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According to the artist, “In the summer of 1866 the U.S. Army completed Forts Reno, Phil Kearny, and C.F. Smith along the Bozeman Trail for the protection of emigrants, gold seekers, and freight wagons traveling its course. The trail took the wagon trains through the buffalo and game-rich hunting grounds of the Lakota Sioux, and that of the Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho. Built in direct violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, these forts and their soldiers greatly fanned the flames of discontent among the native people. Just as Sitting Bull’s Hunkpapas detested Fort Buford on the upper Missouri, Red Cloud’s Oglalas kept Fort Phil Kearny almost constantly besieged. A tactic often used involved a mock assault by a few warriors against a larger company of soldiers. The soldiers easily forced them to retreat, then sensing victory, gave pursuit. The retreating warriors provided this diversion to lure the cavalry into a trap where large numbers of Sioux waited.”

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