|Flying Hawk - from Wikipedia
|Flying Hawk (Oglala Lakota: ?hetá? Ki?yá?
in Standard Lakota Orthography; a/k/a Moses Flying Hawk; March 1854 – December
24, 1931) was an Oglala Lakota warrior, historian, educator and philosopher.
Flying Hawk's life chronicles the history of the Oglala Lakota people through
the 19th and early 20th centuries, as he fought to deflect the worst effects
of white rule; educate his people and preserve sacred Oglala Lakota land
and heritage. Chief Flying Hawk was a combatant in Red Cloud's War and
in nearly all of the fights with the U.S. Army during the Great Sioux War
of 1876. He fought alongside his first cousin Crazy Horse and his brothers
Kicking Bear and Black Fox II in the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876,
and was present at the death of Crazy Horse in 1877 and the Wounded Knee
Massacre of 1890. Chief Flying Hawk was one of the five warrior cousins
who sacrificed blood and flesh for Crazy Horse at the Last Sun Dance of
1877. Chief Flying Hawk is notable in American history for his commentaries
and classic accounts of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Crazy Horse
and the Wounded Knee Massacre, and of Native American warriors and statesmen
from who fought to protect their families, defend the invasion of their
lands and preserve their culture. Chief Flying Hawk was probably the longest
standing Wild Wester, traveling for over 30 years throughout the United
States and Europe from about 1898 to about 1930. Chief Flying Hawk was
an educator and believed public education was essential to preserve Lakota
culture. He frequently visited public schools for presentations. Chief
Flying Hawk leaves a legacy of Native American philosophy and his winter
count covers nearly 150 years of Lakota history.
Chief Flying Hawk, ?hetá? Ki?yá?.
Born March 1854
Died December 24, 1931 (aged 77)
Pine Ridge, South Dakota
Spouse(s) White Day
Goes Out Looking
Relations Kicking Bear (brother)
Black Fox II (half brother)
Crazy Horse (first cousin)
Sitting Bull (uncle)
Children Felix Flying Hawk (son)
Parents Black Fox (father)
Iron Cedar Woman (mother)
|Flying Hawk was born about full moon of March 1854, a
few miles south of Rapid Creek, Lakota Territory. His father was Oglala
Lakota Chief Black Fox, also known as Chief Black Fox I, Cut Forehead and
Great Kicking Bear. Chief Black Fox (c. 1800-c. 1880) had two wives who
were sisters who bore him thirteen children. Iron Cedar Woman, the youngest
sister, was Flying Hawk's mother and had five children. The other wife
had eight children. "In a fight with the Crows, Chief Black Fox was shot
below the right eye with an arrow. It was so deep that it could not be
pulled out, but had to be pushed through the ear." Chief Black Fox died
when he was eighty years old. "When my father was dead a long time we went
to see how he was on the scaffold where we put him. His bones were all
that was left. The arrow-point was sticking in the back of his skull. It
was rusted. We took it home with us." Kicking Bear (c. 1846-c. 1880) was
Flying Hawk's full and older brother. Kicking Bear was a noted warrior
and leader of the Ghost Dance. Black Fox II ("Young Black Fox") was Flying
Hawk's half-brother and named for his father. Crazy Horse was the first
cousin of Flying Hawk. "Though nine years the senior of Flying Hawk, Crazy
Horse and Flying Hawk were constant close friends and associates, and they
were cousins." Rattling Blanket Woman, the mother of Crazy Horse,
was the sister of Iron Cedar Woman, the mother of Flying Hawk and Kicking
Bear. They would have addressed Crazy Horse as ciye, or 'elder brother'.
Sitting Bull was Flying Hawk's uncle, Chief Flying Hawk’s mother Iron Cedar
Woman and Sitting Bull’s wife being sisters. At the age of 26, Flying Hawk
married two sisters, Goes Out Looking and White Day. Goes Out Looking bore
him one son, Felix Flying Hawk. White Day had no child.
Kicking Bear was Flying Hawk's older brother.
Crow necklace from him. We chased the others back a long
way and then caught up with our own men again and went on. It was a very
cold winter. There were twenty of us and each had four horses. We got them
home all right and it was a good trip that time. We had a scalp dance when
we got back."
Flying Hawk wished to be a Chief like his father
Black Fox and brother Kicking Bear. To become
Chief, a warrior must do brave deeds and take
many scalps and horses.
|Flying Hawk was a youth when the white invasion of the
Sioux country took place after the American Civil War, flowing into the
Great Plains and the mountains of Montana. Flying Hawk wished to be a Chief
like his father Black Fox and brother Kicking Bear. To become Chief a warrior
must do brave deeds and take many scalps and horses. As a youth, Flying
Hawk led many war parties with his older brother Kicking Bear against the
Crows and the Piegan.
"When ten years old, I was in my first battle on the Tongue
River. It was an overland train of covered wagons who had soldiers with
them. The way it was started, the soldiers fired on the Indians, our tribe,
only a few of us. We went to our friends and told them we had been fired
on by the soldiers, and they surrounded the train and we had a fight with
them. I do not know how many we killed of the soldiers, but they killed
four of us. After that we had a good many battles, but I did not take any
scalps for a good while. I cannot tell how many I killed when a young man."
"When I was twenty years old, we went to the Crows and
stole a lot of horses. The Crows discovered us and followed us all night.
When daylight came we saw them behind us. I was the leader. We turned back
to fight the Crows. I killed one and took his scalp and a field glass and
"One night the Piegans came and killed one of our people.
We trailed them in the snow all night. At dawn we came up to them. One
Piegan stopped. We surrounded the one. He was a brave man. I started for
him. He raised his gun to shoot when I was twenty feet away. I dropped
to the ground and his bullet went over me; then I jumped on him and cut
him through below the ribs and scalped him. We tied the scalp to a long
pole. The women blackened their faces and we had a big dance over it."
"I was thirty-two years old when I was made Chief. A Chief
has to do many things before he is Chief, so many brave deeds, so many
scalps and so many horses."
Great Sioux War of 1876-1877
The Great Sioux War of 1876-1877 was a series of conflicts
involving the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne tribes. Following the influx
of gold miners to the Black Hills of South Dakota, war broke out when the
native followers of Chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse left their reservations,
apparently to go on the war path and defend the sacred Black Hills. Flying
Hawk fought in Red Cloud's War (1866-1868) and in nearly all of the battles
with United States troops during the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877. Flying
Hawk fought beside his cousin Crazy Horse and his brothers Kicking Bear
and Black Fox II in the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, and was
one of the Five Warrior Cousins who sacrificed blood and flesh for Crazy
Horse at the Last Sun Dance of 1877. Flying Hawk was present at the death
of Crazy Horse in 1877 and the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890.
Last Sun Dance of 1877
Five warrior cousins
Sun Dance of the Five Warrior Cousins
|The Last Sun Dance of 1877 is significant in Lakota history
as the Sun Dance held to honor Crazy Horse one year after the great victory
at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and to offer prayers for him in the
trying times ahead. Crazy Horse attended the Sun Dance as the honored guest
but did not take part in the dancing. Five warrior cousins sacrificed blood
and flesh for Crazy Horse at the Last Sun Dance of 1887. The five warrior
cousins were three brothers, Flying Hawk, Kicking Bear and Black Fox II
("Young Black Fox"), all sons of Chief Black Fox, also known as Great Kicking
Bear, and two other cousins, Eagle Thunder and Walking Eagle. The five
warrior cousins were braves and vigorous battle men of distinction.
Chief Flying Hawk, Oglala Lakota,
Gertrude Käsebier, 1898, Library of Congress
Nebraska, and reverently dedicated to War Chief Crazy Horse.
The rocks were also intended as a permanent memorial to the devotion of
the five tribes of the Lakota represented at the ceremony and the five
warrior cousins who sacrificed their blood and flesh on behalf of Crazy
Sun Dance, Rosebud, South Dakota, 1928,
Major Israel McCreight
|The Sun Dance is a Lakota religious ceremony. "Only a
very brave warrior became a candidate for the Sun Dance, for it meant giving
his own body in supreme sacrifice. He must endure the greatest physical
pain to ensure that his prayers would be answered. These prayers were to
prevent tribal famine or the death of a dear one, or that could bring fortitude
in facing immense odds in impending battle or help on behalf of a friend
deemed more valuable than himself. It was his way of offering all he had,
his own body. After being fastened to the Sun Dance pole by long leather
thongs that passed through the flesh of his chest, the participant danced
for three or four days without food, water or sleep."
Fast Thunder acted as ceremonial chief and spiritual pectoral
incision overseer of the Last Sundance of 1877. "A tall cottonwood Sun
Dance pole was set in the center of the dancing area. Bits of flesh, pinches
of tobacco and a pipe were placed in the hole before the pole was raised.
The pole symbolically became the stem of the pipe, providing the communication
with the Great Spirit. A large shade was then constructed around the Sun
Dance Pole, its roof made of animal skins. As each family group came in,
they brought a buffalo skin, some covered with wooly brown hair and others
tanned a dusty gray. Those who had no buffalo robes brought elk, bear,
deer or even sewn-together rabbit skins. Nearby were the medicine man’s
tipi where the main dancers prayed and meditated, the sweat bath lodge
for purification rights with a huge fireplace." According to Lakota custom,
a commemorative marker of five rocks was placed in a wide V-formation at
the ceremonial grounds at the foot of Beaver Mountain in northwestern
Most Wild Westers were Oglala Lakota "Oskate Wicasa"
from Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the first Lakota people
to go Wild Westing.
|In the late 1890s, Flying Hawk went Wild Westing with
Buffalo Bill Cody. Wild Westing was very popular with the Lakota people
and beneficial to their families and communities, and offered a path of
opportunity and hope during time when people believed Native Americans
were a vanishing race whose only hope for survival was rapid cultural transformation.
Between 1887 and World War I, over 1,000 Native Americans went "Wild Westing"
with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. Most Wild Westers were Oglala Lakota "Oskate
Wicasa" from Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the first Lakota people to go Wild
Westing. During a time when the Bureau of Indian Affairs was intent on
promoting Native assimilation, Col. Buffalo Bill Cody used his influence
with U.S. government officials to secure Native American performers for
his Wild West.
Chief Flying Hawk was used to royal receptions in Europe
and in America had been entertained by most of the dignitaries of the country."
After Chief Iron Tail’s death on May 28, 1916, Chief Flying
Hawk was chosen as successor by all of the braves of Buffalo
Bill’s Wild West and led the gala processions as the head Chief of the
Chief Flying Hawk and Gertrude Käsebier
|"In the spectacular street parades of the great Wild
West Shows of old days, Buffalo Bill mounted a beautiful white horse to
lead the procession. Alongside of him, mounted on a pinto pony, rode Flying
Hawk in full regal style, carrying his feathered guidon erect and fluttering
in the breeze, while his eagle-quill bonnet not only made a fitting crown
but dangled below the stirrups of his saddle. Scalp locks decorated his
buckskin war-shirt, and beaded moccasins adorned his feet, for this was
the becoming dress for, and carried out the dignity of his high office
of Chief on gala day affairs."
Only six months after Chief Iron Tail's death, Buffalo
Bill died on January 10, 1917. In a ceremony at Buffalo Bill's grave on
Lookout Mountain, west of Denver, Colorado, Chief Flying Hawk laid his
war staff of eagle feathers on the grave. Each of the veteran Wild Westers
placed a Buffalo nickel on the imposing stone as a symbol of the Indian,
the buffalo, and the scout, figures since the 1880s that were symbolic
of the early history of the American West.
Later, Flying Hawk traveled as a lead performer with Miller
Brothers 101 Ranch Show and the Sells Floto Circus. Chief Flying Hawk was
probably the longest standing Wild Wester, traveling for over 30 years
throughout the United States and Europe from about 1898 to about 1930.
Chief Flying Hawk and Buffalo Bill, Sachem's Head,
Guilford, Connecticut, 1915. After Chief Iron Tail’s
death on May 28, 1916, Chief Flying Hawk was chosen
as successor by all of the braves of Buffalo Bill’s
Wild West and led the gala processions
as the head Chief of the Indians.
Sioux while they were relaxed. Chief Flying Hawk was one
of Käsebier’s most challenging portrait subjects. Chief Flying Hawk’s
glare is the most startling of Käsebier’s portraits. Other Indians
Chief Flying Hawk’s glare is the most startling of Käsebier’s
portraits. Other Indians were able to relax, smile or do a "noble pose."
Gertrude Käsebier, 1898, U.S. Library of Congress
|Gertrude Käsebier was one of the most influential
American photographers of the early 20th century and best known for her
evocative images of Native Americans. Käsebier spent her childhood
on the Great Plains living near and playing with Sioux children. In 1898,
Käsebier watched Buffalo Bill’s Wild West troupe parade past her Fifth
Avenue studio in New York City, toward Madison Square Garden. Her memories
of affection and respect for the Lakota people inspired her to send a letter
to Buffalo Bill requesting permission to photograph Sioux traveling with
the show in her studio. Cody and Käsebier were similar in their abiding
respect for Native American culture and maintained friendships with the
Sioux. Cody quickly approved Käsebier's request and she began her
project on Sunday morning, April 14, 1898. Käsebier’s project was
purely artistic and her images were not made for commercial purposes and
never used in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West program booklets or promotional
Käsebier took classic photographs of the
Chief Flying Hawk was probably the longest standing Wild
Wester, traveling for over 30 years throughout the United States and Europe
from about 1898 to about 1930.
were able to relax, smile or do a "noble pose." Chief
Flying Hawk was a combatant in nearly all of the fights with United States
troops during the Great Sioux War of 1876. Chief Flying Hawk fought along
with his cousin Crazy Horse and his brothers Kicking Bear and Black Fox
II in the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, and was present at the
death of Crazy Horse in 1877 and the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. In
1898, Chief Flying Hawk was new to show business and unable to hide his
anger and frustration imitating battle scenes and from the Great Plains
Wars with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West to escape the constraints and poverty
of the Indian reservation. Soon, Chief Flying Hawk learned to appreciate
the benefits of a Show Indian with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. Chief Flying
Hawk regularly circulated show grounds in full regalia and sold his "cast
card" picture postcards for a penny to supplement promote the show and
supplement his income. After Chief Iron Tail’s death on May 28, 1916, Chief
Flying Hawk was chosen as successor by all of the braves of Buffalo Bill’s
Wild West and led the gala processions as the head Chief of the Indians.
Grand Reception for Chief Iron Tail and Chief Flying
Grand Reception for Chief Iron Tail and
Chief Flying Hawk, The Wigwam, Du Bois,
Pennsylvania, 1915. Hundreds of friends,
bankers, preachers, teachers, businessmen,
farmers, came from near and far along
with their ladies to pay their respects and
say, "Hau Cola!"
Major Israel McCreight, Chief Iron Tail and
Chief Flying Hawk, c. 1911
|Surprise visits, parties and gala celebrations were common
at The Wigwam. In 1915, McCreight hosted a grand reception for Chief Iron
Tail and Chief Flying Hawk at The Wigwam. Iron Tail (Oglala Lakota: Sinté
Mazá in Standard Lakota Orthography) (1842-May 29, 1916) was one
of the most famous Native American celebrities of the late 19th and early
20th centuries and a popular subject for professional photographers who
circulated his image across the continents. Iron Tail is notable in American
history for his distinctive profile on the Buffalo nickel or Indian Head
nickel of 1913 to 1938.
"When Chief Iron Tail was finished with greeting the long
line of judges, bankers, lawyers, business men and neighbors who filed
past in a receiving line just as the President is obliged to receive and
shake the hands of multitude of strangers who call on New Years, the chief
grasped hold of the fine buffalo robe which had been thrown over a porch
bench for him to rest on drawing it around his shoulders, walked out on
the lawn and lay down to gaze into the clouds and over the hundred mile
sweep of the hills and valleys forming the Eastern Continental Divide.
He had fulfilled his social obligations when he had submitted to an hour
of incessant hand-shaking, as he could talk in English, further crowd mixing
did not appeal to him. He preferred to relax and smoke his redstone pipe
and wait his call to the big dining room. There he re-appeared in the place
of honor and partook of the good things in the best of grace and gentlemanly
deportment. His courteous behavior, here and at all places and occasions
when in company of the writer, was worthy of emulation by the most exalted
white man or woman!" After Chief Iron Tail had shaken hands with the assembled
guests he gathered the big buffalo hide about his shoulders, waived aside
the crowd and walked away. He spread the woolly robe on the grass, sat
down upon it and lit his pipe, as if to say, "I’ve done my social duty,
now I wish to enjoy myself."
Chief Flying Hawk long remembered the gala festivities.
"Here he and his close friend Iron Tail had held a reception once long
ago, for hundreds of their friends, when bankers, preachers, teachers,
businessmen, farmers, came from near and far along with their ladies, to
pay their respects and say, Hau Cola!" "Flying Hawk recalled that when
dinner was served, Iron Tail asked to have his own and Flying Hawk’s meals
brought to them on the open porch where they ate from a table he now sat
beside, while the many white folks occupied the dining-room, where they
could discuss Indians without embarrassment. This, he remembered, was a
good time, and they talked about it for a long time together, but now,
his good friend had left him and was in the Sand Hills."
their home in the East. Oglala Lakota Chiefs American Horse,
Blue Horse, Jim Grass, Whirlwind Horse, Turkey Legs, Lone Bear, Iron Cloud,
Bear Dog, Yellow Boy, Rain-In-The-Face, Hollow Horn Bear, Kills-Close-To-Lodge,
Red Eagle, Good Face (Eta Waste), Benjamin Brave (Ohitika) and Thunder
Bull visited The Wigwam. Legendary Crow Chief Plenty Coups was also a welcome
The Wigwam was the Eastern home of Oglala Lakota
"Oskate Wicasa" Wild Westers, and a retreat for
Progressive Era politicians, businessmen,
journalists and adventurers. Du Bois,
Pennsylvania, c. 1906
|The Wigwam, Major Israel McCreight’s ("Cante Tanke")
home in Du Bois, Pennsylvania, was Chief Flying Hawk’s second home for
nearly thirty years. The Wigwam was part of 1,300 acre estate with heavily
forested lands and was once the Eastern home of Oglala Lakota "Oskate Wicasa"
Wild Westers, and a retreat for Progressive Era politicians, businessmen,
journalists and adventurers. Du Bois, a northcentral railroad hub on the
Eastern Continental divide, had two active passenger rail stations, and
was always a welcome rest stop for weary travelers. For "Old Scouts" Buffalo
Bill Cody, Robert Edmund Strahorn and Captain Jack Crawford, from the Great
Sioux War, the Wigwam was a place to relax, smoke and talk about the Old
Wild Westers needed a place to relax, and The Wigwam was
a warm and welcome home where Indians could be Indians, sleep in buffalo
skins and tipis, walk in the woods, have a hearty breakfast, smoke their
pipes and tell of their stories and deeds. On one occasion 150 Indians
with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West camped in the forests of The Wigwam. Oglala
Lakota Chiefs Iron Tail and Flying Hawk considered The Wigwam
|At The Wigwam, Chief Flying Hawk could have rest and
relaxation. Show touring schedules were grueling, each spring through fall,
with performances twice daily. Traveling, pony riding, war dances and inclement
weather weighed on Chief Flying Hawk’s health. Here he could rise with
the morning sun for a walk in the forest, enjoy a breakfast of bacon and
eggs, with fruit and coffee, smoke his redstone pipe and have a glass of
sherry before retiring. Chief Flying Hawk preferred to sleep on the enclosed
sun porch at The Wigwam with his robes and blankets and could not be induced
to sleep on a white man’s mattress and springs. He refused to be sent to
a bedroom, and asked to have the buffalo robes and blankets. With them
he made his couch on the open veranda floor, where he retired in the moonlight.
McCreight was impressed with Chief Flying Hawk’s grace and dignity: "The
Chief was engaged in taking down his long hair-plaits in which were woven
strips of otter fur. From his kit sack he took his comb and bottle of bear’s
oil and carefully combed and oiled his hair, made up new plaits, then applied
a little paint to his cheeks, looked into a small hand-mirror, and was
ready to answer questions. His hair, now still reaching to his waist, was
streaked with grey. In reply to how Indians were able to retain their hair
in such perfect condition, he said they did always retain it, sometimes
they got scalped, but they prided themselves in caring for their bodies.
He said that long ago Indians often had hair that reached the ground."
From left to right: Lone Bear, American Horse, Iron Tail,
Iron Cloud, Whirlwind. All Sioux Chiefs, taken by
M.I. McCreight in Du Bois, June 1908.
Flying Hawk's grandchildren, Du Bois, PA,
June 22, 1908.
Left to right: David, Robert, Lucille and Eva Flying
|Even in the relaxed atmosphere of The Wigwam, there was
a formality to the visits. Of importance, Flying Hawk was an Oglala Lakota
Chief and it was his duty to display his beautiful eagle feather "Chief’s
Wand" during visits. "At sun-up the Chief was missing. Breakfast was delayed.
Presently he was seen coming from the forest which nearly surrounds The
Wigwam. In his hand he carried a green switch six feet in length. From
his traveling bag he took a bundle which he carefully unfolded and laid
out, a beautiful eagle feather streamer which he attached to the pole at
either end. After testing it in the breeze he handed it to his friend with
gentle admonishment to keep it in a place where it could always been seen.
It was the Chief’s "wand," and he said it must always be kept where it
could be seen, else people would not know who was Chief. Having disposed
of this, to him, important duty, the Chief was ready for breakfast.
Chief Flying Hawk's Commentaries
After Chief Flying Hawk died in December 1931, McCreight
dedicated his life to telling the Old Chief's life. In 1936, at the age
of 72, and after eight years of effort, McCreight published Chief Flying
Hawk’s Tales: The True Story of Custer’s Last Fight. McCreight followed
with 'The Wigwam: Puffs from the Peace Pipe in 1943. In 1947, at the age
of 82, McCreight published Firewater and Forked Tongues: A Sioux Chief
Interprets U.S. History.
Osceola, Seminole; Red Bird, Winnebago; Pontiac, Ottawa;
Tecumseh, Shawnee; Black Hawk, Sauk; Red Cloud, Lakota; and Sitting Bull,
Lakota. Chief Flying Hawk was interested in current affairs and an advocate
for Native American rights, and requested that his commentaries include
a discussion of the status of United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians
and the cheating of the Osages in Oklahoma.
Chief Flying Hawk would sign or mark the
pages in ink with his thumbprint, hand
them to McCreight, nod his head and
declare the paper-talk "Washta" (good)."
|Writing the commentaries
Chief Flying Hawk took the responsibilities of being a
chief seriously and always thought about the best way to do things for
his people. He appreciated that youth education was essential to preserve
Lakota culture and frequently visited public schools for presentations.
Flying Hawk wanted to talk about making over the white man’s history so
that the young people would know the truth. The white man’s books about
Indians did not tell the truth. Major Israel McCreight lived with the Oglala
Lakota during the period of their greatest suffering and wanted to tell
the story of Native Americans who fought bravely to defend the invasion
of their homelands and the lives of their families.
For nearly 30 years, Flying Hawk made periodic visits
to The Wigwam, the home of his friend Major Israel McCreight in Du Bois,
Pennsylvania. Together, they collaborated to write a Native American’s
view of U.S. history. Chief Flying Hawk's commentaries include classic
accounts of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Crazy Horse, the Wounded
Knee Massacre, opinions on the European colonization of America, and the
statesmen and warriors Red Jacket, Seneca; Little Turtle, Miami; Logan,
Oneida; Cornplanter, Seneca;
McCreight dedicated his life to telling the story of
Chief Flying Hawk. Firewater and Forked Tongues: A Sioux Chief Interprets
U.S. History was released in 1947 when McCreight was 82 years old.
On Chief Flying Hawk’s many visits to The Wigwam, these
two friends, with the aid of an interpreter, would invariably light up
their pipes and begin long discourses on Native American history and current
affairs. On each occasion, McCreight would carefully transcribe notes in
hope of some day assembling the commentaries for publication. McCreight
maintained an extensive library on U.S. history, Indian treaties and reports
from government agencies such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The library
was consulted during the work sessions, and Chief Flying Hawk would often
ask that reference materials from the library be translated for him. Through
the years, Chief Flying Hawk and McCreight agreed on a formal protocol
for recording the commentaries and great care was in assembling the material.
First, Chief Flying Hawk would converse with McCreight through one of his
two traveling Oglala interpreters, Chief Thunder Bull or Jimmy Pulliam,
using a combination of his Lakota language and Indian sign. McCreight was
impressed with Chief Flying Hawk’s passionate oration in his native Lakota
emphasized by expert sign language to prove his points. "It was thrilling;
it was earnest, eloquent and convincing; compelling comparison to the best
in the white man’s records." Next, the information from the discourse was
carefully transcribed by McCreight onto paper and read back to the Chief
by one of the interpreters for his corrections and approval. Finally, Flying
Hawk would sign or mark the pages in ink with his thumbprint, hand them
to McCreight, nod his head and declare the paper-talk "Washta" (good)."
Chief Flying Hawk and Chief Thunder Bull, his interpreter,
at The Wigwam, Du Bois, 1929. McCreight was impressed
with Flying Hawk’s passionate oration in his native
Lakota emphasized by expert sign language to prove
his points. "It was thrilling; it was earnest, eloquent
and convincing; compelling comparison to the best in
the white man’s records."
|September 14, 1928 was a memorable occasion and one of
Chief Flying Hawk’s last visits to The Wigwam. The Chief was 76 years of
age and extremely ill. He believed that he was nearing the end of his life
and wished to review the old notes recorded through the years of visits
and add new materials in hope that they would be published. "The Chief
said he would soon go to the long sleep and wanted to tell the Indian’s
side of things that white people had not told the truth about. The young
people had learned to read and should know the truth about history." The
Wigwam was good medicine. The Chief slowly regained his strength, and he
was able to finish his final work sessions with the notes and manuscripts
before returning to the Black Hills. That month, McCreight completed his
first draft of Chief Flying Hawk’s Tales and started searching for publishers.
Although McCreight was persistent, the book market at this time was saturated
with Wild West stories and the publishing houses showed no interest. Sadly,
Flying Hawk and would not live to see his book and died on December 24,
1931, at his home in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Thereafter, McCreight dedicated
his life to telling the Old Chief’s story. At the age of 72, and after
eight years of effort, McCreight finally published Chief Flying Hawk’s
Tales: The True Story of Custer’s Last Fight in 1936.
President Theodore Roosevelt's challenge
reservations on arid lands not suited to agriculture. With
the buffalo slaughtered and traditional hunting lands gone, Native Americans
became totally dependent on food distribution by the government and churches.
In the 19th and 20th century, various policies of the United States federal
and state governments attacked Indian cultural identity and attempted to
force assimilation. Policies included banning traditional religious ceremonies,
mandatory boarding schools for children and restricted freedom of travel
|McCreight’s second publication of Chief Flying Hawk’s
commentaries, Firewater and Forked Tongues: A Sioux Chief Interprets U.S.
History was released in 1947 when McCreight was 82 years old. This book
contains additional commentary not appearing in Chief Flying Hawk’s Tales.
The dedication to Firewater and Forked Tongues quotes President Theodore
Roosevelt: "It is greatly to be wished that some competent person would
write a full and true history of our national dealings with the Indians.
Undoubtedly the latter have suffered a terrible injustice at our hands."
Chief Flying Hawk’s Tales and Firewater and Forked Tongues is a response
to President Roosevelt’s challenge. Both men had personal contacts with
President Roosevelt. Chief Flying Hawk met every President since President
James A. Garfield and liked Theodore Roosevelt the best; McCreight was
the father of President Roosevelt’s conservation policy on public and youth
Preface to commentaries
Chief’s Flying Hawk's commentaries reflect a Native American’s
views of U.S. history and speak of warriors and statesmen who fought bravely
to protect their families, defend the invasion of their lands and safeguard
their culture from total destruction. Europeans came to America to escape
injustices, and were met by the original proprietors with a handshake and
furnished food and shelter. For nearly three centuries, white settlers
responded to these benefactors with a relentless campaign of extermination
of Native Americans. Treaty upon treaty was broken as American settlement
expanded westward to the Pacific. Armed resistance and retaliation by Native
American leaders was bloody and fierce, but in the end futile. Eventually,
Indian removal became a national policy and the Eastern tribes were forcibly
relocated west of the Mississippi River. The Western tribes also fought
their wars with the Government. The Sioux Wars were the last efforts of
Native Americans to resist the white invasion, ending in the Wounded Knee
Massacre in 1890. Food was the ultimate weapon in the final conquest, and
the power of the Chiefs and the tribes was broken. Tribal lands were annexed
and the Indians were confined to
"It is greatly to be wished that some
competent person would write a full and
true history of our national dealings with the
Indians. Undoubtedly the latter have suffered
a terrible injustice at our hands."
Chief Flying Hawk as an historian and statesman
Chief Flying Hawk wanted to talk about making
over the white man’s history so that the young
people would know the truth. The white man’s
books about Indians did not tell the truth.
Flying Hawk wanted school history programs
to tell the stories of Native American warriors
and statesmen who fought to protect their families,
defend the invasion of their lands and
preserve their culture.
|Chief Flying Hawk was perhaps the last great Oglala Lakota
chief from the Sioux Wars. "No other Indian of his day was better qualified
to furnish reliable data covering the great Sioux war, beginning with the
ruthless exploitation by rum-runners, prospectors and adventurers, of their
homes and hunting grounds forever by sacred treaty with the Government,
and ending in the deplorable massacre of Wounded Knee. This old Chief lived
through the serious times that befell our people following the gold discovery
in the Black Hills." "He was a youth when the white invasion of Sioux country
took place at the close of the Civil War. He was a nephew of Sitting Bull,
his mother and Sitting’s Bull’s wife being sisters. His full brother, Kicking
Bear, was a leader of the Ghost Dances. He had taken part as a lad in tribal
wars with the Crows and the Piegans and he had fought alongside the Great
Chief Crazy Horse when Custer was defeated on the Little Big Horn in 1876."
He was a first cousin of Crazy Horse, with whom he participated in nine
battles and won them all. Chief Flying Hawk was well qualified as a statesman.
Chief Flying Hawk traveled as a lead performer with Buffalo Bill’s Wild
West, Miller Brothers 101 Ranch and Sells-Floto Circus for over 30 years
throughout the United States and Europe. Chief Flying Hawk was used to
extravagant receptions. In Europe he had rounds of them from royalty, and
in America had been entertained by most of the dignitaries in the country.
Flying Hawk met ten Presidents of the United States and liked Theodore
Roosevelt the best for he was a "neighbor in his country." Harrison, he
said, did not treat them right in the uprising of 1890 when they were starving."
Native American history
Chief Flying Hawk commented on a variety of topics including
Pre-Columbian civilization; the Spanish conquests of Christopher Columbus,
Hernán Cortés and Francisco Vásquez de Coronado; the
English colonization of America by Sir Walter Raleigh’s English Expedition
of 1584; the Dutch colonization with New Amsterdam and Kieft's War; and
massacres of Indians at Sand Creek, Battle of Washita River, The Baker
Massacre and Wounded Knee.
Flying Hawk wanted school history programs to tell the stories
of Native American warriors and statesmen who fought to protect their families,
defend the invasion of their lands and preserve their culture. He selected
Native American warriors and statesmen from different tribes: Red Jacket,
Seneca; Little Turtle, Miami; Logan, Oneida; Cornplanter, Seneca; Osceola,
Seminole; Red Bird, Winnebago; Pontiac, Ottawa; Tecumseh, Shawnee; Black
Hawk, Sauk; Red Cloud, Lakota; and Sitting Bull, Lakota. Flying Hawk was
impressed with the oratory of Red Jacket, Logan, Black Hawk, Tecumseh,
Sitting Bull and Red Cloud, and requested that their speeches be included
in his commentaries.
|During his stays at The Wigwam, Flying Hawk became interested
in early Pennsylvania history. He cited William Penn as a man who wished
to see fair play, good faith and honesty extended to the Indians. Flying
Hawk said if Penn had been obeyed by his officials and followers, there
would have been no Indian wars in the Pennsylvania. But when they began
to steal Indian land like was done in the Walking Purchase, and cheating
them in every trade by getting them drunk, then the Indians retaliated.
For half a century the Indians killed white settlers, burned their homes
and crops and took their women and children prisoners. The Indians liked
the French best because they did not take their land, but only wanted furs.
But the English cut down their forests, killed their game and treated them
as they did wild animals, wanting only to drive them back so that they
could possess their country.
McCreight told Flying Hawk how Indians had killed his
great grandfather in 1794. How an Indian had hidden behind a log on the
river bank and shot him through the groin while steering a houseboat on
the Kiskiminetas River but a few miles from The Wigwam. He asked the Chief
how he would explain such a wholly uncalled-for criminal act. Slow to reply,
the Chief wanted to ask if this man was a soldier. Told that he had been
a captain in the Revolution, the old man said that either the Indian knew
the white man, or was drunk when he did the shooting. Investigation of
the affair showed that the Indian had been in Pittsburgh and had been drinking
that day. But, as the captain shot the Indian, both assailant and victim
were dead and nothing was done or could be done about it.
Native American warriors and statesmen
Chief Flying Hawk appreciated that youth education was
essential to preserve Lakota culture. During his travels, he frequently
visited public schools for presentations, and wanted to talk about making
over the white man’s history so that the young people would know the truth.
"If William Penn had been obeyed by his
officials and followers, there would have
been no Indian wars in the
Pennsylvania." Chief Flying Hawk
Chief Flying Hawk requested that Red Jacket’s Speech
on "Religion for the White Man and the Red"
be included in his commentaries. Two
Seneca Chiefs; Red Jacket, left; Cornplanter, right.
|Chief Flying Hawk once visited some of the survivors
of the Seneca tribe in New York State and had great admiration for their
great Chiefs Cornplanter and Red Jacket. He wished to put something in
his commentaries to show his regard for them. When McCreight informed Flying
Hawk that Cornplanter’s father was white and was raised by his Seneca mother,
"The Chief said with a smile, That is why he amounted to something."
Flying Hawk requested that Red Jacket’s Speech on "Religion for the White
Man and the Red" be included in his commentaries.
Sitting Bull was Flying Hawk’s uncle, Flying Hawk’s mother
and Sitting Bull’s wife being sisters. He knew him well and wished to talk
about him. Flying Hawk observed that Sitting Bull was the key strategist
before and again after the fight was over. The fighting was led by Crazy
Horse, his young War Chief, and Sitting Bull was not in the Custer fight.
"He was a strong speaker just like any white senator. He was a good politician.
White politicians are only ‘medicine men’ for their people are most time
|Flying Hawk was angry about the killing of Sitting Bull.
"The Great Chief would have willingly done anything that
James McLaughlin, the agent, or Colonel Cody asked him to do. There was
no need to arrest him, he was not doing wrong. He was celebrating the coming
of the new Christ who was to restore the buffalo so that his people could
once more have peace and plenty, instead of then persecution, hunger, disease
and death that confronted them."
"Sitting Bull was all right but they got afraid of him
and killed him. They were afraid of my cousin Crazy Horse, so they killed
him. These were the acts of cowards. It was murder. We were starving. We
only wanted food."
"Did you ever know of Indians hanging women as witches?
Did you ever hear of Indians burning their neighbors alive because they
would not worship a God they did not believe in when priest and parson
could not agree? But you know the whites murdered Sitting Bull because
he was holding religious ceremonies with the ghost dancers, the same religion
that the white man’s priest had taught them to follow!"
"Sitting Bull was all right but they got afraid of
him and killed him. They were afraid of my
cousin Crazy Horse, so they killed him. These
were the acts of cowards. It was murder. We
were starving. We only wanted food."
Chief Flying Hawk
Chief Flying Hawk regarded Red Cloud as
"The Red Man’s George Washington."
|Chief Flying Hawk regarded Red Cloud as "The Red Man’s
George Washington." Flying Hawk fought beside Crazy Horse in Red Cloud's
War. Chief Red Cloud defeated the U.S. Army in battle, and The Treaty of
Fort Laramie (1868) was a great victory. The U.S. Army Powder River Country
forts were abandoned and the hunting grounds of the Lakota, Cheyenne and
Arapaho had been protected. Flying Hawk believed that Red Cloud was one
of the wisest Native American leaders.
Red Cloud knew what was best for his people and had tried
to keep peace with the whites, but it was no use. The whites would not
stay out of the Indian’s country, and came and took their gold and killed
off all their game. Thus started the trouble and the long bloody war when
the soldiers came. After the massacre at Wounded Knee, Red Cloud made a
speech. Flying Hawk asked to have the speech read to him, and McCreight
brought a volume from the library containing the speech, and it was carefully
translated to him by Thunder Bull to refresh his memory. The Chief directed
that it be included in his commentaries to tell why they killed Custer
and his troopers, and about the Ghost Dance.
Recollections of Crazy Horse
"When still under twenty, in a winter hunt alone, he brought
in ten buffalo tongues for a council feast then being held by old men of
the tribe. These were all taken with bow and arrows."
|"Crazy Horse was a great leader. White men who contended
with him and knew him well, spoke of him in the highest terms. His word
was not called into question by either white men or red. He was honored
by his own people and respected by his enemies. Though they hunted and
persecuted him, they murdered him because they could not conquer him."
"He was born in Southern Dakota Territory in 1844, and
his parents gave him the best training as a youth. He grew to manhood,
when it was said of him that he was ‘uncommonly handsome, of imposing stature
and an Apollo in symmetry, a splendid example of refinement and grace,
modest and courteous always, and born leader of men."
"In his boyhood days there were few white men to be seen,
but when met, they extended a hand of friendship. His name derived from
a personality like a high-spirited and uncontrolled horse, hence crazy
or wild horse. He was an expert horseman. When sixteen years old, he was
taken along with a war-party headed by Hump, a famed Sioux Chief, on a
campaign against the Gros Ventres. In the fight which came, the Chief’s
horse was shot. The enemy rushed in to scalp him while struggling for release
from the fallen animal, when Crazy Horse drove his pony alongside and rescued
Hump, both escaping on the boy’s horse."
The Fetterman Fight, December 21, 1866.
"When the government built Fort Phil Kearny
in the heart of the buffalo range, Crazy Horse took
the lead to drive out the invaders. His attack on the
Fetterman party at the timber-cutting showed
that he was a master of strategy."
Crazy Horse spoke this story to Flying Hawk: ‘I was sitting
on a hill or rise, and something touched me on the head. I felt for it
and found it was a bit of grass. I took it to look at. There was a trail
nearby and I followed it. It led to water. I went into the water. There
the trail ended and I sat down in the water. I was nearly out of breath.
I started to rise out of the water, and when I came out I was born by my
mother. When I was born I could know and see and understand for a time,
but afterwards went back to it as a baby. Then I grew up naturally. At
the age of seven I began to learn, and when twelve began to fight enemies.
That was the reason I always refused to wear any war-dress. Only a bit
of grass in the hair. That was why I always was successful in battles.
The first fight was with the Shoshones. The Shoshones were chasing the
Sioux. I, with my younger brother riding double. Two of the Shoshones came
for us. We started to meet them. I killed one of them and took his horse.
We jumped on him, my brother and I double, and escaped."
"The young brother of Crazy Horse (Little Hawk) was on
a trip where now is Utah, and there he was killed by some white settlers.
They were having some trouble with the Indians there. When Crazy Horse
learned that his brother was killed he took his wife with him and went
away but told no one where he was going. He was gone for a long time. He
went to the place where his brother was killed and camped in the woods
where he could see the settlement. He stayed there nine days. Every day
he would look around and when he saw someone he would shoot him. He killed
enough to satisfy and then he came home."
"Crazy Horse was never with other Indians unless it was
in a fight. He was always the first in a fight, and the soldiers could
not beat him in a fight. He won every fight with the whites."
"Crazy Horse was married but had no children. He was much
alone. He never told stories and never took a scalp from his enemies when
he killed them. He was the bravest Chief we ever had. He was the leader
and the first at the front of the Custer fight. He never talked but always
acted first. He was my friend and we went in the Custer fight together."
"It is well known that he would never take a scalp from
his fallen enemy. He struck the body with a switch - coupstick- to show
that he neither cared for their weapons, nor cared to waste his. He never
dressed in gaudy regalia, feathers and paint a beads; never took part in
public demonstrations or dances. He was not an orator and was never known
to make a speech. He never sat for a photograph. Yet as a War Chief, he
won every battler that he undertook. Once he was attacked in camp when
he had his woman and children with them, yet he was able to extricate them
with great credit and little loss."
"I have been in nine battles with Crazy Horse; won them
all. Crazy Horse was quiet and not inclined to associate with others; he
was in the front of every battle; he was the greatest leader of our tribe."
"He was a master of strategy."
"As the youth came to manhood there were rumblings of
trouble with the whites, and soon the great Sioux was came on. Spotted
Tail, then Chief of the Tetons, and Red Cloud, with other leaders, decided
there must be a stand made or they would be annihilated in the grand rush
of white hordes who were building roads and railroads into their hunting
grounds. At a Grand Council in 1866 it was decided to fight, and when the
government built Fort Phil Kearny in the heart of the buffalo range, Crazy
Horse took the lead to drive out the invaders. His attack on the Fetterman
party at the timber-cutting showed that he was a master of strategy."
"Thereafter the war became general and Crazy Horse was
recognized as a formidable antagonist by the Government’s armies, and the
allied tribes acknowledged him as a leader in carrying out the Council’s
program of campaigns to fight the troops. For years his band was followed
in winter and in summer. The soldiers tracked them as they would trail
wild animals to the lair, surrounded and struck them while asleep in their
tepees. Every effort was exerted to capture or exterminate Crazy Horse
and his people, but without success."
The Battle of the Little Big Horn
The Chief saw a flag on a pole on a hill. The soldiers made
a long line and fired into out tepees among our women and children. That
was the first we knew of any trouble. The women got their children by the
hand and caught up their babies and ran in every direction."
"It was hard to hear the women singing the death
song for the men killed and for the wailing because
their children were shot while they played in the camp.
It was a big fight. The soldiers got just what they
deserved this time. No good soldiers would shoot
into an Indian’s tepee where there were women
and children. These soldiers did, and we fought
for our women and children. White men would do
the same if they were men." Chief Flying Hawk
|"Baffled on every turn, the Government organized a formidable
army of four grand divisions. Crook to advance from the south at Fort Laramie
into the Powder River country, Gibbon to come from the west and Custer’s
cavalry to join Terry’s division on the Yellowstone, and all to close in
on the allied tribes who were believed to be in the game country on the
headwaters of the Rosebud and Big Horn Rivers. Crook had reached the head
of Rosebud with his army mid-July when contact was made with the Indians.
Here Crazy Horse turned on him and gave him such a fight that he turned
back and his army never made the junction with Terry, Gibbon and Custer
as he set out to do."
"From here Crazy Horse took his band over the divide to
Little Big Horn to get with Sitting Bull’s camp and where they hoped to
be let alone. But this was not to be for in the meantime Terry had received
Custer’s troops and sent his cavalry division up the Rosebud Valley expecting
to find the Indians somewhere near its head. They crossed to the Little
Big Horn and discovered their camps along its west side. The other divisions
were not there to help and Custer decided to go it alone. Reno was ordered
to open attack on the camp upstream, while Custer himself followed down
the east side to attack them where villages were more concentrated. He
was not aware that Crazy Horse had stopped his expected aid from Crook
a week before and that he was now here and ready to lead his warriors to
his own army’s extermination."
"The Indians were camped along the west side of the Big
Horn in a flat valley. We saw a dust but did not know what caused it. Some
Indians said it was the soldiers coming.
"The Indian men got their horses and guns as quick as
they could and went after the soldiers. Kicking Bear and Crazy Horse were
in the lead. There was the thick timber and when they got out of the timber
there was where the first of the fight was."
"We got right among the soldiers and killed a lot with
our bows and arrows and tomahawks. Crazy Horse was ahead of all, and he
killed a lot of them with his war-club. He pulled them off their horses
when they tried to get across the river where the bank was steep. Kicking
Bear was right beside him and killed many too in the water."
"This fight was in the upper part of the valley where
most of the Indians were camped. It was some of the Reno soldiers that
came after us there. It was in the day just before dinner when the soldiers
attacked us. When we went after them they tried to run into the timber
and get over the water where they had left their wagons. The bank was about
this high [twelve feet indicated] and steep, and they got off their horses
and tried to climb out of the water on their hands and knees, but we killed
nearly all of them when they were running through the woods and in the
water. The ones that got across the river and up the hill dug holes and
stayed in them."
"Crazy Horse and Flying Hawk were at the upper village
when Reno’s troop formed a line after dismounting, and opened fire on the
tepees where only women and children were. It was the first intimation
that these two Indians had that soldiers were in the vicinity."
"The Indians could have wiped out Reno’s and all the rest
of the soldiers, just as they did Custer’s troops if they had been so disposed.
But as Reno had dug in and was willing to quit, the red folks decided to
leave them there. They went to look after their women, children and old
people who had not been killed in the first assault when no one was with
them to defend them and packed up their belongings and left the bloody
"The soldiers on the hill with the pack-horses began to
fire on us. About this time all the Indians had got their horses and guns
and bows and arrows and war-clubs and they charged the soldiers in the
east and north on top of the hill. Custer was farther north than these
soldiers were then. He was going to attack the lower end of the village.
We drove nearly all that got away from us down the hill along the ridge
where another lot of soldiers were trying to make a stand."
"Crazy Horse and I left the crowd and rode down along
the river. We came to a ravine, then we followed up the gulch to a place
in the rear of the soldiers that were making the stand on the hill. Crazy
Horse gave his horse to me to hold along with my horse. He crawled up the
ravine to see where he could see the soldiers. He shot them as fast as
he could load his gun. They fell off their horses as fast as he could shoot."
[Here the Chief swayed rapidly back and forth to show how fast they fell.]
When they found they were being killed so fast, the ones that were left
broke and ran as fast as their horses could go to some other soldiers that
were further along the ridge toward Custer. Here they tried to make another
stand and fired some shots, but we rushed them along the ridge where Custer
was. Then they made another stand (the third) and rallied a few minutes.
Then they went along the ridge and got with Custer’s men."
"Other Indians came to us after we got most of the men
at the ravine. We all kept after them until they got to where Custer was.
There was only a few of them left then. By that time all the Indians in
the village got their horses and guns and watched Custer. When Custer got
nearly to the lower end of the camp. he started to go down a gulch, but
the Indians were surrounding him, and he tried to fight. They got off their
horses and made a stand but it was no use. Their horses ran down the ravine
right into the village. The squaws caught them as fast as they came. One
of them was a sorrel with white stocking. Long time after some of our relatives
told us that they had seen Custer on that kind of horse when he was on
the way to the Big Horn."
"When we got them surrounded the fight was over in one
hour. There was so much dust we could not see much, but the Indians rode
around and yelled the war-whoop and shot into the soldiers as fast as they
could until they were all dead. One soldier was running away to the east
but Crazy Horse saw him and jumped on his pony and went after him. He got
him about half a mile from the place where the other soldiers were lying
dead. The smoke was lifted so we could see a little. We got off our horses
and went and took the rings and money and watches from the soldiers. We
took some clothes off too, and all the guns and pistols. We got seven hundred
guns and pistols. Then we went back to the women and children and got them
together that were not killed or hurt."
"We did not mutilate the bodies, but just took the valuable
things we wanted and left. We got as lot of money but it was of no use."
"The story that white men told about Custer’s heart being
cut out is not true."
"There was more than one Chief in the fight. But Crazy
Horse was leader and did most to win the fight along with Kicking Bear."
"The names of the Chiefs in the fight were Crazy Horse,
Lame Deer, Spotted Eagle and Two Moon. Two Moon led the Cheyennes. Gall
and some other Chiefs were there but the ones I told you about were the
"Sitting Bull was not in the Custer fight, but was one
of the main advisors in the strategy before and again after the fight was
"It was hard to hear the women singing the death song
for the men killed and for the wailing because their children were shot
while they played in the camp. It was a big fight. The soldiers got just
what they deserved this time. No good soldiers would shoot into an Indian’s
tepee where there were women and children. These soldiers did, and we fought
for our women and children. White men would do the same if they were men."
"We got our things packed up and took care of the wounded
the best we could, and left the next day. We could have killed all the
men that got into holes on the hill, but they were glad to let us alone,
and so we let them alone too. Rain-in-the-Face was with me in the fight.
There were twelve hundred of us. Might be no more than one thousand in
the fight. Many of our Indians were out on a hunt."
After the Custer Fight
forces and might lead them again to liberty from their unsatisfactory
position if the surrendered horde at any time so decided. So a conspiracy
was formed to assassinate the War Chief. It was discovered by friends of
Crazy Horse who told him. He replied by saying ‘only cowards and murderers’
and went about his daily routine."
"I was present at the death of Crazy Horse; he was
my cousin; his father and his two wives and an
uncle of Crazy Horse took the body away, and
no one knows today where he is buried. Several
years later, they went to see how the body was,
and when the ground was removed, they found
the bones, and they were petrified; they would
never tell where they buried him."
Chief Flying Hawk
|"Sitting Bull with his people went to Canada to escape
the storm of shot and shell which was sure to be rained on them after the
story of Custer’s defeat became known in the east. But Crazy Horse stayed
on, defiant of his enemies who now more than ever recognized his capabilities
for taking care of himself and his persecuted people. Reduced from the
scattering of the separate tribes, his people suffered greatly for lack
of food in the severe winter which followed and the persistent trailing
by guerrilla warfare troops which were furnished with transport, telegraph
and the best equipment. He had women and children with him and had to provide
food, warm clothing and shelter for them at all times. It was like a pack
of hungry wolves on the track of a strayed mother sheep and her lambs!"
"Crazy Horse decided to accede to the plea of the reservation
authorities that he come in and accept their promise of supplies and fair
treatment. Therefore, in July of 1877 he with several thousands of his
own and other Chiefs’ followers, surrendered and came into the reservation
with the distinct condition that the Government would hear band grant his
"Instead, General Crook immediately recognized Spotted
Tail as the head Chief, knowing he had turned against his own people and
favored anything the army stood for, and might be depended on to control
the late prisoners with military severity. This was received with bitterness
by practically all the reservation Indians. Failure to provide food and
supplies as promised soon stirred up contention between Spotted Tail adherents
and the great number of surrendered people. They of the agency power blamed
Crazy Horse. He had been their leader and unconquered enemy of the army
"At the time this tale was brought to him, his wife was
critically ill and he took her to her parents at Spotted Tail Agency some
miles north. During his absence on this mission of love and kindness, his
enemies spread the report that he had left to organize another war. Scouts
were sent to arrest him. He was overtaken while in the wagon with his sick
wife and one other person. He was not arrested but permitted to deliver
his patient into the care of her parents."
"Crazy Horse returned voluntarily, not suspecting any
immediate treachery. When he reached the agency, a guard directed him to
enter the guard-house. His cousin Touch-the-Cloud, called to him "They
are going to put you in the guard-house!" He stopped suddenly to say, "Another
white man’s trick, let me go." But he was held by guards and police, and
when he tried to free himself from their grasp, a soldier stepped from
behind and ran a bayonet through his kidney. He died during the night while
his father sand the death song over his prostrate body. His father and
mother and neighbors carried the body to a secret cave, saying it must
not be polluted by the touch of any white man."
"I was present at the death of Crazy Horse; he was my
cousin; his father and his two wives and an uncle of Crazy Horse took the
body away, and no one knows today where he is buried. Several years later,
they went to see how the body was, and when the ground was removed, they
found the bones, and they were petrified; they would never tell where they
"Crazy Horse was a great leader. White men who contended
with him and knew him well, spoke of him in the highest terms. His word
was not called into question by either white men or red. He was honored
by his own people and respected by his enemies. Though they hunted and
persecuted him, they murdered him because they could not conquer him."
United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians
The Osages in Oklahoma
|Chief Flying Hawk was interested in current affairs and
was an advocate for Native American rights. The Sioux never accepted the
legitimacy of the annexation of the Black Hills "Paha Sapa". In 1920, lobbyists
for the Sioux persuaded Congress to authorize a lawsuit against United
States in the U.S. Claims Court to seek redress for grievances. In 1923,
Chief Flying Hawk, with the support of McCreight, called upon the Council
to file the case of United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians. In a later
visit to The Wigwam, McCreight asked Flying Hawk about the status of the
case. Flying Hawk appealed to his interpreter to make it clear that the
treaty with Napoleon was broken at the time that his country was purchased,
and that the whites had, from the beginning of relations with their tribe,
ignored and wholly repudiated their first and principle obligation toward
McCreight, who studied the treaties between the Sioux
Nation and the United States, served as an expert on Native American affairs
and traveled to Washington, D.C. to assist lawyers for the Sioux Nation.
Chief Flying Hawk was familiar with the legal claims and pleadings and
requested that his commentaries include the swindlings that were perpetrated
upon the Sioux tribe in so-called land purchases. Litigation between the
Sioux and the government would continue well into the 20th century.
1929, by Ray Lyman Wilbur, Secretary of the Department of
the Interior. McCreight was considered a national figure in Indian lore
and among the two or three men in the United States having the best knowledge
of the American Indian and their affairs. McCreight received many endorsements
including the National Council of American Indians of the Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation in South Dakota and the Oglala Lakota representing "eight thousand
and 300 Indians." McCreight was not to receive the appointment and President
Herbert Hoover chose Philadelphia financier Charles James Rhoads. McCreight
noted: "My education being red school house and hard knocks, did not measure
up to Hoover’s class. Rhoads is a fine fellow, Quaker, College-bred and
rich. However, I value the endorsement of the Indians more than I would
have the endorsement of Mr. Hoover, so there you have it."
Chief Flying Hawk requested that the
U.S. Indian Commission’s Report of 1926
citing the cheating of the Osages in Oklahoma
be officially included in his commentaries.
Chief of the Little Osages, c. 1807
|Chief Flying Hawk also requested that a portion of the
U.S. Indian Commission’s Annual Report for 1926 citing the cheating of
the Osages in Oklahoma be officially included in his commentaries.
"The Chief lit his pipe and relaxed while Jimmy Pulliam
(the interpreter) related the old man’s attempt to enlighten him. He was
telling Jimmy of the cheating of the Osages in Oklahoma, and that it had
been published by the Indian Commission in a recent annual report. This
report the host had, and stepping to the library brought it out for Jimmy
to read to the Chief. How! How! The Chief said, and demanded that it be
written into his statement."
"The situation in which these Indians find themselves
was developed by white men without regard to the interests of the Indians.
Nor can we ignore the unhappy fact that for eighteen years or more, these
wards of the United States, living in forty counties in Oklahoma, have
been shamefully exploited by a group of guardians and their attorneys,
whose unconscionable deeds are matters of public record state of affairs
and of common knowledge. The land and money stolen from the Indians cannot
be given back to them. But it is not too late for Federal and State authorities,
legislative and executive, to adopt measures to prevent further civil exploitation
of these Indians, and to safeguard their interests and promote their welfare.
It is common knowledge that grafting on rich Indians has become an almost
recognized profession in Eastern Oklahoma, and a considerable class of
unscrupulous individuals find their chief means of livelihood and source
of wealth in this grafting. So common is it that the term grafter carried
little or no opprobrium in Oklahoma."
"Long ago the Indians were forced into Indian Territory,
because it was land the white man did not then want. Then oil was found,
and the white man wanted it very much indeed. But now they could not force
the Indian to leave, they had to pay him for the oil. They gave him money
for the oil, then cheated him out of the money."
Three years later, U.S. Commissioner for Indian Affairs
Charles H. Burke was asked to resign for the Oklahoma scandal. To McCreight's
great surprise, he was nominated for the post in April
Chief Flying Hawk’s Winter Count
Chief Flying Hawk was a Lakota historian and authored
a "winter count" covering nearly 150 years of Lakota history. Lakota years
are conceived as extending from the first snow of a winter to the first
snow of the next winter. Years are given names based upon significant or
unique event that would be easy to recall. For example, Chief Flying Hawk’s
Winter Count for 1866 records the Fetterman Fight during Red Cloud’s War
as "Wasicu opawinge wica ktepi" or "They killed one hundred white men."
Likewise, 1876 is "Marpiya llute sunkipi" or "They took horses from Red
Cloud" (the U.S. Army did after the Battle of the Little Big Horn), 1877
is "Tasunka witko ktepi" or "When they killed Crazy Horse" and 1890 is
"Si-tanka ktepi" or "When they killed Big Foot" (the Wounded Knee Massacre).
Chief Flying Hawk specifically requested that his Lakota calendar be included
Last visit to The Wigwam
Flying Hawk leaves a legacy of Native American wisdom and
|On Sunday, June 23, 1929, Chief Flying Hawk made his
last visit to The Wigwam. McCreight sent him clothes since all of his belongings
had been lost while performing in Harrisburg. Saturdays and Sundays were
always reserved as a day off for the performers. The show was in Oil City,
Pennsylvania, the following day. In accordance with established show procedures,
a request was made by McCreight for a visit along with transportation arrangements.
Chief Flying Hawk was accompanied by his friend and interpreter Chief Thunder
The Old Chief signed a desire for a smoke and the Red
Cloud peace-pipe with its long ornamental stem was brought from the cabinet,
and some red-willow bark mixed with tobacco for the old time kinnikinnick,
which the Chief enjoyed as between puffs he recalled notable Councils of
Treaty with government agents. He said they always talked with "forked
tongues" and did not always do as they agreed on paper. "It was Sunday.
Flying Hawk's leave of absence was about up and his visit to his white
brother was coming to an end. The old man had arisen with the sun and had
taken a long walk in the woods to see the squirrels and hear the birds
sing, he said. After breakfast, the Chief said that he wanted to go to
church. A car was brought around, loaded to capacity, and the old Chief,
in full dress and just a little paint on his face to cover his wrinkles,
took place beside his host for a trip of two miles to the big Catholic
edifice on State Street in the city's First Ward. Throughout the service
the Chief responded with dignity to every detail of the long and solemn
ceremony--and it may be said too that he attracted the gaze of everyone
present. When formal service ended, the popular Father McGivney came to
take his hand in welcome and gave his blessing, but it was long before
the Chief was permitted to take leave of his friends and neighbors gathered
about him to shake hands. The Chief was visibly agitated and frequently
referred to his disappointment in having to go. He said he would not likely
ever come again; he felt that he would soon go to join his friends in the
Chief Flying Hawk's teachings
Chief Flying Hawk, The Wigwam, Du Bois, PA, 1929.
Flying Hawk was a Lakota historian and
authored a "winter count" covering nearly
150 years of Lakota history.
"The white man does not obey the Great Spirit; that is
why the Indians never could agree with him."
"The white people fight among themselves about religion;
for this they have killed more than in all other wars; did you ever hear
of Indians killing each other about worshiping the Great Spirit?"
"Does the white man know who is right if the Indian says
his great grandfather was a bear, and the white man says his great grandfather
was a monkey?"
"The tepee is much better to live in; always clean, warm
in winter, cool in summer, easy to move. The white man builds big house,
cost much money, like big cage, shut out sun, can never move; always sick.
Indians and animals know better how to live than white man; nobody can
be in good health if he does not have all the time fresh air, sunshine
and good water. If the Great Spirit wanted men to stay in one place he
would make the world stand still; but he made it to always change, so bird
and animals can move and always have green grass and ripe berries, sunlight
to work and play, and night to sleep; summer for flowers to bloom, and
winter for them to sleep; always changing; everything for good; nothing
"The white people will soon be gone, they go so fast they
do not take time to live, but they will learn maybe before they all die.
Now they are taking a lesson from the Indian; they make their wigwam on
wheels and go on the trail like red people do; Indians make travois and
pony pull their tepee; white man’s gas car pull his tepee where he wants
to go, soon they learn Indian’s way the best way; no good to stay in one
place all of the time."
"When the Indian wants a squaw, he goes to her father
and pays him his price; the white man takes one without pay to her father,
but hires a preacher to tie her to him; when he is tired of her, he pays
a lawyer to untie the rope so he can catch another one. Which good, which
"The whites have got rich from controlling the colored
people of the world but they got into debt to each other and now they fight
among themselves. Soon they will destroy themselves and the original races
will go on in the way the Great Spirit made them to do so."
"White people do not know how to handle fire. They make
big fire and smoke and get little heat. Indians make little fire and get
plenty heat. Their pipe is a high bowl with little hole for tobacco and
a long stem. Little fire, little heat, smoke always cool when it gets to
end of mouthpiece."
Final days and death
|"The Great Spirit, the Sun, makes all life. Without it
nothing would grow, no birds, no animals, no people. Indians go to the
Happy Hunting Ground when they die. Whites do not know where they go when
Chief Flying Hawk, shortly before passing to the Sand
Hills, 1931. Chief Flying Hawk was perhaps the last great Oglala Lakota
chief from the Sioux Wars.
"White folks have so many different kinds of religion
and churches and preachers the Indians could not tell which was good and
which was no good. So they hold fast to their own."
"The whites tell the Indian that it is wrong to kill,
to fight, to lie and steal or to drink strong liquor, and then they give
him bad liquor and steal from him and lie to him and cheat him all the
"The whites got the Indians to sign away their land for
strong drink. If you look at the record you will find what I say is true.
All the country of America was got from the Indians for beads and rum or
by cheating them."
"The white man’s fire-wagons (automobiles) kill more people
every year than all the Indians killed in a hundred years."
"The white man thinks he is wise. The Indian thinks he
is a fool. He kill all the buffalo and let them rot on the ground. Then
he plow up the grass, puff, the wind blow the ground away. No grass, no
buffalo, no pony, no Indian, all starve. White man is a fool. Indian fool
too for he give the white man corn, potato, tobacco, tomato, all to make
him rich. All the good the white man had got from the Indian. All the bad
the Indian has got from the white man. Both fool."
"Gazing toward the big game country, the Chief was told
that each year the people of the state paid more than a million dollars
for the right to kill deer, and many of themselves. Much money for ticket.
Indian kill just to get food, skins to make tepees, and moccasins and robes
to keep warm. Never kill just for fun."
Chief Flying Hawk, shortly before passing
to the Sand Hills, 1931. Chief Flying Hawk was
perhaps the last great Oglala Lakota chief
from the Sioux Wars.
Chief Flying Hawk and his family did not enjoy the
benefits of white men. Home of Felix Flying Hawk,
Manderson, South Dakota
|Chief Flying Hawk and his family did not enjoy the benefits
of white men. His son Felix Flying Hawk, and later his grandson David Flying
Hawk, had been cheated and jailed by the white man for stealing their own
horses. Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, his family and friends, had been
assassinated. He had been placed on public exhibition as a specimen of
the vanishing race to escape the poverty and constraints an Indian reservation.
"He stroked his breast to show that he was poorly dressed. He was still
wearing a coat and vest which had been given to him by the host on a previous
visit. He said that if he had what was due him from the Government he could
dress like other people, and have plenty to eat all the time, much of the
time he was hungry and could not buy medicine or go to the doctor when
sick." On March 5, 1929, at age seventy-five, Flying Hawk made his last
visit to The Wigwam in Du Bois, Pennsylvania. He had been traveling with
the circus, and the pony riding, war dances and inclement weather were
weighing on his health. The Wigwam was good medicine. At The Wigwam he
would could have fresh air, good food, rest and home comforts. Chief Flying
Hawk died at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, December 24, 1931, at the age of
77 in want. He had written that during the previous winter of 1930-31 his
little band was saved from starvation only through contributions from Gutzon
Borglum and the American Red Cross. Sadly, it was rumored that Chief Flying
Hawk died of starvation.