Rosebud Battlefield State Park


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On June 17, 1876, 1300 soldiers, scouts, and miners were met in battle by an equal number of Sioux and Cheyenne. The hills and rocky outcroppings overlooking Rosebud Creek were the setting for one of the most intense battles ever waged between Indians, attempting to retain their cultural way of life, and the United States Army who were enforcing an edict from Washington.

In 1876, the various bands of Sioux and Cheyenne had combined for common defense creating a fighting force uncommonly large and aggressive for Plains Indians. Over 2,500 participants from both sides were involved in a titanic struggle, which lasted more than six hours and encompassed an area over ten square miles. The battle of the Rosebud symbolizes the Indians’ first stiff resistance in the Sioux War of 1876. Its outcome contributed to Lt Col. George A. Custer’s devastating defeat on the Little Bighorn a week later.

Causes of the Indian Wars

The 1868 treaty guaranteed the rights of Indians to ownership of lands, roughly the western half of South Dakota, eastern Montana, and Wyoming. The U.S. Government promised protection “against the commission of all depredations by people of the United States.”

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