If the Indians were, in fact, better armed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Custer may have contributed to the situation by declining to include Gatling guns in his van. Because he was setting off on what amounted to a search-and-destroy mission, he argued that the Gatlings were too cumbersome and would only slow him down.
At the point where he was surrounded and outnumbered by a ratio as high as 9-to-1, he probably regretted making that choice. In such a dire situation, the Gatling gun would have considerably reduced the enemy’s numerical advantage and may have even proven decisive in turning the tide.
The Lakota and Cheyenne warriors did join the battle with a number of Henry and Spencer repeating rifles, which provided a higher rate of fire than the single-shot Springfield Model 1873 carbines carried by the cavalry troopers.
In the end, several factors led to the deaths of the 197 men under Custer, each stemming from his underestimation of his adversaries. Link