The Lakota and the Indian Wars: From the Santee Sioux Uprising, Custer’s Last Stand to The Battle of Wounded Knee
The Lakota and the Indian Wars: Introduction • The Period between 1860 and 1900 was one in which the Govt. of the United States oversaw the near genocide of the Plains Indians • This period was the conclusion of 400 years of Euro-American dominance over natives of the Americas • A discussion of the Indian Wars is important in U.S. History so that citizens can learn what their govt. did in order that such activity not happen again • The history of the Indian Wars is covered in Helen Hunt Jackson’s A Century of Dishonor and Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee • The Plains Indian Problem: They occupied the land Anglos wanted.
The Era of the Plains Indian Wars began during the Civil War and extended through the “Battle” of Wounded Knee when over 200,000 Native Americans were killed. 1. The Santee Sioux of Minnesota were led by Little Crow who became their leader because he had developed the ability to compromise with the U.S. government agents in the effort to gain the best accommodation for his people. 2. However, the U.S. govt. did not live up to the terms of several treaties signed with the Santee Sioux as they were moved to smaller and smaller lands without full compensation that resulted in the starvation of many of the Indians. 3. Andrew J. Myrick, one of several clerks from the agency stores that were holding back supplies to the Santee because the govt. was slow in sending the Indians treaty allotment funds, in answer to the Santee plea for a release of food said: “So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry, let them eat grass.” The clerks refused to release the needed food. 4. Since most of the clerks had married into the tribe, “they were considered relatives who were violating a basic tenant of Dakota culture-the belief in sharing with relatives and friends one’s material possessions.” This caused an increase in tensions between the traders, the intruding white settlers and the Santee. 5. The spark that ignited the war, occurred 40 miles from the agency. It was an attack by a party of 4 or 6 Santee hunters against a German settler family, which killed five of the family.
Little Crow’s decision to lead the Santee in a War against the Whites: 1. Little Crow was reluctant to take his people on the war path, but the die had been cast with the deaths of the German settlers. 2. He was approached by the leaders of “the Soldiers’ Lodge” a warrior society of young braves who had never been east of their villages to see how plentiful and strong the whites were. They demanded that Little Crow lead the Santee in a war to push the whites out of their ancestral lands.
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- Spring '08
- US History, Lakota people, Cheyenne, Sioux, Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Little Crow