Skip to Content
HomeAbout this siteHelpSearch this site The Library of Congress
America's Story from America's LibraryMeet Amazing AmericansJump Back in TimeExplore the StatesJoin America at PlaySee, Hear and Sing
Explore the States Montana
Photo of man performing outside
Scene from the Native Reign music video, Morning Star People, August 1996

Enlarge this image
Native Reign
A Local Legacy

Do you know the story of the famous battle at Little Big Horn, Montana?

The United States wanted to build a road through Native American lands in Montana because gold had been discovered in the area of Little Big Horn. In 1876, General George Custer and his men were sent to make the Native Americans give up the land, even though the U.S. had guaranteed that it belonged to them. There was a battle and the Northern Cheyenne and other Native Americans defeated Custer. It was a crushing blow, and five months later, the U.S. attacked again. This time, the Cheyenne surrendered, and they were sent to a reservation in Oklahoma. Within two months of their arrival, two-thirds of the tribe became sick and many died. Chief Dull Knife and other Northern Cheyenne leaders pleaded for a reservation for their people back in Montana, but the U.S. refused them.

Chief Dull Knife was determined to return to Montana. In 1878, he and Little Wolf (another chief of the Northern Cheyenne) led what was left of their people and traveled more than 400 miles, managing to defeat or avoid the various Army units sent to bring them back to Oklahoma. They broke up into two groups -- one led by Dull Knife and the other by Little Wolf -- but both were eventually caught. Those led by Little Wolf were allowed to remain in Montana, but Dull Knife and his group were imprisoned. When they refused to return to Oklahoma, an attempt was made to starve them into obeying. They made a daring escape, in which many were killed and recaptured, but Dull Knife and others got away and made it to the safety of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Eventually a reservation was established for the Northern Cheyenne in Montana, where Dull Knife and his people were finally allowed to settle, rejoining Little Wolf's group. But sadly, by then, most of Dull Knife's people had died.

The Northern Cheyenne tell this story and other stories through their performing troupe Native Reign. The troupe combines traditional Native American dances with contemporary music to celebrate the history and traditions of the tribe.

page 1 of 1 More Stories

About Local Legacies     

Library Of Congress | Legal Notices | Privacy | Site Map | Contact Us