Sioux Wars


Sioux Wars
(1862, 1876–1877, 1890–1891)
   A series of conflicts between the United States and one of the great confederacies of plains Indians occasioned by the westward expansion of white settlement and the seizure of indigenous lands, often in violation of treaty agreements. In the uprising of 1862, the American Civil War prompted the Sioux of the Minnesota Territory to exploit the division within the growing white population to rise in revolt. In attacks on farms along a 200-mile stretch of the Minnesota River Valley 800 whites were slain, many of them women and small children. A militia raised for a punitive expedition defeated the Sioux in a skirmish at Wood Lake, after which a trial sentenced 303 Sioux to death. This number was reduced to 38 by President Abraham Lincoln, but the subsequent hanging was nonetheless the largest mass execution in North American history.
   The Great Sioux War of 1876–1877 was the largest operation of the U.S. Army since the Civil War. The conflict resulted from a campaign to force the Sioux led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse out of the Black Hills of Montana and on to the Great Sioux Reservation against their will. It began with a Sioux attack on Fort Pease, Montana, in early 1876 and was not concluded until the defeat of the Sioux at the Battle of Rosebud Creek in May of 1877. Its most storied engagement was the defeat of the U.S. Seventh Cavalry under Major General George Custer by a combined Sioux and Cheyenne force at Little Bighorn in June 1876. The Messiah War of 1890–1891 arose when a religious revival led to an uprising among the Sioux of the Black Hills Reservation, sometimes referred to as the Ghost Dance Disturbances. It ended with the defeat of the Teton Sioux at Wounded Knee, North Dakota.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. New York: Henry Holt, 2001;
    Vandervort, Bruce. The Indian Wars of Mexico, Canada and the United States. New York: Routledge, 2006.
   CARL CAVANAGH HODGE

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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