Few stories of American frontier history have enjoyed a greater popularity than the tale of how the Sioux under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse beat back the attack of the Seventh Cavalry at the Little Bighorn and left that proud regiment to nurse its wounds and taste the bitter cup of defeat. Often spoken of as the "Custer Massacre," it was not a massacre, but a stand-up, give-and-take battle, in which the Seventh was defeated by its own poor leadership and the overwhelming odds.
Nevertheless, it seemed that the Indian wars were over, that never again would the Seventh face the Sioux in battle. The war which General Nelson A. Miles had waged against that tribe and its allies through the bitter winter of 1876-77 had ended with the complete surrender of most of the northern Plains Indians. The Sioux, the Cheyennes, and the Arapahoes were now broken peoples, settled upon reservations, trying to farm and to follow the white man's road.
Stubborn Sitting Bull had not surrendered. "God made me an Indian, but not a reservation Indian," he said, and retreated north into Canada with his followers. But Sitting Bull found, like many a man before and since, that he must change his mind. At last the chief began negotiations with the American authorities, and in 1881 the Canadian officials, with a sigh of relief, bade farewell to their turbulent red refugee. Sitting Bill became a reservation Indian, settling at Standing Rock, probably not many miles from where he was born.
But Sitting Bull's boast that he was not a reservation Indian
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Publication information: Book title: Great Western Indian Fights. Contributors: Members of the Potomac Corral of The Westerners - OrganizationName. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press. Place of publication: Lincoln, NE. Publication year: 1960. Page number: 303.
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