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    Description

    Dated just fifteen months before his "last stand."

    George Armstrong Custer: 1875 Letter Signed with Significant Indian Content. After a lackluster record at West Point, Custer made a name for himself during the Civil War as an aggressive and flamboyant commander during the Civil War. Subsequently, he was appointed lieutenant colonel upon the creation of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment and, in 1873, was sent to the Dakota Territory where the tensions between the U.S. government and many of the Plains Indian tribes were growing.

    Custer dictated this two page letter to one of his aides at Headquarters, Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory, on March 11, 1875. It was written to Indian Agent Edmond Palmer at Standing Rock, D.T. regarding an Indian Conference. It reads, in full: "I have received your letter acquainting me with the reasons which prevented the delegations of Indians from your Agency from coming as intended to this post to confer with the delegation of the Rees now here. As it was of importance that the date upon which the proposed council should assemble should be determined upon promptly and notice thereof sent to the various tribes interested and as the delegation of Rees was compelled to set out today on their return to their Agency I conferred with them and with Iron Horse who is here from your Agency. At this conference, it was decided to name the 20th of April next as the date upon which the council should assemble at this point. This will allow about forty days to enable notice to be sent to the agencies and the Indians to arrive here. I would be glad if you would submit this matter to all the Chiefs and head men of your Agency and obtain their assent to the proposed arrangements, and their promise to participate. Every tribe and band should be represented by its most influential men otherwise the council will terminate in results of no value. Please communicate with me in regards to the decision of the Sioux. I will send a communication to the agent at Cheyenne informing him of the date fixed and will be greatly obliged to you, if you will cause it to be transmitted by a courier from your Agency. I am, Sir Very Respectfully Truly Yours." He signs his name "G. A. Custer" above his rank, "Lieutenant Colonel of Cavalry Brevet Major General, U.S.A. Comdg." at the close.

    We all know the story of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the most famous battle of the Sioux Wars, where Custer and 267 of his men (including two brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law) lost their lives to the combined forces of the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne tribes. This took place June 25, 1876, just two months after the April 20th Indian Conference proposed in this letter. This unique and historic letter has been elegantly framed to an overall size of 54" x 22" along with two images of Custer and a plaque engraved with a full transcription of the letter. A copy of the first page of the letter is shown next to the actual second page so that the letter may be read in full from the front of the frame. The genuine first page of the letter is visible through glass from the back. Condition is amazing considering the age and history of the letter; two file holes at the right margin affect no text. Rarity and condition, combined with important content, and all enhanced by museum-quality presentation, makes this an extremely desirable piece of American history. This lot requires 3rd party shipping.

    Thanks to Dakota Goodhouse, Interpretive Director at the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation for pointing out that this letter led to the Treaty of Fort Abraham Lincoln which took place on May 29, 1875. The treaty was signed by members of the Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux, Yanktonai Dakota Sioux, and representatives of the Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan nations. According to the Bismarck Tribune, there was feasting and dancing for about ten days following the treaty signing, and after it was over, they went back to fighting it out. The text of the treaty follows.


    More Information:

    In May, 1875, Fort Abraham Lincoln was the scene of a historic negotiation. The parties to the negotiations in 1875 were representatives of three bands typically referred to as Sioux: the Hunkpapa Lakota, the Sihasapa Lakota (aka Blackfoot Sioux), and the Yanktonai Dakota. On the other end of the table were the Three Affiliated Tribes from Fort Berthold: the Mandan, Hidatsa, and the Arikara. The text of this carefully negotiated treaty are shown below. After the treaty was signed, rhetoric and good-willed speeches flowed. Singing, feasting, and dancing by 400 Sioux and 300 members of the Three Affiliated Tribes also followed the treaty. The peace between the tribes last about as long as it took for either party to clear the fort.

    TREATY BETWEEN THE YANKTONAI, HUNKPAPA, AND BLACKFOOT SIOUX, AND THE ARIKARA, HIDATSA, AND MANDAN
    MAY 29, 1875

    Whereas War has prevailed for many years between the Sioux Indians on one side and the Arickaree, Mandan and Gros Ventres on the other, and whereas, it is now the desire of the Yanctonnais, Uncpapa and Blackfeet bands of Sioux Nations and the Arickaree, Mandan and Gros Ventres to put an end to such hostilities forever:--

    We, the undersigned chiefs and headmen of the tribes and people above named do solemnly and in good faith promise

    First
    That we the undersigned chiefs and headmen of the Sioux Nations and the people we here represent will from this day forward live in peace and friendship with the chiefs and headmen of the Arickaree, Mandan and Gros Ventres and the people they here represent, and that we will exert all our power and influence over our people to prevent them or any of them from committing any unfriendly or hostile acts against the Arickaree, Mandan and Gros Ventres.

    Second
    That we the undersigned chiefs and headmen of the Arickaree, Mandan and Gros Ventres tribes of Indians and the people we here represent will from this day forward live in peace and friendship with the chiefs and headmen of the Yanctonnais, Uncpapa and Blackfeet bands of the Sioux Nation and the people they here represent, and that we will exert all our power and influence over our people to prevent them or any of them from committing unfriendly or hostile acts against the people or individuals of the tribes of Sioux represented in this council.

    Third
    That we the chiefs and headmen of the Yanctonnai, Uncpapa and Blackfeet tribes of Sioux will use all our power and influence toward preventing Sioux of the Cheyenne River Agency from committing hostile or unfriendly acts against the Arickaree, Mandan and Gros Ventres.

    Fourth
    That we the undersigned chiefs and headmen of the Arickaree, Mandan and Gros Ventres tribes of Indians will use all our power and influence towards preventing hostile or unfriendly acts on the parts of the people we represent against the Sioux of the Cheyenne River Agency.

    Fifth
    That if any of the chiefs and headmen who have signed this treaty shall learn that their young men are engaged in organizing expeditions or war parties intended to or likely to violate this treaty, they will forthwith inform their Agents in order that he may take such measure as will prevent any violation of the treaty made and entered into this day.

    Done at Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory, this 29th day of May, A.D. 1875, in presence of W.P. Carlin
    Lieut. Colonel 17th Infantry
    Commdg Fort A. Lincoln D.T.

    L.B. Sperry
    U.S. Indian Agent for the Arickarees,
    Gros Ventres and the Mandan Indians

    Arickaree
     Son-Of-The-Star
     White Shield
    Gros Ventres
     Crow Breast
     Lean Wolf
    Mandans
     Bad Gun
     Flag Lance

    John Burke
    U.S. Indian Agent for the Sioux Tribes

    Lower Yanctonanais
     Two Bears
      Mad Bear
     Bulls Ghost
    Uncpapa
     Running Antelope
     Thunder Hawk
     Bear's Rib
     Slave
     Long Soldier
     Bear's Eye
    Blackfeet
     The Grass
     Fire Heart
     Sitting Crow
    Upper Yanctonanais
     Wolf Necklace
     Black Eye

    Signed in Quadruplicate
    One copy given to Sioux Agent John Burke
    One copy given to Ree, Mandan and Gros Ventres Agent L. B. Sperry
    One copy forwarded to Headqrs, Dept. of Dakota
    One copy retained at Post headquarters

    James Calhoun
    1st Lieut. 7th Cavalry
    Adjutant

     





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    22nd Saturday
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