Sioux War 1890-1891

(Messiah War)

[ 1890 - 1891 ]

Life was not easy for the Sioux and other Indians settled on reservations in the Dakotas and Montana. Crops failed, there was much disease and poverty, and pressure to sell land to the whites mounted year by year in the 1880s. To help make life bearable, many of the Sioux turned to a new mystical religion that predicted that an Indian messiah would come in the spring of 1891 and would unite all the Indians in an earthly paradise. Believers practiced a ghost dance that produced trances, visions, and mass frenzy. Indian agents for the US government grew alarmed at these practices. When the military was called in to stop the dances, the Sioux rebelled in anger. At Grand River, Chief Sitting Bull (1834-90) was shot dead by Indian police for resisting arrest.

Two weeks later, on December 29, 1890, the US Seventh Cavalry fought and defeated the Sioux on the Black Hills reservation at Wounded Knee Creek (South Dakota); more than 200 Indian men, women, and children were massacred; the cavalry had gotten its revenge for its defeat at Little Bighorn. After a few more skirmishes, the Sioux surrendered on January 16, 1891. This was the last major Indian conflict, and like all the others it ended in defeat for the Indians.