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Study notes

Little Crow's War 1862

  • Levels: GCSE
  • Exam boards: Edexcel

Little Crow was the chief of a band of the Dakota Sioux Tribe. In 1851, Little Crow’s band had agreed to move to a reservation in southern Minnesota. By agreeing to this, the tribe had given up 24 million acres of their land in return for the promise of protection and supplies from the US government. 

Little Crow was the chief of a band of the Dakota Sioux Tribe. In 1851, Little Crow’s band had agreed to move to a reservation in southern Minnesota. By agreeing to this, the tribe had given up 24 million acres of their land in return for the promise of protection and supplies from the US government.

 

However, it soon became clear to the Dakota Sioux that life was hard on the reservation. Much of the land was unsuitable for farming, and the US government had failed to pay some of the annuities. In 1861, disease spread throughout the Dakota Sioux’s crops and their annuity did not arrive in 1862. This put the Dakota Sioux in a desperate situation – they were unable to buy or grow food and they began to starve.  Even though some of the tribe resorted to eating grass, the reservation agent refused to hand over any food despite having a storehouse full of supplies.

 

Little Crow attempted to restrain his tribe from attacking white settlers and the US government, but on the 17 August 1862 four Sioux men killed five white settlers. The following day, Little Crow launched an attack on the Indian Agency believing that they would be too preoccupied by the civil war to fight back. The tribe stole food from the agency’s storehouses and attacked white settlers. Over 700 white settlers and US soldiers were killed.

 

The US government responded by sending in huge army reinforcements. By September, Little Crow realised his tribe could not defeat the US army and the Dakota Sioux surrendered. 

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