Saturday, July 2, 2016

Black Indian Biography: Edward Rose: Mountain Man

Edward Rose's origins are sketchy.  His date of birth was not recorded.  However he had a white father.  His mother was Cherokee and Black mix.  In 1807 he joined and expedition out of St. louis to establish fur trading outposts.  He already had a scarred nose and forehead. The crow would later name him Nez Coupe meaning Cut Nose.  Perhaps from a fight and a knife slash.  Washington Irving who wrote of the fur trade called him "dogged, sullen and silent."  He was prominent in several early expeditions, working for Manuel Lisa, Andrew Henry.  The first expedition, most of the men returned to the East as quickly as the could.  However Rose stayed.  He became partial to the Crow and lived among them.  In 18ll he lead a party lead by John Jacob Astor and Wilson Price Hunt through Crow territory.  For some reason Hunt thought he may be leading them to ambush, or talking some of his men into deserting and taking their horses.  Rose was dismissed.  The expedition became lost most of their horses and some died.  In 1822 William Ashley led an expedition to set up mountain men as trappers, instead of just trading with the Native Americans.  Rose was guide.  Jedediah Smith and Jim Bridger were part of this group.  This type of move irked the Indians who would be removed from trading furs.  The expedition was attacked by Arikara Indians.  Ashley wanted revenge.  Fourteen trappers had been killed.  A military force of 200 men under the command of Colonel Henry Leavenworth responded.  Joined by Sioux and mountain men they attacked the Arikara and there was a pitched battle for several days.  The Arikara sued for peace, and Rose was sent to negotiate the peace.  Leavenworth praise praised Rose as "brave and enterprising."  This group of mountain men became the first non-Indians to discover South Pass.  They also would make many other important discoveries in the West.  Rose went back to live with the Crow people and became a leader among them.  Rose likely dyed in a battle with the Arikara.  Old maps of the upper Mississippi Valley show a Cut Nose Butte, and mark his grave close to the Bighorn and Yellowstone Rivers.

Excerpts from Proud Red and Black: Stories of African and Native Americans, William Loren Katz and Paula A. Franklin, Antheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 1993.

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