Indian Wars List and Timeline

1876-1877 – Black Hills War – Also called the Sioux War of 1876, the Lakota under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse fought the U.S. after repeated violations of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

March, 1876 –  Battle of Powder River – The opening battle of the Black Hills War, between the U.S. Army and the Sioux and Cheyenne on the Powder River in Montana.

June 17, 1876 –  Battle of Rosebud – The Lakota under Sitting Bull clashed with U.S. Army column moving to reinforce Custer’s 7th Cavalry.

Battle of the Little Bighorn by C.M. Russell

Battle of the Little Bighorn by C.M. Russell

June 25-26, 1876 –  Battle of the Little Bighorn –  Sioux and Cheyenne under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated the 7th Cavalry under George Armstrong Custer.

July 17, 1876 –  Battle at Warbonnet Creek – Three weeks after Custer’s defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the Fifth U.S. Cavalry skirmished with Cheyenne Indians from the Red Cloud Agency in northwest Nebraska.

September 8, 1876 –  Battle of Slim Buttes –  Captain Anson Mills’ Third Cavalry troopers attacked the Sioux village of American Horse in South Dakota. American Horse was killed in the ambush.

November 25, 1876 –  Dull Knife Fight – After the Battle of the Little Bighorn the previous summer the U.S. Military began retaliatory campaigns. Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie’s 4th Cavalry surprised Dull Knife’s winter camp in Wyoming, killing 25 Indians.

1877 –  Nez Perce War – Occurring in Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, the Nez Perce were fighting to keep their home in Wallowa Valley. Chief Joseph retreated from the 1st U.S. Cavalry through Idaho, Yellowstone Park, and Montana after a group of Nez Perce attacked and killed a group of Anglo settlers in early 1877. They surrendered near the border to Nelson Miles’ soldiers.

August 29, 1877 –  Battle of Big Hole – One of a series of engagements between U.S. troops and the fleeing Nez Perce under Chief Joseph in southwestern Montana.

1878 –  Bannock War – Elements of the 21st U.S. Infantry, 4th U.S. Artillery, and 1st U.S. Cavalry engaged the natives of southern Idaho including the Bannock and Paiute when the tribes threatened rebellion in 1878, dissatisfied with their land allotments.

1878-1879 –  Cheyenne War – A conflict between the United States’ armed forces and a small group of Cheyenne families.

September 27, 1878 – Battle of Punished Woman Fork – Chiefs Dull Knife and Little Wolf of the Northern Cheyenne led their people in a rebellion and flight from confinement and starvation in Indian Territory to their homelands in the north. The Cheyenne made their final stand in Scott County, Kansas, fighting against the U.S. Cavalry.

September 30, 1878 –  Last Cheyenne Raid – Cheyenne ambushed Decatur County, Kansas. A running fight with white settlers occurred. In the end, 17 settlers were killed in the ambush.

1879 – White River War – The war was fought between Ute Indians and the U.S. Army Buffalo Soldiers near the area of the White River that passes through both the states of Colorado and Utah.

January 8, 1879 – Ft Robinson Massacre – Northern Cheyenne under Dull Knife attempt to escape from confinement in Fort Robinson, Nebraska; about fifty survive.

May-August, 1879 – Sheepeater War – On May 1, 1879, three detachments of soldiers pursued the Idaho Western Shoshone throughout central Idaho during the last campaign in the Pacific Northwest.

September 29, 1879 –  Meeker Massacre –  One of the most violent expressions of Indian resentment toward the reservation system, Ute Indians attacked the White River Indian Agency in Rio Blanca County, Colorado, burning the buildings and killing Indian Agent, Nathan C. Meeker and nine employees.

September 29 – October 5, 1879 –  Battle of Milk Creek – Following the Meeker Massacre, Ute Indians ambushed a column of 150 troops on the northern edge of the White River Reservation in Moffat County, Colorado.

April 28, 1880 – Alma Massacre – Settlers killed by Apache led by Victorio at Alma, New Mexico. Likewise on December 19, 1885, an officer and 4 enlisted men of the 8th Cavalry Regiment killed by Apache near Alma, New Mexico.

September, 1879-November, 1880 – Ute War – On September 29, 1879, some 200 men, elements of the 4th U.S. Infantry and 5th U.S. Cavalry under the command of Major T. T. Thornburgh, were attacked and besieged in Red Canyon by 300 to 400 Ute warriors. Thornburgh’s group was rescued by forces of the 5th and U.S. 9th Cavalry Regiment in early October, but not before significant loss of life had occurred. The Utes were finally pacified in November 1880.

August 30, 1881 – Battle of Cibeque – When Apache shaman, Noch-del-klinne (the prophet) began to teach dances and rites similar to the ghost dance, he was arrested and fighting erupted along Cibecue Creek, Arizona.

July 17, 1882 –  Battle of Big Dry Wash – The battle of Big Dry Wash was the last major fight with hostile Apache in Arizona Territory and marked the end of an era.

September 4, 1886 – Skeleton Canyon – Geronimo and less than 40 Apache, surrendered to Brigadier General Nelson Miles at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, marking the end of the Apache Wars.

Paiute Ghost Dance

Paiute Ghost Dance

1890–1891 –  Ghost Dance War –  An armed conflict between the U.S. government and Native Americans that resulted from a religious movement called the Ghost Dance. The conflict included the Wounded Knee Massacre and the Pine Ridge Campaign.

November, 1890-January, 1891 –  Pine Ridge Campaign – Numerous unresolved grievances led to the last major conflict with the Sioux. A lopsided engagement that involved almost half the infantry and cavalry of the Regular Army caused the surviving warriors to lay down their arms and retreat to their reservations in January 1891.

December 29, 1890 –  Wounded Knee Massacre – Sitting Bull’s half-brother, Big Foot, and some 200 Sioux were killed by the U.S. 7th Cavalry. only fourteen days before, Sitting Bull had been killed with his son Crow Foot at Standing Rock Agency in a gun battle with a group of Indian police that had been sent by the American government to arrest him.

October 5, 1898 – Battle of Leech Lake – Considered the last “Indian War,” an uprising of Chippewa occurred when one of their tribe was arrested on Lake Leech in northern Minnesota.

Compiled Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated November 2018.

Also See:

Frontier Skirmishes between the Pioneers & the Indians

Military Campaigns of the Indian Wars

Three Indian Campaigns

Indian Wars of the Frontier West


6 thoughts on “Indian Wars List and Timeline”

  1. Hello, I want to know if these conflicts between the Natives and the Europeans lasted until the last 5/6 decades, around ’50s or’60s. Was there any battle during these times. Please help with authentic historical account.


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