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November 5, 1887 Battle at Crow Agency


Though this battle occurred at Crow Agency, it was not the Crow people who fought this battle which was obviously fought over the illicit 1887 Dawes Act. The Crow people had long been allies of the whites and were very willing to give their land to the whites and to help the whites fight against their own race. An Anishinabe ogima named Sword Bearer, rose up to lead a group of brave Anishinabe soldiers to fight the whites. Historians may claim that Sword Bearer had a vision that a sword was cutting a path through the trees which he thought indicated that it was really white soldiers falling before him. The truth of the matter is very easy to understand. It was the illicit 1887 Dawes Act which forced ogima Sword Bearer to raise a group of Anishinabe soldiers up to fight the whites. Once ogima Sword Bearer had enough soldiers he ordered them to launch raids against the whites. These raids were primarily to steal horses and other livestock. Once the news of the Anishinabe raids was learned of, the Indian agent on the Crow Reservation sent police to arrest the Anishinabe soldiers responsible but they fought instead. That left Indian agent Henry E. Williamson with only one option. He called for reinforcements. White soldiers from Fort Custer and Fort McKinney were sent to the war scene.



Once the white soldiers reached the war scene, ogima Sword Bearer bravely rode in front of the white soldiers to inspire his brave soldiers to fight. While bravely riding in front of the white soldiers, ogima Sword Bearer was shot and injured. In the battle that followed, the white soldiers easily defeated the enraged Anishinabe soldiers who were armed primarily with lances or swords. Anishinabe casualties were 7 killed, 9 wounded, and 9 captured. White casualties were 1 killed and 2 wounded. Shortly after this battle, the whites hired an Indian to assassinate ogima Sword Bearer to end the rebellion over the illicit 1887 Dawes Act. After this battle, a large group of Anishinabe people and probably some Crow people, fled off the Reservation to the Yellowstone National Park region. Many Anishinabek were also forced to live on the Fort Custer Military Reservation.




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