Tribal Report Staff
This year’s Morningstar riders started on Monday, June 25,
2006 at mile marker 13 on high 212 just outside of Busby. They began with breakfast at 7:30 am and
began their ride to the Little Bighorn Battle field at 8:30. Each rider was blessed as they cedared themselves and smudged with sweet grass before
they began the ride. The annual
Morningstar Riders ride each year from Busby, Montana
to Crow Agency in memorial of the 22 Northern Cheyenne warriors who lost
their lives protecting the Cheyenne
way of life on June 25, 1876. The
Morningstar riders are separate from the Lakota “Little Bighorn riders,” who
are primarily from the Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River, and Rosebud Lakota
reservations in South Dakota.
Nevertheless, they all ride in commemoration of those who lost their lives in
the battle against United
States finest Colonel.
This year riders received free commemorative t-shirts and
caps with traditional Cheyenne ledger art of a
bonnet warrior, carrying an eagle
staff and shield. The 55 horse riders were led by older Cheyenne men carrying
eagle staffs, including Donlin Many Bad
Horses. Following the eagle staff
carriers were the Northern Cheyenne and United States flag bearers. As history tells, the Northern Cheyenne
warrior societies were the ones who captured the U.S. flag, while the Lakota
warrior societies captured the Seventh Calvary flag.
As the Morningstar riders rode into Crow Agency, they
received a lot of attention from non-Indians and Crows. Some tourist took pictures. Both Cheyenne
men and women rode with the Morningstar riders, which is appropriate since Cheyenne women were in
the Little Bighorn Battle 130 years ago.
Traffic was temporarily halted while the Morningstar riders crossed
the tourist infested highway 212.
Some Crow members yelled out their car windows, “This is Crow
land, your reservation is Crow land!”
But the Morningstar riders represented the Cheyennes well,
not engaging in petty arguments, especially when such petty arguments a based
on a false history. Most Crows do not
know that their original reservation was bordered by the Bighorn River, and
that it was not until Crow scouts aided the U.S. Army that the borders were
moved farther east into traditional Cheyenne
territory. Such borderland changes
occurred after the U.S.
rewarded Indian scouts for services rendered.
Imagine on June 25, 1876 residing in a camp seven miles long
and one mile wide; camping with Cheyenne
and Lakota friends and relatives; exhausted from the pursuit of the United
States Army; and finally being found that hot day. The warriors must have been tired and
exhausted just like the Morningstar riders on their arrival 130 years
later. The warriors of today
memorialized the warriors of the past by honoring them with their presence
while maintaining humbleness, kindness, but still strong and courageous.
This year’s Morningstar riders were coordinated by Winfield
Russell, Leo Spang, and Tommy LaFranier. For more information call 477-8328.
Tribal Report of the Northern
Cheyenne Nation (June 2006 Vol. I No. 7), page 9.
Tribal Report Staff
On June 17, 1876, a week before the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Cheyenne and Lakota warriors rode out from
camp to stop the attack from Colonel Crook.
This decisive battle is rarely mentioned in mainstream history books,
but is probably one of the most significant battles to both the U.S. and the Cheyenne and Lakota people.
On Saturday June 17, 2006, the Northern
Cheyenne Rosebud Battlefield and Battle
of the Wolf Mountains Protection and Preservation Committee sponsored a 130th
Commemoration event. The event called
for the Northern Cheyenne and Lakota
honoring of warriors killed in the battle as well as speakers from the Oglala
Lakota Nation, Fish Wildlife & Parks, Montana Preservation Alliance, and
The National Park Service. Several representatives of Northern Cheyenne spoke
at the event, and the Northern Cheyenne
singers sang society songs, memorial songs, chief songs, and honor songs for
fallen warriors of the past and present.
Steve Brady discussed the
status of the Rosebud
The purpose of holding such an event is to(1) commemorate two battles
that do not receive as much attention as the Battle of the Little Bighorn,
and to (2) educate people about the potential coal bed methane development on
and near the historic and cultural sites of the Rosebud Battlefield and the
Battle of Wolf Mountains site. Brady
updated the Indian and non-Indian audience of the Rosebud Battlefield’s
status in becoming a National Historic Landmark, on the same level as the
Little Bighorn Battlefield.
Historian Leo Killsback discussed the
historical significance of the battle.
The Rosebud Battle involved at least 1000 Cheyenne
and Lakota warriors and 1300 U.S.
soldiers under the command of Colonel Crook.
Among these 1300 were 200
Crow scouts. Unlike the shorter battle
at the Little Bighorn, which lasted no longer than thirty minutes, the
Rosebud Battle lasted for as long as eight hours. “It was the only time in history where U.S.
mercenaries equaled the number of Plains Indian warriors,” Killsback
said. “It was not an attack on a
sleeping village; it was a showdown on an equal playing field, and the Cheyenne and Lakota
Several Crow and Shoshoni
scouts lost their lives that day, but the Crook’s men would not have stood a
chance without these Plains Indian scouts who knew of Cheyenne and Lakota warfare. There were at least 60 U.S. soldiers and 20 Lakota warriors who were
killed that day, but there was only one Northern
Cheyenne who died of wounds.
His name was Mo’taa’e Eshe’e,
Cheyenne elder Alva Stands In Timber told the story of “Where
the Girl Saved Her Brother.” Buffalo
Calf Trail Woman and other women would fight along side the warrior
societies. “Her brother’s horse was shot out from underneath him,” Stands In
Timber said. “He was out in the open and soldiers were shooting at him. No one expected his younger sister to ride
out and save him, but she did. Today
we should remember what that young girl did. That story was my father’s
favorite.” Mrs. Stands In Timber is
the daughter of Cheyenne
historian John Stands In Timber, author of Cheyenne Memories (University of
Nebraska Press 1967).
Member of the Cheyenne Council
Chief’s Society of the Forty-four, Clarence “Bisco”
Spotted Wolf was also present at this year’s commemoration. Spotted Wolf discussed his family lineage
of chiefs, emphasizing on the story of how Custer’s pistols were taken by two
of his ancestors. “Sometimes white
historians don’t like to hear what Indians have to say because our history is
unwritten. We need to tell our stories
and retell them to our children so we do not forget how strong and brave our
people were. We can keep telling white
people, but sometimes they don’t listen.”
The Kobold family was honored
for making an appearance. Elmer “Slim”
Kobold was an owner of the historic site, and he was influential in the
initial preservation the historical/cultural site and helped it to become a
State Park. A lunch meal was provided for the event. The event ended with tours given by
historian Michael Olson. For more
information on the Northern Cheyenne Rosebud Battlefield and Battle of the Wolf
Mountains Protection and Preservation Committee contact Otto Braided Hair,
Tribal Report of the Northern
Cheyenne Nation (June 2006 Vol. I No. 7), page 9.
130th Anniversary of the Battle Where Long Hair Was Wiped Out
Moe’ema’etatse—The Last Contrary
One hundred and thirty years
ago, a U.S. Army Colonel named Custer attacked a Cheyenne
and Lakota camp on the Little Bighorn River. The year was 1876, nearly 100 years after
the signage of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. During this time, America was
preparing to celebrate their Centennial; their 100th
birthday. From coast to coast
Americans were promoting their industrial empire and technological renaissance,
in preparation for the July 4, 1876 celebration. What most non-Indian historians will not
mention during about this time period is that most Americans believed that
the U.S. Empire had eradicated its entire population of indigenous people, or
at least confined them to reservations.
But nobody knows that America
would be surprised by the most feared indigenous people in America, the Cheyenne and Lakota.
The Cheyenne and Lakota leaders signed the Fort
Laramie Treaty of 1868 which designated the boundaries of “The Great Sioux
Reservation.” The boundaries of this reservation would have covered 5 states,
including the Dakotas, Nebraska, parts of Montana, Wyoming, and Minnesota. The
Yellowstone and Bighorn Rivers were the northwestern boundaries, the Missouri was the Eastern boundary, and the North Platte River was the southern boundary. The Treaty had a hunting rights provision
for tribal members to leave the reservation, but gold was found in 1872 and
the U.S. Government sought to purchase confine all tribal members to the
reservation. The Treaty also had a
clause that forbade the sale of any land without ¾ of the total male
population of the Cheyenne and Lakota, but the
U.S. sought to purchase
the Black Hills. During negotiations and Contrary Warrior
rode into the meeting area among the hundreds of U.S. agents and would-be
“sellers.” He wore only a breach cloth but concealed his identity with black
cloth. He pointed at those at the
negotiation tables and yelled in Lakota, “Any Indian who sells his children’s
land will be killed, and so will their entire families.” These times were very dangerous, especially
when it came to the sale of land.
Meanwhile the Lakota and Cheyenne hunters were spread throughout Montana hunting on
unsettled, unceded, non-treaty lands. Cheyenne and
Lakota bands soon joined together after Two Moons’ peaceful village was
attacked on the Powder River in the bitter
winter of 1875. These tribes were
perceived as “hostile” when they were merely exercising their treaty rights
Nevertheless the U.S. Allison Commission of 1875 practically declared war
on “all Indians not on reservations.”
Three columns of the U.S. Empire were sent to annihilate the seven
circles of Cheyenne,
Arapahoe, and Lakota: from the north was Colonel Gibbon; from the south was
Colonel Crook; and from the east was Colonel Custer. The U.S.
chased the Cheyenne,
Arapaho, and Lakota alliance until the large group could no longer run with
such huge numbers. On June 17, 1867, Cheyenne and Lakota warriors stopped Colonel Crook’s
column at the Battle
of the Rosebud. A week later, Colonel
Custer’s men would meet a more brutal demise.
On the morning of June 25,
1876, Custer’s column and all of his scouts attacked the village as he
expected the same results as the Washita Massacre in 1868. After the Washita Massacre, Custer promised
never to make war against the Cheyenne
in the lodge of the Arrow Keeper. The
Keeper placed the ashes of the Arrow pipe on Custer’s boot and said, “If you
break your promise we will wipe you away from this earth, as you will wipe
those ashes from your boot.” The Cheyenne warriors were
prepared that day they wiped out his entire brigade in a battle that lasted
no longer than a half an hour. The
only non-Indian survivors retreated under Captains Benteen
After the “Battle Where Long Hair was Wiped Away,” the
large camp broke into smaller bands.
However, the U.S.
was not pleased that their 100th Birthday was spoiled by a bunch of
“primitives,” especially in a time when Americans praised their technological
achievements. Following the great
battle, each individual band was relentlessly pursued until each were
captured or surrendered. Dull Knife’s
village was captured by Colonel McKenzie in November of 1876 in northern Wyoming. This battle was one of the most detrimental
to the Northern Cheyenne since women and children were killed, the entire
village burned, and survivors were left to starve and freeze in the brutal
Wyoming winter of 1876.
Today America remembers both the Indian
and non-Indian heroes of the “Great Sioux War.” However, most do not know that the war was
not a war at all. Instead it was a
fight for to protect traditional homeland, and to protect the Black Hills from the exploits of mineral (gold and
silver) mining. Broken treaties, bad
diplomatic relations, greed, and violence led to the demise of Colonel Custer
in 1876. Today in 2006, we must
remember what our ancestors fought for as well also face the exploits of
mineral (coal and methane) mining, greed, and threats on our traditional
homeland as well as on Bear Butte. I
am the Contrary warrior riding into your hearts and minds, I am unarmed, my
identity is concealed, and that is all I have to say.
Tribal Report of the Northern Cheyenne Nation (June 2006 Vol. I No. 7), page