26 June 1876
One of the few times in North American history, the people won against the government’s protection of financial interests: The Battle of Greasy Grass, also known as the Battle of Little Big Horn. (June 25 and 26, 1873). It was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Gall, inspired by the visions of shaman and moral philosopher, Sitting Bull.
In 1875 the United States ordered all nomadic Lakota and Cheyenne to return to the Great Sioux Reservation, established by the Treaty of 1868, or be considered hostile. Thus confined they would not be a hindrance or threat to immigration into the region. A lesser portion of the tribes determined they would continue to be independent of U.S. government authority and maintain their nomadic way of life, roaming freely throughout the Powder and Yellowstone River drainages.
The immediate issues leading to the conflict which became known as the Great Sioux War were the Black Hills Expedition of 1874 and the invasion of the Black Hills by gold miners. The U.S. attempted to acquire the Black Hills by purchase but had been re-buffed by the Lakota. The Grant administration then unilaterally declared the Black Hills outside of the control of the Great Sioux Reservation. Further, all Lakota’s and Cheyenne’s dwelling away from the Great Sioux Reservation must return and live within the confines of the established boundary of the reservation, or be considered hostile. General Philip Sheridan the overall commander devised a strategy that committed several thousand troops to find and engage the now declared hostile tribes. Gen. Sheridan decided to order three Army expeditionary forces to converge on the Indian’s locations.
The picture at the top was by Wooden Leg, a veteran of the campaign. Of course, there were no survivors of Custer’s troops, but we have a pretty good idea of what things looked like to them: