The Cheyenne indians of Nebraska and Montana had been forcibly removed from the region by American troops in the Fall and Winter of 1878. A small band of indian forces led by Chief Dull Knife attempted to leave the Cheyenne reservation in the winter of that year. The indian forces unknowingly ran into a detachment of American soldiers. Both sides backed down and the indians were taken to Fort Robinson. At Fort Robinson they were given general freedom, but as time went by, the American troops were ordered to try and force the Cheyenne back to the reservation. They did this by starving them and giving them no fire or warmth.
The indian band attempted to escape but were chased by American troops. A group of 65 escapees were quickly captured and taken back to the fort and by January 22nd, 1879 the American forces had captured and killed at least 35 of the remaining escaped Native Americans.