1854 - 1876 War on Northern Plains

Sioux lands on the Great Plains were often coveted by homesteaders and settlers following the call of Manifest Destiny.

        After the treaty of Horse Creek (Fort Laramie) was violated by the U.S. Army and gold prospectors, and after the news of Sand Creek reached the ears of other tribes, the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho went to war against white encroachment of their lands.  They ranged up and down the North and South Platte rivers and well into Montana and Colorado, burning stage stations, tearing down telegraph wires, halting supply trains and the mail, and effectively cutting off overland communications to Denver, Salt Lake, and San Francisco.

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Red Cloud

           The days when the nomadic tribes of the American West were the freest people to walk the earth, were fast drawing to an end.  These were the first of the Plains tribes to experience this American tragedy, and sadly, their grim and unyielding fate had become their legacy from the lofty promises made at Horse Creek less than ten years before.

         In a footnote to his commentary, historian Killoren writes that Agent Albert G. Boone, Fitzpatrick's successor at the Platte River Agency, was directed by Commissioner A.B. Greenwood to push the treaty signing with the Cheyenne or "to make it over their heads."  This new and amended treaty was not ratified by the U.S. Senate until August 6, 1861.  In the meantime, Kansas was admitted to the Union without having title to the land.  This was a flagrant violation of both the Kansas/Nebraska act, and the conditions of the treaty at Horse Creek, that were swept under the rug of westward progress and the irreversible momentum of frontier settlements. 


        Red Cloud (above), a war chief of the Sioux, forced the federal government to surrender on his terms in order to meet in treaty council in 1868 at Fort Laramie.  Once the agreement was signed and ratified, recognizing the Sioux as the owners of the Black Hills in perpetuity, President Grant started looking for new ways to provoke war and force the Sioux and other plains tribes onto reservations.