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  • The traditional policy of the federal government was to regard the tribes simultaneously as independent nations and as wards of the president, and to negotiate treaties with them that were solemnly ratified by the Senate. This limited concept of Indian sovereignty had been responsible for the government’s attempt before 1860 to erect a permanent frontier between whites and Indians, to reserve the region west of the bend of the Missouri River as permanent Indian country. However, treaties or agreements with the tribes seldom survived the pressure of white settlers eager for access to Indian lands. The history of relations between the United States and the Native Americans was, therefore, one of nearly endless broken promises.
  • The southern herd was virtually exterminated by 1875, and within a few years the smaller northern herd had met the same fate. In 1865, there had been at least 15 million buffalo; a decade later, fewer than a thousand of the great beasts survived.
  • Native Americans wanted to retake land so they started attacking white settlers stage coach lines. In response, whites called up a militia. The governor urged all friendly Indians to congregate at army posts for protection before the army began its campaign. One Arapaho and Cheyenne band under Chief Black Kettle, apparently in response to the invitation, camped near Fort Lyon on Sand Creek in November 1864. Some members of the party were warriors, but Black Kettle believed he was under protection and exhibited no hostile intention. Nevertheless, Colonel J. M. Chivington led a mob of white people to slaughter the Indians there.
  • At the Battle of the Little Bighorn in southern Montana in 1876—the most famous conflict between whites and Indians—the tribal warriors surprised CUSTER and 264 members of his regiment, surrounded them, and killed every man. Date: 1875
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