This gorgeous bison hide painting depicts the Battle of the Little Bighorn, a major defeat for the U.S. Army at the hands of an alliance of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho nations. The hide was painted by a Cheyenne artist two years after the battle.
Photograph by Tungsten, courtesy Wikimedia and the National Museum of the American Indian

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  • On June 25, 1876, an alliance of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho defeated the U.S. Army under the leadership of Gen. George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Montana. The defeat is sometimes called “Custer’s Last Stand.”
     
    The Battle of the Little Bighorn (named after a nearby river) was part of the Great Sioux War. The great Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull had forged an alliance between several Native American nations to resist forced relocation by the U.S. government. At a meeting of this group, called the Sun Dance alliance, Sitting Bull had a vision: “The Great Spirit has given our enemies to us. We are to destroy them.”
     
    Just weeks after Sitting Bull’s vision, Native Americans did exactly that. Custer ignored reports (from his Crow scouts) of the size of the opposing army. He thought he was facing a force of 800, when the Native American army may have numbered in the thousands. The Americans, including Custer, were slaughtered at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, although the Great Sioux War ultimately ended in defeat for the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho people. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    alliance Noun

    people or groups united for a specific purpose.

    although Noun

    (conjunction) in spite of.

    army Noun

    military land forces.

    defeat Verb

    to overcome an enemy or obstacle.

    forced relocation Noun

    migration of people from one place to another, as ordered by the government or international authority.

    government Noun

    system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

    Native American Noun

    person whose ancestors were native inhabitants of North or South America. Native American usually does not include Eskimo or Hawaiian people.

    resist Verb

    to oppose or confront.

    scout Noun

    person sent to obtain information.

    slaughter Verb

    to brutally defeat.