The Lakota were one of four major branches of the Native American peoples known as the Sioux. They were forced to shift west in the 17th and 18th centuries when their Native American enemies, one of which was the Chippewa, received firearms from French traders. While the easternmost Dakota branch remained on the upper Mississippi River, the two central Nakota branches settled on the upper Missouri River, and the westernmost Lakota branch went into the Black Hills and Badlands. The Sioux Wars, which began shortly after the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, lasted for nearly a half century and can be divided into five separate wars. A decade after the treaty, the Lakota increased the frequency of their raids against wagon trains and frontier outposts as they became increasingly angered by the high volume of traffic on the Oregon and Bozeman Trails. The increased traffic was the result of the discovery of gold in the Montana Territory. The Bozeman Trail cut straight through prime hunting grounds of the Teton bands. Chief Sitting Bull’s Hunkpapa band, Chief Red Cloud’s Oglala band, and Chief Spotted Tail’s Brule band all deeply resented the traffic on the Bozeman Trail. In the winter of 1863-1864, U.S. Cavalry Lieutenant Caspar Collins spent considerable time with the Oglala tribe learning about their way of life and participating in buffalo hunts. Collins’ men, many of whom had fought for the North in the Civil War, were eager to fight the Lakota. The young lieutenant did


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