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The end of the Native American way of life


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The Battle of the Little Bighorn only seemed like a Sioux victory. In fact, it was the start of the total defeat of the Sioux. Before long the US government had completely defeated the Native Americans, and their way of life was destroyed over the next 15 years.

Key steps

November 1876

The US Army began winter campaigns against the Sioux, starving them into surrender. Colonel Mackenzie destroyed Dull Knife's Cheyenne camp - driving the Cheyenne into the hills to survive the winter without any food.

January 1877

Chief Sitting Bull fled to Canada. He joined a Wild West show, but eventually returned to join the reservation.

October 1877

Chief Joseph of the Nez Percé tribe tried to flee to Canada, but was intercepted. "I will fight no more forever". he vowed.


Richard Pratt opened the first boarding school for Native American children.


The Sioux were given cattle and forced to become cattle-herders.

1881 (-1887)

Geronimo led a series of rebellions by the Apache warriors, but eventually had to surrender and become a vegetable farmer.


The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued the Code of Religious Offences, banning Native American religious customs such as the Sun Dance.


The Dawes Act divided the Native American reservations between the different families.


The Oklahoma Land Run. The government split 2 million acres of former 'Indian territory' into 160 acre plots, and people had to race to claim a plot. The race began at noon on 22 April 1889 and by next day all the land was claimed.


A medicine man called Wovoka started a Ghost Dance - although it was peaceful, the Army, fearing a rebellion, tried to arrest Sitting Bull, who was taking part (he was killed during the attempt). Then when Sioux Chief Big Foot, trying to avoid the trouble, led his people to Wounded Knee Creek, they were massacred by the US Army.


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