Season 1: Episode 5 | Sharp-Elbows | Grattan Massacre

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. The people - The Lakota (Sioux) peoples 
  3. The history - the Grattan Massacre, 1854
  4. Language/Word of the week
  5. Creature
  6. Short Story - Orphanage 

The People:

The Sioux, and particularly the Lakota Sioux, are the iconic warrior horsemen of the Northern Plains. They have become perhaps some of the most known of all the Indian nations through paintings and photographs, and their confrontations with the U.S. military. By the 1700s, the Lakota had acquired horses that were originally brought to the Americas by the Spanish in the 1500s. They flourished, hunting buffalo, on the high plains of Wisconsin, Iowa, the Dakotas, and also as far as Canada. The Sioux Wars tell the dramatic story of a people attempting to retain their way of life. There are five major engagements which included the Grattan Massacre, 1854, Fetterman Fight, in 1866, Battle of the Rosebud, 1876, Battle of the Little Bighorn, in 1876, and the Wounded Knee Massacre, in 1890.


In 1851, a treaty council was attended by thousands of Indians from several different tribes. This is known as the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. Soon after the signing, an unfortunate incident broke the peace. And in 1854, a party of Mormon emigrants was heading up the valley past the Indian camps one afternoon, their cow had escaped and wandered into the neighboring Indian village, were it was shot. 

The Mormons weren't happy but were to scared to confront the Indians, so they went back to Fort Laramie, and said that the Indians, had stolen and killed their cow. Hearing the news, the Brule Chief Conquering Bear went to had gone to try and smooth things over, by paying for the cow, they found no luck.  Fort Laramie’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Hugh B. Fleming had rejected the idea of them paying for the cow, and decided to arrest High Forehead (Miniconjou Indiana, that was visiting the village at the time who shot the cow), in an act of violation of existing treaties.

They went back to the village, High Forehead wouldn't confess to the crime committed because in his mind he did no wrong. When John L. Grattan (an office who was sent there to bring High Forehead back) ask for Chief Conquering Bear to give up High Forehead, he simply told him I cannot do so, he is a visitor to my village, and I have no authority over him. This didn't please Grattan, and he allowed on of his men to shoot. The shot hit one of the Indians in the area but Conquering Bear told the warriors to not engage, thinking that they would leave. That wasn't the case, and when it dawned on Grattan that he would need to use more "force" he then allowed his men to open fire. Chief Conquering Bear had been shot and suffered mortal wounds. 

The fight didn't last long, but the fate of Grattan, and all of his men was death except one, who had managed to escape, but he died soon after from his wounds. 

Afterwards, the Indians didn't follow or attack Fort Laramie, but when Conquering Bear, had died later that week from his wounds, the warriors had attacked a neighboring trading post. This had led to any army of 600 men being deployed to Brule area. Many were slaughtered, or kidnaped, needless to say, a lot of people died over a cow.

Sources for History:



the Lakota language is a Siouan language that is spoken by many tribe members, even today. The language represents one of the largest speech communities in the country and almost 2,000 tribe members living on the plains still speak the language. Like many indigenous tribes, the Lakota culture is quite rich and one of the most important aspects of the culture is the oral tradition. 

With this, knowledge has been passed down through many generations and elders as well as tribal leaders told the history of the tribe orally. Many communities are actively working to promote and preserve their language. Through various programs and education initiatives.

This week's phase is:

  • Teton:
  • English:
    • Good morning - (Morning greeting)

Sources for their language:

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