• depleted resources
  • damaged the environment
  • destroyed Native Americans’ ability to support their
  • no immunity to smallpox, cholera, and influenza
  • military conflict did not destroy Native American
  • volume of white settlers would transform the West
Western Expansion
The search for precious metals, beginning with the 1849
gold rush in California, and later in other western territories
brought devastation to the Plains. Between 1861-1891
more than 1000 skirmishes and battles erupted throughout
the West. Government responded with costly military
campaigns to force Indians onto reservations and end
hostilities. The central conflict took place on the Great
Medicine Lodge Creek October 1867
About 7,000 Native Americans met to
negotiate treaties that would reduce all of
Indian Territory to about the area of
present-day Oklahoma.
Battle of the Washita
On 26 November 1868, Lt. Colonel George
Custer attacked an unsuspecting
Cheyenne village under Chief Black Kettle
Treaty of Fort Laramie
April 29, 1868
Guaranteed to the Lakota Sioux ownership
of the Black Hills, and further land and
hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming,
and Montana. The Powder River Country
was closed to all whites.
George Armstrong Custer

Engaged the combined forces of Sioux,
Cheyenne and Arapaho at the
Battle of
the Little Bighorn in Montana Territory on
25 June 1876
WOVOKA — 1889
Paiute prophet foretold the end of the
Native American world; if they performed
Ghost Dance the following would
  • return of Indian lands
  • the return of dead ancestors
  • the disappearance of the whites
  • a future of eternal peace and
Wounded Knee Massacre
On December 28, 1890 troops took Big
Foot’s band of captive Sioux to a cavalry
camp along Wounded Knee Creek. The
next day, when the soldiers attempted to
disarm the band, shots were fired, and
within a short time the federal troops had
killed between 150 and 370 Sioux men,
women, and children.
Wounded Knee marked the end
of Native American resistance
on the Plains
Sand Creek Site — National Park Service
The Plains Indians