Killing Custer: The Battle of the Little Big Horn and the Fate of the Plains Indians

Killing Custer: The Battle of the Little Big Horn and the Fate of the Plains Indians

by James Welch, Paul Stekler
     
 
General George Custer's 1876 attack on a huge encampment of Plains Indians has gone down as the most disastrous defeat in American history. Much less understood is how disastrous it was for the "victors," the Sioux and Cheyenne under the leadership of Sitting Bull: within fifteen years all Native Americans were confined to reservations, their culture in ruins.

Overview

General George Custer's 1876 attack on a huge encampment of Plains Indians has gone down as the most disastrous defeat in American history. Much less understood is how disastrous it was for the "victors," the Sioux and Cheyenne under the leadership of Sitting Bull: within fifteen years all Native Americans were confined to reservations, their culture in ruins. James Welch poignantly resurrects their side of the story from beneath a mountain of myth and misinterpretation, relating in masterful prose the pride and desperation of a people stripped of treaty rights and hounded from ancestral hunting grounds into wretched reservations. Through this critical missing piece that tells the Indian side of the story, Killing Custer rethinks the meaning of the Little Bighorn for a multicultural society.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Novelist Welch (Fools Crow) and documentary filmmaker Stekler collaborate on what is to date the best reconstruction of the Little Big Horn campaign from a Native American perspective. Eschewing melodrama and making sophisticated use of oral testimony and recently developed archeological evidence, the authors present an inevitable clash of cultures brought about by white greed. They describe the success of Sitting Bull's call in 1876 for one last big hunt and one last big fight before the Plains Indians' way of life was to disappear forever, along with the buffalo that sustained it. Welch and Stekler highlight the initial overconfidence and ultimate panic of Custer's troops, whose commander made every possible mistake on June 25 against enemies with nothing more to lose. A major literary and historical contribution to a complex subject. Illustrations. Author tour. (Oct.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Novelist/poet Welch has produced a compelling history of the Indian wars of the northern Plains with insights from his firsthand experience with tribal life. (LJ 9/1/94)
Jay Freeman
Perhaps the need for yet another examination of Custer's defeat at the Little Big Horn isn't great. Nevertheless, Welch and his coauthor provide an interesting perspective and offer some intriguing views of unresolved questions. As a Blackfoot Indian, Welch gives a Native American--but not a Lakota's--view of the Great Sioux War. While sympathetic to their struggle for survival, he also recognizes that the Lakota were aggressive and acquisitive and had driven other tribes from the lands they claimed as their own. In recounting Custer's fatal campaign, the authors make excellent use of the pioneering time-motion study of John Gray. They conclude that Crazy Horse probably arrived too late to be a major factor in fighting against either Reno or Custer. This is not a groundbreaking book, but it is both interesting and well written. Those afflicted with Custer mania will find it a useful addition to their font of knowledge, and even the general reader should find it enjoyable and informative.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393036572
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
10/01/1994
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.49(w) x 9.53(h) x 1.21(d)

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