Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2012


Great Plains Quarterly 32:2 (Spring 2012).


Copyright © 2012 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


In 1878, about 350 Northern Cheyennes fled captivity in Indian Territory, in what is now Oklahoma, in an attempt to return to their homeland in present-day Montana. Before long, thousands of soldiers involving three departments of the U.S. Army, dozens of cowboys, a number of pioneer families, and such mythic figures as Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp were swept up in the event.

The Cheyennes successfully withstood several battles with the army on their flight. For much of the distance, they paused only long enough to steal horses and food; but, while crossing northwestern Kansas, a number of the Cheyennes attacked local pioneer homesteads. They killed over forty settlers, raped a number of women and girls, and destroyed tens of thousands of dollars of property.