The People

Tribal Report of the Northern Cheyenne Nation (June 2006 Vol. I No. 7)

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Northern Cheyenne Morningstar Riders Memorialize Warriors

The Northern Cheyenne Morningstar Riders made their way to the Little Bighorn Battlefield just outside of Crow Agency, MT.  The Cheyenne Riders made an entrance, waiving the Northern Cheyenne Flag, eagle staffs, and the captured United States flag.  There were at least 60 Morningstar Riders this year


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 Cheyenne war 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.



Buffalo Calf Trail Woman rescuing Chief Comes in Sight, by Spotted Wolf, Peter John Powell, People of the Sacred Mountain: A History of the Northern Cheyenne Chiefs and Warrior Societies 1830-1879, With an Epilogue 1969-1974.  San Francisco: Harper and Row 1981. Page 964.


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 Battlefield State Park.  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

Shoshoni and 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 won.”

      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, Black Sun.

      Northern 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, 406.477.8026,


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 to hunt.

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 and Reno.

      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 9.