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The Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 had prompted a rash of fighting between Euramericans and American Indians on the central plains frontier, and after the Civil War, the U.S. government undertook several investigations into the causes of such troubles. In 1865, Congress appointed the Doolittle Commission, chaired by Sen. James R. Doolittle, R-Wis. In 1867, the commission published its Report on the Condition of the Indian Tribes. The commission made a somewhat surprising admission for the times—that major sources of trouble with American Indians were intrusion by settlers on reservation lands and overzealous actions by the U.S. Army. In June 1867, Congress authorized the Peace Commission to carry on the same basic mission that the Doolittle Commission had undertaken.

With these developments as background, shortly after ...

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