Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2009


Published in Great Plains Research 19.2 (Fall 2009): 242


Copyright 2009 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


The Red River War of 1874-75—also known as the Buffalo War after its principal cause, the invasion of the Southern Plains by non-Indian buffalo hunters—was the final phase in the military subjugation of the Comanches, Kiowas, and Southern Arapahos and Cheyennes. This book examines six of the 20-some battlefields and skirmish sites; as most of those sites are on private property, the selection of which sites to examine was based as much on access as on importance.

The book is divided into 12 chapters of varying lengths. Following a short introduction, chapter 2 gives a superficial historical overview of the Southern Plains, unfortunately based on outdated sources. While the author discusses at some length the 1867 Treaty of Medicine Lodge Creek, he (and Martha Doty Freeman in chapter 4 only indirectly) does not mention at all the preceding 1865 Treaty of the Little Arkansas; the latter is important as it reserved the entire Texas Panhandle for the signatory tribes. While the Medicine Lodge Treaty reduced the size of the reservation, the Indians’ hunting rights in the Panhandle were retained. Thus sentences such as “within a year, the majority of the reservation Indians had gone back to hunting on the plains, paying no attention to their imposed boundaries” are meaningless: while hunting in the Panhandle, the Indians were fully within their rights. The Medicine Lodge treaty also barred non-Indians from residing in the Panhandle. So to argue that the army was protecting the buffalo hunters from renegade Indians is doubly incorrect.