Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Natalie from Tucker. Natalie Wonders, “What was the Battle of Little Bighorn?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Natalie!

Today’s Wonder of the Day is about a major battle in American history. It’s not the Battle of Gettysburg or the Invasion of Normandy. We’re not even talking about the Battles of Lexington and Concord! No, today, we’re learning about the Battle of Little Bighorn.

What was the Battle of Little Bighorn? It was a fight between American soldiers and warriors from three American Indian nations. Led by George Armstrong Custer, the U.S. soldiers were pushing American Indians out of the Great Plains. The effort began after gold was found in the Black Hills.

However, the Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho peoples had no plans to leave their homes. Neither did the other nations of the Great Plains. That’s why, on June 25, 1876, Custer and his troops attacked. They targeted a camp of American Indian people near the Little Bighorn River in Montana.

Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors came together to fight for their families and their homes. They set out to meet Custer and his 209 soldiers. Among the warriors, there was at least one Cheyenne woman. Her name was Buffalo Calf Road Woman. They also called her Brave Woman.

Buffalo Calf Road Woman had proven herself in battle only the week before. In that battle, Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux warriors fought against another group of U.S. troops. These Americans were led by General George Crook. At one point, Buffalo Calf Road Woman’s brother, Comes In Sight, was surrounded by soldiers. 

Suddenly, Buffalo Calf Road Woman rode into the fighting on her horse. She scattered the soldiers and pulled her brother onto the horse behind her, saving his life. Thanks to her bravery, the Cheyenne people came to call this The Battle Where the Girl Saved Her Brother.

In the Battle of Little Bighorn, Buffalo Calf Road Woman fought just as bravely. In fact, she used a club to knock Custer himself off of his horse. The commander and all 209 of his soldiers were killed that day. It was a huge victory for the nations of the Great Plains.

It was many years before most people learned about Buffalo Calf Road Woman’s bravery in battle. To avoid punishment from the U.S. government, the Cheyenne kept the truth secret. Buffalo Calf Road Woman’s story was told in the 1967 book “Custer on the Little Bighorn.” It was later confirmed by a Cheyenne elder in 2005.

Buffalo Calf Road Woman was later captured in 1877. U.S. soldiers forced her to march from her home in Montana to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. Her husband, Black Coyote, and several family members were with her. The next year, she joined a group who fled the territory to return home.

They fought U.S. soldiers for much of the 1,500 mile trip. Eventually, the group was re-taken. They were held at Fort Robinson in present-day Nebraska. There, Buffalo Calf Road Woman died of diptheria in May 1879.

What do you think of the story of Buffalo Calf Road Woman? Does it remind you of any other brave women in history? Spend more time learning about women who changed the world today.

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.3, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.SL.3, CCRA.L.2, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3

Wonder What's Next?

Join us tomorrow in Wonderopolis for a hilarious look at the lighter side of the Internet!