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Violence after the California Gold Rush (1849)
o The Indians in the west had little conflict with the Whites until the California Gold Rush of 1849.
o The influx of Whites looking for gold had a terrible effect on the Indians. Hunting and gathering
were disrupted by the mines, leaving many Indians near starvation. Some fighting occurred, but
far worse were the diseases brought by miners Indian numbers in California dropped from
100000 in 1846 to 30000 in 1851.
Little Crow's War (1861-62):
o The Santee Sioux had been peaceful, accepting reservation life and adopting the White's ways.
o The Civil War led to shortages, and a poor harvest left Indians near starvation.
o White officials and traders reacted without compassion, refusing credit and even telling the
Indians to eat grass or worse.
o Four Indians returning from an unsuccessful hunt killed five settlers for a dare.
o Little Crow, despite initially being for peace, led the Santee Sioux warriors onto a murder and
looting campaign. It lasted until New Ulm and Fort Ridgely held out.
o Over 700 settlers were killed.
o Angry mobs of Whites attacked the Indians who surrendered. 38 were hanged.
The Cheyenne Uprising and Sand Creek (1864):
o Black Kettle's Cheyenne were living on a reservation at Sand Creek, Colorado. They were on the
verge of starvation. Black Kettle advocated peace.
o Warriors from the reservation started raiding the South Platte trails and committed atrocities.
o Denver public opinion was enraged by a display of the mutilated corpses of a settler family.
o Major J. Downing attacked a Cheyenne camp at Cedar Bluffs, shouting, "Commence killing!"
o Colonel J.M. Chivington decided to attack Black Kettle's camp at Sand Creek on 29th Nov. 1864.
Chivington wanted to exterminate the Indians.
o Around 300 Indians were killed but only a tiny minority were warriors. Women and children
were deliberately butchered. Bodies were scalped and mutilated.
o Even the enraged population od Denver realised that this was well out of order. Chivington
resigned but received no other punishment. Black Kettle escaped and continued to try for peace.
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He was killed in a further village massacre at Washita, Oklahoma in 1868. The soldiers this time
were led by Lt. Col. George Custer.
Red Cloud's War (1865-68):
o The Bozeman Trail connected the Platte River with the mines of Montana. It passed through the
hunting grounds of the Sioux, which had been guaranteed to them by the Fort Laramie Treaty of
o The army wanted to build forts on the trail to protect travellers from Indians.…read more
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Wincester rifles, while Custer's soldiers had single-shot Springfields.
o Custer and all 225 of his command were killed. The army and the government wanted revenge,
but the Indians were defeated by the weather and the loss of many horses.
o The destruction of the buffalo herds (the "Great Plains Massacre") and the killing of ponies during
campaigns had been two of the Whites' most effective weapons in the Indian Wars.…read more
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In 1876 negotiations had stalled. The Dreamer Cult of Smohalla called for the extermination of
the Whites. War became unavoidable when 20 settlers were killed by some drunken Indians.
o Chief Joseph fought a masterly retreat into Idaho and Montana, notable for its relative lack of
atrocities against civilians. He surrendered on 5th October 1877.
Chato and Geronimo:
o In 1881 a shaman called Nakaidoklini said his medicine could raise dead warriors and clear the
Whites from Arizona.…read more