Black Elk Speaks Historical Context

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The Battle of the Little Bighorn

At the age of thirteen, Black Elk participated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as the Battle of the Greasy Grass or Custer's Last Stand. In this battle, the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne, pursued onto their own territorial lands by U.S. Army troops, were attacked at their camp near the Little Bighorn River in what is now Montana. The soldiers were soundly defeated, though the victory for the American Indians involved was temporary.

In 1876, a large village of primarily Sioux tribes had camped in the area they called Greasy Grass along the Little Bighorn River. Although they were camped deep in their own territorial lands as defined by treaty, some government officials believed that the Indians represented a threat to soldiers and settlers flooding into the nearby Black Hills area. Among the Sioux camped at Greasy Grass were...

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