During the Black Hills War, Lakota warriors under the command of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse fight United States troops in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. At the Battle of the Little Bighorn, George Custer and his Seventh Cavalry are defeated; however, American forces ultimately force the Lakota to surrender.

Colorado enters the Union.

James “Wild Bill” Hickok is shot and killed while playing poker in Deadwood, Dakota Territory.


Joseph leads his Nez Percé followers in retreat from U.S. military forces. Passing through Yellowstone National Park en route to Canada, Joseph ultimately surrenders to Nelson Miles only thirty miles from the border.

Congress votes to repeal the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty.


Military forces under General Oliver Howard force the Bannocks back onto their Idaho reservation, ending the Bannock War.


The United States Geological Survey is founded, and Clarence King is named its first director. The United States Bureau of Ethnology is also created to study the native peoples of the West. John Wesley Powell becomes its first head.

Anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing begins a five-year sojourn among the Zuni in New Mexico.

Richard Pratt establishes the United States Indian Training and Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania to educate and acculturate Native American school children.


Kansas lawmakers sign prohibition legislation outlawing the sale of alcohol.


Sitting Bull and his Lakota followers return from Canada and surrender to American authorities.

Helen Hunt Jackson publishes A Century of Dishonor.

The young artist Frederic Remington makes his first trip to the West.


The outlaw Jesse James is killed by Robert Ford, who hopes to collect a $5,000 reward.

Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act, prohibiting Chinese immigration and the naturalization of Chinese already in the United States.


Sarah Winnemucca publishes Life among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims.

The Northern Pacific Railroad – the second transcontinental railroad – is completed nineteen years after it was first authorized.

William “Buffalo Bill” Cody organizes his first Wild West Show in Omaha.


Theodore Roosevelt travels to the Dakotas with an interest in becoming a cattle rancher and hoping to recover from the recent deaths of his mother and his wife.


Annie Oakley begins performing as a sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

Railroad magnate Leland Stanford founds a university in California in memory of his recently-deceased son.

In Rock Springs, Wyoming, miners attack a community of Chinese workers, killing more than two dozen and requiring federal intervention.


Apache leader Geronimo surrenders to American authorities under the command of General Nelson Miles and is imprisoned at Fort Marion in Florida.

Artist Charles Russell exhibits his first western paintings in St. Louis.


Congress passes the General Allotment Act, also known as the Dawes Act, imposing a private land ownership system on Native American tribes.

Congress passes the Edmunds-Tucker Act, disincorporating the Mormon church and undermining its political and economic authority.

Photographer Frank J. Haynes accompanies the first American expedition into Yellowstone National Park during the winter.

William Cody’s Wild West Show makes its first tour of Europe.


Cattle ranchers on the northern Plains suffer huge losses following a harsh winter and a dry summer.

Anthropologist Franz Boas makes his first trip to the Pacific Northwest to study that region’s native communities.


Paiute religious leader Wovoka begins to teach the Ghost Dance to followers, causing alarm of renewed hostilities.

President Harrison decrees that unoccupied lands in Indian Territory are open to settlement, precipitating the Oklahoma Land Rush.

Washington, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota join the Union.


Wyoming and Idaho enter the Union.

With the support of naturalist John Muir, Congress designates Yosemite a national park.

In December Sitting Bull is killed in a confrontation with reservation police at his Standing Rock home. Two weeks later federal troops engage his fellow Lakota, killing Chief Big Foot and 350 followers at Wounded Knee Creek in the last major military conflict during the so-called “Indian Wars.”

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