History of Gold Mining in the Black Hills

“With rumors of gold in the air, an expedition was established by the U.S. Army and it consisted of over one thousand men, known as the 7th Cavalry. The team was led by Civil War fighter George Armstrong Custer. They set out on July 22nd, 1874 in what is presently known as Bismarck, North Dakota.

The rumors were confirmed when small amounts of gold were found in 1874 in French Creek in Custer, South Dakota. Custer penned a letter on August 15, 1874 to the Assistant Adjutant General of the Department of Dakota and stated that “there is no doubt as to the existence of various metals throughout the hills.” This was later telegraphed to the press, and the world became aware of the riches of the Black Hills.

With the white man’s incessant treaty revisions, unkept promises, and revocation of land that was once ruled by Native Americans, perhaps the Sioux tribe could have predicted what came next. Even though only small amounts of gold were found, people from all over the country flocked to South Dakota to try their hands at panning for fortunes. The land that was promised as Sioux Territory by the Treaty of Fort Laramie was now being hounded, trampled, and taken by the pioneers.”


-Information provided by The Black Hills