In October 1903, six Oglala Lakota Sioux and two white men died in a tragically unnecessary armed confrontation on Lightning Creek, northeast of Douglas, Wyo. But 35 years later, both sides made a public effort at a kind of reconciliation—at the Wyoming State Fair.
Browse Articles about Conflict
|Anderson, A.A.||John Clayton|
|Arapaho tribe, arrival of on Shoshone Reservation, 1878||WyoHistory.org|
|Averell, Jim, newspaper reporting of the lynching of||Tom Rea|
|Baker, Pvt. Ralston, pioneer grave of||Randy Brown|
|Balangiga, bells of||Douglas R. Cubbison|
|Banditti of the Plains, The||Rebecca Hein|
|Bells of Balangiga||Douglas R. Cubbison|
|Big Horn River Pilot, early Thermopolis, Wyo. newspaper||Rebecca Hein|
|Bissonette family and 1868 wagon train attack||Rebecca Hein|
|Black 14, Hamilton, Mel, former University of Wyoming football player on his life and the||Phil White|
It began with a bowl of mush and ended in the murders of two men—one shot through the heart, the other dragged from the jail and lynched by a vicious mob of 300 to 400 people. Afterward, no one would testify to who was in the mob.
The talking lasted 12 hours. Several times, the Ute negotiators returned to their camp; the soldiers could do little but wait. Each time negotiations resumed, the Utes refused to return to the Utah reservation they’d left five months earlier before crossing Wyoming in the summer of 1906. Civil officials were frantic. But the Utes, disgusted with losing still more of their land to the allotment system, were positive they would not go back.
Democrat Lester Hunt, a charismatic wartime governor in heavily Republican Wyoming, won a U.S. Senate seat in 1948. There, he clashed with Sen. Joseph McCarthy. After Hunt’s son was convicted for soliciting homosexual contact, Hunt was blackmailed by Republican senators and committed suicide—circumstances that remained largely unknown for three decades.
In 1904, a Laramie mob hanged African-American Joe Martin from a light pole near the courthouse, drawing a crowd of 1,000 people or more. Despite having called several witnesses, a grand jury brought no indictments. And lynchings of Black men became more and more frequent in Wyoming in the coming two decades.
In July 1895, a posse of non-Indians, mostly outfitters, attacked a peaceful band of Bannocks south of Jackson Hole. The Indians believed they were legally hunting elk their Idaho reservation, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state law overrode their treaty rights, a huge blow to tribal sovereignty. In 2019, the court finally upended that ruling, in a case involving a Crow Tribe member, also hunting in Wyoming and off his reservation.
In 1919, when 17-year-old Austrian-born Joseph Omeyc shot Game Warden John Buxton with a revolver near Rock Springs after the officer confiscated his rifle, the crime appeared related to poaching. But Wyoming at the time required non-citizens to license guns, Omeyc didn’t have a gun license—and anti-immigrant feeling was running high.
Sherman Coolidge, a Northern Arapaho adopted and educated by whites, served 26 years as an Episcopal priest on the reservation on Wind River. During that time, he largely allied himself with government over tribal interests. But later, active in the pan-Indian movement, he came to value preservation of Indian cultures over assimilation.