RUE Episode 112: Reservations

Our focus in this Episode is the American West, especially the Northern Plains. Even today, the West is where you find the largest and the most Indian Reservations.

Fetterman’s Massacre energized resistance on the Northern Great Plains.
Construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad resulted is the Lakota losing the Black Hills and led to the Sioux War.
Battle of the Little Bighorn – known to Native Americans as the Greasy Grass. Also known as Custer’s Last Stand, the victory of the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho alliance shocked the American public.
The Crow Nation sided with the United States in the Great Plains War. Crow scouts were vital to the U.S. Army effort. The Crow were able to have their reservation within traditional Crow Territory, but the size was reduced.

Watching Episode 112

I’m reminded as I write and produce this episode that reservations were not gifts to Native Americans. At best, they were a small corner of the area in which they use to live. At worse, they were marginal areas that were nothing like the territory they used to inhabit. Pushing Native Americans onto reservations became the policy of the United States government. The watch Episode 112 on, click here.

Episode 112 Summary

Indian Reservations – or reserves – date back before the birth of the United States. Both Britain and the United States set aside very large areas where Native Americans could live in peace, protected from European encroachment. In theory. It’s fair to ask if the architects of these reservations really expected them to last.

The Cree lived in a vast, sprawling area of Canada. When Henry Hudson overwintered in Hudson Bay, it was the local Cree who helped his crew survive the winter. That encounter led to Rupert’s Land – an expansive area where the Hudsons Bay Company carried on the lucrative fur trade. The Cree men worked to hunt beaver while the women prepared the fur for export. Savy traders learned to Marry in to Cree communities, allowing them the protection, cooperation, and comfort of their Native American families.

In conflict with the Cree were the Blackfoot. They elbowed the Shoshone out of the region of Northern Montana and carried on trade with the HBC as well. The Blackfoot was a confederacy of small tribes that hunted Bison and fished. They gathered each year for the Sun Dance and then dispersed for the winter months and for hunting. The Blackfoot valued the fire from their villages – carrying fire to their hunting camps for starting campfires and burning the prairie to promote the growth of important plants. Despite refusing to attack the U.S. Army in the Great Plaines Indian Wars, the Blackfoot reservation was reduced in size.

he building of the Transcontinental Railroad sped up the process of white people taking Indian land. Meanwhile, the Crow Nation did all they could to stay at peace with the United States, following the vision of Plenty Coups when he was a child. Part of their reservation was overtaken by Lakota Sioux, and they became valuable scouts for the U.S. Army during the Great Sioux War.

Crow Scouts were critical to efforts by the U.S. Army to force all Native Americans onto reservations, especially in battles against Crow longtime enemy the Lakota Sioux. The Battle of the Little Bighorn resulted in a defeat to the Army and encouragement to Native Americans. Successes by Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull questioned the invincibility of the U.S. Army.

The Nez Perce prevailed in numerous battles although they were greatly outnumbered by General Howard’s troops. Nonetheless, they lost the war soon after their long-time friends – the Crow – refused to help them. Only 40 miles from the Canadian border, Chief Joseph pledged that he would “fight no more forever.”

There was often trouble when Native Americans left the reservation. When Spotted Elk – aka Big Foot – led Indians out of the Standing Rock Reservation after the killing of Sitting Bull, his group suffered exposure on the Northern Plaines. He surrendered to the U.S. Army and they were taken to an army camp at Wounded Knee Creek. The next day bright the Wounded Knee Massacre and the conclusion of what was know as the Indian Wars.

Videos Used in Episode 112

The entire episode focused on the video Native Americans, Part 22: Reservations. If you want to watch the video from, click here.

The above video was edited down to fit in my time slot on RVTV. To see the longer version, Click here. There’s much to be gained by watching the long version if you have the time. It much better reflects the culture of the featured tribes and includes segments on the Indian Nations of the Intermountain West, the Nez Perce, Indian Scouts, and Mixed-descent Americans.

The Nez Perce War is an important part of the story about Native Americans in the west. It’s also the most poignant example of how things so often went wrong when dealing with those with peaceful intentions. This is a segment of the LONG version of Part 22: Reservations. If you weren’t able to view that video, I highly recommend viewing this short video. Click here to see it on

The same time restraints apply to the segment on the Great Basin nations: the Shoshone, the Bannock, and the Paiutes. Click here to watch on

Links to Related Videos

NOTE: The videos listed below are hosted on You Tube. Most of them have ads.

The first Indian Nation we featured were the Cree. Timeline has produced a video about the Cree. To watch, Click here

The Blackfoot were a confederation in opposition to the Iron Confederation. Click here for a video The Blackfeet, Great Northern Railroad, and Glacier National Park. Jaguar Bird has produced a video about the Blackfoot Confederation. Click here to watch it. Click here to see Carrying Fire the Pikunii Way as seen in this episode. Visit Montana has a video about the Blackfoot that you can see if you click here. For a video on Blackfoot Women, click here. Click here for a beautiful video about Blackfeet dance.

To see the struggle of the Crow to save a Sacred Mountain Click Here

Cheyenne Dog Soldiers vs Crow Warriors. Click Here.

We shared a very brief visual from the Scholastic Video The Wamanoag Way. Click here to watch the entire video.

A major factor in American Indian History near the end of the Great Plains Indians Wars was the Ghost Dance – Click here to learn more.

A widely-admired Indian leader is Lakota Tasunke Witco, otherwise known as Crazy Horse. Click here to see a beautiful video about Crazy Horse and the land where he walked. For another video about Crazy Hosrse, Click Here.

Crow Stories The Little People – Click here for this traditional Native American story.

Click here to see a video about the monument to Crazy Horse.

Trace the history of the Lakota Sioux in the video Rise of the Lakata Nation . Click Here

Learn about life inside an Indian Reservation – Pine Ridge Click Here

The second Battle of Wounded Knee took place in 1973 – without the huge carnage of the 19th Century massacre. View Wounded Knee 73 and background. Click here.

In 1989 Russell Means of American Indian Movement (AIM) met with a committee of the U.S. Senate. To see his testimony, – Click here.

Nez Perce Last Stand Pt 1 Click here.

Nez Perce Last Stand Pt 2Click Here.

Nez Perce a People in ExileClick Here.

Nez Perce the Hot Place in OklahomaClick here to watch

Click here to learn about a church returing traditional land to the Nez Perce from KGW. PBS ran a series on Native American land buybacks, featuring the Yurok in California. Click here to see Part 2, which is focused on the Nez perce.

Click here to learn about the history and culture of the Utes..

Collapse of the Plains Indians Click here

Life on an Indian Reservation Click Here.

The musical group Rebone produced a song entitled “We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee. Click here to see them perform it.

Wounded Knee left such a shadow over our history. Click here to see another video about it.

Note about Photos and Credit

At the end of each video I’ve produced, photo credits are listed. For reasons of readability and space, I use minimal wording and abbreviations. Here are some that I use and what they refer to:

LOC – I list Library of Congress when I can. Yet, a more formal credit for the many images by Edward Curtis would be:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Edward S. Curtis Collection. A more general credit to the Library of Congress would be:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division. I use many images fro the Library of Congress.

NARA – This indicates the National Archive of the United States. NARA more specifically mean National Archives and Rescoods Administration. If there’s space, I credit them as National Archives.

PD – Public Domain. This is really not a source, but it indicates that there are no copyright restrictions on the image. Photos and other works pass into Public Domain when a copyright has expired. Also, images that are taken by the United States Government are in the public domain.

Fair Use – Copyright law allows the use of images and other material for purposes of Education and other specific uses. There are limits to these uses. My claim pertains to Educational use.

Next Episode

Episode 113: California is still being built, but the featured video is available in its long version there. Click here to visit the Episode 113 page.