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Causes of 1860-1890 Indian Wars
Transcript of Causes of 1860-1890 Indian Wars
began traveling west in search of new life and free land. The land that American settlers were claiming as their own had for centuries belonged to the Native Americans. As settlers moved west, the Native Americans were moved over and over again onto new land, sometimes willingly, sometimes by force. There was anger on both sides, and tensions began to grow. 'The Indian Wars' were a series of battles between Native Americans and US forces between 1860 and 1890. During the Indian Wars, many Americans believed the 'savage' lifestyle of the Native Americans was the cause of the fighting. Luke Lea, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, said that the Indians believed "that there is nothing worthy of his ambitions but prowess in war", meaning that the Indians were 'savage' and only wanted to fight, not negotiate.
The Native Americans, however, thought differently: they were tired of Americans encroaching on their land, killing the buffalo and threatening their way of life. Sioux chief Big Eagle said "...the whites were always trying to make the Indians give up their life and live like white men." The Native Americans felt that they were being mistreated, and therefore they often reacted violently. Who's to blame? It's hard to say that one side was specifically to blame for the Indian Wars. On both sides, there were unnecessary violent acts committed that added to the anger and tension. Many Americans attitudes about the Native Americans lead to the unprovoked slaughter of villages, women and children included. The attitudes of men like U.S Army Colonel John M. Chivington fed the idea that the only way to have peace was to kill all Native Americans. Chivington stated "...to kill them is the only way we will have peace and quiet".
There were also cases of violent acts by Native Americans on innocent people. The Alma Massacre, in which 35 sheepherders were murdered by Apache Indians, is an example of violence from the Native Americans that added to tensions.
Atrocious acts from both sides added to the tensions over the years and put the Indian Wars into a continuous loop of attacks and angry retaliations that resulted in the loss of thousands of lives.
Atrocities on Both Sides Custer and his 7th Cavalry ignored orders and went into battle at Little Bighorn. They found themselves greatly outnumbered by Native Americans. Custer and all of his men were killed in the battle in one of the greatest victories for the Native Americans against the US Army.
Sioux artist Amos Bad Heart Bull created an illustration based on Sioux warrior accounts of Little Bighorn. The illustration shows the United States army retreating from Sioux warriors firing at them. This illustration shows the Sioux warriors as powerful and stronge and the US Army as weak and fearful. After the victory at Little Bighorn, this may have been the Native Americans and others views of the US Army, which could have caused anger and humiliation among Americans.
Battle of Little Bighorn The westward expansion of America into Native American territory lead to tension between the Indians and Americans. Both sides had a number of unnecessary attacks that lead to retaliation and anger. The removal of Native peoples from their land to reservations and the destruction of their livelihood was a main contributing factor to the many battles that made up the Indian Wars. Although one side or group cannot take the blame for the wars, the mistreatment of Native Americans on their land and the expansion of America westward were the main contributing factors. Mounting Tensions Big Eagle, Sioux Chief U.S. Army Colonel John M. Chivington Washita Massacre: Lieutenant
Colonel George Custer's 7th
cavalry attacked the sleeping
Cheyenne village of Black Kettle
near present-day Cheyenne, Oklahoma.
250 men, women and children were killed.