Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

General George Armstrong Custer Character Analysis

Famous American general who took a hard line against Native Americans. He consistently fought them, disrespected them, and refused to negotiate even over reasonable demands. Custer led the massacre of the Cheyennes who remained on their land after Roman Nose’s death (the massacre in which Black Kettle died), and he later refused to shake hands with Kiowa chiefs during a negotiation, ordering their arrest and threatening their destruction rather than acknowledging their previous treaty. In 1874, Custer broke a treaty by leading U.S. troops onto Native land in the Black Hills, hoping to clear the land for white settlers to prospect for gold. After a series of failed negotiations, Custer fought a coalition of Plains Indian tribes led by Crazy Horse in a battle that would come to be known as the Battle of Little Bighorn. Custer died in the battle, and Crazy horse emerged victorious after killing huge numbers of U.S. troops—a victory that irreversibly escalated the U.S. government’s resolve to subdue and relocate Native Americans. Custer could be considered the embodiment of the racism that underlay much of American expansion during the “Manifest Destiny” era.
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General George Armstrong Custer Character Timeline in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

The timeline below shows where the character General George Armstrong Custer appears in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6: Red Cloud’s War
Expansion and Manifest Destiny Theme Icon
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...chiefs Little Wound and Pawnee Killer, began to negotiate with a general named George Armstrong Custer. The chiefs told Custer they objected to the “Iron Horse” (i.e., the new railroad) that... (full context)
Chapter 7: “The Only Good Indian Is a Dead Indian”
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The U.S. soldiers (one of whom was General George Armstrong Custer) approached Roman Nose’s men. Roman Nose waved a truce flag, and rode toward General Hancock.... (full context)
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...of bringing his people to the U.S. army, he became angry. He sent George Armstrong Custer to track down the Native Americans. Meanwhile, the Nathaniel Taylor commission sent envoys to beg... (full context)
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...to the Cheyenne tribe, the U.S. military was preparing a column of soldiers, led by Custer, to wipe out all Native Americans in the territory, even those who’d kept their treaty... (full context)
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Expansion and Manifest Destiny Theme Icon
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...but the fort’s commanders refused, knowing that the military was planning a massacre. Shortly afterwards, Custer’s forces arrived at Black Kettle’s village. Custer led a charge, while his military band played... (full context)
Chapter 11: The War to Save the Buffalo
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...Satanta and Chief Lone Wolf, went to Fort Cobb to negotiate with General George Armstrong Custer. Custer refused to shake the chiefs’ hands. He impressed upon the chiefs that they must... (full context)
Chapter 12: The War for the Black Hills
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In 1874, General George Armstrong Custer led more than a thousand soldiers out to the Black Hills. This angered the Sioux... (full context)
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...Crazy Horse’s attack on the column of U.S troops—later known as the Battle of Rosebud—General Custer led a large army to Little Bighorn, a large settlement area for the Plains Indians.... (full context)
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...military’s flank and forced them to flee. Then, a group of Cheyenne warriors attacked General Custer’s column head-on while Crazy Horse and his lieutenants led additional soldiers to attack Custer’s forces... (full context)