area near the Little Bighorn River. There he encountered nearly 2,000 Sioux warriors which was the largest Indian force ever faced on the Great Plains. Custer had split his forces since he thought he would have a much smaller enemy. The Sioux wiped out Custer and his troops within an hour. The army then came and forced the Sioux back to their reservation, some escaped to Canada and others who resisted were forced to surrender due to starvation.
The Battle of Wounded Knee, 1890
A prophet from the plains Wovoka promised those who performed purification ceremonies a return to traditional life. One of these ceremonies included the Ghost Dance, in which people held hands in a circle an spun around. This was common within the Teton Sioux tribe who was struggling to adjust to life in the reservations, and Sitting Bull encouraged this. The government agent at Pine Ridge Reservation heard that the Indians were reckless, and sent Custer's old unit, the Seventh Cavalry, to see what was going on. Indian olive officers tried to arrest Sittiing Bull, but he resisted and was shot and killed. His followers were then gathered at a creek called Wounded Knee, when someone fired a random shot causing the soldiers to open fire killing more than 200 Sioux. The massacre of Wounded Knee was the last major violence of the Indian wars.
Causes of the Wars between the U.S. military and the Great Plains Indians
Settlers and the Native Americans had contrasting views of the land and resources which caused lots of tension between them. Settlers felt they deserved to take the land because they would make it more productive. However, the natives viewed the settlers as invaders as they contrasted their traditional ways of life. As the settlers kept trying to invade the Indian chiefs got angry and their anger eventually led to the Indian Wars.