The Badlands of Dakota were known as "mako sica" by the Native Americans. The barren landscape of eroded ridges and rocks, supports little wildlife. The territory was originally under the control of the Sioux. In 1978 the American government established the area as a 244,000 acre National Park.

Primary Sources

(1) Nelson Miles, Personal Recollections and Observations (1896)

Between the years 1869-75 the pressure of advancing civilization was very great upon all sides. The hunters, prospectors, miners, and settlers were trespassing upon the lands granted to the Indians. It was generally believed that the Black Hills country possessed rich mineral deposits, and miners were permitted to prospect for mines. Surveying parties were allowed to traverse the country for routes upon which to construct railways, and even the government sent exploring expeditions into the Black Hills country, that reported evidences of gold fields. All this created great excitement on the part of the white people and a strong desire to occupy that country. At the same time it exasperated the Indians to an intense degree, until disaffection developed into open hostilities.

Spotted Tail was a strong character, a wise and really great chief. He would have been a statesman, diplomatist, or able governor if he had been a white man. Red Cloud had been a noted warrior, but at this time was conservative and diplomatic. Both of these hereditary chiefs remained friendly and counseled peace, but the war spirit prevailed. Crazy Horse was the incarnation of ferocity - a fierce, restless warrior, who had made a great reputation as a successful leader of raids and war parties, and had become, at the age of twenty-six, the recognized leader of the Ogalallas, the most warlike tribe of the Sioux Nation.