An American Hero – Buffalo Calf Road Woman

A tragic story of heroism

Buffalo Calf Road Woman


This is a repost for my friend Krell.

In 1868 following Red Cloud‘s War the Treaty of Fort Laramie was signed which promised the Black Hills to the Lakota (Sioux) as part of the Great Sioux Reservation for as long as the rivers flowed and the sun shined.

This lasted until 1872 when gold was discovered in the Black Hills.

Miners were followed by traders and settlers and loggers who wanted the timber for American expansion. Inevitably conflict arose and diplomacy failed as the Lakota and Cheyenne refused to
cede any more land. The US military was dispatched to punish the Indians and persuade them to give up the Black Hills.

In the Spring of 1876 2500 US soldiers along with several hundred Crow and Shoshoni scouts were dispatched to subdue the recalcitrant tribes. The plan was a three-pronged attack led by Generals Crook and Terry and acting General Custer.

On June 17th Crook’s force of 1,000 soldiers was attacked as they were resting from the mornings march. The 260 scouts battled hundreds of mounted Lakota and Cheyenne, holding them off until the soldiers joined the fray. Initially Crook deployed several companies of infantry in a skirmish line but as progress slowed he ordered his 2nd and 3rd cavalry to charge. The fierce onslaught drove the Lakota back and a second charge caused them to withdraw further and begin to scatter.

A Cheyenne Warrior known as Comes In Sight had been knocked from his horse and although otherwise unhurt he was exposed to gunfire and advancing Indian scouts. Suddenly a lone rider burst from the Cheyenne ranks who slowed as Comes In Sight leaped onto the back of her horse.

Unhit by bullets Buffalo Calf Road Woman and her brother rejoined their fellow warriors. Perhaps inspired by Buffalo Calf Road Woman’s bravery or maybe because the cavalry companies were extended too far from their main force, the Lakota and Cheyenne attacked from the flank and drove the cavalry back. The Indians then withdrew from the field and deployed on the sides of a ravine hoping to lure Crook’s advancing soldiers into an ambush. On advice from his Crow and Shoshoni scouts Crook did not pursue.

General Crook’s losses caused him to withdraw and wait two months for resupply. Eight days later Custer’s 7th cavalry engaged the Lakota and Cheyenne at Greasy Grass Creek, known to historians as Little Big Horn. Perhaps the presence of Crook’s forces might have changed that outcome. We’ll never know, as we also will never know if Buffalo Calf Road Woman’s bravery changed the outcome of the Battle Where the Girl Saved her Brother, known to historians as the Battle of the Rosebud.

In 1877 the Lakota and Cheyenne surrendered. The Lakota returned to a much smaller reservation. The Northern Cheyenne were relocated to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Starving and fighting disease, the following year led by Dull Knife (pictured above left) they broke out and battled their way back to the Yellowstone,as was depicted in the movie Cheyenne Autumn. In January 1879 the surviving Northern Cheyenne surrendered and were imprisoned at Fort Keogh, Montana.

Five months later Buffalo Calf Road Woman died of diphtheria. Upon hearing the news her husband Black Horse killed himself.

Five years later, in 1884 the Northern Cheyenne were allowed to settle at a reservation in Montana.

This is not a Poor Indians story. That is not my point at all. Rather this is to glorify and pay homage to a great person, and to say women are tough as any man. And to say that maybe, maybe the selfless love, the courage of a Buffalo Calf Road Woman is within us all and can be drawn upon when we need it most.

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Posted by on June 2, 2010. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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6 Responses to An American Hero – Buffalo Calf Road Woman

  1. MadMike

    June 2, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    This is a tale of bravery. She was a truly an American hero. Thanks for posting this Oso.

  2. Krell

    June 2, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    This is exactly what I was talking about. This is someone that I had never heard about until Oso presented his excellent post.

    Can you imagine, riding a horse directly in the crossfire of the battlefield to pick up a fallen comrade. You know that you are being shot at by every soldier in the vicinity. About as brave as a person could be.

    This was on wiki..
    “In 2005 Northern Cheyenne storytellers broke more than 100 years of silence about the battle, and they credited Buffalo Calf Road Woman striking the blow that knocked Custer off his horse before he died.”

  3. Bee

    June 2, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    I love this story, of this awesome and fearsome woman. We women can kick some ass, when the need arises.

    I doubt she even thought about what she was doing…if she had wavered, doubted, she never would have been able to pull it off.

  4. Gwendolyn H. Barry

    June 2, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    You take action to support your heart. This lady knew the value of action and heart.

  5. Tim Waters

    June 2, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Great Story of heroism. I have such an affinity to American Indians. I can’t think of a more shit on people. The lies told to them in the course of peace were astounding. No other people have my respect as much. I spent some time in New Mexico years back. Terrible conditions, worse than any I’ve ever seen.
    This story is one of many I’m sure of bravery. I wish I new more. Thank You

  6. Pingback: Buffalo Calf Road Woman, Who Had A Battle Named After Her And Knocked Custer Off His Horse At Little Big Horn | Daily Kickass Female