Thousands of Plains Indians died from smallpox.
Native American contact with Whites turned out to be deadly, especially for the Plains tribes. One of the earliest traceable outbreaks of smallpox among the Indians came from the American Fur Company boat venturing up the Missouri River in the mid-1830s. It’s estimated that several thousand Arikara, Mandan and Hidatsa died from the disease. The tribes were never the same. Disease played a bigger role in defeating the Plains Indians than war, forced relocation, and reservations.