Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains, by Charles A. Eastman
Charles A. Eastman

Part 1 out of 3











EVERY age, every race, has its leaders and heroes. There were over
sixty distinct tribes of Indians on this continent, each of which
boasted its notable men. The names and deeds of some of these men
will live in American history, yet in the true sense they are
unknown, because misunderstood. I should like to present some of
the greatest chiefs of modern times in the light of the native
character and ideals, believing that the American people will
gladly do them tardy justice.

It is matter of history that the Sioux nation, to which I
belong, was originally friendly to the Caucasian peoples which it
met in succession-first, to the south the Spaniards; then the
French, on the Mississippi River and along the Great Lakes; later
the English, and finally the Americans. This powerful tribe then
roamed over the whole extent of the Mississippi valley, between
that river and the Rockies. Their usages and government united the
various bands more closely than was the case with many of the
neighboring tribes.

During the early part of the nineteenth century, chiefs such
as Wabashaw, Redwing, and Little Six among the eastern Sioux,
Conquering Bear, Man-Afraid-of-His-Horse, and Hump of the western
bands, were the last of the old type. After these, we have a
coterie of new leaders, products of the new conditions brought
about by close contact with the conquering race.

This distinction must be borne in mind -- that while the early
chiefs were spokesmen and leaders in the simplest sense, possessing
no real authority, those who headed their tribes during the
transition period were more or less rulers and more or less
politicians. It is a singular fact that many of the "chiefs", well
known as such to the American public, were not chiefs at all
according to the accepted usages of their tribesmen. Their
prominence was simply the result of an abnormal situation, in which
representatives of the United States Government made use of them
for a definite purpose. In a few cases, where a chief met with a
violent death, some ambitious man has taken advantage of the
confusion to thrust himself upon the tribe and, perhaps with
outside help, has succeeded in usurping the leadership.

Red Cloud was born about 1820 near the forks of the Platte
River. He was one of a family of nine children whose father, an
able and respected warrior, reared his son under the old Spartan
regime. The young Red Cloud is said to have been a fine horseman,
able to swim across the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, of high
bearing and unquestionable courage, yet invariably gentle and
courteous in everyday life. This last trait, together with a
singularly musical and agreeable voice, has always been
characteristic of the man.

When he was about six years old, his father gave him a
spirited colt, and said to him:

"My son, when you are able to sit quietly upon the back of
this colt without saddle or bridle, I shall be glad, for the boy
who can win a wild creature and learn to use it will as a man be
able to win and rule men."

The little fellow, instead of going for advice and help to his
grandfather, as most Indian boys would have done, began quietly to
practice throwing the lariat. In a little while he was able to
lasso the colt. He was dragged off his feet at once, but hung on,
and finally managed to picket him near the teepee. When the big
boys drove the herd of ponies to water, he drove his colt with the
rest. Presently the pony became used to him and allowed himself to
be handled. The boy began to ride him bareback; he was thrown many
times, but persisted until he could ride without even a lariat,
sitting with arms folded and guiding the animal by the movements of
his body. From that time on he told me that he broke all his own
ponies, and before long his father's as well.

The old men, his contemporaries, have often related to me how
Red Cloud was always successful in the hunt because his horses were
so well broken. At the age of nine, he began to ride his father's
pack pony upon the buffalo hunt. He was twelve years old, he told
me, when he was first permitted to take part in the chase, and
found to his great mortification that none of his arrows penetrated
more than a few inches. Excited to recklessness, he whipped his
horse nearer the fleeing buffalo, and before his father knew what
he was about, he had seized one of the protruding arrows and tried
to push it deeper. The furious animal tossed his massive head
sidewise, and boy and horse were whirled into the air.
Fortunately, the boy was thrown on the farther side of his pony,
which received the full force of the second attack. The thundering
hoofs of the stampeded herd soon passed them by, but the wounded
and maddened buffalo refused to move, and some critical moments
passed before Red Cloud's father succeeded in attracting its
attention so that the boy might spring to his feet and run for his

I once asked Red Cloud if he could recall having ever been
afraid, and in reply he told me this story. He was about sixteen
years old and had already been once or twice upon the warpath, when
one fall his people were hunting in the Big Horn country, where
they might expect trouble at any moment with the hostile Crows or
Shoshones. Red Cloud had followed a single buffalo bull into the
Bad Lands and was out of sight and hearing of his companions. When
he had brought down his game, he noted carefully every feature of
his surroundings so that he might at once detect anything unusual,
and tied his horse with a long lariat to the horn of the dead
bison, while skinning and cutting up the meat so as to pack it to
camp. Every few minutes he paused in his work to scrutinize the
landscape, for he had a feeling that danger was not far off.

Suddenly, almost over his head, as it seemed, he heard a
tremendous war whoop, and glancing sidewise, thought he beheld
the charge of an overwhelming number of warriors. He tried
desperately to give the usual undaunted war whoop in reply, but
instead a yell of terror burst from his lips, his legs gave way
under him, and he fell in a heap. When he realized, the next
instant, that the war whoop was merely the sudden loud whinnying of
his own horse, and the charging army a band of fleeing elk, he was
so ashamed of himself that he never forgot the incident, although
up to that time he had never mentioned it. His subsequent career
would indicate that the lesson was well learned.

The future leader was still a very young man when he joined a
war party against the Utes. Having pushed eagerly forward on the
trail, he found himself far in advance of his companions as night
came on, and at the same time rain began to fall heavily. Among
the scattered scrub pines, the lone warrior found a natural cave,
and after a hasty examination, he decided to shelter there for the

Scarcely had he rolled himself in his blanket when he heard a
slight rustling at the entrance, as if some creature were preparing
to share his retreat. It was pitch dark. He could see nothing, but
judged that it must be either a man or a grizzly. There was not
room to draw a bow. It must be between knife and knife, or between
knife and claws, he said to himself.

The intruder made no search but quietly lay down in the
opposite corner of the cave. Red Cloud remained perfectly still,
scarcely breathing, his hand upon his knife. Hour after hour he
lay broad awake, while many thoughts passed through his brain.
Suddenly, without warning, he sneezed, and instantly a strong man
sprang to a sitting posture opposite. The first gray of morning
was creeping into their rocky den, and behold! a Ute hunter sat
before him.

Desperate as the situation appeared, it was not without a grim
humor. Neither could afford to take his eyes from the other's; the
tension was great, till at last a smile wavered over the
expressionless face of the Ute. Red Cloud answered the smile, and
in that instant a treaty of peace was born between them.

"Put your knife in its sheath. I shall do so also, and we
will smoke together," signed Red Cloud. The other assented gladly,
and they ratified thus the truce which assured to each a safe
return to his friends. Having finished their smoke, they shook
hands and separated. Neither had given the other any information.
Red Cloud returned to his party and told his story, adding that he
had divulged nothing and had nothing to report. Some were inclined
to censure him for not fighting, but he was sustained by a majority
of the warriors, who commended his self-restraint. In a day or two
they discovered the main camp of the enemy and fought a remarkable
battle, in which Red Cloud especially distinguished himself

The Sioux were now entering upon the most stormy period of
their history. The old things were fast giving place to new. The
young men, for the first time engaging in serious and destructive
warfare with the neighboring tribes, armed with the deadly weapons
furnished by the white man, began to realize that they must soon
enter upon a desperate struggle for their ancestral hunting
grounds. The old men had been innocently cultivating the
friendship of the stranger, saying among themselves, "Surely there
is land enough for all!"

Red Cloud was a modest and little known man of about
twenty-eight years, when General Harney called all the western
bands of Sioux together at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, for the purpose
of securing an agreement and right of way through their territory.
The Ogallalas held aloof from this proposal, but Bear Bull, an
Ogallala chief, after having been plied with whisky, undertook to
dictate submission to the rest of the clan. Enraged by failure, he
fired upon a group of his own tribesmen, and Red Cloud's father and
brother fell dead. According to Indian custom, it fell to him to
avenge the deed. Calmly, without uttering a word, he faced old
Bear Bull and his son, who attempted to defend his father, and shot
them both. He did what he believed to be his duty, and the whole
band sustained him. Indeed, the tragedy gave the young man at once
a certain standing, as one who not only defended his people against
enemies from without, but against injustice and aggression within
the tribe. From this time on he was a recognized leader.

Man-Afraid-of-His-Horse, then head chief of the Ogallalas,
took council with Red Cloud in all important matters, and the young
warrior rapidly advanced in authority and influence. In 1854, when
he was barely thirty-five years old, the various bands were again
encamped near Fort Laramie. A Mormon emigrant train, moving
westward, left a footsore cow behind, and the young men killed her
for food. The next day, to their astonishment, an officer with
thirty men appeared at the Indian camp and demanded of old
Conquering Bear that they be given up. The chief in vain protested
that it was all a mistake and offered to make reparation. It would
seem that either the officer was under the influence of liquor, or
else had a mind to bully the Indians, for he would accept neither
explanation nor payment, but demanded point-blank that the young
men who had killed the cow be delivered up to summary punishment.
The old chief refused to be intimidated and was shot dead on the
spot. Not one soldier ever reached the gate of Fort Laramie! Here
Red Cloud led the young Ogallalas, and so intense was the feeling
that they even killed the half-breed interpreter.

Curiously enough, there was no attempt at retaliation on the
part of the army, and no serious break until 1860, when the Sioux
were involved in troubles with the Cheyennes and Arapahoes. In
1862, a grave outbreak was precipitated by the eastern Sioux in
Minnesota under Little Crow, in which the western bands took no
part. Yet this event ushered in a new period for their race. The
surveyors of the Union Pacific were laying out the proposed road
through the heart of the southern buffalo country, the rendezvous
of Ogallalas, Brules, Arapahoes, Comanches, and Pawnees, who
followed the buffalo as a means of livelihood. To be sure, most of
these tribes were at war with one another, yet during the summer
months they met often to proclaim a truce and hold joint councils
and festivities, which were now largely turned into discussions of
the common enemy. It became evident, however, that some of the
smaller and weaker tribes were inclined to welcome the new order of
things, recognizing that it was the policy of the government to put
an end to tribal warfare.

Red Cloud's position was uncompromisingly against submission.
He made some noted speeches in this line, one of which was repeated
to me by an old man who had heard and remembered it with the
remarkable verbal memory of an Indian.

"Friends," said Red Cloud, "it has been our misfortune to
welcome the white man. We have been deceived. He brought with him
some shining things that pleased our eyes; he brought weapons more
effective than our own: above all, he brought the spirit water that
makes one forget for a time old age, weakness, and sorrow. But I
wish to say to you that if you would possess these things for
yourselves, you must begin anew and put away the wisdom of your
fathers. You must lay up food, and forget the hungry. When your
house is built, your storeroom filled, then look around for a
neighbor whom you can take at a disadvantage, and seize all that he
has! Give away only what you do not want; or rather, do not part
with any of your possessions unless in exchange for another's.

"My countrymen, shall the glittering trinkets of this rich
man, his deceitful drink that overcomes the mind, shall these
things tempt us to give up our homes, our hunting grounds, and the
honorable teaching of our old men? Shall we permit ourselves to be
driven to and fro -- to be herded like the cattle of the white man?"

His next speech that has been remembered was made in 1866,
just before the attack on Fort Phil Kearny. The tension of feeling
against the invaders had now reached its height. There was no
dissenting voice in the council upon the Powder River, when it was
decided to oppose to the uttermost the evident purpose of the
government. Red Cloud was not altogether ignorant of the numerical
strength and the resourcefulness of the white man, but he was
determined to face any odds rather than submit.

"Hear ye, Dakotas!" he exclaimed. "When the Great Father at
Washington sent us his chief soldier [General Harney] to ask for a
path through our hunting grounds, a way for his iron road to the
mountains and the western sea, we were told that they wished merely
to pass through our country, not to tarry among us, but to seek for
gold in the far west. Our old chiefs thought to show their
friendship and good will, when they allowed this dangerous snake in
our midst. They promised to protect the wayfarers.

"Yet before the ashes of the council fire are cold, the Great
Father is building his forts among us. You have heard the sound of
the white soldier's ax upon the Little Piney. His presence here is
an insult and a threat. It is an insult to the spirits of our
ancestors. Are we then to give up their sacred graves to be plowed
for corn? Dakotas, I am for war!"

In less than a week after this speech, the Sioux advanced upon
Fort Phil Kearny, the new sentinel that had just taken her place
upon the farthest frontier, guarding the Oregon Trail. Every
detail of the attack had been planned with care, though not without
heated discussion, and nearly every well-known Sioux chief had
agreed in striking the blow. The brilliant young war leader, Crazy
Horse, was appointed to lead the charge. His lieutenants were
Sword, Hump, and Dull Knife, with Little Chief of the Cheyennes,
while the older men acted as councilors. Their success was
instantaneous. In less than half an hour, they had cut down nearly
a hundred men under Captain Fetterman, whom they drew out of the
fort by a ruse and then annihilated.

Instead of sending troops to punish, the government sent a
commission to treat with the Sioux. The result was the famous
treaty of 1868, which Red Cloud was the last to sign, having
refused to do so until all of the forts within their territory
should be vacated. All of his demands were acceded to, the new
road abandoned, the garrisons withdrawn, and in the new treaty it
was distinctly stated that the Black Hills and the Big Horn were
Indian country, set apart for their perpetual occupancy, and that
no white man should enter that region without the consent of the

Scarcely was this treaty signed, however, when gold was
discovered in the Black Hills, and the popular cry was: "Remove
the Indians!" This was easier said than done. That very territory
had just been solemnly guaranteed to them forever: yet how stem the
irresistible rush for gold? The government, at first, entered some
small protest, just enough to "save its face" as the saying is; but
there was no serious attempt to prevent the wholesale violation of
the treaty. It was this state of affairs that led to the last
great speech made by Red Cloud, at a gathering upon the Little
Rosebud River. It is brief, and touches upon the hopelessness of
their future as a race. He seems at about this time to have
reached the conclusion that resistance could not last much longer;
in fact, the greater part of the Sioux nation was already under
government control.

"We are told," said he, "that Spotted Tail has consented to be
the Beggars' Chief. Those Indians who go over to the white man can
be nothing but beggars, for he respects only riches, and how can an
Indian be a rich man? He cannot without ceasing to be an Indian.
As for me, I have listened patiently to the promises of the Great
Father, but his memory is short. I am now done with him. This is
all I have to say."

The wilder bands separated soon after this council, to follow
the drift of the buffalo, some in the vicinity of the Black Hills
and others in the Big Horn region. Small war parties came down
from time to time upon stray travelers, who received no mercy at
their hands, or made dashes upon neighboring forts. Red Cloud
claimed the right to guard and hold by force, if need be, all this
territory which had been conceded to his people by the treaty of
1868. The land became a very nest of outlawry. Aside from
organized parties of prospectors, there were bands of white horse
thieves and desperadoes who took advantage of the situation to
plunder immigrants and Indians alike.

An attempt was made by means of military camps to establish
control and force all the Indians upon reservations, and another
commission was sent to negotiate their removal to Indian Territory,
but met with an absolute refusal. After much guerrilla warfare, an
important military campaign against the Sioux was set on foot in
1876, ending in Custer's signal defeat upon the Little Big Horn.

In this notable battle, Red Cloud did not participate in
person, nor in the earlier one with Crook upon the Little Rosebud,
but he had a son in both fights. He was now a councilor rather
than a warrior, but his young men were constantly in the field,
while Spotted Tail had definitely surrendered and was in close
touch with representatives of the government.

But the inevitable end was near. One morning in the fall of
1876 Red Cloud was surrounded by United States troops under the
command of Colonel McKenzie, who disarmed his people and brought
them into Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Thence they were removed to the
Pine Ridge agency, where he lived for more than thirty years as a
"reservation Indian." In order to humiliate him further,
government authorities proclaimed the more tractable Spotted Tail
head chief of the Sioux. Of course, Red Cloud's own people never
recognized any other chief.

In 1880 he appealed to Professor Marsh, of Yale, head of a
scientific expedition to the Bad Lands, charging certain frauds at
the agency and apparently proving his case; at any rate the matter
was considered worthy of official investigation. In 1890-1891,
during the "Ghost Dance craze" and the difficulties that followed,
he was suspected of collusion with the hostiles, but he did not
join them openly, and nothing could be proved against him. He was
already an old man, and became almost entirely blind before his
death in 1909 in his ninetieth year.

His private life was exemplary. He was faithful to one wife
all his days, and was a devoted father to his children. He was
ambitious for his only son, known as Jack Red Cloud, and much
desired him to be a great warrior. He started him on the warpath
at the age of fifteen, not then realizing that the days of Indian
warfare were well-nigh at an end.

Among latter-day chiefs, Red Cloud was notable as a quiet man,
simple and direct in speech, courageous in action, an ardent lover
of his country, and possessed in a marked degree of the manly
qualities characteristic of the American Indian in his best days.


Among the Sioux chiefs of the "transition period" only one was
shrewd enough to read coming events in their true light. It is
said of Spotted Tail that he was rather a slow-moving boy,
preferring in their various games and mimic battles to play the
role of councilor, to plan and assign to the others their parts in
the fray. This he did so cleverly that he soon became a leader
among his youthful contemporaries; and withal he was apt at mimicry
and impersonation, so that the other boys were accustomed to say of
him, "He has his grandfather's wit and the wisdom of his

Spotted Tail was an orphan, reared by his grandparents, and at
an early age compelled to shift for himself. Thus he was somewhat
at a disadvantage among the other boys; yet even this fact may have
helped to develop in him courage and ingenuity. One little
incident of his boy life, occurring at about his tenth year, is
characteristic of the man. In the midst of a game, two boys became
involved in a dispute which promised to be a serious one, as both
drew knives. The young Spotted Tail instantly began to cry, "The
Shoshones are upon us! To arms! to arms!" and the other boys
joined in the war whoop. This distracted the attention of the
combatants and ended the affair.

Upon the whole, his boyhood is not so well remembered as is
that of most of his leading contemporaries, probably because he had
no parents to bring him frequently before the people, as was the
custom with the wellborn, whose every step in their progress toward
manhood was publicly announced at a feast given in their honor. It
is known, however, that he began at an early age to carve out a
position for himself. It is personal qualities alone that tell
among our people, and the youthful Spotted Tail gained at every
turn. At the age of seventeen, he had become a sure shot and a
clever hunter; but, above all, he had already shown that he
possessed a superior mind. He had come into contact with white
people at the various trading posts, and according to his own story
had made a careful study of the white man's habits and modes of
thought, especially of his peculiar trait of economy and intense
desire to accumulate property. He was accustomed to watch closely
and listen attentively whenever any of this strange race had
dealings with his people. When a council was held, and the other
young men stood at a distance with their robes over their faces so
as to avoid recognition, Spotted Tail always put himself in a
position to hear all that was said on either side, and weighed all
the arguments in his mind.

When he first went upon the warpath, it appears that he was,
if anything, overzealous to establish himself in the eye of his
people; and as a matter of fact, it was especially hard for him to
gain an assured position among the Brules, with whom he lived, both
because he was an orphan, and because his father had been of
another band. Yet it was not long before he had achieved his
ambition, though in doing so he received several ugly wounds. It
was in a battle with the Utes that he first notably served his
people and their cause.

The Utes were the attacking party and far outnumbered the
Sioux on this occasion. Many of their bravest young men had
fallen, and the Brules were face to face with utter annihilation,
when Spotted Tail, with a handful of daring horsemen, dodged around
the enemy's flank and fell upon them from the rear with so much
spirit that they supposed that strong reinforcements had arrived,
and retreated in confusion. The Sioux pursued on horseback; and it
was in this pursuit that the noted chief Two Strike gained his
historical name. But the chief honors of the fight belonged to
Spotted Tail. The old chiefs, Conquering Bear and the rest,
thanked him and at once made him a war chief.

It had been the firm belief of Spotted Tail that it was unwise
to allow the white man so much freedom in our country, long before
the older chiefs saw any harm in it. After the opening of the
Oregon Trail he, above all the others, was watchful of the conduct
of the Americans as they journeyed toward the setting sun, and more
than once he remarked in council that these white men were not like
the French and the Spanish, with whom our old chiefs had been used
to deal. He was not fully satisfied with the agreement with
General Harney; but as a young warrior who had only just gained his
position in the council, he could not force his views upon the
older men.

No sooner had the Oregon Trail been secured from the Sioux
than Fort Laramie and other frontier posts were strengthened, and
the soldiers became more insolent and overbearing than ever. It
was soon discovered that the whites were prepared to violate most
of the articles of their treaty as the Indians understood it. At
this time, the presence of many Mormon emigrants on their way to
the settlements in Utah and Wyoming added to the perils of the
situation, as they constantly maneuvered for purposes of their own
to bring about a clash between the soldiers and the Indians. Every
summer there were storm-clouds blowing between these two -- clouds
usually taking their rise in some affair of the travelers along the

In 1854 an event occurred which has already been described and
which snapped the last link of friendship between the races.

By this time Spotted Tail had proved his courage both abroad
and at home. He had fought a duel with one of the lesser chiefs,
by whom he was attacked. He killed his opponent with an arrow, but
himself received upon his head a blow from a battle-axe which
brought him senseless to the ground. He was left for dead, but
fortunately revived just as the men were preparing his body for

The Brules sustained him in this quarrel, as he had acted in
self-defense; and for a few years he led them in bloody raids
against the whites along the historic trail. He ambushed many
stagecoaches and emigrant trains, and was responsible for waylaying
the Kincaid coach with twenty thousand dollars. This relentless
harrying of travelers soon brought General Harney to the Brule
Sioux to demand explanations and reparation.

The old chiefs of the Brules now appealed to Spotted Tail and
his young warriors not to bring any general calamity upon the
tribe. To the surprise of all, Spotted Tail declared that he would
give himself up. He said that he had defended the rights of his
people to the best of his ability, that he had avenged the blood of
their chief, Conquering Bear, and that he was not afraid to accept
the consequences. He therefore voluntarily surrendered to General
Harney, and two of his lieutenants, Red Leaf and Old Woman,
followed his example.

Thus Spotted Tail played an important part at the very outset
of those events which were soon to overthrow the free life of his
people. I do not know how far he foresaw what was to follow; but
whether so conceived or not, his surrender was a master stroke,
winning for him not only the admiration of his own people but the
confidence and respect of the military.

Thus suddenly he found himself in prison, a hostage for the
good behavior of his followers. There were many rumors as to the
punishment reserved for him; but luckily for Spotted Tail, the
promises of General Harney to the Brule chiefs in respect to him
were faithfully kept. One of his fellow-prisoners committed
suicide, but the other held out bravely for the two-year term of
his imprisonment. During the second year, it was well understood
that neither of the men sought to escape, and they were given
much freedom. It was fine schooling for Spotted Tail, that
tireless observer of the ways of the white man! It is a fact that
his engaging personal qualities won for him kindness and sympathy
at the fort before the time came for his release.

One day some Indian horse thieves of another tribe stampeded
the horses and mules belonging to the garrison. Spotted Tail asked
permission of the commanding officer to accompany the pursuers.
That officer, trusting in the honor of a Sioux brave, gave him a
fast horse and a good carbine, and said to him: "I depend upon you
to guide my soldiers so that they may overtake the thieves and
recapture the horses!"

The soldiers recaptured the horses without any loss, but
Spotted Tail still followed the Indians. When they returned to the
fort without him, everybody agreed that he would never turn up.
However, next day he did "turn up", with the scalp of one of the

Soon after this he was returned to his own people, who honored
him by making him the successor of the old chief, Conquering Bear,
whose blood he had avenged, for which act he had taken upon himself
the full responsibility. He had made good use of his two years at
the fort, and completed his studies of civilization to his own
satisfaction. From this time on he was desirous of reconciling the
Indian and the white man, thoroughly understanding the uselessness
of opposition. He was accordingly in constant communication with
the military; but the other chiefs did not understand his views and
seem to have been suspicious of his motives.

In 1860-1864 the Southern Cheyennes and Comanches were at war
with the whites, and some of the Brules and Ogallalas, who were
their neighbors and intimates, were suspected of complicity with
the hostiles. Doubtless a few of their young men may have been
involved; at any rate, Thunder Bear and Two Face, together with a
few others who were roving with the warring tribes, purchased two
captive white women and brought them to Fort Laramie. It was,
however, reported at the post that these two men had maltreated the
women while under their care.

Of course, the commander demanded of Spotted Tail, then head
chief, that he give up the guilty ones, and accordingly he had the
two men arrested and delivered at the fort. At this there was an
outcry among his own people; but he argued that if the charges were
true, the men deserved punishment, and if false, they should be
tried and cleared by process of law. The Indians never quite knew
what evidence was produced at the court-martial, but at all events
the two men were hanged, and as they had many influential
connections, their relatives lost no time in fomenting trouble.
The Sioux were then camping close by the fort and it was midwinter,
which facts held them in check for a month or two; but as soon as
spring came, they removed their camp across the river and rose in
rebellion. A pitched battle was fought, in which the soldiers got
the worst of it. Even the associate chief, Big Mouth, was against
Spotted Tail, who was practically forced against his will and
judgment to take up arms once more.

At this juncture came the sudden and bloody uprising in the
east among the Minnesota Sioux, and Sitting Bull's campaign in the
north had begun in earnest; while to the south the Southern
Cheyennes, Comanches, and Kiowas were all upon the warpath.
Spotted Tail at about this time seems to have conceived the idea of
uniting all the Rocky Mountain Indians in a great confederacy. He
once said: "Our cause is as a child's cause, in comparison with the
power of the white man, unless we can stop quarreling among
ourselves and unite our energies for the common good." But old-
time antagonisms were too strong; and he was probably held back
also by his consciousness of the fact that the Indians called him
"the white man's friend", while the military still had some faith
in him which he did not care to lose. He was undoubtedly one of
the brainiest and most brilliant Sioux who ever lived; and while he
could not help being to a large extent in sympathy with the feeling
of his race against the invader, yet he alone foresaw the
inevitable outcome, and the problem as it presented itself to him
was simply this: "What is the best policy to pursue in the existing

Here is his speech as it has been given to me, delivered at
the great council on the Powder River, just before the attack on
Fort Phil Kearny. We can imagine that he threw all his wonderful
tact and personal magnetism into this last effort at conciliation.

"'Hay, hay, hay! Alas, alas!' Thus speaks the old man, when
he knows that his former vigor and freedom is gone from him
forever. So we may exclaim to-day, Alas! There is a time
appointed to all things. Think for a moment how many multitudes of
the animal tribes we ourselves have destroyed! Look upon the snow
that appears to-day -- to-morrow it is water! Listen to the dirge
of the dry leaves, that were green and vigorous but a few moons
before! We are a part of this life and it seems that our time is

"Yet note how the decay of one nation invigorates another.
This strange white man -- consider him, his gifts are manifold!
His tireless brain, his busy hand do wonders for his race. Those
things which we despise he holds as treasures; yet he is so great
and so flourishing that there must be some virtue and truth in his
philosophy. I wish to say to you, my friends: Be not moved alone
by heated arguments and thoughts of revenge! These are for the
young. We are young no longer; let us think well, and give counsel
as old men!"

These words were greeted with an ominous silence. Not even
the customary "How!" of assent followed the speech, and Sitting
Bull immediately got up and replied in the celebrated harangue
which will be introduced under his own name in another chapter.
The situation was critical for Spotted Tail -- the only man present
to advocate submission to the stronger race whose ultimate
supremacy he recognized as certain. The decision to attack Fort
Phil Kearny was unanimous without him, and in order to hold his
position among his tribesmen he joined in the charge. Several
bullets passed through his war bonnet, and he was slightly wounded.

When the commission of 1867-1868 was sent out to negotiate
with the Sioux, Spotted Tail was ready to meet them, and eager to
obtain for his people the very best terms that he could. He often
puzzled and embarrassed them by his remarkable speeches, the
pointed questions that he put, and his telling allusions to former
negotiations. Meanwhile Red Cloud would not come into the council
until after several deputations of Indians had been sent to him,
and Sitting Bull did not come at all.

The famous treaty was signed, and from this time on Spotted
Tail never again took up arms against the whites. On the contrary,
it was mainly attributed to his influence that the hostiles were
subdued much sooner than might have been expected. He came into
the reservation with his band, urged his young men to enlist as
government scouts, and assisted materially in all negotiations.
The hostile chiefs no longer influenced his action, and as soon as
they had all been brought under military control, General Crook
named Spotted Tail head chief of the Sioux, thus humiliating Red
Cloud and arousing jealousy and ill-feeling among the Ogallalas.
In order to avoid trouble, he prudently separated himself from the
other bands, and moved to the new agency on Beaver Creek (Fort
Sheridan, Nebraska), which was called "Spotted Tail Agency."

Just before the daring war leader, Crazy Horse, surrendered to
the military, he went down to the agency and roundly rebuked
Spotted Tail for signing away the freedom of his people. From the
point of view of the irreconcilables, the diplomatic chief was a
"trimmer" and a traitor; and many of the Sioux have tried to
implicate him in the conspiracy against Crazy Horse which led to
his assassination, but I hold that the facts do not bear out this

The name of Spotted Tail was prominently before the people
during the rest of his life. An obscure orphan, he had achieved
distinction by his bravery and sagacity; but he copied the white
politician too closely after he entered the reservation. He became
a good manipulator, and was made conceited and overbearing by the
attentions of the military and of the general public. Furthermore,
there was an old feud in his immediate band which affected him
closely. Against him for many years were the followers of Big
Mouth, whom he had killed in a duel; and also a party led by a son
and a nephew of the old chief, Conquering Bear, whom Spotted Tail
had succeeded at his death. These two men had hoped that one or
the other of them might obtain the succession.

Crow Dog, the nephew of Conquering Bear, more than once
taunted Spotted Tail with the fact that he was chief not by the
will of the tribe, but by the help of the white soldiers, and told
him that he would "keep a bullet for him" in case he ever disgraced
his high position. Thus retribution lay in wait for him while at
the height of his fame. Several high-handed actions of his at this
time, including his elopement with another man's wife, increased
his unpopularity with a large element of his own tribe. On the eve
of the chief's departure for Washington, to negotiate (or so they
suspected) for the sale of more of their land, Crow Dog took up his
gun and fulfilled his threat, regarding himself, and regarded by
his supporters, not as a murderer, but as an executioner.

Such was the end of the man who may justly be called the
Pontiac of the west. He possessed a remarkable mind and
extraordinary foresight for an untutored savage; and yet he is the
only one of our great men to be remembered with more honor by the
white man, perhaps, than by his own people.


Chief Little Crow was the eldest son of Cetanwakuwa (Charging
Hawk). It was on account of his father's name, mistranslated Crow,
that he was called by the whites "Little Crow." His real name was
Taoyateduta, His Red People.

As far back as Minnesota history goes, a band of the Sioux
called Kaposia (Light Weight, because they were said to travel
light) inhabited the Mille Lacs region. Later they dwelt about St.
Croix Falls, and still later near St. Paul. In 1840, Cetanwakuwa
was still living in what is now West St. Paul, but he was soon
after killed by the accidental discharge of his gun.

It was during a period of demoralization for the Kaposias that
Little Crow became the leader of his people. His father, a
well-known chief, had three wives, all from different bands of the
Sioux. He was the only son of the first wife, a Leaf Dweller.
There were two sons of the second and two of the third wife, and
the second set of brothers conspired to kill their half-brother in
order to keep the chieftainship in the family.

Two kegs of whisky were bought, and all the men of the tribe
invited to a feast. It was planned to pick some sort of quarrel
when all were drunk, and in the confusion Little Crow was to be
murdered. The plot went smoothly until the last instant, when a
young brave saved the intended victim by knocking the gun aside
with his hatchet, so that the shot went wild. However, it broke
his right arm, which remained crooked all his life. The friends of
the young chieftain hastily withdrew, avoiding a general fight; and
later the council of the Kaposias condemned the two brothers, both
of whom were executed, leaving him in undisputed possession.

Such was the opening of a stormy career. Little Crow's mother
had been a chief's daughter, celebrated for her beauty and spirit,
and it is said that she used to plunge him into the lake through a
hole in the ice, rubbing him afterward with snow, to strengthen his
nerves, and that she would remain with him alone in the deep woods
for days at a time, so that he might know that solitude is good,
and not fear to be alone with nature.

"My son," she would say, "if you are to be a leader of men,
you must listen in silence to the mystery, the spirit."

At a very early age she made a feast for her boy and announced
that he would fast two days. This is what might be called a formal
presentation to the spirit or God. She greatly desired him to
become a worthy leader according to the ideas of her people. It
appears that she left her husband when he took a second wife, and
lived with her own band till her death. She did not marry again.

Little Crow was an intensely ambitious man and without
physical fear. He was always in perfect training and early
acquired the art of warfare of the Indian type. It is told of him
that when he was about ten years old, he engaged with other boys in
a sham battle on the shore of a lake near St. Paul. Both sides
were encamped at a little distance from one another, and the rule
was that the enemy must be surprised, otherwise the attack would be
considered a failure. One must come within so many paces
undiscovered in order to be counted successful. Our hero had a
favorite dog which, at his earnest request, was allowed to take
part in the game, and as a scout he entered the enemy camp unseen,
by the help of his dog.

When he was twelve, he saved the life of a companion who had
broken through the ice by tying the end of a pack line to a log,
then at great risk to himself carrying it to the edge of the hole
where his comrade went down. It is said that he also broke in, but
both boys saved themselves by means of the line.

As a young man, Little Crow was always ready to serve his
people as a messenger to other tribes, a duty involving much danger
and hardship. He was also known as one of the best hunters in his
band. Although still young, he had already a war record when he
became chief of the Kaposias, at a time when the Sioux were facing
the greatest and most far-reaching changes that had ever come to

At this juncture in the history of the northwest and its
native inhabitants, the various fur companies had paramount
influence. They did not hesitate to impress the Indians with the
idea that they were the authorized representatives of the white
races or peoples, and they were quick to realize the desirability
of controlling the natives through their most influential chiefs.
Little Crow became quite popular with post traders and factors. He
was an orator as well as a diplomat, and one of the first of his
nation to indulge in politics and promote unstable schemes to the
detriment of his people.

When the United States Government went into the business of
acquiring territory from the Indians so that the flood of western
settlement might not be checked, commissions were sent out to
negotiate treaties, and in case of failure it often happened that
a delegation of leading men of the tribe were invited to
Washington. At that period, these visiting chiefs, attired in all
the splendor of their costumes of ceremony, were treated like
ambassadors from foreign countries.

One winter in the late eighteen-fifties, a major general of
the army gave a dinner to the Indian chiefs then in the city, and
on this occasion Little Crow was appointed toastmaster. There were
present a number of Senators and members of Congress, as well as
judges of the Supreme Court, cabinet officers, and other
distinguished citizens. When all the guests were seated, the Sioux
arose and addressed them with much dignity as follows:

"Warriors and friends: I am informed that the great white war
chief who of his generosity and comradeship has given us this
feast, has expressed the wish that we may follow to-night the
usages and customs of my people. In other words, this is a
warriors' feast, a braves' meal. I call upon the Ojibway chief,
the Hole-in-the-Day, to give the lone wolf's hunger call, after
which we will join him in our usual manner."

The tall and handsome Ojibway now rose and straightened his
superb form to utter one of the clearest and longest wolf howls
that was ever heard in Washington, and at its close came a
tremendous burst of war whoops that fairly rent the air, and no
doubt electrified the officials there present.

On one occasion Little Crow was invited by the commander of
Fort Ridgeley, Minnesota, to call at the fort. On his way back,
in company with a half-breed named Ross and the interpreter
Mitchell, he was ambushed by a party of Ojibways, and again
wounded in the same arm that had been broken in his attempted
assassination. His companion Ross was killed, but he managed
to hold the war party at bay until help came and thus saved his

More and more as time passed, this naturally brave and
ambitious man became a prey to the selfish interests of the traders
and politicians. The immediate causes of the Sioux outbreak of
1862 came in quick succession to inflame to desperate action an
outraged people. The two bands on the so-called "lower
reservations" in Minnesota were Indians for whom nature had
provided most abundantly in their free existence. After one
hundred and fifty years of friendly intercourse first with the
French, then the English, and finally the Americans, they found
themselves cut off from every natural resource, on a tract of land
twenty miles by thirty, which to them was virtual imprisonment. By
treaty stipulation with the government, they were to be fed and
clothed, houses were to be built for them, the men taught
agriculture, and schools provided for the children. In addition to
this, a trust fund of a million and a half was to be set aside for
them, at five per cent interest, the interest to be paid annually
per capita. They had signed the treaty under pressure, believing
in these promises on the faith of a great nation.

However, on entering the new life, the resources so rosily
described to them failed to materialize. Many families faced
starvation every winter, their only support the store of the Indian
trader, who was baiting his trap for their destruction. Very
gradually they awoke to the facts. At last it was planned to
secure from them the north half of their reservation for
ninety-eight thousand dollars, but it was not explained to the
Indians that the traders were to receive all the money. Little
Crow made the greatest mistake of his life when he signed this

Meanwhile, to make matters worse, the cash annuities were not
paid for nearly two years. Civil War had begun. When it was
learned that the traders had taken all of the ninety-eight thousand
dollars "on account", there was very bitter feeling. In fact, the
heads of the leading stores were afraid to go about as usual, and
most of them stayed in St. Paul. Little Crow was justly held in
part responsible for the deceit, and his life was not safe.

The murder of a white family near Acton, Minnesota, by a party
of Indian duck hunters in August, 1862, precipitated the break.
Messengers were sent to every village with the news, and at the
villages of Little Crow and Little Six the war council was red-hot.
It was proposed to take advantage of the fact that north and south
were at war to wipe out the white settlers and to regain their
freedom. A few men stood out against such a desperate step, but
the conflagration had gone beyond their control.

There were many mixed bloods among these Sioux, and some of
the Indians held that these were accomplices of the white people in
robbing them of their possessions, therefore their lives should not
be spared. My father, Many Lightnings, who was practically the
leader of the Mankato band (for Mankato, the chief, was a weak
man), fought desperately for the lives of the half-breeds and the
missionaries. The chiefs had great confidence in my father, yet
they would not commit themselves, since their braves were clamoring
for blood. Little Crow had been accused of all the misfortunes of
his tribe, and he now hoped by leading them against the whites to
regain his prestige with his people, and a part at least of their
lost domain.

There were moments when the pacifists were in grave peril. It
was almost daybreak when my father saw that the approaching
calamity could not be prevented. He and two others said to Little
Crow: "If you want war, you must personally lead your men
to-morrow. We will not murder women and children, but we will
fight the soldiers when they come." They then left the council and
hastened to warn my brother-in-law, Faribault, and others who were
in danger.

Little Crow declared he would be seen in the front of every
battle, and it is true that he was foremost in all the succeeding
bloodshed, urging his warriors to spare none. He ordered his war
leader, Many Hail, to fire the first shot, killing the trader James
Lynd, in the door of his store.

After a year of fighting in which he had met with defeat, the
discredited chief retreated to Fort Garry, now Winnipeg, Manitoba,
where, together with Standing Buffalo, he undertook secret
negotiations with his old friends the Indian traders. There was
now a price upon his head, but he planned to reach St. Paul
undetected and there surrender himself to his friends, who he hoped
would protect him in return for past favors. It is true that he
had helped them to secure perhaps the finest country held by any
Indian nation for a mere song.

He left Canada with a few trusted friends, including his
youngest and favorite son. When within two or three days' journey
of St. Paul, he told the others to return, keeping with him only
his son, Wowinape, who was but fifteen years of age. He meant to
steal into the city by night and go straight to Governor Ramsey,
who was his personal friend. He was very hungry and was obliged to
keep to the shelter of the deep woods. The next morning, as he was
picking and eating wild raspberries, he was seen by a wood-chopper
named Lamson. The man did not know who he was. He only knew that
he was an Indian, and that was enough for him, so he lifted his
rifle to his shoulder and fired, then ran at his best pace. The
brilliant but misguided chief, who had made that part of the
country unsafe for any white man to live in, sank to the ground and
died without a struggle. The boy took his father's gun and made
some effort to find the assassin, but as he did not even know in
which direction to look for him, he soon gave up the attempt and
went back to his friends.

Meanwhile Lamson reached home breathless and made his report.
The body of the chief was found and identified, in part by the
twice broken arm, and this arm and his scalp may be seen to-day in
the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society.


There was once a Sioux brave who declared that he would die young,
yet not by his own hand. Tamahay was of heroic proportions,
herculean in strength, a superb runner; in fact, he had all the
physical qualities of an athlete or a typical Indian. In his
scanty dress, he was beautiful as an antique statue in living
bronze. When a mere youth, seventeen years of age, he met with an
accident which determined his career. It was the loss of an eye,
a fatal injury to the sensitive and high-spirited Indian. He
announced his purpose in these words:

"The 'Great Mystery' has decreed that I must be disgraced.
There will be no pleasure for me now, and I shall be ridiculed
even by my enemies. It will be well for me to enter soon into
Paradise, for I shall be happy in spending my youth there. But
I will sell my life dearly. Hereafter my name shall be spoken in
the traditions of our race." With this speech Tamahay began his

He now sought glory and defied danger with even more than the
ordinary Indian recklessness. He accepted a personal friend, which
was a custom among the Sioux, where each man chose a companion for
life and death. The tie was stronger than one of blood
relationship, a friendship sealed by solemn vow and covenant.
Tamahay's intimate was fortunately almost his equal in physical
powers, and the pair became the terror of neighboring tribes, with
whom the Dakotas were continually at war. They made frequent raids
upon their enemies and were usually successful, although not
without thrilling experiences and almost miraculous escapes.

Upon one of these occasions the two friends went north into
the country of the Ojibways. After many days' journey, they
discovered a small village of the foe. The wicked Tamahay proposed
to his associate that they should arrange their toilets after the
fashion of the Ojibways, and go among them; "and perhaps," he
added, "we will indulge in a little flirtation with their pretty
maids, and when we have had enough of the fun we can take the scalp
of a brave or two and retreat!" His friend construed his daring
proposition to be a test of courage, which it would not become him,
as a brave, to decline; therefore he assented with a show of

The handsome strangers were well received by the Ojibway
girls, but their perilous amusement was brought to an untimely
close. A young maiden prematurely discovered their true
characters, and her cry of alarm brought instantly to her side a
jealous youth, who had been watching them from his place of
concealment. With him Tamahay had a single-handed contest, and
before a general alarm was given he had dispatched the foe and fled
with his scalp.

The unfortunate brave had been a favorite and a leader among
the tribe; therefore the maddened Ojibways were soon in hot
pursuit. The Sioux braves were fine runners, yet they were finally
driven out upon the peninsula of a lake. As they became separated
in their retreat, Tamahay shouted, "I'll meet you at the mouth of
the St. Croix River, or in the spirit land!" Both managed to swim
the lake, and so made good their escape.

The exploits of this man were not all of a warlike nature. He
was a great traveler and an expert scout, and he had some wonderful
experiences with wild animals. He was once sent, with his intimate
friend, on a scout for game. They were on ponies.

They located a herd of buffaloes, and on their return to the
camp espied a lonely buffalo. Tamahay suggested that they should
chase it in order to take some fresh meat, as the law of the tribe
allowed in the case of a single animal. His pony stumbled and
threw him, after they had wounded the bison, and the latter
attacked the dismounted man viciously. But he, as usual, was on
the alert. He "took the bull by the horns", as the saying is, and
cleverly straddled him on the neck. The buffalo had no means of
harming his enemy, but pawed the earth and struggled until his
strength was exhausted, when the Indian used his knife on the
animal's throat. On account of this feat he received the name

The origin of his name "Tamahay" is related as follows. When
he was a young man he accompanied the chief Wabashaw to Mackinaw,
Michigan, together with some other warriors. He was out with his
friend one day, viewing the wonderful sights in the "white man's
country", when they came upon a sow with her numerous pink little
progeny. He was greatly amused and picked up one of the young
pigs, but as soon as it squealed the mother ran furiously after
them. He kept the pig and fled with it, still laughing; but his
friend was soon compelled to run up the conveniently inclined trunk
of a fallen tree, while our hero reached the shore of a lake near
by, and plunged into the water. He swam and dived as long as he
could, but the beast continued to threaten him with her sharp
teeth, till, almost exhausted, he swam again to shore, where his
friend came up and dispatched the vicious animal with a club. On
account of this watery adventure he was at once called Tamahay,
meaning Pike. He earned many other names, but preferred this one,
because it was the name borne by a great friend of his, Lieutenant
Pike, the first officer of the United States Army who came to
Minnesota for the purpose of exploring the sources of the
Mississippi River and of making peace with the natives. Tamahay
assisted this officer in obtaining land from the Sioux upon which
to build Fort Snelling. He appears in history under the name of
"Tahamie" or the "One-Eyed Sioux."

Always ready to brave danger and unpopularity, Tamahay was the
only Sioux who sided with the United States in her struggle with
Great Britain in 1819. For having espoused the cause of the
Americans, he was ill-treated by the British officers and free
traders, who for a long time controlled the northwest, even after
peace had been effected between the two nations. At one time he
was confined in a fort called McKay, where now stands the town of
Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. He had just returned from St. Louis,
and was suspected of exciting his people to rebel against British
subjects. His life was even threatened, but to this Tamahay merely
replied that he was ready to die. A few months later, this fort
was restored to the United States, and upon leaving it the British
set the buildings on fire, though the United States flag floated
above them. Some Indians who were present shouted to Tamahay,
"Your friends', the Americans', fort is on fire!" He responded
with a war whoop, rushed into the blazing fort, and brought out the
flag. For this brave act he was rewarded with a present of a flag
and medal. He was never tired of displaying this medal and his
recommendation papers, and even preserved to the end of his life an
old colonial stovepipe hat, which he wore upon state occasions.

The Sioux long referred to the president of the United States
as "Tamahay's father."

The following story is told of him in his later days. He
attempted one day to cross the first bridge over the Mississippi
River, but was not recognized by the sentinel, who would not allow
him to pass until he paid the toll. Tamahay, who was a privileged
character, explained as best he could, with gestures and broken
English, that he was always permitted to pass free; but as the
sentinel still refused, and even threatened him with his bayonet,
the old Indian silently seized the musket, threw it down into the
waters of the Mississippi and went home. Later in the day a
company of soldiers appeared in the Indian village, and escorted
our hero to a sort of court-martial at the fort. When he was
questioned by the Colonel, he simply replied: "If you were
threatened by any one with a weapon, you would, in self-defense,
either disable the man or get rid of the weapon. I did the latter,
thinking that you would need the man more than the gun."

Finally the officer said to them, "I see you are both partly
wrong. Some one must be responsible for the loss of the gun;
therefore, you two will wrestle, and the man who is downed must
dive for the weapon to the bottom of the river."

Scarcely was this speech ended when Tamahay was upon the
soldier, who was surprised both by the order and by the unexpected
readiness of the wily old Indian, so that he was not prepared, and
the Sioux had the vantage hold. In a moment the bluecoat was down,
amid shouts and peals of laughter from his comrades. Having thrown
his man, the other turned and went home without a word.

Sad to say, he acquired a great appetite for "minne-wakan", or
"mysterious water", as the Sioux call it, which proved a source of
trouble to him in his old age. It is told of him that he was
treated one winter's day to a drink of whisky in a trader's store.
He afterwards went home; but even the severe blizzard which soon
arose did not prevent him from returning in the night to the
friendly trader. He awoke that worthy from sleep about twelve
o'clock by singing his death dirge upon the roof of the log cabin.
In another moment he had jumped down the mud chimney, and into the
blazing embers of a fire. The trader had to pour out to him some
whisky in a tin pail, after which he begged the old man to "be good
and go home." On the eve of the so-called "Minnesota Massacre" by
the Sioux in 1862, Tamahay, although he was then very old and had
almost lost the use of his remaining eye, made a famous speech at
the meeting of the conspirators. These are some of his words, as
reported to me by persons who were present.

"What! What! is this Little Crow? Is that Little Six? You,
too, White Dog, are you here? I cannot see well now, but I can see
with my mind's eye the stream of blood you are about to pour upon
the bosom of this mother of ours" (meaning the earth). "I stand
before you on three legs, but the third leg has brought me wisdom"
[referring to the staff with which he sup- ported himself]. "I
have traveled much, I have visited among the people whom you think
to defy. This means the total surrender of our beautiful land, the
land of a thousand lakes and streams. Methinks you are about to
commit an act like that of the porcupine, who climbs a tree,
balances himself upon a springy bough, and then gnaws off the very
bough upon which he is sitting; hence, when it gives way, he falls
upon the sharp rocks below. Behold the great Pontiac, whose grave
I saw near St. Louis; he was murdered while an exile from his
country! Think of the brave Black Hawk! Methinks his spirit is
still wailing through Wisconsin and Illinois for his lost people!
I do not say you have no cause to complain, but to resist is
self-destruction. I am done."

It is supposed that this speech was his last, and it was made,
though vainly, in defense of the Americans whom he had loved. He
died at Fort Pierre, South Dakota, in 1864. His people say that he
died a natural death, of old age. And yet his exploits are not
forgotten. Thus lived and departed a most active and fearless
Sioux, Tamahay, who desired to die young!


Chief Gall was one of the most aggressive leaders of the Sioux
nation in their last stand for freedom.

The westward pressure of civilization during the past three
centuries has been tremendous. When our hemisphere was
"discovered", it had been inhabited by the natives for untold ages,
but it was held undiscovered because the original owners did not
chart or advertise it. Yet some of them at least had developed
ideals of life which included real liberty and equality to all men,
and they did not recognize individual ownership in land or other
property beyond actual necessity. It was a soul development
leading to essential manhood. Under this system they brought forth
some striking characters.

Gall was considered by both Indians and whites to be a most
impressive type of physical manhood. From his picture you can
judge of this for yourself.

Let us follow his trail. He was no tenderfoot. He never
asked a soft place for himself. He always played the game
according to the rules and to a finish. To be sure, like every
other man, he made some mistakes, but he was an Indian and never
acted the coward.

The earliest stories told of his life and doings indicate the
spirit of the man in that of the boy.

When he was only about three years old, the Blackfoot band of
Sioux were on their usual roving hunt, following the buffalo while
living their natural happy life upon the wonderful wide prairies of
the Dakotas.

It was the way of every Sioux mother to adjust her household
effects on such dogs and pack ponies as she could muster from day
to day, often lending one or two to accommodate some other woman
whose horse or dog had died, or perhaps had been among those
stampeded and carried away by a raiding band of Crow warriors. On
this particular occasion, the mother of our young Sioux brave,
Matohinshda, or Bear-Shedding-His-Hair (Gall's childhood name),
intrusted her boy to an old Eskimo pack dog, experienced and
reliable, except perhaps when unduly excited or very thirsty.

On the day of removing camp the caravan made its morning march
up the Powder River. Upon the wide table-land the women were
busily digging teepsinna (an edible sweetish root, much used by
them) as the moving village slowly progressed. As usual at such
times, the trail was wide. An old jack rabbit had waited too long
in hiding. Now, finding himself almost surrounded by the mighty
plains people, he sprang up suddenly, his feathery ears
conspicuously erect, a dangerous challenge to the dogs and the

A whoop went up. Every dog accepted the challenge. Forgotten
were the bundles, the kits, even the babies they were drawing or
carrying. The chase was on, and the screams of the women reechoed
from the opposite cliffs of the Powder, mingled with the yelps of
dogs and the neighing of horses. The hand of every man was against
the daring warrior, the lone Jack, and the confusion was great.

When the fleeing one cleared the mass of his enemies, he
emerged with a swiftness that commanded respect and gave promise
of a determined chase. Behind him, his pursuers stretched out in
a thin line, first the speedy, unburdened dogs and then the travois
dogs headed by the old Eskimo with his precious freight. The
youthful Gall was in a travois, a basket mounted on trailing poles
and harnessed to the sides of the animal.

"Hey! hey! they are gaining on him!" a warrior shouted. At
this juncture two of the canines had almost nabbed their furry prey
by the back. But he was too cunning for them. He dropped
instantly and sent both dogs over his head, rolling and spinning,
then made another flight at right angles to the first. This gave
the Eskimo a chance to cut the triangle. He gained fifty yards,
but being heavily handicapped, two unladen dogs passed him. The
same trick was repeated by the Jack, and this time he saved himself
from instant death by a double loop and was now running directly
toward the crowd, followed by a dozen or more dogs. He was losing
speed, but likewise his pursuers were dropping off steadily. Only
the sturdy Eskimo dog held to his even gait, and behind him in the
frail travois leaned forward the little Matohinshda, nude save a
breech clout, his left hand holding fast the convenient tail of his
dog, the right grasping firmly one of the poles of the travois.
His black eyes were bulging almost out of their sockets; his long
hair flowed out behind like a stream of dark water.

The Jack now ran directly toward the howling spectators, but
his marvelous speed and alertness were on the wane; while on the
other hand his foremost pursuer, who had taken part in hundreds of
similar events, had every confidence in his own endurance. Each
leap brought him nearer, fiercer and more determined. The last
effort of the Jack was to lose himself in the crowd, like a fish in
muddy water; but the big dog made the one needed leap with unerring
aim and his teeth flashed as he caught the rabbit in viselike jaws
and held him limp in air, a victor!

The people rushed up to him as he laid the victim down, and
foremost among them was the frantic mother of Matohinshda, or Gall.
"Michinkshe! michinkshe!" (My son! my son!) she screamed as she
drew near. The boy seemed to be none the worse for his experience.
"Mother!" he cried, "my dog is brave: he got the rabbit!" She
snatched him off the travois, but he struggled out of her arms to
look upon his dog lovingly and admiringly. Old men and boys
crowded about the hero of the day, the dog, and the thoughtful
grandmother of Matohinshda unharnessed him and poured some water
from a parfleche water bag into a basin. "Here, my grandson, give
your friend something to drink."

"How, hechetu," pronounced an old warrior no longer in active
service. "This may be only an accident, an ordinary affair; but
such things sometimes indicate a career. The boy has had a
wonderful ride. I prophesy that he will one day hold the attention
of all the people with his doings."

This is the first remembered story of the famous chief, but
other boyish exploits foretold the man he was destined to be. He
fought many sham battles, some successful and others not; but he
was always a fierce fighter and a good loser.

Once he was engaged in a battle with snowballs. There were
probably nearly a hundred boys on each side, and the rule was that
every fair hit made the receiver officially dead. He must not
participate further, but must remain just where he was struck.

Gall's side was fast losing, and the battle was growing hotter
every minute when the youthful warrior worked toward an old water
hole and took up his position there. His side was soon annihilated
and there were eleven men left to fight him. He was pressed close
in the wash-out, and as he dodged under cover before a volley of
snowballs, there suddenly emerged in his stead a huge gray wolf.
His opponents fled in every direction in superstitious terror, for
they thought he had been transformed into the animal. To their
astonishment he came out on the farther side and ran to the line of
safety, a winner!

It happened that the wolf's den had been partly covered with
snow so that no one had noticed it until the yells of the boys
aroused the inmate, and he beat a hasty retreat. The boys always
looked upon this incident as an omen.

Gall had an amiable disposition but was quick to resent insult
or injustice. This sometimes involved him in difficulties, but he
seldom fought without good cause and was popular with his
associates. One of his characteristics was his ability to
organize, and this was a large factor in his leadership when he
became a man. He was tried in many ways, and never was known to
hesitate when it was a question of physical courage and endurance.
He entered the public service early in life, but not until he had
proved himself competent and passed all tests.

When a mere boy, he was once scouting for game in midwinter,
far from camp, and was overtaken by a three days' blizzard. He was
forced to abandon his horse and lie under the snow for that length
of time. He afterward said he was not particularly hungry; it was
thirst and stiffness from which he suffered most. One reason the
Indian so loved his horse or dog was that at such times the animal
would stay by him like a brother. On this occasion Gall's pony was
not more than a stone's throw away when the storm subsided and the
sun shone. There was a herd of buffalo in plain sight, and the
young hunter was not long in procuring a meal.

This chief's contemporaries still recall his wrestling match
with the equally powerful Cheyenne boy, Roman Nose, who afterward
became a chief well known to American history. It was a custom of
the northwestern Indians, when two friendly tribes camped together,
to establish the physical and athletic supremacy of the youth of
the respective camps.

The "Che-hoo-hoo" is a wrestling game in which there may be
any number on a side, but the numbers are equal. All the boys of
each camp are called together by a leader chosen for the purpose
and draw themselves up in line of battle; then each at a given
signal attacks his opponent.

In this memorable contest, Matohinshda, or Gall, was placed
opposite Roman Nose. The whole people turned out as spectators of
the struggle, and the battlefield was a plateau between the two
camps, in the midst of picturesque Bad Lands. There were many
athletic youths present, but these two were really the Apollos of
the two tribes.

In this kind of sport it is not allowed to strike with the
hand, nor catch around the neck, nor kick, nor pull by the hair.
One may break away and run a few yards to get a fresh start, or
clinch, or catch as catch can. When a boy is thrown and held to
the ground, he is counted out. If a boy has met his superior, he
may drop to the ground to escape rough handling, but it is very
seldom one gives up without a full trial of strength.

It seemed almost like a real battle, so great was the
enthusiasm, as the shouts of sympathizers on both sides went up in
a mighty chorus. At last all were either conquerors or subdued
except Gall and Roman Nose. The pair seemed equally matched. Both
were stripped to the breech clout, now tugging like two young
buffalo or elk in mating time, again writhing and twisting like
serpents. At times they fought like two wild stallions, straining
every muscle of arms, legs, and back in the struggle. Every now
and then one was lifted off his feet for a moment, but came down
planted like a tree, and after swaying to and fro soon became rigid

All eyes were upon the champions. Finally, either by trick or
main force, Gall laid the other sprawling upon the ground and held
him fast for a minute, then released him and stood erect, panting,
a master youth. Shout after shout went up on the Sioux side of the
camp. The mother of Roman Nose came forward and threw a superbly
worked buffalo robe over Gall, whose mother returned the compliment
by covering the young Cheyenne with a handsome blanket.

Undoubtedly these early contests had their influence upon our
hero's career. It was his habit to appear most opportunely in a
crisis, and in a striking and dramatic manner to take command of
the situation. The best known example of this is his entrance on
the scene of confusion when Reno surprised the Sioux on the Little
Big Horn. Many of the excitable youths, almost unarmed, rushed
madly and blindly to meet the intruder, and the scene might have
unnerved even an experienced warrior. It was Gall, with not a
garment upon his superb body, who on his black charger dashed ahead
of the boys and faced them. He stopped them on the dry creek,
while the bullets of Reno's men whistled about their ears.

"Hold hard, men! Steady, we are not ready yet! Wait for more
guns, more horses, and the day is yours!"

They obeyed, and in a few minutes the signal to charge was
given, and Reno retreated pell mell before the onset of the Sioux.

Sitting Bull had confidence in his men so long as Gall planned
and directed the attack, whether against United States soldiers or
the warriors of another tribe. He was a strategist, and able in a
twinkling to note and seize upon an advantage. He was really the
mainstay of Sitting Bull's effective last stand. He consistently
upheld his people's right to their buffalo plains and believed that
they should hold the government strictly to its agreements with
them. When the treaty of 1868 was disregarded, he agreed with
Sitting Bull in defending the last of their once vast domain, and
after the Custer battle entered Canada with his chief. They hoped
to bring their lost cause before the English government and were
much disappointed when they were asked to return to the United

Gall finally reported at Fort Peck, Montana, in 1881, and
brought half of the Hunkpapa band with him, whereupon he was soon
followed by Sitting Bull himself. Although they had been promised
by the United States commission who went to Canada to treat with
them that they would not be punished if they returned, no sooner
had Gall come down than a part of his people were attacked, and in
the spring they were all brought to Fort Randall and held as
military prisoners. From this point they were returned to Standing
Rock agency.

When "Buffalo Bill" successfully launched his first show, he
made every effort to secure both Sitting Bull and Gall for his
leading attractions. The military was in complete accord with him
in this, for they still had grave suspicions of these two leaders.
While Sitting Bull reluctantly agreed, Gall haughtily said: "I am
not an animal to be exhibited before the crowd," and retired to his
teepee. His spirit was much worn, and he lost strength from that
time on. That superb manhood dwindled, and in a few years he died.
He was a real hero of a free and natural people, a type that is
never to be seen again.


Crazy Horse was born on the Republican River about 1845. He was
killed at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, in 1877, so that he lived barely
thirty-three years.

He was an uncommonly handsome man. While not the equal of
Gall in magnificence and imposing stature, he was physically
perfect, an Apollo in symmetry. Furthermore he was a true type of
Indian refinement and grace. He was modest and courteous as Chief
Joseph; the difference is that he was a born warrior, while Joseph
was not. However, he was a gentle warrior, a true brave, who stood
for the highest ideal of the Sioux. Notwithstanding all that
biased historians have said of him, it is only fair to judge a man
by the estimate of his own people rather than that of his enemies.

The boyhood of Crazy Horse was passed in the days when the
western Sioux saw a white man but seldom, and then it was usually
a trader or a soldier. He was carefully brought up according to
the tribal customs. At that period the Sioux prided themselves on
the training and development of their sons and daughters, and not
a step in that development was overlooked as an excuse to bring the
child before the public by giving a feast in its honor. At such
times the parents often gave so generously to the needy that they
almost impoverished themselves, thus setting an example to the
child of self-denial for the general good. His first step alone,
the first word spoken, first game killed, the attainment of manhood
or womanhood, each was the occasion of a feast and dance in his
honor, at which the poor always benefited to the full extent of the
parents' ability.

Big-heartedness, generosity, courage, and self-denial are the
qualifications of a public servant, and the average Indian was keen
to follow this ideal. As every one knows, these characteristic
traits become a weakness when he enters a life founded upon
commerce and gain. Under such conditions the life of Crazy Horse
began. His mother, like other mothers, tender and watchful of her
boy, would never once place an obstacle in the way of his father's
severe physical training. They laid the spiritual and patriotic
foundations of his education in such a way that he early became
conscious of the demands of public service.

He was perhaps four or five years old when the band was snowed
in one severe winter. They were very short of food, but his father
was a tireless hunter. The buffalo, their main dependence, were
not to be found, but he was out in the storm and cold every day and
finally brought in two antelopes. The little boy got on his pet
pony and rode through the camp, telling the old folks to come to
his mother's teepee for meat. It turned out that neither his
father nor mother had authorized him to do this. Before they knew
it, old men and women were lined up before the teepee home, ready
to receive the meat, in answer to his invitation. As a result, the
mother had to distribute nearly all of it, keeping only enough for
two meals.

On the following day the child asked for food. His mother
told him that the old folks had taken it all, and added: "Remember,
my son, they went home singing praises in your name, not my name or
your father's. You must be brave. You must live up to your

Crazy Horse loved horses, and his father gave him a pony of
his own when he was very young. He became a fine horseman and
accompanied his father on buffalo hunts, holding the pack horses
while the men chased the buffalo and thus gradually learning the
art. In those days the Sioux had but few guns, and the hunting was
mostly done with bow and arrows.

Another story told of his boyhood is that when he was about
twelve he went to look for the ponies with his little brother, whom
he loved much, and took a great deal of pains to teach what he had
already learned. They came to some wild cherry trees full of ripe
fruit, and while they were enjoying it, the brothers were startled
by the growl and sudden rush of a bear. Young Crazy Horse pushed
his brother up into the nearest tree and himself sprang upon the
back of one of the horses, which was frightened and ran some
distance before he could control him. As soon as he could,
however, he turned him about and came back, yelling and swinging
his lariat over his head. The bear at first showed fight but
finally turned and ran. The old man who told me this story added
that young as he was, he had some power, so that even a grizzly did
not care to tackle him. I believe it is a fact that a silver-tip
will dare anything except a bell or a lasso line, so that
accidentally the boy had hit upon the very thing which would drive
him off.

It was usual for Sioux boys of his day to wait in the field
after a buffalo hunt until sundown, when the young calves would
come out in the open, hungrily seeking their mothers. Then these
wild children would enjoy a mimic hunt, and lasso the calves or
drive them into camp. Crazy Horse was found to be a determined
little fellow, and it was settled one day among the larger boys
that they would "stump" him to ride a good-sized bull calf. He
rode the calf, and stayed on its back while it ran bawling over the
hills, followed by the other boys on their ponies, until his
strange mount stood trembling and exhausted.

At the age of sixteen he joined a war party against the Gros
Ventres. He was well in the front of the charge, and at once
established his bravery by following closely one of the foremost
Sioux warriors, by the name of Hump, drawing the enemy's fire and
circling around their advance guard. Suddenly Hump's horse was
shot from under him, and there was a rush of warriors to kill or
capture him while down. But amidst a shower of arrows the youth
leaped from his pony, helped his friend into his own saddle, sprang
up behind him, and carried him off in safety, although they were
hotly pursued by the enemy. Thus he associated himself in his
maiden battle with the wizard of Indian warfare, and Hump, who was
then at the height of his own career, pronounced Crazy Horse the
coming warrior of the Teton Sioux.

At this period of his life, as was customary with the best
young men, he spent much time in prayer and solitude. Just what
happened in these days of his fasting in the wilderness and upon
the crown of bald buttes, no one will ever know; for these things
may only be known when one has lived through the battles of life to
an honored old age. He was much sought after by his youthful
associates, but was noticeably reserved and modest; yet in the
moment of danger he at once rose above them all -- a natural
leader! Crazy Horse was a typical Sioux brave, and from the point
of view of our race an ideal hero, living at the height of the
epical progress of the American Indian and maintaining in his own
character all that was most subtle and ennobling of their spiritual
life, and that has since been lost in the contact with a material

He loved Hump, that peerless warrior, and the two became close
friends, in spite of the difference in age. Men called them "the
grizzly and his cub." Again and again the pair saved the day for
the Sioux in a skirmish with some neighboring tribe. But one day
they undertook a losing battle against the Snakes. The Sioux were
in full retreat and were fast being overwhelmed by superior
numbers. The old warrior fell in a last desperate charge; but
Crazy Horse and his younger brother, though dismounted, killed two
of the enemy and thus made good their retreat.

It was observed of him that when he pursued the enemy into
their stronghold, as he was wont to do, he often refrained from
killing, and simply struck them with a switch, showing that he did
not fear their weapons nor care to waste his upon them. In
attempting this very feat, he lost this only brother of his, who
emulated him closely. A party of young warriors, led by Crazy
Horse, had dashed upon a frontier post, killed one of the
sentinels, stampeded the horses, and pursued the herder to the very
gate of the stockade, thus drawing upon themselves the fire of the
garrison. The leader escaped without a scratch, but his young
brother was brought down from his horse and killed.

While he was still under twenty, there was a great winter
buffalo hunt, and he came back with ten buffaloes' tongues which he
sent to the council lodge for the councilors' feast. He had in one
winter day killed ten buffalo cows with his bow and arrows, and the
unsuccessful hunters or those who had no swift ponies were made
happy by his generosity. When the hunters returned, these came
chanting songs of thanks. He knew that his father was an expert
hunter and had a good horse, so he took no meat home, putting in
practice the spirit of his early teaching.

He attained his majority at the crisis of the difficulties
between the United States and the Sioux. Even before that time,
Crazy Horse had already proved his worth to his people in Indian
warfare. He had risked his life again and again, and in some
instances it was considered almost a miracle that he had saved
others as well as himself. He was no orator nor was he the son of
a chief. His success and influence was purely a matter of
personality. He had never fought the whites up to this time, and
indeed no "coup" was counted for killing or scalping a white man.

Young Crazy Horse was twenty-one years old when all the Teton
Sioux chiefs (the western or plains dwellers) met in council to
determine upon their future policy toward the invader. Their
former agreements had been by individual bands, each for itself,
and every one was friendly. They reasoned that the country was
wide, and that the white traders should be made welcome. Up to
this time they had anticipated no conflict. They had permitted the
Oregon Trail, but now to their astonishment forts were built and
garrisoned in their territory.

Most of the chiefs advocated a strong resistance. There were
a few influential men who desired still to live in peace, and who
were willing to make another treaty. Among these were White Bull,
Two Kettle, Four Bears, and Swift Bear. Even Spotted Tail,
afterward the great peace chief, was at this time with the
majority, who decided in the year 1866 to defend their rights and
territory by force. Attacks were to be made upon the forts within
their country and on every trespasser on the same.

Crazy Horse took no part in the discussion, but he and all the
young warriors were in accord with the decision of the council.
Although so young, he was already a leader among them. Other
prominent young braves were Sword (brother of the man of that name
who was long captain of police at Pine Ridge), the younger Hump,
Charging Bear, Spotted Elk, Crow King, No Water, Big Road, He Dog,
the nephew of Red Cloud, and Touch-the-Cloud, intimate friend of
Crazy Horse.

The attack on Fort Phil Kearny was the first fruits of the new
policy, and here Crazy Horse was chosen to lead the attack on the
woodchoppers, designed to draw the soldiers out of the fort, while
an army of six hundred lay in wait for them. The success of this
stratagem was further enhanced by his masterful handling of his
men. From this time on a general war was inaugurated; Sitting Bull
looked to him as a principal war leader, and even the Cheyenne
chiefs, allies of the Sioux, practically acknowledged his
leadership. Yet during the following ten years of defensive war he
was never known to make a speech, though his teepee was the
rendezvous of the young men. He was depended upon to put into
action the decisions of the council, and was frequently consulted
by the older chiefs.

Like Osceola, he rose suddenly; like Tecumseh he was always
impatient for battle; like Pontiac, he fought on while his allies
were suing for peace, and like Grant, the silent soldier, he was a
man of deeds and not of words. He won from Custer and Fetterman
and Crook. He won every battle that he undertook, with the
exception of one or two occasions when he was surprised in the
midst of his women and children, and even then he managed to
extricate himself in safety from a difficult position.

Early in the year 1876, his runners brought word from Sitting
Bull that all the roving bands would converge upon the upper Tongue
River in Montana for summer feasts and conferences. There was
conflicting news from the reservation. It was rumored that the
army would fight the Sioux to a finish; again, it was said that
another commission would be sent out to treat with them.

The Indians came together early in June, and formed a series
of encampments stretching out from three to four miles, each band
keeping separate camp. On June 17, scouts came in and reported the
advance of a large body of troops under General Crook. The council
sent Crazy Horse with seven hundred men to meet and attack him.
These were nearly all young men, many of them under twenty, the
flower of the hostile Sioux. They set out at night so as to steal
a march upon the enemy, but within three or four miles of his camp
they came unexpectedly upon some of his Crow scouts. There was a
hurried exchange of shots; the Crows fled back to Crook's camp,
pursued by the Sioux. The soldiers had their warning, and it was
impossible to enter the well-protected camp. Again and again Crazy
Horse charged with his bravest men, in the attempt to bring the
troops into the open, but he succeeded only in drawing their fire.
Toward afternoon he withdrew, and returned to camp disappointed.
His scouts remained to watch Crook's movements, and later brought
word that he had retreated to Goose Creek and seemed to have no
further disposition to disturb the Sioux. It is well known to us
that it is Crook rather than Reno who is to be blamed for cowardice
in connection with Custer's fate. The latter had no chance to do
anything, he was lucky to save himself; but if Crook had kept on
his way, as ordered, to meet Terry, with his one thousand regulars
and two hundred Crow and Shoshone scouts, he would inevitably have
intercepted Custer in his advance and saved the day for him, and
war with the Sioux would have ended right there. Instead of this,
he fell back upon Fort Meade, eating his horses on the way, in a
country swarming with game, for fear of Crazy Horse and his braves!

The Indians now crossed the divide between the Tongue and the
Little Big Horn, where they felt safe from immediate pursuit.
Here, with all their precautions, they were caught unawares by
General Custer, in the midst of their midday games and festivities,
while many were out upon the daily hunt.

On this twenty-fifth of June, 1876, the great camp was
scattered for three miles or more along the level river bottom,
back of the thin line of cottonwoods -- five circular rows of
teepees, ranging from half a mile to a mile and a half in
circumference. Here and there stood out a large, white, solitary
teepee; these were the lodges or "clubs" of the young men. Crazy
Horse was a member of the "Strong Hearts" and the "Tokala" or Fox
lodge. He was watching a game of ring-toss when the warning came
from the southern end of the camp of the approach of troops.

The Sioux and the Cheyennes were "minute men", and although
taken by surprise, they instantly responded. Meanwhile, the women
and children were thrown into confusion. Dogs were howling, ponies
running hither and thither, pursued by their owners, while many of
the old men were singing their lodge songs to encourage the
warriors, or praising the "strong heart" of Crazy Horse.

That leader had quickly saddled his favorite war pony and was
starting with his young men for the south end of the camp, when a
fresh alarm came from the opposite direction, and looking up, he
saw Custer's force upon the top of the bluff directly across the
river. As quick as a flash, he took in the situation -- the enemy
had planned to attack the camp at both ends at once; and knowing
that Custer could not ford the river at that point, he instantly
led his men northward to the ford to cut him off. The Cheyennes
followed closely. Custer must have seen that wonderful dash up the
sage-bush plain, and one wonders whether he realized its meaning.
In a very few minutes, this wild general of the plains had
outwitted one of the most brilliant leaders of the Civil War and
ended at once his military career and his life.

In this dashing charge, Crazy Horse snatched his most famous
victory out of what seemed frightful peril, for the Sioux could not
know how many were behind Custer. He was caught in his own trap.
To the soldiers it must have seemed as if the Indians rose up from
the earth to overwhelm them. They closed in from three sides and
fought until not a white man was left alive. Then they went down
to Reno's stand and found him so well intrenched in a deep gully
that it was impossible to dislodge him. Gall and his men held him
there until the approach of General Terry compelled the Sioux to
break camp and scatter in different directions.

While Sitting Bull was pursued into Canada, Crazy Horse and
the Cheyennes wandered about, comparatively undisturbed, during the
rest of that year, until in the winter the army surprised the
Cheyennes, but did not do them much harm, possibly because they
knew that Crazy Horse was not far off. His name was held in
wholesome respect. From time to time, delegations of friendly
Indians were sent to him, to urge him to come in to the
reservation, promising a full hearing and fair treatment.

For some time he held out, but the rapid disappearance of the
buffalo, their only means of support, probably weighed with him
more than any other influence. In July, 1877, he was finally
prevailed upon to come in to Fort Robinson, Nebraska, with several
thousand Indians, most of them Ogallala and Minneconwoju Sioux, on
the distinct understanding that the government would hear and
adjust their grievances.

At this juncture General Crook proclaimed Spotted Tail, who
had rendered much valuable service to the army, head chief of the
Sioux, which was resented by many. The attention paid Crazy Horse
was offensive to Spotted Tail and the Indian scouts, who planned a
conspiracy against him. They reported to General Crook that the
young chief would murder him at the next council, and stampede the
Sioux into another war. He was urged not to attend the council and
did not, but sent another officer to represent him. Meanwhile the
friends of Crazy Horse discovered the plot and told him of it. His
reply was, "Only cowards are murderers."

His wife was critically ill at the time, and he decided to
take her to her parents at Spotted Tail agency, whereupon his
enemies circulated the story that he had fled, and a party of
scouts was sent after him. They overtook him riding with his wife
and one other but did not undertake to arrest him, and after he had
left the sick woman with her people he went to call on Captain Lea,
the agent for the Brules, accompanied by all the warriors of the
Minneconwoju band. This volunteer escort made an imposing
appearance on horseback, shouting and singing, and in the words of
Captain Lea himself and the missionary, the Reverend Mr. Cleveland,
the situation was extremely critical. Indeed, the scouts who had
followed Crazy Horse from Red Cloud agency were advised not to show
themselves, as some of the warriors had urged that they be taken
out and horsewhipped publicly.

Under these circumstances Crazy Horse again showed his
masterful spirit by holding these young men in check. He said to
them in his quiet way: "It is well to be brave in the field of
battle; it is cowardly to display bravery against one's own
tribesmen. These scouts have been compelled to do what they did;
they are no better than servants of the white officers. I came
here on a peaceful errand."

The captain urged him to report at army headquarters to
explain himself and correct false rumors, and on his giving
consent, furnished him with a wagon and escort. It has been said
that he went back under arrest, but this is untrue. Indians have
boasted that they had a hand in bringing him in, but their stories
are without foundation. He went of his own accord, either
suspecting no treachery or determined to defy it.

When he reached the military camp, Little Big Man walked
arm-in-arm with him, and his cousin and friend, Touch-the-Cloud,
was just in advance. After they passed the sentinel, an officer
approached them and walked on his other side. He was unarmed but
for the knife which is carried for ordinary uses by women as well
as men. Unsuspectingly he walked toward the guardhouse, when
Touch-the-Cloud suddenly turned back exclaiming: "Cousin, they will
put you in prison!"

"Another white man's trick! Let me go! Let me die fighting!"
cried Crazy Horse. He stopped and tried to free himself and draw
his knife, but both arms were held fast by Little Big Man and the
officer. While he struggled thus, a soldier thrust him through
with his bayonet from behind. The wound was mortal, and he died in
the course of that night, his old father singing the death song
over him and afterward carrying away the body, which they said
must not be further polluted by the touch of a white man. They hid
it somewhere in the Bad Lands, his resting place to this day.

Thus died one of the ablest and truest American Indians. His
life was ideal; his record clean. He was never involved in any of
the numerous massacres on the trail, but was a leader in
practically every open fight. Such characters as those of Crazy
Horse and Chief Joseph are not easily found among so-called
civilized people. The reputation of great men is apt to be
shadowed by questionable motives and policies, but here are two
pure patriots, as worthy of honor as any who ever breathed God's
air in the wide spaces of a new world.


IT is not easy to characterize Sitting Bull, of all Sioux chiefs
most generally known to the American people. There are few to whom
his name is not familiar, and still fewer who have learned to
connect it with anything more than the conventional notion of a
bloodthirsty savage. The man was an enigma at best. He was not
impulsive, nor was he phlegmatic. He was most serious when he
seemed to be jocose. He was gifted with the power of sarcasm, and
few have used it more artfully than he.

His father was one of the best-known members of the Unkpapa
band of Sioux. The manner of this man's death was characteristic.
One day, when the Unkpapas were attacked by a large war party of
Crows, he fell upon the enemy's war leader with his knife. In a
hand-to-hand combat of this sort, we count the victor as entitled
to a war bonnet of trailing plumes. It means certain death to one
or both. In this case, both men dealt a mortal stroke, and Jumping
Buffalo, the father of Sitting Bull, fell from his saddle and died
in a few minutes. The other died later from the effects of the

Sitting Bull's boyhood must have been a happy one. It was
long after the day of the dog-travaux, and his father owned many
ponies of variegated colors. It was said of him in a joking way
that his legs were bowed like the ribs of the ponies that he rode
constantly from childhood. He had also a common nickname that was
much to the point. It was "Hunkeshnee", which means "Slow",
referring to his inability to run fast, or more probably to the
fact that he seldom appeared on foot. In their boyish games he was
wont to take the part of the "old man", but this does not mean that
he was not active and brave. It is told that after a buffalo hunt
the boys were enjoying a mimic hunt with the calves that had been
left behind. A large calf turned viciously on Sitting Bull, whose
pony had thrown him, but the alert youth got hold of both ears and
struggled until the calf was pushed back into a buffalo wallow in
a sitting posture. The boys shouted: "He has subdued the buffalo
calf! He made it sit down!" And from this incident was derived
his familiar name of Sitting Bull.

It is a mistake to suppose that Sitting Bull, or any other
Indian warrior, was of a murderous disposition. It is true that
savage warfare had grown more and more harsh and cruel since the
coming of white traders among them, bringing guns, knives, and
whisky. Yet it was still regarded largely as a sort of game,
undertaken in order to develop the manly qualities of their youth.
It was the degree of risk which brought honor, rather than the
number slain, and a brave must mourn thirty days, with blackened
face and loosened hair, for the enemy whose life he had taken.
While the spoils of war were allowed, this did not extend to
territorial aggrandizement, nor was there any wish to overthrow
another nation and enslave its people. It was a point of honor
in the old days to treat a captive with kindness. The common
impression that the Indian is naturally cruel and revengeful is
entirely opposed to his philosophy and training. The revengeful
tendency of the Indian was aroused by the white man. It is not the
natural Indian who is mean and tricky; not Massasoit but King
Philip; not Attackullakulla but Weatherford; not Wabashaw but
Little Crow; not Jumping Buffalo but Sitting Bull! These men
lifted their hands against the white man, while their fathers held
theirs out to him with gifts.

Remember that there were councils which gave their decisions
in accordance with the highest ideal of human justice before there
were any cities on this continent; before there were bridges to
span the Mississippi; before this network of railroads was dreamed
of! There were primitive communities upon the very spot where
Chicago or New York City now stands, where men were as children,
innocent of all the crimes now committed there daily and nightly.
True morality is more easily maintained in connection with the
simple life. You must accept the truth that you demoralize any
race whom you have subjugated.

From this point of view we shall consider Sitting Bull's
career. We say he is an untutored man: that is true so far as
learning of a literary type is concerned; but he was not an
untutored man when you view him from the standpoint of his nation.
To be sure, he did not learn his lessons from books. This is
second-hand information at best. All that he learned he verified
for himself and put into daily practice. In personal appearance he
was rather commonplace and made no immediate impression, but as he
talked he seemed to take hold of his hearers more and more. He was
bull-headed; quick to grasp a situation, and not readily induced to
change his mind. He was not suspicious until he was forced to be
so. All his meaner traits were inevitably developed by the events
of his later career.

Sitting Bull's history has been written many times by
newspaper men and army officers, but I find no account of him which
is entirely correct. I met him personally in 1884, and since his
death I have gone thoroughly into the details of his life with his
relatives and contemporaries. It has often been said that he was
a physical coward and not a warrior. Judge of this for yourselves
from the deed which first gave him fame in his own tribe, when he
was about twenty-eight years old.

In an attack upon a band of Crow Indians, one of the enemy
took his stand, after the rest had fled, in a deep ditch from
which it seemed impossible to dislodge him. The situation had
already cost the lives of several warriors, but they could not let
him go to repeat such a boast over the Sioux!

"Follow me!" said Sitting Bull, and charged. He raced his
horse to the brim of the ditch and struck at the enemy with his
coup-staff, thus compelling him to expose himself to the fire of
the others while shooting his assailant. But the Crow merely poked
his empty gun into his face and dodged back under cover. Then
Sitting Bull stopped; he saw that no one had followed him, and he
also perceived that the enemy had no more ammunition left. He rode
deliberately up to the barrier and threw his loaded gun over it;
then he went back to his party and told them what he thought of

"Now," said he, "I have armed him, for I will not see a brave
man killed unarmed. I will strike him again with my coup-staff to
count the first feather; who will count the second?"

Again he led the charge, and this time they all followed him.
Sitting Bull was severely wounded by his own gun in the hands of
the enemy, who was killed by those that came after him. This is a
record that so far as I know was never made by any other warrior.

The second incident that made him well known was his taking of
a boy captive in battle with the Assiniboines. He saved this boy's
life and adopted him as his brother. Hohay, as he was called, was
devoted to Sitting Bull and helped much in later years to spread
his fame. Sitting Bull was a born diplomat, a ready speaker, and
in middle life he ceased to go upon the warpath, to become the
councilor of his people. From this time on, this man represented
him in all important battles, and upon every brave deed done was
wont to exclaim aloud:

"I, Sitting Bull's boy, do this in his name!"

He had a nephew, now living, who resembles him strongly, and
who also represented him personally upon the field; and so far as
there is any remnant left of his immediate band, they look upon
this man One Bull as their chief.


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