Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1995


Published in Great Plains Research 5:2 (Fall 1995). Copyright © 1995 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


In 1874 and 1875, whites, lured by the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, poured into the northern Plains and encountered the indigenous Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. The Great Sioux War of 1876-1877, remembered by most Americans for Custer's Last Stand in June 1876, sprang from this contact. While Custer and over two hundred of his men lost their lives at the Battle of Little Big Horn, the Cheyenne and Sioux lost far more. By shattering the largest unified resistance to white incursions into Indian territory, the Great Sioux War went a long way to assuring whites supremacy in the West. While traditional depictions of the War have focused on whites, Indian Views of the Great Sioux War presents the Indian side of the conflict through an edited collection of eyewitness accounts during twelve key battles and events. Jerome Greene uses these to illustrate a largely ignored but essential view, furthering understanding of not only the Sioux War, but all the Indian campaigns.

Greene offers this work as a complement to his earlier books on white views of the Sioux War's military encounters. His carefully crafted introduction provides a quick overview of the War and delineates the work's boundaries. Greene intends to show glimpses into the Indian mind-set, providing insight into attitudes toward whites, battle, and the white invasion of Indian lands. Although occasionally revealing resentment of white entry into Indian territory, battle accounts emphasize Native Americans' individualistic concept of combat, and emphasize the bravery of single fighters, both Indian and white.