Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

In the 1880s, as settlers began moving into Indian hunting grounds on the Great Plains, conflicts arose. The U.S. government signed treaties that required Indians to relocate to “Indian Territory,” now Oklahoma.

Many tribes complied. But some Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa refused to give up their nomadic way of life.

As the clashes escalated and settlers demanded protection, government soldiers began launching offensive strikes against the Indians. The November 1864 attack on the Cheyenne camp of Chief Black Kettle became known as the Sand Creek Massacre.

That attack prompted the Medicine Lodge Treaty of October 1867, which required Indian tribes to settle in Oklahoma. Black Kettle signed the treaty, but it infuriated many other Indians, and tensions increased.

General Philip H. Sheridan decided to take action. On November 27, 1868, Lt. Col. George A. Custer and 800 men launched a surprise early morning attack on Black Kettle’s winter camp. The chief and his wife were killed, along with many warriors, women, and children.

Under Sheridan’s orders, the troops killed the Indians’ ponies and mules, as well. The Indians rode ponies while hunting buffalo, and measured their wealth in the size of their pony herds. Without them, the Cheyenne had no choice but to move to the reservation.

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site preserves the site of this pivotal attack. Get a sweeping view of Washita river basin from the windows in the visitor center, watch a film about the battle, and take a self-guided or a ranger-led 1.5-mile walk through the battlefield.









January 23, 2015

I hope to get to this site and many other Plains massacre sites. I just finished a show of my art in honor of all Native Americans that lost their lives and homes to Euro-Americans.


December 4, 2014

Sand Creek was a massacre. Washita was a battle.

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November 19, 2014

If the US won it was a Battlefield - if the Indians won it was a Massacre

u tsi lv

August 12, 2013

I agree name the park "Washita Massacre Historic Site, or "Where Ponies Cry"


January 13, 2013

It was not a battle but surprise attack with the intention of wiping out as many lice(natives)they could. It would have been worse if not for the Kiowa and other Cheyenne who showed up from down river to help. I wish more was said about the group of soldiers who refused the command to attack because of the overwhelming amount of women and children and order to shoot them too. When asked why the children the reply was "nits make lice". If I am not mistaken they were camped literally under the "protection" of the american flag and had permission to be there.


July 25, 2012

I find the naming of this park as a"battlefield" to be insulting, not only to native Americans, but also to the United States as a whole. This should be named the "Washita Massacre National Historic Site" as this was no battle.

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