Monday, May 30, 2016

Native American Biographies: Northern Cheyenne Chiefs Who Fled the Reservation

Living in Indian Territory was hard for some who were not use to the terrain and weather of Oklahoma.  Two Cheyenne Chiefs decided to leave.
Little Wolf and Dull Knife
Little Wolf, Northern Cheyenne.   Little Wolf fought alongside Crazy Horse and Gall.  He at first had a peaceful attitude towards the white settlers, but that attitude changed after the massacre of Black Kettle and his people.  He fought in the Bozeman Trail Wars and the Fetterman fight.  He signed the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.  He was also active in the fight for the Black Hills under the leadership of Sitting Bull.  His village, which was also the village of Dull Knife was attacked in November 1876.  Forty Cheyenne were killed.  However just as devastating was the destruction of food supplies. Also the temperature dropped and many more died form the elements.  He surrendered the following May, and about 1000 of his people were sent to Indian Territory where they continued to die.  LIttle Wolf and Dull Knife failed to convince authorities to let them return to Montana, but they lead about 350 Cheyenne for home.   The groups split on their way home.  Little Wolf evaded the troops sent to find them.  The next year, march of 1879 he surrendered near the mouth of Powder River.  They were returned to Fort Keogh, Montana and promised a reservation in their own territory.  Many of his men subsequently served in the U.S. Army as scouts.

Dull Knife and Little Wolf share the same history, but their groups had different results after they separated.  They both are connected to an incident at the Upper Platte Bridge in 1856, the first significant conflict between Cheyenne and U.S. Troops.  Like Little Wolf, Dull Knife had been a peace chief until the killing of Black Kettle.  He fought with Sioux and Arapaho.  He was involve din the peace process at Fort Laramie, and then also signed a peace treaty allowing a fort in Powder River Country.  Thus his leadership was questioned by some.  In 1873 Dull Knife and Little  Wolf lead a delegation to Washington, D.C. to explain they had not given up their land and did not want to move south to Indian Territory.  The matter slid for some years, but after the Battle of Little Big Horn the government was determined to move all Indians south.  In November of 1876 Colonel R.S. MacKenzie and his men attacked the village of Dull Knife and Little Wolf.  Then without food and shelter, the Cheyenne began to surrender.  Those who surrendered were sent south.  Of the 1000 sent south, over 600 were ill within the first two months.  Many died.  As a result Dull Knife and Little Wolf decided to travel the 1500 miles north to their traditional territories.  They lead 350 people, including 92 men.  The split up, Dull knife seeking shelter with Red Cloud.  During a blizzard, the 150 with Dull knife were surrounded by troops from Fort Robinson.  It was determined they should be sent back to Indian Territory.  They refused, and so they were shut into barracks with no food, and with no wood for heat.  After six days, they made a break, many escaping through the windows.  Half of the men were killed before getting out of the building.  Most were rounded up within a half mile of the barracks.  Dull Knife escaped with seven others.  Of those who fled the barracks 64 had been killed and 78 captured.  Seven escaped, including Dull Knife.  He was captured when he went to the Red Cloud agency for help.  He was returned to the reservation Little Wolf had obtained and the Cheyenne were officially granted the Tongue River Reservation in 1884, a year after the death of Dull Knife.

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