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1876 Battle of the
Little Big Horn


United States Army


Native Americans


1876 The Battle of the Little Big Horn Participants:
Native Americans

"I called to my men, "This is a good day to die: follow me." We massed our men, and that no man should fall back, every man whipped another man's horse and we rushed right upon them. As we rushed upon them the white warriors dismounted to fire, but they did very poor shooting. They held their horses reins on one arm while they were shooting, but their horses were so frightened that they pulled the men all around, and a great many of their shots went up in the air and did us no harm."
Low Dog, Minneconjou, 1881

American Horse
American Horse

American Horse (Wasico Tasunke) Oglala Lakota
•leader of the Bear People band son of Sitting Bear
• his brother also fought in the battle
• later a prominent chief at Pine Ridge Reservation in 1891
• he led a successful delegation to Washington which resulted in better administration of Indian affairs and a more nearly adequate living ration
• he rode in the 1905 inaugural parade at the request of President Theodore Roosevelt
• (not the elder chief American horse who was killed at Slim Buttes in 1876)

Big Elk (Un-pan Tan-ka) Oglala Lakota
• chief; among a small group of warriors who had advanced nearest Custer's final position

Black Wasichu
• Warrior; brother of Chase-in-the-Morning, and cousin of Black Elkshot in the Custer fight while riding warrior style on the side of his horse died in camp on the night of June 27th

Bobtail Horse Northern Cheyenne
• a prominent Elkhorn Scraper Society warrior
• one of the first three Cheyenne to cross the river to meet Custer
• among the first ten Indians to open fire on Custer's troops
• he caught 2 of the grey-horse company's mounts that had stampeded and led them back to camp

Brave Wolf Northern Cheyenne
• fighting chief and contrary
• was in both the Reno and Custer fights
• among the few Cheyenne present during early fighting with Reno's skirmish line and helped drive them to the bluffs • April 1877 surrendered with Two Moon's band • became the 2nd Cheyenne to enlist as a scout with General Miles

Buffalo Calf Road Woman (Muts i mi u na) Northern Cheyenne
• June 17 1876 she rescued her brother, Chief Comes in Sight, in Crook's fight on the Rosebud, (the Cheyenne named this battle "Where the girl saved her brother”
• fought beside her husband Black Coyote in the Custer fight 8 days later and afterward was named Brave Woman

Comes in Sight Northern Cheyenne
• he was one of 5 warriors who charged in among the soldiers early in the Custer fight, stampeding the troopers’ horses

Crazy Horse (Tashunca-uitco) Oglala Lakota
• Given the name Curly as a boy
• Witnessed the Grattan Massacre 1854 and Harney’s destruction of the village at Ash Hollow near Bluewater Creek 1855.
• He refused to register at any agency or sign a treaty
• Excelled as a leader in the war over the Bozeman Trail 1866-8 (the so called Red Cloud’s War)
• Led the warriors to victory over Crook at the Battle of the Rosebud June17 1875 when Crook managed a strategic withdrawal owing to the valour of Arikara and Crow auxiliaries covering the troops’ retreat.
• he prevented Custer's troops from gaining the hilltop in their retreat
• is thought to have led one of the closing charges on Custer at Last Stand Hill
• he chased down & killed one of the last troopers to die, one-half mile east of the Custer battlefield.
• After about a month of celebration he resumed hostilities against gold prospectors in the Black Hills and was first pursued by Crook and then by Nelson Miles.
• 1877 guaranteed safe conduct to visit his dying wife at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. His only child a daughter, had recently died of the same disease. This was merely a trick in order to capture him and send him to exile in Florida
• September 6, 1877 while under U.S. Army protection he was stabbed in the back by an American soldier while pinned from behind by a tribal policeman, Little Big Man.

Crow Dog Brulι Lakota
• in the Custer fight, he caught 3 soldier horses and hurried them to his lodge across the river
• by the time he returned Custer & his men were already dead

Crow King
Crow King

Crow King Hunkpapa Lakota
• chief of 80 band of warriors
• led charges against Reno's troops in the valley
• then joined the Custer fight after Reno reached the bluffs
• two of his brothers were killed in the battle


Gall( Pizi ) Hunkpapa Lakota
• 1865survived an arrest attempt at Fort Berthold when he was left for dead by the army after being bayoneted.
• was among the Cheyenne looking after horses when Reno attacked
• his 2 wives and 3 children were killed by Arikara scouts at the beginning of Reno's attack on the village; Gall said: "It made my heart bad. After that I killed all my enemies with the hatchet."
• Said that the attack happened too quickly or they would have fled
• led a frontal attack on Custer's troops while Crazy Horse's warriors struck Custer's flank and rear
• Following the Custer fight, Gall fled with Sitting Bull into Canada, but a quarrel between them caused Gall to bring his band back across the border late in 1880.
• January 3, 1881.finally surrendered at Poplar Creek, Montana
• 1889 served as a judge of the Court of Indian Offenses at Standing Rock Reservation in, and worked as a farmer
• 1894 died at Oak Creek near Standing Rock Agency

Kicking Bear
Kicking Bear

Kicking Bear Hunkpapa Lakota
• full brother of Flying Hawk, killed some of Reno's soldiers as they fled across the river
• 1890 prophet of the Ghost Dance religion at the Pine Ridge Reservation

Little Big Man
Little Big Man

Little Big Man Oglala Lakota
• Little Big Man was a shirt-wearer (war leader)in Crazy Horses's band. Just like the great leader Crazy Horse, Little Big Man was known for his sense of drama. In September 1875, during negotiations at Red Cloud Agency regarding the future ownership of the Black Hills, he led a mock charge at the white commissioners by a large group of warriors. Firing their guns and shouting ritual war chants, they badly scared everyone but did no physical damage.

Low Dog
Low Dog

Low Dog Minneconju
• fought against Reno and Custer
• his full brother was killed in the battle
• "I called to my men: "this is a good day to die, follow me"

Rain in the Face
Rain in the Face

Rain in the Face (Iromagaja) Hunkpapa Lakota
• "His face is like a storm"
• 1866 took part in the Fetterman Fight
• was badly wounded in the Custer battle and walked with a limp the rest of his life. After the battle, some reports indicated that Rain-In-The-Face had killed Custer, although historian Stanley Vestal suggested that White Bull, not Rain-In-The-Face, took Custer's life.
• joined Sitting Bull's exiles in Canada until 1880 when he surrendered to General Nelson Miles at Fort Keough, Montana.
• Briefly toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.
• died at Standing Rock 1905

Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull (Tatanka-Iyotanka) Hunkpapa Lakota
• as a young man, a leader of the Strong Heart warrior society
• later, a distinguished member of the Silent Eaters, a group concerned with tribal welfare. fought U.S. troops at the Battle of Killdeer Mountain
• 1865 he led a siege against the newly established Fort Rice in present-day North Dakota.
• c. 1868 became head chief of the Lakota nation
• Sitting Bull's courage was legendary. Once, in 1872, during a battle with soldiers protecting railroad workers on the Yellowstone River, Sitting Bull led four other warriors out between the lines, sat calmly sharing a pipe with them as bullets buzzed around, carefully reamed the pipe out when they were finished, and then casually walked away.
• Shortly before the Battle of the Little Big Horn led his people in the Sun Dance Ritual. During this ceremony, Sitting Bull had a vision in which he saw soldiers falling into the Lakota camp like grasshoppers falling from the sky. The lodge was still standing when Custer was trailing the native Americans. It was burned by Arikara scouts.
• May 1877 he led his band across the border into Canada, beyond the reach of the U.S. Army
• dismissed General Terry’s offer him of a pardon in exchange for settling on a reservation
• Was in the village during the Battle of the Little Big Horn, protecting the families of the younger warriors who fought in the battle.
• After the Battle of the Little Big Horn parlayed with Nelson Miles in October, rejected the idea of surrender and led those of his people who did not surrender into Canada.
• July 19, 1881, starving, he surrendered at Fort Buford in Montana
• sent to Standing Rock Reservation, and on down the Missouri River to Fort Randall, where he and his followers were held for nearly two years as prisoners of war
• May 10, 1883, Sitting Bull rejoined his tribe at Standing Rock.
• 1885 was allowed to leave the reservation to join Buffalo Bill's Wild West, earning $50 a week for riding once around the arena, in addition to whatever he could charge for his autograph and picture
• After only four months returned to Standing Rock, Sitting Bull lived in a cabin on the Grand River
• Autumn 1890, the authorities feared that Sitting Bull, as a major spiritual leader, would join the Ghost Dancers so they sent 43 Lakota policemen to bring him in. Before dawn on December 15, 1890, the policemen burst into Sitting Bull's cabin and dragged him outside, where his followers were gathering to protect him. In the gunfight that followed, one of the Lakota policemen put a bullet through Sitting Bull's head. buried at Fort Yates in North Dakota
• 1953 his remains were moved to Mobridge, South Dakota, where a granite shaft marks his grave.

Spotted Tail
Spotted Tail

Spotted Tail (Sinte Galeska) Brulι Lakota
• first known as Jumping Buffalo his adult name derived from a striped raccoon pelt that was given him by a trapper.
• Shirt wearer or War leader, took part in the Grattan incident 1854 and action against Harney at Ash Hollow near Bluewater Creek 1855.
• 1865 refused to sign a treaty with the United States but did sign the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty
• 1871, served as guide on a buffalo hunt with the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia
• 1875 Spotted Tail played a central role in negotiations with government officials in which all offers to buy the Black Hills were refused
• following the Custer battle he maintained a police force to keep whiskey merchants off the reservation
• accused by Red Cloud of pocketing the proceeds from a sale of tribal land
• August 5, 1881shot to death by Crow Dog

Two Moons
Two Moons

Two Moons(Ishi'eyo Nissi) Northern Cheyenne
• War Leader whose village was destroyed by troops led by Colonel Joseph Reynolds in March 1876, although the northern Cheyenne pony herd was regained by a daring night attack on the bivouacked troops, much to Crook’s disgust. (Reynolds was court martialled). Afterwards they wandered for three days with little food or clothing, enduring sub Zero temperatures during the night. They were taken in by the Oglala Lakota and Two Moons’ warriors joined them against Crook.
• After the battle with Custer, General Nelson A. Miles convinced Two Moons to surrender.
• in 1898, his account of the battle appeared in McClure's magazine.

Wooden Leg (Kummonk'Quiviokta) Northern Cheyenne
• Wooden Leg related his memories to Thomas B. Marquis, who published them in 'A warrior who fought Custer' in 1931 Wooden Leg (Kum-mok-quiv-vi-ok-ta)
• Wooden Leg’s name would be better translated as “ The man who walks as if his legs are made of wood” the derivation being that he could walk vast distances without his legs tiring.
• menber of Elkhorn Scrapers warrior society
• one of 5 young Cheyenne men on first nightwatch June 25-26
• aged 18 fought Reno's and Custer's troops
• he counted coup on a soldier and wrenched the rifle from his back, in the hand to hand fighting on Reno's retreat to the bluffs
• shot one of the Reno water party on June 26
• his brother Yellow Hair also fought in the battle
• Surrendered in 1877 at Fort Robinson with Crazy horse,s Oglala but sent with the other Northern Cheyenne to Indian territory (later Oklahoma).
• Did not join Dull Knife and Little Wolf in the escape from Darlington agency in 1878
• 1889 scout at Fort Keogh, and a tribal judge on the reservation
• later called Richard Woodenlegs: his grandson John Woodenlegs, was the only Indian member of President Johnson's National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty 1967

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© Chris Smallbone July 2007