Wooden Leg: A Warrior Who Fought Custer

Wooden Leg: A Warrior Who Fought Custer

Wooden Leg: A Warrior Who Fought Custer

Wooden Leg: A Warrior Who Fought Custer

Synopsis

Told with vigor and insight, this is the memorable story of Wooden Leg (1858–1940), one of sixteen hundred warriors of the Northern Cheyennes who fought with the Lakotas against Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Wooden Leg remembers the world of the Cheyennes before they were forced onto reservations. He tells of growing up on the Great Plains and learning how to be a Cheyenne man. We hear from him about Cheyenne courtship, camp life, spirituality, and hunting; of skirmishes with Crows, Pawnees, and Shoshones; and of the Cheyennes’ valiant but doomed resistance against the army of the United States. In particular, Wooden Leg recalls the fight against Custer at the Little Bighorn, a controversial and arresting recollection that stands as the first published Native account of that battle.

As an old man in his seventies, Wooden Leg related the story of his life and the Little Bighorn battle in interviews with Thomas B. Marquis (1869–1935), formerly an agency physician for the Northern Cheyennes. Marquis checked and corroborated or corrected all points of importance with other Cheyennes. This edition features a new introduction by Richard Littlebear, president of Chief Dull Knife College and an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation of Montana.

Excerpt

Seventy-three years ago (1858) I was born when my people were camped by the waters of the Cheyenne river, in the Black Hills. Both of my parents were of the Northern Cheyenne tribe of Indians. My father had two names, as often is the case among us. He sometimes was called Many Bullet Wounds, because of such marks of warfare on his body. But his preferred name was White Buffalo Shaking Off the Dust. My mother's name was Eagle Feather on the Forehead. Marriage during the old Indian days did not change any woman's name, so all through her lifetime this same term was used for her.

My father's father went to Washington, as a delegate from our tribe, before I was born. He was known as No Braids. The differing words to indicate my grandfather, my father, my mother, and myself show our old way of keeping individuality, regardless of parentage or marriage. My brothers and sisters each . . .

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