Black Elk Speaks

by Black Elk, John Greenleaf Neihardt

Start Free Trial

Why did the Indians kill Custer?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The brief answer to this question is that Custer was trying to kill the Indians, so no one should be surprised that they attempted to defend themselves by killing him. The Indians in fact had very little choice: Custer had attacked them, and they could scarcely have ignored him.

Custer was killed at the battle of the Little Bighorn, on June 26, 1876, the greatest Indian victory in the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877. He made the elementary mistake of attacking a force of warriors three times larger than the 600 or so men he was leading at the time over unfamiliar terrain that was entirely unsuited for the sort of cavalry tactics his troops were trained in. He had also refused reinforcements, including a battery of Gatling machine guns that would probably have caused the Indians to avoid combat.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial