Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly WINTER 1988. Copyright 1988 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska—Lincoln.


This readable narrative chronicles the life of the eastern Sioux leader whose name has been associated with the Minnesota Sioux War for a role he accepted reluctantly. A genealogy and some· background information explain why he assumed a moderate posture as non-Indians flocked into southern Minnesota during the 1850s. Resentment changed to bitterness around him as eastern Sioux people exchanged some 10,000,000 acres for a narrow strip of land along the upper St. Peter's River that could not sustain them. When finally they took up arms in the early 186Os, Little Crow became their symbol of resistance. At length, more than 1,500 Sioux were confined while several thousand retreated to the prairies of Dakota Territory and western Canada. At the war's end, Little Crow paid with his life when he tried to come home. His life story epitomized the tragedy in the experience of four tribes caught on the east end of Sioux Country to face the cutting edge of the Anglo-American frontier.