General William Tecumseh Sherman

An Indian reservation is a parcel of land set aside for the exclusive use of Indians, surrounded by thieves.

(1820 - 1891)

General in the U.S. Civil War, and Indian Wars; treaty commissioner

          General Sherman, a veteran of the Civil War and Indian Wars that soon followed, was a tough but compassionate negotiator in the many treaty councils he conducted with Indian leaders.   Most notably, he effectively surrendered to the Sioux Chief Red Cloud, in 1868, by suing for peace over the ownership of the Black Hills, and permitting pioneering wagon traffic on the "Bloody Bozeman" Trail.   After meeting Red Cloud's conditions for making peace,  Sherman welcomed the legendary chief into a new treaty council at Fort Laramie, in 1868, where he promised the Sioux that their beloved Black Hills would not be violated by white gold miners and pioneers, a promise that was shattered six years later when George A. Custer led an expedition into the Black Hills and declared to the press, "Thars gold in them thar hills."  For more on the Black Hills, click here

           At the end of his career, a time when most of the nomadic tribes had been corralled onto reservations, he was asked by a reporter to describe what life looked like on Indian reservations.  "Well, the Indian reservation is a parcel of land that is set aside for the exclusive use of the Indian, and is surrounded by thieves." (For more on Sherman, click here)