The Arikara War: The First Plains Indian War, 1823

Overview

In 1823, at the height of the fur trade, Arikara warriors attacked an American trapping expedition on South Dakota's Missouri River. Thus began the brief Arikara War, the first military encounter between the United States and western Indians -- and a crucial turning point in both the international relations and trade of a fledgling nation.

With 230 soldiers, 750 Sioux allies, and 50 aggrieved trappers, United States Army colonel Henry Leavenworth retaliated against the offending...

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Overview

In 1823, at the height of the fur trade, Arikara warriors attacked an American trapping expedition on South Dakota's Missouri River. Thus began the brief Arikara War, the first military encounter between the United States and western Indians -- and a crucial turning point in both the international relations and trade of a fledgling nation.

With 230 soldiers, 750 Sioux allies, and 50 aggrieved trappers, United States Army colonel Henry Leavenworth retaliated against the offending Arikara. Soon he was in a position to obliterate them -- and chose not to. His restraint sparked debate between Americans advocating firm subjugation of the Indians and those with more pacific leanings.

Of course, openly sympathizing with the Indians and arguing that they had an inherent right to their land and its defense was then and continued to be an unpopular minority view. As American corporations expanded to the Pacific and beyond to reap profits on its far shores and down the western hemisphere, similar disputes arose, to be settled with marines and eventually more covert means. An 1823 editorial in the Detroit Gazette, with a few key words changed, could summarize a century and a half of American imperialism: "These hunters in defiance of the law, enter the Indian country, put to hazard the peace of the frontiers, and involve the United States in a distant and expensive war." (From The Arikara War: The First Plains Indian War, 1823)

Thoroughly and evenhandedly, from both white and native perspectives, William Nester examines causes and effects of this little-known war, drawing the reader into the complex political and economic climate of the time. While meticulous research makes The Arikara War invaluable to scholars, Nester's style ensures an engrossing and pleasurable read.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780878424306
  • Publisher: Mountain Press Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/2001
  • Pages: 257
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Part 1 The Rivals
1 The Natives 13
2 The Intruders 51
3 The Partners 93
Part 2 The Battles
4 The Ambush 129
5 The Vengeance 149
6 The Legacy 183
Notes 215
Bibliography 233
Index 247
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